How To Shoot The Moon – Lunar Eclipse Edition

A total lunar eclipse of the moon will occur January 21, 2019

Tips on how to photograph a lunar eclipse

A total lunar eclipse will occur late Sunday January 20, 2019 into the early overnight hours of January 21, 2019. The long range forecast is questionable as to whether or not folks in the north east will be able to see it. But just in case we can and you want to grab some photos here are some tips:

  1. Bundle up. It’s the middle of the winter late at night
  2. Bundle up your camera too. OK so they don’t make sweaters for cameras but there are some important cold weather tips for camera. The most important one is to allow plenty of time for your camera to adjust to the colder temperatures. And don’t be tempted to bring your camera inside for a quick break and then go back out. Your camera will probably fog up once you go inside and will take a while to go away. The condensation could also happen inside your camera and lens which is not good. If you want to be real safe put everything in a large sealed plastic bag before heading inside
  3. You will need a tripod. Even though this won’t be a long exposure (the moon is brighter than you think) you still want a sturdy shot with no vibrations
  4. Have an extra battery or two. Cold eats batteries for breakfast. So have a couple of spares fully charged and ready to go. You don’t want to be out there with the perfect shot and then the camera battery goes bye bye.
  5. Get the longest length lens and optional extender that you have. There almost isn’t enough you need to make the moon look really great. 200 mm is not really enough. 600 is good but hard to come by
  6. Exposure compensation is key. As I mentioned above the moon is bright. But if you just point your camera up in the sky it comes out all fuzzy. Why? Your camera is trying to compensate the *entire* frame to the same level of light. But you (probably) don’t care if the background goes dark as long as the moon is properly exposed. It will be the middle of the night after all. So if you photograph in Program mode, you will need to use exposure compensation to decrease the amount of light captured so the moon looks darker
  7. Manual mode is better. If you are comfortable in going into manual mode use these setting as a start: ISO 100, 1/125 and f8 or f11. Depending on your camera or lens, you will need to adjust these settings
  8. Frame your shot. Look to see if there is anything you can include in the photograph to show scale in the photo. When the lunar eclipse reaches maximum, it will be up in the sky so this will be a challenge. But when it starts and may be a little lower, perhaps include some trees? Or a passing airplane? It’s too late for Santa 🙂

Good luck and remember item #1 above!! And if you’re in the northeast, pray for clear skies! The extended forecast doesn’t look good for sky watching…

More tips for photographing the lunar eclipse from B&H Photo.

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