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How to Photograph Tonight’s Lunar Eclipse


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Tonight will be the final lunar eclipse of the year.    This will be the second lunar eclipse of 2010 but the only total lunar eclipse.    During a total lunar eclipse the moon change change color from very dark gray, to bright orange to blood orange.   A lunar eclipse is completely safe to watch with the naked eye (and through your camera’s viewfinder).   No special filters are required to protect your eyes.  The event will begin at 1:33AM EST, it will reach it peak at 2:41AM EST and the entire event will be over at 5:01AM EST.    The event will be visible from North America, Greenland, Iceland, Western Europe and Asia.

Photographing the moon is actually much simpler than you might think and you probably already have the photography equipment necessary to do this.   You need need the following; a Camera you can set in manual mode, a focal length of ~300mm, and a tripod.     In my case I used a 200mm prime with a 1.4x teleconverter to give me 280mm.   Next you want to get your ISO low to reduce the possibility of any noise.   I set my ISO down to 100.    You’ll want to set your aperture to f/11 to make sure you capture all of the detail the moon’s surface has to offer.    Next I sent my camera into Live View mode and I manually focused by zooming in 10x on the LCD.  Additionally I had my camera sitting on tripod and add a few 3KG lighting bags to keep everything steady.   Camera shake will really matter in this type of shooting so I released my camera Profoto Airsync remote releases.    That’s it!   You now have a photography of the moon, right from your yard or driveway.

For post processing I simply adjusted the curves in photoshop to medium contrast and applied an unsharp mask filter at 150% to help bring out the moon’s surface a little more.

Here is a summary of the settings again for easy reference: Canon 5DMKII, Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 L, 1.4x teleconverter, 1/125, f/11, ISO100, shot in Live View, manually focused, released with Profoto Airsync.

Here is my practice shot from my yard in Tokyo, Japan.

Full_Moon_over_Tokyo How to Photograph Tonight's Lunar Eclipse Activities

Dave Powell is a photographer based in Tokyo, Japan.   He writes Shoot Tokyo photography blog.   You can see more of his work at or follow him on Twitter (shoottokyo).

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  1. Shellie Evans on December 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for the tips from Downunder in NZ. Our lunar eclipse happens at 8:40pm tonight, hopefully the cloud will clear by then!

  2. Julius Santos on December 21, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Thanks for the tip…I’ll try shooting it tonight.

  3. Bloggie camera on March 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I have tried to take that kind of photo, but always failed. Your picutre is so clear and true. I hope I can take that like you.

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