Picture: “Balance this!” – Full moon setting over mountain ridge along the Sierra crest, near Tioga Pass, Eastern Sierra, California
In photojournalism, the first thing you learn is “The Moment is Key.” The meaning of this is simple. If you don’t have an image that tells a story or reveals a peak moment in the action, you don’t have the shot. The same holds true for a lot of wildlife photography that focuses on behavior.
On the other hand, most people think nature photography, especially with landscapes, is very static. However, there’s no reason why some landscapes can’t be approached with the same goal as photojournalism; namely catching that one defining peak moment of action. A great example is an ocean wave breaking against a rocky cliff.
While watching the moon set on this morning, I worked with several placements of the lunar disc as it hung in the sky. Most were nice, but none were especially satisfying. Then I noticed the one outcrop in the direction that the moon was traveling. I knew that if I moved my position slightly, I could align the moon so it would just touch the outcrop. It adds a sense of tension and drama at that one instant. Plus, the tiny bit of the moon that is obscured by the rock helps solidify the authenticity of the image, keeping at bay the potential doubters who would say that I just dropped the moon in with photoshop. (I didn’t, I swear!)