Tuesday’s lunar eclipse was the first time that it has coincided with winter’s solstice since 1638, 372 years! A once in a lifetime occurrence, so I decided to stay up and take photos. First thing was look up the times that the eclipse would occur and hope that there were no clouds. I gathered my equipment and then took a nap for an hour, setting my alarm for 12:40 am., which was the start time. After waking and going outside to see if it was clear, I grabbed my camera gear.
To shoot the moon you need a long lens, 300mm minimum, the longer the better. I used a 300mm f2.8 Canon L lens and added a 2X extender to create a 600 f 5.6 lens. I then used a 50D body which has a 1.6 crop factor for the chip, which basically gave me a 960mm f 5.6 lens. Next thing to grab was the sturdiest tripod I had which had a Slik Pro Ball head on it. The eclipse was almost straight up, so the ball head worked well.
Not having a remote cord handy, I set the self timer to the 2 sec. delay. That allows the camera to settle down after the shutter button is pushed. Next thing is to determine exposure. Because of the 2X extender, I knew I wanted to use f8 so that the lens would be stopped down one f-stop from wide open to improve sharpness. I started with iso 800. While the sun was still on the moon that gave me a shutter speed somewhere around 1/500. There were light clouds that cut the exposure down some.
I used the camera in manual mode and proofed the exposure on the camera monitor. Automatic will not work in a situation like this because of all of the black surrounding a bright white object. If your camera has a “spot” meter setting, this is the time to use it!
Once the earth’s shadow had completely covered the moon, about 1:40 am, I had to move my iso to 2500 and slow the shutter down to about 1/2 sec. to expose the red glow of the moon. I was really glad the Oklahoma wind was still, or everything would have been shaking at those slow shutter speeds. Next time there is a lunar eclipse, plan ahead and give it your best shot!