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How we took the Christmas photo

Getting a shot of the Friends clock tower seemed like a no-brainer, but pulling it off was tougher than I expected.

Once I found out that Friends University would be turning on the tower lights this past week I knew I could get a great shot for our Christmas cover. But I needed another element to really make it shine.

I knew the moon would be full on Monday and Tuesday this past week, but what I didn't expect was the heavy cloud cover.

There are only a couple days that the moon comes up at just right time to balance the ambient light of the clock tower lights and the brightness of the moon. Tuesday was the only day I had left. But the moon was shrouded in clouds right until the moment it aligned with the tower.

Using a 600mm lens, I found a safe spot off of Kellogg near the overpass for Southwest Boulevard. I lined up the tower with what I thought would be the path of the moon as it started to rise in the eastern sky. But I wouldn't know for sure if I had the right angle until the last minute. It would be too late to move if I guessed wrong.

After standing on the side of the road for about 45 minutes, I was about to give up when the moon suddenly broke through the clouds. I shot as many frames as I could trying various exposures because the moon is so much brighter than the lights of the tower.

Finding a balance is tricky, but the clouds filtered enough of the moonlight to help balance the exposure. After five minutes the moon disappeared into the clouds again.

Final exposure: ISO 2500, f.4.0 at 1/30 of sec. shot on Canon EOS -1D Mark III. 600mm lens.

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