To the Moon

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The Romantic poet, Percy Shelley, wrote a short lyric poem titled “To the Moon” about the journey of the moon. In only six lines, Shelley personifies the moon as an elegant and lonely beauty among the stars. For Shelley, the moon symbolizes his own feelings about his place in the world as a poet and a person—the moon is detached and isolated in the galaxy, just as Shelley feels that he is companionless among the masses.

The moon has long inspired artists like Shelley to express their feelings and artistic talents. From Frank Sinatra’s demand to be flown to the moon in his 1954 “Fly Me to the Moon” to The Police’s jazzy song about taking giant steps in the 1979 hit “Walking on the Moon,” the moon has had a gravitational pull that seems to attract creativity and artistic expression.

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On Sunday, January 20, the moon once again worked its magic and inspired MSA photography student, Sam Roach, to capture some of the most remarkable images in his young photography career. On a clear and cold Saturday night, the moon passed through the earth’s shadow in a total lunar eclipse that scientists dubbed a Super Blood Wolf Moon.

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Sam Roach braved the frigid night temperatures to photograph this remarkable phenomenon. Anyone who has ever attempted to take a picture of the moon or the stars knows that cameras have a difficult time capturing any detail of the night’s sky. “The moon and stars are so bright that they appear like fuzzy bright lights in most photographs,” commented Sam. However, a properly trained photographer with the right equipment can capture the moon’s details and colors. And with a Super Blood Wolf Moon, there’s a lot to capture.

Fortunately, Sam has studied photography with MSA’s Fine Arts Department Chair, Tom Pallante, for the past two years, and he was equipped on Sunday night with the requisite skills and equipment.

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“I shot them on an HDR multi-exposure mode on a tripod (ISO 100, f/8). There are four one-second exposures layered over one another. It was too windy for anything more than a one-second exposure, so I had to use this method. As you can see in the far-away shot, there’s motion, and that’s a twenty-second exposure. The close-up shots are all at 300mm. They are cropped some and the colors are a tiny bit cooled down as the Olympus color technology leans towards the warmer side,” remarked Sam.

Percy Shelley found an image of his own loneliness in the moon. But on January 20, the moon dropped its shyness and put on a show for all to see. Millions of people around the world were watching and suddenly the moon was no longer alone. And fortunately, MSA’s own Sam Roach was ready to capture the spectacle for posterity.

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