If you're interested in how I achieved this result (or if you want to photograph a total lunar eclipse in the future, which is set for December 21, 2010), what follows is a brief tutorial on how to photograph the lunar eclipse. First of all, a sturdy tripod is a must. Second, I recommend using a telephoto lens (I am assuming dSLR users, as point-and-shoots won't really work too well). Yesterday's entry was shot with the 100mm macro lens, and you can see how small the moon appears there. After photographing the moon with the 100mm macro, I switched over to my (crappy) telephoto lens, and photographed the rest of the night at the maximum 300mm. The moon which appears in the lower-left corner (i.e., number 1 in a sequence of 17) was captured at around 8:45PM, while the moon was still low in the sky. I was still testing out different exposure times here, so in that instance, the moon is overexposed (exposure time of 1/15 seconds).
As totality started approaching, I realized that I should be shooting in the range of 1/200 seconds to 1/500 seconds, so those were the approximate exposure times of the next seven shots of the moon. However, as soon as totality occurred, the moon was barely illuminated, so I changed the exposure time to 2.5 seconds. Totality lasted for close to an hour, so I had the chance to experiment with exposure times (I tested exposure times from 1 second to 4 seconds) before I finally settled on 2.5 seconds.
When the moon began to reappear, I again over-exposed the result (#13 out of 17), but then settled into (mostly) proper exposure after that (#14 also is slightly over-exposed). The last five entries in the sequence were captured approximately seven minutes apart, since at this point I began timing when I captured my shots. I think the best photo of the night is shot #17, although I like #11 (peak of totality) very much as well.
All in all, this sequence was captured in a span of just over three hours. There is imbalance in the number of photos before totality (eight shots) to the number after (five shots), probably because I was shooting without any sort of regularity (i.e. stopwatch) initially. The exposure times for the shoot varied dramatically - from 2.5 seconds at totality to 1/2000 seconds for image #17, when the full moon re-appeared. Also, the aperture values varied from f/7.1 to f/11, while I maintained ISO at 400 for the duration of the night.
The final version is over 8,000 pixels wide, and I decided to go with a 3x1 crop for the final presentation here (which probably deserves some tweaking to make it more symmetrical). I may go back to the layered PSD file in Photoshop and adjust exposure times of the over-exposed shots of the moon, but I left them 'as-is' in this presentation to serve as an 'unedited' guide of how I captured this spectacular event.
As a final note, I've been printing a bunch of panoramas lately, and I am certain this time-lapse photo would look awesome when printed 12 in. x 36 in.
If you have any thoughts and/or questions, feel free to leave a comment.
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