Moonrise in Anza Borrego (Look. See. Imagine. Create.)


When Mary and I were in Anza Borrego State Park in March, we had the fun and unique opportunity to photograph the moon rise over the Salton Sea and the Borrego Badlands.  Here is how to do it:


Many photographers plan their photography workshops around the full moon.  Most times you get to experience a moon rise shot in the late afternoon and a moon set shot just before dawn.  Two of our favorite photographers, Gary Hart and Don Smith, plan workshops around the moon.  Check out their websites.

Mary at the rim of Font’s Point

We did a late afternoon shoot at Font’s Point in Anza Borrego.  As we were up there, I noticed that the moon was going to rise over the distant Salton Sea and above the Borrego Badlands.  You can also use these two useful apps – “LightTrac” and “Sun n Moon” that give you times for sunrise, sunset, moon rise and moon set, as well as where they will be at that time.



We were there early as usual and well positioned for the shot.  At the appointed time the moon did not appear on the horizon.  As the minutes ticked by, I started to get “the look” from Mary.  It was hot.  We were hungry and thirsty.  She had just endured two bone jarring four wheel drive trips up to Font’s Point in two days AND she wanted to know where the hell the moon was.

I finally figured out that there was a layer of haze/fog above the Salton Sea obscuring the faintly lit moon.  The moon finally appeared, but was much higher in the sky than we had anticipated.  Time to work fast.


I know you have seen many famous photos of moon rises and moon sets.  Galen Rowell, Ansel Adams, and many others have made beautiful and famous photos of this situation.  So, I used what memory I had of those famous photos, the rule of thirds, and the equipment I had – 200 MM lens for color and 105 MM lens for my infrared ( I had a tele-extender in the car and totally forgot to bring up to the point with us) and imagined what the final photo would look like.  I planned on black and white.



.When we got home and looked at our digital negatives, I knew I had what I wanted and processing was pretty straightforward using Lightroom, PhotoShop and Silver Efex Pro 2.

I made the traditional landscape orientation and Mary made a very interesting portrait orientation that really fills the frame.  Remember to always try both in the field and decide which one you like better when you get home.

To see (and buy) more of our photographs, please go to


  1. pamphotography

    I do feel the need to correct my poor husband. The only thing standing between me and celebrating our anniversary with a special bottle of wine and a nice dinner was this moon shot, hence the reason for the impatience.

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