One guy fooling around with the Moon

By Phil Plait | December 9, 2011 7:00 am

There’s a series of pictures going around the web right now showing the rising Moon in the background, and people whimsically doing things to it in the foreground. It’s hard to explain, so here is a picture literally worth 28 words:

I love this series of photos, and I’ve seen people plug it on Twitter, Google+, and I’ve gotten an email or two about it as well. The thing is, the photographer who took these pictures isn’t getting any attribution in the copies I’ve seen (like, for example, on FAILblog; I’ve sent them a note about it [UPDATE: they’ve added a link to Laurent’s page. Yay!]). The cool thing is, I know who took these images: the amazingly creative French photographer Laurent Laveder.

I knew it was him right away, because his photo of a man "painting" the Moon during a lunar eclipse took the ninth slot in my Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006!

I think artists who create things should get credit, so I’m letting everyone know who took those shots. I like Laurent’s work quite a bit, and as it turns out he also works on The World At Night, which I just happened to write about a few days ago: it’s an effort to take photos of world landmarks against the night sky, and is supported by Astronomers Without Borders.

You can find more of Laurent’s Moon photos at PixHeaven. Check them out; they’re fantastic. He also has a book and postcard prints of them, too! And if you tweeted/G+ed or emailed someone about these Moon shots, then let everyone know who took ’em. Laurent deserves the credit for such imagination and planning, and for creating such lovely and wonderful art.

Image credit: Laurent Laveder

Bonus points to anyone who understands the very obscure reference I made in this article’s title. You win nothing tangible, but the chuffed feeling of having shared knowledge of the greatest cartoonist of the modern age.

MORE ABOUT: Laurent Laveder, Moon

Comments (24)

Links to this Post

  1. Playing with the Moon | Intelligent Life | December 10, 2011
  1. Nicholas

    The Kliban Comic “Two Guys Fooling Around With The Moon.” A Classic!

  2. These are gorgeous!

  3. OtherRob

    I really like the “balloon” one. :)

  4. Andrea Lee

    Laurent Laveder definitely got credit for the copy I saw on FB. I am awed by some of his work! You are right – artists must get credited for their work, otherwise it’s the same as stolen.

  5. Chris A.

    There goes that rotten Halley’s Comet!
    It makes me sick! I want to vomet!

    – from “Whack Your Porcupine” by B. Kliban, 1977

  6. Wow, the moon is so much bigger near the horizon!

  7. Navneeth

    M. Laveder,
    If you’re reading this, may I suggest a coffee table book (with more pictures than shown here, of course)? I would certainly buy it.

    A long-time fan

  8. Love the images! Thanks for ensuring that the artist is properly credited. Will share with the name “Laurent Laveder” prominently displayed. :) As an aside, while Nicholas likely got the ~actual~ reference, I have a somewhat more obscure reference: “Paint the Moon” – an initiative by Jim Downey. Archived info on it here: More on Jim here:

    Jim and I co-authored a book about caregiving for our elderly mothers-in-law called “Her Final Year: A CareGiving Memoir” – which is how I got to know him, and about ~his~ moon-centric initiative.

  9. Chris

    Always see them on spaceweather. Love them. Whenever I try taking a photo of the moon it’s way overexposed. Need a better camera.

  10. Kevin

    I’ve followed his website for a few years now, being that I’m a photographer and an amateur astronomer. He always has great stuff.

  11. Completely faked but very cool looking. How do we know it’s fake? Try photographing the moon when it’s close to the horizon. Surprise! It’s exactly as small as the moon when directly overhead. The “giant moon illusion” has been known since ancient times. Plato was one of the first to suggest that it was an illusion of the mind.

  12. Thinkyhead (11): Sorry, but that’s not correct. If you use a telephoto lens then you can magnify the Moon enough to see it this size. Put the model far away as well, and you can adjust their relative sizes to take pictures like this. It just needs practice and a lot of pre-planning to make sure you get the Moon in the right spot. If the camera is on a hill then you can adjust your relative vertical geometry to be able to take several pictures and keep the Moon near the horizon. You just have to move quickly!

  13. worlebird

    EDIT – Ah, I see Phil beat me to the punch. Oh well.
    @Thinkyhead #11 – What do you mean, exactly, when you say “completely faked”? I mean, of course, the person in the images is not ACTUALLY holding the moon, or pushing it, or whatever, but aside from that, there is no fakery going on. It is actually the moon, and the person is positioning themself so that they appear to be doing funny things with it. That part isn’t fake. The reason the moon is so big in these photographs is because the photographer stood some ways off from the person featured in them, and then used a telephoto lens to capture the picture. It’s the same technique that is often used in films to make the moon or the sun appear huge – as when the hero rides off into the sunset. The scene that comes to mind specifically is the very end of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, in which the heroes all ride off into an ENORMOUS sunset. This was shot from quite a long distance away, using very long telephoto lens.

  14. Hi Phil,
    Many thanks for this post, it’s a much needed one. I see Laurent’s photos being circulated a lot in social media but no one actually gives the credit or knows who took them. It’s the case with lot of other TWAN photographers, we see them all over the place and people use them for their work as well – which is fine as long as it’s non-commercial – but the least one could do is to credit the original source.

    Thanks again for bringing this up.

    Thilina (AWB)

  15. Dutch Railroader

    Very Rene’ Magritte…

  16. Wzrd1

    Well, since you have corresponded with the photographer already, kindly let him know one thing.
    While he’s fooling around with the moon, if he breaks it, he buys it! ūüėČ

    Seriously though, playing with perspective was always fun in photography. ūüėÄ

  17. Dragonchild

    Huh huh. . . you got mooned.

  18. David H

    If there are still people who doubt that photography can be an artform … :)

  19. Messier Tidy Upper

    Classic. Love it. :-)

  20. Wow, beautiful. I second what Naavneeth wrote… there should definitely be a coffee table book.

  21. Troy

    Very cool pictures. I didn’t get the telephoto aspect of it at first but am now even more impressed. Like all magic it requires a lot of preparation, along with clear skies and a prime location.

  22. Ken

    @ Chris — You don’t need a better camera to get a properly exposed image of the moon.

    You just need to expose it manually. Your camera is trying to expose for the large black area surrounding the moon. However, the moon is actually a “sunlit object”, so it should be exposed similarly to a sunny afternoon.

    Set your camera to manual, and start playing with the exposure controls.

    As a side benefit, once you are able to take the photo, you’ll also be able to take a photo at a concert, without the folks on stage being overexposed.

  23. 4thfrog

    Would love to buy some of these as large prints.


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