Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

December 21, 2010

Like thousands of others, last night I braved the chilly temperatures to photograph the first winter solstice lunar eclipse since 1638 and the last during my lifetime. I recently took an online photography class on night photography with the stunning photographer (and great teacher) Kent Weakley where I learned about photographing the moon, among other things. I was excited to get out there and apply what I’d learned.

This kind of activity really exposes weaknesses in lenses and though my Panasonic DMC-FZ50 is a good camera, a higher quality DSLR with an exceptional lens would have been wonderful to have last night. Still, I’m quite pleased with how many of the images came out. Here are some of the better ones in a sequence of six (click on the image to get the full resolution):

The first four images were taken with the Tungsten filter applied. This is what gives the blue-gray tint. The fifth image was shot with the daylight filter and the last image with the Shady setting applied. This enhanced the red glow. I wish I had shot the latter two with Tungsten, as well, but what can you do.

Here is the sequence again with the image information (click image for full resolution):

Unfortunately, my photos of the eclipse when it was at its greatest (3:17am) didn’t come out. I wish I had known about Bob Atkins’ excellent discussion of lunar eclipse photography prior to starting to shoot the photos. Mine suffer from f-stops that are either too wide or not wide enough and exposures that are too long.

Because the night was so clear, however, I did get a chance to take some photos of the starts, especially Orion, which I have long loved to gaze at. (Ironically, back in college I wrote a poem that included a lunar eclipse and “Orion’s belt pointed at the shadowed moon.” If I can find it I’ll post some lines that relate.) Here are a couple:

Orion and the Little Dipper
Panasonic DMC-FZ50
Tiffen 55mm UV Filter, Shady Setting
ISO 200; F/2.8; 25 seconds; 7.4mm

Orion and the Little Dipper in Tungsten
Panasonic DMC-FZ50
Tiffen 55mm UV Filter, Tungsten Setting
ISO 200; F/2.8; 30 seconds; 7.4mm

All in all, a fun evening on the back deck. Totally worth staying up until 4:00am.

Comments (1) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | More: blog, color, digital

One Response to “Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse”

  1. Kent Weakley says:

    Bill,

    This is a great grouping of images. I especially like the moon collage. Well done. Thanks for sharing!

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