My photograph titled “Island Moon” was taken along the northern shore of Lake Superior, within Ontario, Canada. This has been a favorite location of mine since I first came upon it well over a decade ago. I continue to use film for all of my photography, and this image was made using in-camera double exposure, whereas the negative is exposed for the first exposure, and then using the same negative, the second exposure is made directly over the first exposure.
I was two days into my two-week photo shoot circling Lake Superior. That night, camping along the shore and relaxing beside my campfire, I was admiring the full moon that was rising out over and above Lake Superior. In that moment, I was inspired to create an image using Lake Superior and the full moon, via a double exposure. I’m always finding ways to challenge myself on my photo shoots and this was one of those moments. I proceeded to visualize a composition in my mind, and had decided upon a horizontal placement with the moon rising within the top right hand corner. After composing the shot and metering for the moon against the night sky, I pushed the cable release and captured the first film exposure. I removed the film back, and placed it in my camera bag to await the final exposure. I then used the back of my film box to do a quick, rough sketch showing exactly where I had placed the moon on the negative, so that I could accurately remember the correct placement to compose the second exposure when the moment presented itself later.
As I continued my shoot along Lake Superior, I kept searching for the perfect scene to complete my full moon composition. It wouldn’t present itself for an additional three days, until I arrived at dusk to this location you see in the image. I had it in mind for my second exposure, so I had purposely worked toward timing my arrival at dusk. The first thing I noticed as I hiked in was the wispy, windswept late day clouds that began painting the darkening sky, and how beautifully I could envision the moon’s placement into the pattern above me. Also, the calm illumination of the waning light across the surface of the water was perfect.
This was it; I unpacked my camera, mounted it to my tripod, and attached the film back holding the initial exposure of the full moon. I checked my sketch to confirm exactly where the moon was placed on the film sheet, and finished setting up my final composition, visualizing the final image and nestling the moon within a dark opening amongst the clouds that was beginning to appear above the island. I waited a bit longer for the landscape, cloud patterns, and lighting to reach the moon’s placement to achieve the balance that I was looking for within my composition. Then I metered for the scene and clicked the shutter, this time with a little more added exposure to allow for the second exposure to have the necessary additional weight over the top of the first exposure, which gave the final double exposure image the visual balance that I wanted between the two exposures.
I was using Kodak T-Max 100 film with a Bogen head and tripod. I used a Contax 645 camera with my Zeiss 140mm (85mm at 35mm equivalence) for the first moon exposure, so that I could give the moon a slight bit more ‘overall presence’ – and my Zeiss 45mm (28mm equivalence with 35mm) on the second exposure to help open up the scene. Both exposures were taken using the “Bulb” setting since they were both low-light to no-light conditions, which required longer, manually timed exposures. (I took this shot back in 2002 and unfortunately I don’t remember the exact exposure times.) I felt comfortable with my choices for the photograph in the field and was pleased after returning home from the shoot and seeing the final developed negative. It has been one of my more popular and requested photographs, as well as a personal favorite. – Peter Scott Eide
Equipment and settings: Contax 645 medium format camera, Zeiss Sonnar T* 2.8/140 lens for first exposure of the moon, Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/45 lens for second exposure of the landscape – KODAK PROFESSIONAL T-MAX 100 film, exposure lengths unknown.
You’ll find a long form article that I wrote discussing Eide’s wonderful book of black-and-white medium format photography, “Edge Of Forever – Images of Lake Superior”, here. His portfolio can be found at his website, www.peterscotteide.com and you can contact him there via email to purchase books, journals, art cards and prints.