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Photographing a lunar eclipse

The time for moonrise came and went, but there was no moon to be seen, so I continued shooting light trails. Another hour passed and I got a feeling that I had made some mistake or something, that the direction I was looking wasn’t actually south east, although my compass insisted it was. For a split second I thought I might as well call it a day, when suddenly I noticed a faint, reddish glow in the sky and it struck me at once that this was the moon, although it was really hard to make out.

Elusive Moon

It was farther right than I would have liked, but that couldn’t be helped, the light trails had been shot and I had to make do with the composition I had chosen for my picture.

An Idea

So it was clear to me that there would be some major post processing later on, the question was, how do I get the trajectory right if I have to start rotating the camera to capture phases that will be outside my composition? The solution to this problem was to take 2 pictures every time I had to move the camera, one capture before moving it and another capture directly after. The first capture would then give me a reference of where the second capture (and every other capture taken at that camera position) needed to be placed.

That still didn’t solve the problem of the trajectory leading out of the picture, though. Then again, I don’t shoot these landscapes for scientific or documentary purposes, to me landscape photography is an art and everything’s fair in art as long as you, the artist, feel good about it. So I decided to move the whole trajectory to the left and down until it fit into the image. Who is ever going to care about this drastic change? Hardly anyone I bet.

2 thoughts on Photographing a lunar eclipse

  1. Hi Thorsten, I have to say I love the shot – very creative. The blown out highlights in the moon don’t bother me one bit. I actually quite like them, I think they add to the story and helps to show off just how dark the moon was when it was ‘eclipsed’. Sometimes we can get a little too bogged down in the technical stuff.

    • Thanks Chris, glad you like it! The reason why these technical ‘defects’ bother me is that they go against the style I’m aiming for. A while ago, when I was still excited about 500px, I bookmarked a few dozen pictures that ticked all the right boxes for me (see here). I then examined these pictures looking for common elements/techniques and strife to use these in my own pictures as well. In that light the lunar eclipse image is ‘a nice try’ on my scale. If the weather plays along, I’ll try to take a shot of the Milky Way on Sunday night, still need to scout the location though (need a place rated 3 on the Bortle scale at most, I tried one rated 4 a couple of weeks back but that one was a struggle because of the light pollution).

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