Shooting the Blood Moon

Here is a little bit of the story of how I took the picture of the Blood Moon on 8 Oct 2014.

Blood Moon

The eclipse was full around 5:30 – 6:30, and I happened to be awake at that time, so I headed over to the parking lot of a church near us, where I figured I could get a good view. I took the D610, and swapped between a Nikkor 70-300 4-5.6d and a Vivitar Series 1 600mm catadioptric (mirror) lens. The Vivtar is a fixed f8 aperture, and is pretty hard to focus when it is that dark out, so I did most of the shooting with the 70-300.

While I was out there, one of the people from the church came out to see what I was doing, since there was a random car in a back corner of the parking lot. Once he saw I was photographing the moon, he was really cool about it, and left me to it.

Listening to a Martin Bailey podcast recently, photographer David Kingham talked about the “500 rule” for shooting the night sky. Basically, the rule says that to avoid motion blur in celestial bodies, your maximum shutter speed should be 500/(your focal length), or in this case, 500/300, or less than 2 seconds. If I was shooting with my 28mm lens, I can drag the exposure out to 500/28, or about 17 seconds, before you start to get star trails. This image was right at 2 seconds, and did not seem to get the motion blur, but anything I shot longer than that quickly did. That also means that the 600mm lens has to have an exposure of less than 1 second at f8, which means pushing the ISOs really high.

This was set up on a tripod (I use a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 4-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod with a ball head) and fired with a Nikon Wireless Remote to minimize camera shake.

Once I had the images, I imported them into Capture One Pro 8,  brought the white and black points in and added “punch” clarity to the image, and added some positive vignetting to correct the vignetting in the lens.



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