This morning I took another picture of the moon. It was at the top of the sky — I couldn’t see it without breaking my neck — so I lied down in the driveway on my back, lining up my iPhone camera with the eyecup on my binoculars, fiddling with the exposure and focus on Camera+.
A neighbor drove past on his way to work, and I wondered if he saw me, and, if he did, what on Earth he thought I was doing.
Back in the house, drinking my coffee, I checked my camera roll and tried to pick the best shot. I started thinking about how I like looking at all the little moons together more than any single moon.
Taking one picture of the moon isn’t all that interesting, but seeing all the pictures of the moon you’ve taken together, that’s a little more interesting:
The artist Penelope Umbrico, of her gigantic collages of moon photographs uploaded to Flickr, says the opposite: “Seen individually any one of these images is impressive. Seen as a group, however, they seem to cancel each other out.”
We disagree on that point, but I sure do like what Umbrico has assembled in these pieces, especially when she starts sorting by color:
The moon actually doesn’t give off its own light, it only reflects the sun’s, so add that fact to the atmospheric conditions and the time of day you happen to see it, and it’s always taking on some interesting color. (I have started to prefer morning moons to evening moons.) When you read books like Moon: A Brief History or watch movies live Moonstruck, you realize how much of that reflective quality is essential to how we feel about it: the moon reflects our own light back at us, in a way.
I can’t really remember when I started going so nuts for the moon. I think it started when we moved into this old house. We used to live in a townhouse that didn’t have much of a view of the night sky from any of its windows. Then we moved into our current house, which sits on a bigger lot, surrounded by suburban ranch houses, so there are better sky views to be had. But I think it really has to do with our master bathroom, which has a window you can look out of while you pee. I get up in the middle of the night and peer out into the backyard, and when the moon’s out, it always makes me feel a little wild. A bit mysterious. A bit less willing to go back to bed.
When it’s my morning to get up with the boys, one of the first things we’ll do if the moon is out is run out the front door into the driveway to take a look. They’ve grown up on books like Papa, Please Get The Moon for Me, and The Moon Seems To Change and The Moon Book, so they share in my joy, for now. And one of the best moments of any day is when, unprompted, my two-year-old will stick his index finger in the air and shout, “Moon!”