An Astronomical Artwork

It takes talent to get the right balance in art – technical excellence to execute the work, drama in the subject itself, and presentation that strikes an emotional chord in the viewer. Freelance photographer Mark Gee, based in Wellington, has just scored a direct hit with a majestic video clip of the full moon rising over Wellington.

Saturday, 2nd February 2013

Many of us will have noticed how the Moon seems larger when we catch it close to the horizon in a fully-lit state. But in planning his work, Mark Gee wanted to capture something in addition to what would have been a stunning video of the Moon rising over the hills of Wellington.

He set up his camera more than two kilometres from Wellington’s Mount Victoria lookout so that he could capture the silhouette of people visiting the lookout while the Moon rose behind them. The technical challenges of getting the Moon properly in frame, holding the camera steady, making sure the subjects moving about the lookout were caught between the camera and the Moon as it drifted across the field, and getting the job done before the Moon moved on toward its next phase took some planning and a couple of practice sessions, it seems.

In the video the Moon slowly rises behind the Mount Victoria lookout and, as the disc reveals itself, it shows more of the human activity happening as people arrive at and leave the lookout. They’re all in silhouette, but we can make out men and women, children, individuals and groups – some enjoying the cityscape others the moonrise. More arrive, some leave, some take panoramic shots of the city lights. You can almost hear the “See ya!” as the group of three part and seem to go their separate ways.

Even the backpacker obliges us by proving that he is indeed a backpacker at the last minute, and not a sandwich board man proclaiming “repent, the end is nigh” or one of the astronauts just back from a lunar excursion and still wearing his lunar survival suit.

Throughout it all the Moon glides diagonally up the screen, seeming to fizz at the edges. Mark got a night with what astronomers would call “good seeing” apart from the amount of moonlight cast by Earth’s satellite, but the atmosphere between the Moon and the camera is so thick at low angles like this that there is going to be some distortion.

The video lasts only a few minutes, but I am certain that you’ll want to watch it again. The best way is to pop it up to full screen and lie back and take it all in.

If you look through the comments on the webpage below the link to the video, you’ll find one of the respondents identifying himself as being in the group captured at the lookout. Small world.

Bravo! Mark.

Enjoy.

The video can be found here on Mark Gee’s website.

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