Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 1

Subtitle: Another Marvellous Night for a Moondance

Uluru – Northern Territory June 2016 (12 photos)

On a blue cloudless afternoon, we made our way to watch the sunset at Uluru. As I mentioned before, we had received special Media designation and privileges, and this allowed us to position ourselves to watch this particular sunset away from the sunset viewing areas set aside for tourists. This was important for this particular photography session.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 2

Once again, Uluru put on a magical show as it caught the light of the setting sun.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 3

With the land so flat, the shadows lengthen quickly.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 4

Being a dedicated landscape photography trip, we were not there to watch any sunset at Uluru. Rather, that evening was one of those rare evenings when the sunset occurred at almost exactly the same time as the rising of a full moon. We were strategically positioned to watch this with the moon ascending above the horizon next to Uluru. At the usual sunset viewing spots over to the right of where we were, the moonrise would be hidden behind Uluru and the full moon would only be visible an hour or so after sunset/moonrise. The secret to landscape photography is preparation: the right time at the right place.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 5


Right on cue, the moon peeked above the horizon.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 6

I stand at your gate and the song that I sing is of moonlight
I stand and I wait for the touch of your hand in the June night
The roses are sighing
A Moonlight Serenade.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 7

Moonlight Serenade is an American swing ballad composed by Glenn Miller. It was an immediate phenomenon when first released in May 1939 as an instrumental arrangement, originally as the B track to another arrangement, Sunrise Serenade. In 1991, Miller’s recording of Moonlight Serenade was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 8

Later, lyrics were added by Mitchell Parish, the song being sung by Frank Sinatra in 1965, and many other artists since.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 9

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 10

As the light faded, the full moon became the dominant light, too bright to photograph properly. I turned around to see the silhouettes of the last light of day disappear.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 19

The cloudless night afforded other opportunities. I might indulge in some night photography in my next post.

Moonlight Serenade at Uluru 13

The stars are aglow and tonight how their light sets me dreaming
My love, do you know that your eyes are like stars brightly beaming?
I bring you and I sing you
A Moonlight Serenade

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Moonlight Serenade


80 thoughts on “Moonlight Serenade

  1. You said it well – right place at the right time indeed. Spot on with your shots. Too bright to photograph? I’m guessing the air is relatively unpolluted and the moon shines ever so brightly. What a teaser of night photography at the end… πŸ˜€

    • Thanks. Yes, the full moon is so bright that to photograph the landscape properly, the moon would just be a giant flare.

      We had a couple of sessions of star photography. Quite an experience having never done it before. The sight of the Milky Way, unpolluted by city lights is amazing.

  2. simply gorgeous. a marvellous night for a moondance indeed. and those stars!
    then there’s always Coloured Stone’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” – the lead singer and songwriter Bunna Lawrie is a Whale Dreamer from the Mirning peoples in South Australia..
    just a bit of song trivia for your next post, Draco! πŸ™‚

  3. Another beautiful set of photographs, Draco! The last one, of the star field, is just amazing…you have picked up stars just above the horizon and in the light of a full moon shining too! The photographs with the moon rising show so well the pink Belt of Venus and dark shadow of the earth below it.

    {Aside: I don’t know what tools you used to plan your viewing location but I have found Google Earth to be useful. You can find the direction (azimuth) of moon/sun rise/set at a given spot on earth at a number of websites; then draw a line in Google Earth on that bearing. Then you can drag the line around to find accessible viewing locations and good foreground views.}

    • Thank you very much, Mic. We should have had you along with us to explain the astronomy. We were using an App, The Photographer’s Ephemeris which does all that as well. It’s how we knew where to set up for our photography.

      The last one was shot facing the West with Uluru directly behind me and the full moon -2 about 60 degrees above my right shoulder. We could see the stars clearly with our eyes but their intensity was diminished by the moon. You can’t have it both ways, sadly.

      • Haha! I am an old-timer…I should have know there was an app to do it. πŸ™‚ The moon is tough to photograph above an evening or nighttime landscape. I remember Ansel Adams discussing his famous Moonrise photograph stating that the moon is in full sunshine so to expose properly it needs the same exposure as is used in midday.

        • Yes, there’s an app for everything. The Photographers Ephemeris is particularly useful.

          So I should try the Sunny 16 rule next time I photograph a full moon? That sounds interesting. I’ll give it a try.

        • As always, there are other details. I think I have read that that the moon surface has the reflectivity of asphalt so if you use Sunny 16 it will show up darker than we think of the moon…properly exposed but not pleasing to the eye. So you have to place it higher by opening a stop or two. I haven’t done it for a while but I think that has been my experience too. Adams placed it in Zone VII…he was actually using his version of Sunny 16 to determine the exposure for that photograph because he couldn’t find his meter. (if you have access to Adams’ book The Negative he describes the whole process in Chapter 6 under figure 6-2; The guy was amazing!) I will be curious to see any interesting results…

  4. LaVagabonde says:

    Uluru and the moon together are magic, but the last photo of the stars in an eerie light is my favorite. I have never had the right atmospheric conditions to attempt night sky photography, but I may have the chance during an upcoming trip. I hope you do share some of your starry night images.

    • Thank you, Julie. About half our time there was cloudless and we were happy to get clear night skies. Standing there around 10pm for that last shot under the Milky Way, in front of Uluru in almost complete silence was surreal.

      I have 2 planned posts of star photography – just for you. πŸ™‚

  5. Oh my gosh. The moon! I like that you showed us some of the series where the moon comes into the picture. It really makes a difference to the photograph, i.e. it’s not just all about the rock. Ha !

    • There was a plethora of photographic material that evening. The excitement was palpable when the moon started to emerge above the horizon. It was a beautiful sight. πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: Under the Milky Way | Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera

  7. It’s amazing to see how the light changes on this same scene. And to see a full moon at the same time as a sunset – awesome!! πŸ™‚ I love your stars in the last picture, absolutely beautiful! That’s something I’ve never done, taken night photography when it’s all natural light in the darkness. I guess being in the wilderness helps a lot, as city lights are beautiful in their own way but tend to destroy the visibility of stars.

    • The transition of colours in the sky and on Uluru was beautiful to see. If the landscape were not so flat, the moon might not have been seen until later and that would have been a shame. That first peek above the horizon of the moon was a magical moment.

      Sadly, city lights stop us seeing the stars at night in their full glory and limit our photography of them. You really do have to get to a remote area to appreciate it all.

    • Absolutely lucky to see the moonrise over Uluru. It’s a special sight and location, no matter the crowds.

      Thanks for visiting this old post from more than a year ago. Since you’ve been away for a while you won’t know that I generally don’t reply to comments unless they are made on my most recent post. I tell people to “follow” if they want to keep up to date with the most recent post.

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