Blue Moon in the Smokies

Last night afforded me the opportunity to shoot a blue moon.

For the record, no, the moon is not blue.  A blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month.  It does not happen often, hence the expression "once in a blue moon" to mean a rare occurrence.

Moonrise over the Great Smoky Mountains, looking towards North Carolina.

I had posted on Facebook that I would be heading up to Clingmans Dome, a high point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to capture the moon.   I love the Smokies and a 90 minute drive was not out of the question (the biggest headache being the Friday night traffic in Pigeon Forge, but there are ways around that).

Just remember, how many countries are in the "Visited the Moon" club?  Thass right, just one - 'Murica!

I made some discoveries while there.  First, the flashlight on my cell phone makes a handy little LED light to use for night portraits, as I did here with my dear friends - and great photographers in their own right - Brenda and Eddie (bonus points if you start singing the song featuring a couple named Brenda and Eddie).

They say guys only buy big lenses to compensate for something, but I dunno . . .

Second, a method called "expose to the right" that can be used to pull oput detail in a night sky polluted by light does work.  Here, despite there being a very, very BRIGHT full moon to camera left, I caught the galactic center of the Milky Way.

Third . . . despite it being July 31st and the dog days of summer, it got cold.  Temperatures dropped to the lower 50's and a stiff wind came up, making it feel chillier than it was.  No matter, I went prepared and relished a taste of the autumn weather to come.  Next time, though, a thermos of coffee is getting thrown in with the gear.

I finally packed it in at 11:00 pm. knowing I had a drive to Charlotte the next day.  However, on my way off the mountain, I had to stop at Newfound Gap, a popular spot sitting on the Tennessee - North Carolina boundary.  I have learned that at the end of a shoot, always look for "that last shot" and I wanted to see if I could find it there.

And I did.  I noticed this couple sitting on the low wall, enjoying the blue moon.  I approached them and asked, "Howdy, folks - say, I got this idea for a picture . . ."  And they obliged - many thanks to Phil "Doc" Johnson, the director of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, and his wife, Mary, who told me that she and him were "good friends and spouses" for the last 25 years.  

What could be more romantic than a longtime couple who stopped for a kiss beneath a blue moon while out for a motorcycle ride under the stars?

Love is what it's all about, people!

If this is lunacy - the word derives from the Latin word for moon, luna - let's have more of it!