The title is meant to have a touch of humor to it.  You may really only get to see a Lunar Eclipse a couple times in your life. 🙂
Seriously though, if you have ever tried to take a picture of the moon, you quickly realize that this task is not as easy as it seems.  If you meter off of the moon there are no stars in your shot.  If you extend the time of your camera for the stars, the moon gets blown out in your picture.  You also have to think about camera shake, star rotation, digital noise, etc…

Lunar Eclipse 2010

Copyright 2010 Daniel Holman

Fortunately, lunar eclipse’s are a little easier to shoot.  This is because the moon gets just dim enough that you are actually able to get a picture where the moon and stars appear.    But, here are a couple other things too keep in mind.

1. Keep it Steady
It is nearly impossible to take good pictures of the stars or moon without a tripod.  Most people know this.  But what you may not know is that even the pressure of your finger on the camera button can cause blur.   To eliminate blur all together you want to either put your camera on a self-timer or use a shutter release cable or remote.  My personal policy is not to touch the camera while taking pictures of the stars at all.

2. The Moon is Moving
While your are snapping away with extreme joy and elation, it is very easy  to forget that both the earth and the moon are moving the entire time your are shooting.  So even keeping your shutter open for 6 secs could cause the moon to get blurry (depending on your what your aperture and iso are set too).  So pay really close attention to your clarity on while looking at your lcd display.  A trick I try to adhere to is to look at the stars surrounding the moon.  Are they a line or a dot?  If they are a dot your clarity should be pretty good, if they are a line then your moon will most likely have a blur to it.

3. Clouds are Not Your Friend (at least not the moving ones)
If you are trying to take picture of just the moon and the clouds are blowing past (this happened to me last night) then your will probably get distortion and ghost images in your shot.  You may like this… cool.  Go for it, more power to you.  But if you are wanting a clear detailed moon it probably won’t fly.  The best thing to do is to wait for a break in the clouds and shoot as many shots as you can in that short period of time.

Hopefully you now feel a peace of mind knowing that the next time you run out to photograph a lunar eclipse (if you ever get a chance to again 🙂 ) you will have at least 3 basic photography tips stored somewhere in the recesses of your brain that you can call upon.

Happy Shooting,
Dan

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