Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Last Night's Blood Moon (Some Lessons Learned)

I stayed up just late enough last night to photograph the lunar eclipse and blood moon. It was an interesting show, and I look forward to the next one.

I mounted my Samsung NX200 (with a 50mm-200mm lens attached) to a tripod and pointed it toward the moon. I snapped a few exposures. The one you see below I liked best.
Blood Moon 4/15/2014 - Stallion Springs, California 
A little technical data: ISO 200, f5.6, 4 second exposure, manual focus. Now let me tell you what I did wrong and the (faulty) reasoning why I chose what I did. I wanted to "zoom" by cropping, so I wanted the lowest ISO that I thought I could get away with. The largest aperture on the lens is f5.6 (depth of field was no concern), so I chose that. I figured a four second exposure would be short enough to not show the motion of the moon (well, the Earth, really), but long enough to get a correct exposure. That put my ISO at 200.

Where I went wrong was guessing the exposure length. Four seconds was too long. I needed a two or maybe even one second exposure. I should have used ISO 400 or maybe even ISO 800. I would have had a better photograph if I'd done that. Instead, there is a slight amount of motion and the moon is slightly blurred. You can see just how much movement there was by looking at that star (or planet or whatever it is) just to the right of the moon.

I've had better luck photographing the moon in the past. Nearly one year ago from almost the exact same spot and using the exact same equipment I captured the image below.
Half Moon - Stallion Springs, California
The good news is that I have three more chances to get this right over the next 18 months. The next blood moon will be on October 8, 2014 at about 5:30 am Pacific Standard Time.

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