The last time we had a total lunar eclipse, it was a few days before Christmas and I photographed the moon using my old 40D camera and my 400mm lens. A few days later, Rich surprised me with the Beast! Ever since then, I’ve been waiting for the next eclipse, so that I could get better shots with my 500mm lens.
When we read that a lunar eclipse was going to happen early Tuesday morning, both Rich and I perked up. He likes to look at the stars with his telescope. I like to shoot them with my camera. I was amazed to realize I could see the rings of Saturn through my Beast.
The only bad part was that the eclipse started around 1:45 in the morning and lasted until about 5:30, which is our usual time to wake up for work. It was also supposed to be really cloudy that night. So we debated the insanity of waking up at 1:30 and watching. We finally decided to try it, since the opportunity rarely presents itself! I’m glad we did…
I loved using my Canon 5D Mark III for this eclipse! Last time, my 40D couldn’t auto-focus on the moon after it entered totality. Auto focus has improved considerably and the 5D did great.
Last time I took pictures every 10 minutes, and learned that the shadow moves across the moon pretty fast. So this time I took pictures every 5 minutes. I was a little disappointed with my totality shots, which turned out pretty dark. I bracketed my ISO levels, but next time I would bracket my shutter speed as well, because I suspect that I could have used a longer shutter speed to collect more light on the sensor. Oh well, it’s a challenge to do better next time! I might also take the laptop outside and shoot tethered, so that I could review the images in real time and make sure that they were good. Besides, it’d be a good way to keep myself awake between shots! :)
The moon really was red when it was fully in the Earth’s shadow. It was pretty cool!
I was lucky that the clouds cooperated. A couple of big cloud banks moved through while the moon was in full shadow, but they moved fast enough that I could pretty well keep to my 5 minute schedule.
I was also excited to hear two fun birds while I was out in the backyard. I’m getting better at birding by ear, and although I can’t say for certain, I’m pretty sure I heard two new birds: American Woodcock and Chuck-will’s-widow. Neat! But they don’t make my life list until I photograph them!
So it was total photographer insanity to stay up so late and then go to work the next morning, but it was strangely exhilarating, too. Boy did I sleep well last night! I’m looking forward to the next eclipse…