Lunchtime Photo

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to take a picture of the moon rising over the Pacific Ocean. The only place you can do that around here is San Pedro, so off I went. As it happens, the pictures I took while the moon was barely over the horizon turned out sort of iffy, though I may post one of them here someday anyway. In the meantime here’s a different one. This is about half an hour later down at Cabrillo Beach, and I really like the contrast of the purple sky and the bright golden moon. This only lasted for a short while: within a few minutes the sky was nearly black and the moon was nearly white.

This picture would have been impossible without Photoshop. I exposed it properly for the moon, which made the rest of the frame so dark that hardly anything showed. But playing around with the histograms and a few other controls brought out the trees and the color of the background very nicely. What’s interesting is that this approximates real life better than the raw photograph does. The human brain acts as sort of a real-time Photoshop in cases like this, interpreting different parts of the scene differently and effectively extending the dynamic range that you can sense. In real life, I don’t recall seeing so much purple in the sky, but in terms of how much I could see of the moon, sky, and trees, this is a pretty faithful representation.

June 27, 2018 — San Pedro, California

We Recommend


Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.