Total Lunar Eclipse – Total Photographer Insanity!

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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…

Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse

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…

2 thoughts on “Total Lunar Eclipse – Total Photographer Insanity!

  1. Very cool!! I debated getting up for this, but the cloud forecast keep me in bed. How many times now have I regretted listening to the weather forecast! I also struggled with where I would shoot from since we have so many mature trees here. It’s tough to see the moon from anywhere but the street, and even then, the neighbor’s trees have a pretty full canopy. I’ll bet this would have been cool in the Arizona desert!!

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