Taking advantage of a clear Easter Monday sky Rory, my loyal photography assistant, and I travelled the 90 minutes drive from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. We had a tight schedule to make sure to get there before moon rise and photograph the stars over the cliffs before the bright waning gibbous stole the show by flooding the sky.
Cliffs of Moher by night
It is very fascinating to visit popular places like the Cliffs of Moher at night. During the day this place buzzes with visitors from all over the world try to get a glimpse of this wonderful natural landmark. Most of the time I’ve been here in day time I either got a heavily clouded sky or a thick mist obscuring the view of the characteristic coastline. Arriving here at night and seeing this place dark and deserted was very evocative. The emotions balanced on the edge between peacefulness and tension. Every sound sent the mind racing to ask what it might be, and conjure up hundreds of possible movies scenarios. Yet as we reached the edge of the cliffs the gentle wash of the sea and Venus reflection streaking the water provided up a deep sense of calmness.
Letting go of the Moon
We set up the gear and started some testing. I wanted to get a shot of the coastline with the starry sky, in particular Orion, the hunter, watching over the Cliffs of Moher like an ancient guardian. As I waited, between each test, I pointed on the opposite direction to show Rory a mildly brighter area of sky at the horizon: “watch that spot” I said ” there is where the moon is going to rise from”. We really didn’t have too much time before the moon rising so I got busy to check all the factors and make some composition decision, mostly in the dark of course. At some point Rory asked “what is that thing over there?” as I turned the upper sliver of a misty red moon peeked from behind the horizon. Craters and surface depressions resembling a giant face looking at us and dragging along behind her a blood orange aura. It was stunning and my instinct wanted to grab the camera away from the cliffs and reposition it toward the moon. It was truly overwhelming, the mind racing to think about how best to render that image with some depth. Then it occurred to me, some experiences are better captured by letting them go. I was there to witness and enjoy its existence and that was enough. We came back to it only later, after the Cliffs’ shot was over, when the moon was already out in the sky, still red for a little while but not anymore as dramatic as she emerged.
Reflecting under the Moon light
It was a full night, we witness the wonders of the earth, the sea and the sky and I shared a wonderful trip with my son. On the drive back home we enjoyed watching the moon appearing and disappearing behind the landscape. Often time we wondered if we should stop and take a shot, but decided to let it be. As I reflected on the adventure I was wondering if I would ever come back and try to capture that image I left behind. In all honesty I don’t know. I realised that by wanting to do too many things at the same time I almost lost the opportunity to fully enjoy either. I took the shot I was looking for and I wonder what I could have done differently to bring it to life. I choose to let go of the dramatic face of the blood moon rising and in so doing it has remained burned in mind more vividly than a picture ever could. The one learning I certainly brought home was that sometimes we need to make tough decisions and there will never be a way to tell for sure if they are good or bad. The only one certainty is that each decision shapes who we are and how we think.