By Kevin Moss
Once every few years we are blessed with a celestial event, a partial or total lunar eclipse. On February 20, we witnessed the last total lunar eclipse until 2010. I took advantage of the situation, and clear sky’s in southeastern Michigan to put together some cool shots of the event.
Lunar Eclipse, October 27, 2004
The last time I photographed the lunar eclipse was way back on October 27, 2004.
How did it happen?
A lunar (scientific term for the Moon) eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the shadow of earth, thus blocking light from our sun. Instead of turning the moon dark, it actually turns the \moon into a beautiful shade of red, the color of the earth’s shadow. The earth's shadow casts a red glow due to its atmosphere. Our atmosphere redirects light, through its dusty layer of air to the shades of red seen during the “umbra” of the eclipse, the time when the light of the sun is totally blocked by the earth.
The eclipse progression
At times during the Umbra, about 1 hour during the eclipse, you can even see a turquoise color in the lighter side of the moon, caused by the earth’s ozone layer.
How Do You Do That?
The Moon and the Stars...
My technique for shooting the moon is simple:
1. Turn up Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon on your iPod.
2. A tripod is a must. You’ll be shooting long exposures, thus you’ll need stability of your camera.
3. Shoot in manual mode. I set my aperture on my digital SLR to f/5.6, the spot where I think my lens is at its sharpest.
4. Use a long lens. My lens reaches to 200mm, but a longer focal length is preferred, 400mm to 500mm would be ideal.
5. Set you camera to ISO 400. Any ISO setting above 400 for most DSLR’s will result in image noise in your photos.
6. Set shutter speed manually. For bright moons, shutter speeds of 400 to 500 are ideal at an aperture setting of f/5.6. You’ll have to experiment though.
7. Use a remote shutter release or your cameras self-timer. The moon isn’t the only subject where this practice is important. When you click your shutter button on your camera, you are in fact introducing vibration, which blurs images. Using a remote shutter release or your cameras self-timer eliminates this vibration.
8. Experiment, and have fun!
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