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Lunar Eclipse Photos

Posted by Matt on February 21st, 2008 filed in Handy Hints, Outdoor Photography, Taking Photos

Lunar Eclipse 20th February 2008
Originally uploaded by ultrahi

Last night was a wonderful full lunar eclipse, where the Earth gets between the Moon and the Sun causing a shadow to fall on the Moon. If you were lucky enough to have clear skies then maybe you got a chance to watch or even take some photos. But what do you need to take photos of events in the night sky? Read on after the break…

Taking Night Sky Photos

  1. Stay Warm: When staying outside for long periods of time you’re going to get cold, so wrap up warm, take fingerless gloves, and a thermos of hot drink. Also remember to that your camera won’t like the cold – check out my tips on taking photos in freezing weather.
  2. Check the Weather: Yes, it will be dark, but it may also be cloudy – and unless you want pictures of clouds lit by something in the night sky then you may end up disappointed! You may have access to transport to take you somewhere with clearer skies forecast, otherwise just keep your fingers crossed for a break in the clouds.
  3. Have a Good Tripod: You will be doing lots of longish exposure shots, so keeping your camera still is critical. Also, having a remote shutter release is incredibly helpful. Failing that you can prop the camera on a chair and use it’s timer countdown.
  4. Take Test Shots to Work Out Exposure: Night shots can be tricky, as what looks bright to us hardly shows up to a camera. Most likely you’ll be doing longer exposures with a long lens, so try some test shots, review them carefully, and work out a good range of exposures to try. For events that are going to happen quickly make sure you do this ahead of time.
  5. Night Sky Objects Move: Everything in the night sky moves, even if we can’t see that movement. So when taking your photos you have to trade off the length of your exposure to get enough light against how much movement you want to see in the shot. Or you could be trying to get wonderful pictures of the stars moving across the night sky, in which case the movement is part of the fun.
  6. Know When Things Happen: Keep an eye on sites like NASA’s Lunar Eclipse pages, and others, to see when the next events are. Meteor showers like the Perseids happen yearly, but other events like comets, and eclipses are more irregular.

Have any more suggestions? Or have some of your own night photos to share? Then please add them in the comments.

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