Moonrise over St Croix Crossing

A riverboat returning from its dinner cruise under the light of the harvest moon.

Some years ago I was driving home from an afternoon excursion into the beautiful rural areas of Minnesota during the fall harvest.  The sun eventually sank below the corn fields and the evening sky took over as the moon rose.

There was a delay in our travel home while I stopped and took pictures of this unusual composition:  the moon in a twilight sky behind the steeple of a local church and its cemetery.  I don’t believe there was a guiding hand directing me to that place and time, but I recognize a unique moment when I am in it.

In the years since, I have attempted to capture the moon in this magic moment, but it turns out to be a difficult project.  I recently learned why at a seminar led by Mike Shaw, one of the pioneers in making modern nightscape photos.  His advice and recommendations led me to try this composition on the St Croix River, the optimal timing being one day before the full moon.

The new bridge over the river was a long time in the planning, and long overdue for replacing the old lift bridge that chronically clogged the traffic in Stillwater.  The old bridge is now dedicated to pedestrians and bicycles; the new bridge hosts walkways and overlooks, making for a pleasant “loop trail” from Minnesota to Wisconsin and back.

I practiced the photo shoot for several days prior to the key event and witnessed lots of fishing and boating activities on the river.  I also watched big river boats taking their passengers out for dinner cruises, returning after sunset.  The beautiful fall weather held, and I was able to once again photograph the rising harvest moon dressed in the beautiful colors of twilight.

I assembled a time lapse of the experience.  It’s a one-minute sequence.  I hope you enjoy it.

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