How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

Took the big lens out last night and shot the moon! It’s a film lens, not a digital one, so there’s a little chromatic aberration going on. But you gotta love a 2000mm lens. The red is real, the reason to try to photograph a lunar eclipse is the color and the darkness of the moon.

How to Photograph the Moon

You need a big lens, the bigger, the better. Except during a lunar eclipse, the moon is really bright. Mixing it with other elements like the skyline is difficult. You either take two pictures to expose the moon and the earth-bound objects separately or let the moon burn out, like I did with this picture of the full moon over Minneapolis. To get the exposure right for the moon, check out this chart I found or just wing it and look at the LCD. The moon isn’t going anywhere, so experimenting isn’t difficult. If your camera has a histogram, make sure you use it with night photography, it’s easy to underexpose the image since the LCD looks brighter to your dilated pupils at night.

Make sure you chose a clear night, in February in Minneapolis it gets pretty cold at night. Last night it was below zero and the nice thing about that is that it’s too cold for clouds to form, so it’s pretty clear (snow pants rock). Back to the list: big lens, a good tripod, cable release or camera on timer mode and flashlight (cell phone works as a light too, a pretty good one in fact). The moon is on the move, so keep the shutter time down. That’s not an issue with the moon normally, but it is with an eclipse. This one is at f8 (crappy lens) and 4 seconds. You can see the moon is blurred slightly in today’s picture because it moved noticeably in those 4 seconds.

18 replies
  1. Gerald
    Gerald says:

    Alas after several clear nights here, we had clouds all day yesterday. The eclipse happened here about 3.30am anyway and so I slept through it.

    I still remember one from a few years back though which was tremendous to see.

  2. admin
    admin says:

    Wow! Seems that y’all like my pic! Thanks for all the great compliments and links. Sailor Girl five-fingered my pic but linked back to me, so I’ll look the other way 🙂 Bob in Saint Louis correctly guessed that I was going to be out shooting the moon and mentioned it on his blog along with a nod to the hardiness of Minnesotans.

  3. Strangetastes
    Strangetastes says:

    Okay, you have finally mooned all of CDPB. As did a few other CDPBs, like my son in Chicago (shooting with a Digital Rebel XTi and a Canon 75-300) and our colleague in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

    Seriously, though, this is exceptional work. I enjoyed your technical discussion. What ISO were you using? When I was out last night with the 5D and a 100-400 Canon L Series lens, the widest lens would open in the dim light was f 5.6. Shooting at 100 and 200 ISO, most of the exposures were 20 or 30 seconds. I couldn’t get the *^#@!* autofocus to work on the dim subject. Setting the manual focus on infinity wasn’t quite right, either. I had to back it down just a hair but it was hard to get it right. Of course, part of the problem is that I am pretty tall and my tripod head will only angle up so far, so I had difficulty visualizing the subject. There will always be another challenge. I’m going to Washington next week on business, I’m arriving a day early so I can walk around the District with my camera, looking to see what I can do with the same old icons.

    BTW, a *2000* mm lens? Did you mounted on the back of a truck?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Photo of the Year 2007. If you haven’t seen it, my most popular photo this month was of the Total Lunar Eclipse shot with a 2000mm lens. The big event this month in my world was the City of Lakes […]

  2. […] everyone for all the comments yesterday,  I appreciate it! It was fun shooting the moon and getting such a great image. I’m running behind on work, so I’m just putting this […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *