Photographer Shares the Story Behind Viral Photo of the Moon Perfectly Centered Behind a Tree

Full Moon Centered Behind a Tree

Swiss photographer Bernd Nowack has a profound love for the great outdoors. In fact, he can often be found wandering through the Sihlwald forest, where he's able to appreciate nature's details. He is also a fan of capturing the transition between night and day, which led to one of his most viral photographs—a full moon captured in perfect symmetry behind a solitary tree on a hilltop.

It's this image that is perhaps his most well-known online. The warm, orange glow of the moon lights up the delicate branches of the tree and highlights the harmony between these two elements of nature. It was a composition that Nowack had in mind for some time, and after careful planning, he was able to accomplish his goal.

“It is, in the end, very satisfying to see the moon setting at the place you wanted it to set,” Nowack shares with My Modern Met. “First the month-long planning, then waiting for the right weather, then deciding the location where to stand to be at the right position at the right moment—with the 600 mm focal length of the telelens, the moon is moving through the viewfinder like a race-car, so there's not much possibility to change the location! I wanted to have the moon exactly symmetrical to the tree. Luckily, I was able to move up another hill, so I had a few tries to get it right.”

In the years since he first took the photo, it's elicited a strong reaction online. Every so often, it pops up and makes the rounds on social media or Reddit. But unfortunately, Nowack isn't always aware of when it appears.

“It made its way through the internet and is not always associated with my name,” he explains. “So it’s kind of nice to hear how much impact it had; but, at the same time, it’s very frustrating that I’m often not even aware that people have seen it. I’ve even seen a photo of a tattoo that somebody made after my photo!”

Nowack hopes that people will remember that a great photo isn't just made with the click of a button. A lot of work when into the research and setup of the image, and there were many failed attempts before he came away with the perfect photo.

Bernd Nowack: Website | Instagram | 500px

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Bernd Nowack.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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