Lunar eclipse sequence, April 14th and 15th, 2014, Trona Pinnacles, California.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a complete lunar eclipse developing on January 31, 2018. The overall eclipse will probably be seen in central and western North America, Australia, and far of Asia. It’ll even be a “blue moon,” (the second full moon of the month), and a “supermoon,” (with the moon nearer to the earth than regular, so it can look barely bigger). This web page at exhibits the place the eclipse will probably be seen, in addition to the timing of the occasion.

In North America the eclipse will happen because the moon is setting within the west simply earlier than dawn. The additional west you go, the upper the moon will probably be throughout totality, and the longer the eclipse sequence you’ll be able to see. Folks within the mountain states ought to have the ability to see the complete one hour and sixteen minutes of totality, whereas these of you within the northwest might see (with clear skies) all of totality plus the entire partial eclipse section afterwards. Sadly, the overall eclipse is not going to be seen on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada.

Because the eclipsed moon will probably be low within the sky to the west in North America, there needs to be some nice alternatives to juxtapose the moon with pure or artifical options. I’m certain we’ll see photographs of the eclipsed moon subsequent to the Area Needle if there are clear skies in Seattle. And the identical goes for the Golden Gate Bridge. However any spot with an fascinating view to the west might work, so there are tons of prospects.

Gear for Photographing a Lunar Eclipse

  • DSLR or mirrorless digicam with full guide publicity management. Check your mirrorless digicam first to ensure you can focus and compose at midnight with the digital viewfinder (see “Focusing” beneath)
  • No less than two absolutely charged digicam batteries
  • Sturdy tripod
  • Cable launch, digital launch, or distant
  • Interval timer or watch
  • Flashlight or headlamp

Moon Place and Timing

When the partial eclipse begins the moon will turn out to be a smaller and smaller crescent because the earth’s shadow appears to take a chew out of the moon. Through the complete eclipse the moon will look a lot dimmer, and switch orange and even red-orange in colour. The sky will probably be stuffed with stars, as if on a moonless night time. Simply after the overall eclipse the moon will return to a slender crescent after which get bigger and bigger, till the eclipse ends and the moon turns into utterly full once more. (You received’t have the ability to see this final partial section in a lot of North America throughout the January 31st eclipse.)

With most nighttime photographs you wish to get away from metropolis lights and light-weight air pollution. You don’t essentially want darkish skies for a lunar eclipse, because the moon needs to be clearly seen even in city areas (and even throughout the most eclipse). Having mentioned that, the moon will stand out extra clearly with darker skies away from metropolis lights.

To calculate the moon’s place precisely — if you wish to line it up with a constructing or mountain, for instance — you’ll want an app like The Photographer’s EphemerisThe Photographer’s Ephemeris 3D, or PhotoPills. And also you’ll must know the timing of the eclipse, so listed below are the essential moments:

Partial eclipse begins: 11:48 UT, 3:48 PST
Whole eclipse begins: 12:52 UT, 4:52 PST
Most eclipse: 13:30 UT, 5:30 PST
Whole eclipse ends: 14:08 UT, 6:08 PST
Partial eclipse ends: 15:11 UT, 7:11 PST

Figuring out the timing of the eclipse, you need to use one of many aforementioned apps to determine precisely the place the moon will probably be from a given location at every stage of the eclipse. For instance, from my home in Mariposa, California, at 5:30 a.m. (the utmost eclipse), the moon will at an azimuth (compass path) of 277 levels, and an altitude of 18 levels. I received’t have the ability to see the tip of the partial eclipse from right here, as in line with The Photographer’s Ephemeris the moon will probably be at an altitude of -0.Four levels at 7:11 a.m. — just under the horizon. (It’ll even be getting fairly gentle by then, since dawn will probably be at 7:04 a.m.)

Photographing a lunar eclipse in Yosemite, California
Lunar Eclipse Sequence, 1:23 a.m. to 4:49 a.m., August 28, 2007, Yosemite Nationwide Park, California.


Since most trendy lenses focus previous infinity, you’ll be able to’t simply crank the focusing ring all the best way to the tip and count on to get sharp images. Probably the most correct strategy to focus at midnight, by far, is to make use of dwell view, amplify the picture to zoom in on the moon, and focus manually. Autofocusing on the moon also needs to work if the moon is shiny sufficient (like earlier than the overall eclipse begins) — however make sure you then flip autofocus off in order that the digicam doesn’t by chance give attention to one thing else if you press the shutter button.


Gentle meters are ineffective for getting good exposures of the moon, as a result of even a one-degree spot meter can’t learn simply the moon, however can even embrace a few of the surrounding black sky. So listed below are some solutions based mostly on previous expertise, together with making the accompanying images. You’ll want to make use of manual-exposure mode, and examine your digicam’s spotlight alert (the blinkies) to ensure you’re not overexposing the moon:

Full moon, or moon greater than half seen: 1/60 sec. at ƒ/11, 200 ISO
Half to one-quarter of the moon seen: 1/30 sec. at ƒ/11, 200 ISO
Lower than one-quarter of the moon seen: 1/15 sec. at ƒ/11, 200 ISO
Simply the sting of the moon lit: 1 sec. at ƒ/11, 200 ISO
Totally eclipsed in the beginning and finish of totality: eight sec. at ƒ/11, 800 ISO
Totally eclipsed, deepest totality: eight sec. at ƒ/11, 1600 ISO

In these examples I’ve stored the aperture fixed at ƒ/11, however in case you want extra depth of discipline you might use ƒ/16 and both double the ISO or the size of the publicity. However you wish to preserve the exposures comparatively quick, in any other case the moon will transfer and blur. You will get away with eight or perhaps even fifteen seconds with a wide-angle lens, however with a telephoto lens it’s essential use shutter speeds of 4 seconds or much less. To seek out the utmost publicity time on your lens earlier than motion seems, divide the focal size into 400. So 400 ÷ 25mm = 16 seconds, or 400 ÷ 100mm = Four seconds. Bracketing exposures is a good suggestion.

Eclipse Methods

Attempting to incorporate a foreground makes issues extra difficult, so the best strategy to {photograph} a lunar eclipse is to take a protracted lens and zoom in on the moon. Should you {photograph} the eclipse from starting to finish you’ll be able to even use Photoshop to assemble your photographs right into a montage displaying the entire sequence.

A extra evocative method — however a extra difficult one — is to make use of a wide-angle lens and seize the eclipse sequence with a foreground, as I did within the accompanying photographs. To do that you’ll first want to determine the precise path the moon will take so you’ll be able to compose your {photograph} accordingly. The apps I discussed above, PhotoPills, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, and The Photographer’s Ephemeris 3D, are invaluable for this. And also you’ll wish to get to your chosen spot early sufficient to seize the complete eclipse sequence, from full, to partially eclipsed, to completely eclipsed, and (if attainable out of your location) again via the partially-eclipsed phases.

When you’ve composed, be sure your tripod is solidly planted and locked tightly. In case your composition features a foreground you’ll wish to focus on the hyperfocal distance, which will probably be someplace between the closest object to the digicam and infinity, however nearer to the foreground. (Should you don’t know the best way to discover the hyperfocal distance, simply give attention to the foreground.) Then use a sufficiently small aperture to get each foreground and moon in focus. (A shiny flashlight and dwell view are useful for specializing in the foreground.)

Then make a sequence of exposures to seize the eclipse sequence. Within the three images right here the interval was ten minutes between every moon seize, however you might make it fifteen or twenty minutes if you wish to house the moons farther aside. Simply ensure you preserve the interval the identical all through the sequence. You need to use an interval timer for this, or simply use a watch and journey the shutter manually (utilizing a distant or cable launch, in fact). You’ll want to regulate the publicity occasions (and presumably the aperture or ISO as properly) because the moon dims and brightens.

Within the accompanying images I used digital flash or a flashlight to light-paint the foreground in between making exposures of the moon. Gentle portray is a fancy topic that I received’t get into right here, and if that is the primary time you’ve ever tried photographing an eclipse I’d counsel you retain it easy, and don’t strive gentle portray. Simply attempt to seize single photographs of the moon itself, or maybe a sequence with silhouetted bushes or different objects within the foreground.

You may additionally seize a body to make use of as the bottom (background) layer in Photoshop. For instance, within the sequences from the Trona Pinnacles (first picture, above) and Yosemite (second picture, above), throughout the complete eclipse I made an publicity for the celebrities, and used that starry sky because the background for the eclipse sequence. For the sequence with the oak tree from the Sierra foothills (beneath) the background is an publicity made because the sky was starting to lighten and switch blue at daybreak:

photographing a lunar eclipse
Oak tree and lunar eclipse sequence, December 10th, 2011, Mariposa County, Sierra foothills, California. This was a additionally a winter eclipse that occurred simply earlier than dawn, so the moon’s path was fairly much like the trail the moon will take throughout the upcoming eclipse on January 31st in North America. The moon’s path will curve to the proper because it descends, and in a lot of the continent the sky will begin to lighten throughout the complete eclipse, because it did right here.

Assembling A Sequence

Should you get bold and take a look at a sequence, the ultimate step is to assemble the photographs in Photoshop. From Lightroom you’ll be able to choose the photographs and select Photograph > Edit In > Open as Layers in Photoshop, and Photoshop will stack the photographs into one doc as separate layers. Or you are able to do this by hand utilizing the Transfer device to pull one picture on high of one other; simply ensure you maintain down the shift key whereas dragging in order that the photographs align correctly.

Drag your background layer to the underside of the stack within the Layers Panel. Then change the mixing mode of each layer besides the underside one to Lighten. This makes gentle areas override darkish areas, so the moon from one body will override darkish sky from one other body. As you do that you’ll see all of the moons magically seem and full your sequence. Should you light-painted a tree or different object, that too will seem if you change the mixing mode for that layer. And in case you used a telephoto lens to seize the entire eclipse sequence, you need to use the Transfer device to pull every layer round and prepare the moons in your canvas.

Upcoming Lunar Eclipses

Photographing a lunar eclipse takes planning, and a willingness to lose some sleep, however it may be a tremendously rewarding expertise. And in case your images don’t end up in addition to you hoped, you may get one other likelihood quickly. There will probably be one other complete lunar eclipse on July 27th this 12 months, seen in Europe, Africa, and far of Asia. And on January 21st of 2019 a complete lunar eclipse will probably be seen in the entire Americas, Europe, and a few of Africa.

Good luck!

Learn extra articles like this on Michael Frye’s weblog at

Michael Frye is knowledgeable photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He’s the writer or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Information to YosemiteYosemite MeditationsYosemite Meditations for GirlsYosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Panorama Images: Within the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Nice Masters. He has additionally written three eBooks: Gentle & Land: Landscapes within the Digital DarkroomPublicity for Out of doors Images, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Important Step-by-Step Information. Michael has written quite a few journal articles on the artwork and strategy of images, and his photographs have been revealed in over thirty nations all over the world. Michael has lived both in or close to Yosemite Nationwide Park since 1983, at present residing simply outdoors the park in Mariposa, California.


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