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Sturgeon Moonrise @ Roker, Sunderland

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

August 2022 - an opportunity to photograph the Sturgeon Moonrise, from the shores of Roker Beach, Sunderland, UK. It had been a while since I unleashed the moon bazooka lens (Sigma 150-600mm C), so I was looking forward to getting back into long lens photography on the coast. The name "Sturgeon Moon" originates with the Algonquin peoples native to what is now the Northeastern United States, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. It refers to the fact that this period was considered a prime time for catching sturgeon in the Great Lakes and other major water bodies in the region.

The PHOTOGRAPHERS EPHEMERIS app was on hand once again to offer most of the information I needed in preparation for the moonrise shoot, which included moonrise time, the position of the moon in relation to my subject, which on this occasion was Roker Lighthouse. The app is brilliant for giving the photographer the exact spot to shoot from, as you can see in the screenshot below. The two blue lines represents the position of the moon as it rises and also as it sets. The two yellow lines refer the sun and its rise and set positions.

Before I set off on the 25 minute car journey from Houghton-le-Spring to Roker, I checked the tide times, as I 'd already established where my shooting position would be, and as it was on the beach at Roker, I didn't want an incoming tide spoiling the party. Lady luck was on my side, as the tide was receding and almost at its lowest point when the moon was due to rise. So it was all systems go and it was now time to get down there and hopefully pull in some nice moonrise shots. I say 'hopefully' because I've been in this position a few times and although it was forecast for clear skies, there has been times when the moon has failed to show on the horizon due to a cloud bank that is barely visible. Let's hope there's none of that tonight!

I arrived at Roker Beach around 9pm, allowing around 15 minutes until moonrise. There was already a few photographers set up, all with the same goal, so it was nice to be the company of the hive minds. Bang on time the moon appeared...a reddish pink glow on the horizon. Everyone suddenly upped and repositioned themselves further along the sands, to align the moon with the end of Roker Pier. Quite funny to watch. Dusk was almost at its end, so the light was ideal, but as the moon rose and time ticked away, that valuable light reduced. By this time I had a few shots in the bag and it was really interesting to see the colour changes in the moon, as it rose to a greater height. The main shot I was after was an alignment of the moon with the centre of the lighthouse roof, which I managed to grab, just before the detail in the moon burned out. At this point I realised there wasn't much more to take from the scene so I packed up and headed back home. I stopped briefly to grab a couple of quick phone shots of the Moonrise posse that were still taking shots. It was a great shoot, all things considered and I haven't ticked many off whilst wearing a t-shirt and shorts ha - result!!! Until the next one...




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