location: owyhee reservoir
backstory: there are planned photos and then there are spontaneous photos. this is the later.
i often organize backcountry treks around the full moon, a few days before and after the peak. most of the time i'm interested in using the moon to light a landscape.
on this journey, i had planned a series of moonlit photos along several miles of leslie gulch. the canyons wind around affording different lighting angles based on moon and canyon positions. i finished one scene with the moon cresting the horizon along a jagged ridgeline. it wasn't quite the right composition. figuring that was the horizon/moonrise chance for the night, i began hiking toward the next planned shot with the moon at a higher angle providing a light source.
walking the high desert backcountry at night feels... other-worldly, except that i now consider it this-worldly; the rest is other. after a hot day, the cooler temperature change feels like an ocean wave flowing through the canyons. desert smells launch on the breeze: sage, juniper and a host of unknown others.
desert creatures become more active now: yelping coyote, deer scrambling along steep trails creating small rock slides, numerous birds hunting an evening meal. the largest group of big horn sheep i've seen was at this magical time.
...and the light. when the moon is full and high, the subtle quality of moonlight does something to the desert color palette that is difficult to describe. that's one reason i have a camera.
when most people are snoring away in their tent or camper, i'm out wandering around.
on this nite, wandering from point a to point b, i casually look around and see this photo happening. one click, two clicks and that is all. the moon rises so quickly off the horizon. the angles of the intersecting canyons provided setting sunlight for the background prominence, full moonlight for the rest.
couldn't have scripted a more perfect scene.