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Photographing a Lunar Eclipse - The Complete Guide

Fotografie einer Mondfinsternis

Another lunar eclipse will take place on January 10, 2020, which is a rare and promising opportunity for photographers to try their hand at a unique subject. Not only photos are particularly popular, but alsotime-lapse photography of lunar eclipses. But this type of photography is not that easy and integrating the environment into the unique light of a lunar eclipse, for example, often presents photographers with challenges.

So that the photo session is a success and you don't have to wait until the next appointment with blurred pictures, we'll tell you how to photograph it correctly, which accessories you need and what you should pay attention to. This is how you take your most beautiful pictures at the next lunar eclipse. It is important to choose the right ISO values, exposure time, accessories such astripod,Astroklar night light filter &remote trigger. But let's start again with the basics.

What is a lunar eclipse and what eclipse occurs?

On January 10, 2020 there will be what is known as a penumbral lunar eclipse, which means that the earth is located between the sun and the moon. The shadow of the earth, which is illuminated by the sun, falls on the moon. However, during a penumbral eclipse, the sun, earth, and moon do not form a straight line. On its lunar orbit, the moon only moves into the outer shadow of the earth and continues to be illuminated by the sun.

The reason we can still see the moon with the naked eye during a full lunar eclipse is that it still reflects residual light that shines on it from other areas of the universe.

Unlike the sun during a solar eclipse, the side of the moon facing us never completely darkens. As soon as it enters the shadow of the earth, it often shines in a pale or copper-red colour, which is why one then also thinks of ablood moon speaks. During a blood moon, the sunlight is refracted in the earth's atmosphere and casts a reddish glowing shadow on the moon.

Tips for photographing the lunar eclipse

Below we list the most important photo tips and correct settings you need for the most beautiful photos of lunar eclipses. Some of these tips are also useful for normal moon photography. But there are special challenges that must be mastered during an eclipse.

  • Find an observation site that is as dark as possible and has good visibility; because of the light pollution, it should be far away from large cities
  • Since the moon will be about 10 to 20 degrees above the horizon, you should have as clear a view as possible to the south and east
  • Skyline, mountain ridges and treetops in the picture can enhance pictures, but are especially recommended for advanced photographers

You should also keep the following things in mind:

  • Weather forecast A few clouds can set accents and create a mood, but a closed cloud cover makes pictures impossibleh
  • Depending on the phase of the lunar eclipse, different exposure times and lenses are recommended. A full moon is also a special challenge due to the amount of light
  • Keep the moonrise and moonset times in mind
  • Keep in mind the same times for the sun as well - the reddish sky after sunset creates good photos with a special moodg
  • The times for the rise and set of the sun and moon that can be called up online refer to a straight horizon. If you photograph in the mountains, the times will shift

Equipment check:

  1. solidtripod for wobble-free long-term exposure. In order to capture the dark moonlight, an exposure time of several seconds is already used in normal moon photography. During a lunar eclipse, this lengthens. Nevertheless, you should keep the exposure time as short as possible, since the moon moves relative to the earth and this becomes noticeable through motion blur from an exposure time of one second
  2. The are suitable for vibration-free recordings Radio and cable remote release from Rollei . They guarantee wobble-free triggering.
  3. Astroklar night light filter against light pollution from artificial light sources that cause yellow casts in night sky and astrophotography
  4. Neutral density filter (ND) reduce the amount of incident light (caution: the exposure time increases significantly), but do not falsify the color of the moon. When photographing without ND, the moon may turn white and lack contrast. The contrast of the lunar surface can be better worked out with light gray filters, since the camera has more image information available
  5. Long focal lengths are required for the distance to the moon. A 70-300 millimeters telephoto lens (Full format more like 500mm) is a good orientation, although of course it can be more. An extender can also be used. The choice of focal length depends heavily on whether you want to create lunar images related to the environment, or superzoom images of the lunar surface in eclipse, with no buildings or landscapes as part of the image
  6. Camera: In principle, you can take photos with all cameras. For optimal images, however, it is important to be able to make a fully manual adjustment. Higher quality compact cameras with a large zoom range are well suited, as well as cameras with interchangeable lenses (DSLR/DSLM) such as system and single-lens reflex cameras with telephoto lenses. With a full format sensor you need 500mm telephoto lenses, for APS-C cameras 300mm telephoto lenses are usually sufficient

General tips:

  • Best in RAW format record to with Exposure series and stacking (superimposed images) to achieve noise reduction. It is best to expose 40 shots in a row and then make a single exposure. Superimpose the 40 shots with AviStack2 or similar and sharpen them with functions such as Giotto's Mexican Hit Filter, and then adjust the tonal value gradient in Photoshop.
  • Bracketing are also useful because moon brightness and phases vary and depend on the clarity of the atmosphere and the moon's height above the horizon. In addition, as already mentioned, the image noise is reduced by stacking the series of images taken one after the other, because image noise is a static phenomenon
  • Disable auto ISO to manually adjust ISO values. If the ISO value is too high, the image noise is too strong. Moon photography required ISO values between 100 and 200 and apertures at f/8 .
  • Manual over Zoom and focus live view , the autofocus must then be switched off. In live view, you can set the exposure using the shutter speed. Focus on the moon and observe how brightly the moon is photographed as you change the shutter speed. Choose an exposure time so that the contour of the moon can be seen. Auto metering often fails because most of the image is black. Spot metering cameras offer the advantage of being able to calculate exposure based on the brightness in the active focus area. So place the moon in the middle, choose the aperture, measure the exposure and then apply it in M modeen
  • Turn off VR/IS stabilization , since it is photographed with a tripod
  • lens Stop down 1-2 third stops , for optimal sharpness (even with time-lapses, which can be deflickered with LRTimelapse when post-processing the RAW file)
  • Mirror lock-up or self-timer Use (1 to 2 second delay) to prevent blur
  • A full moon guarantees an optimal size and always more impressive shots
  • Choose a location with room to move. Because if you haven't made a plan or made a planning mistake, you may have to move a few meters quickly to avoid the optimal image detail to get
  • Choose a building, tree, or object that is tall to photograph next to the moon. At the comparison you can imagine the size of the moon
  • For telephoto lenses with focal lengths from 200mm to 300mm you should especially at Beginning and end of totality photograph, because the umbra is lighter towards the edge and the exposure times can be reduced
  • During totality, autofocus sensors can barely focus. It is therefore best to focus beforehand and then open the lens manual focus switch

Example of photographing the full moon:

In order to optimally stage the full moon behind the Caravaca de la Cruz in Murcia (Spain), the photographer Antonio Carrillo planned the location and the image composition in advance. The result is an exciting image that integrates the moon into the environment.

Mondfinsternis fotografieren

Mondfinsternis Caravaca de la Cruz

Common problems when taking pictures:

The eclipsed moon cannot be focused  Focusing should be done before the eclipse begins, if possible. In general, the autofocus should deliver good results. After successful focusing, switch off the autofocus (AF) and then do not change the focus again!
image too dark It can help to lower the f-number, depending on the lens 2.8 to 5.6. The exposure time can also be extended. Increase ISO number (the higher the ISO number, the more noise)
picture too bright the  automatic exposure the camera will probably create an image that is too bright. Manual exposure can help. Any automatic exposure should be switched off, including the ISO automatic.
Very strong image noise With exposure series work (50 or more), later using stacking. Thus, noise can be reduced since it is a static phenomenon. Lowering the ISO number and increasing the exposure time can also help.
picture blurred In this case, the process of elimination must be followed. If the focus is set correctly and AF has been deactivated, the problem is that the exposure time is too long. The moon wanders, the image blurs. Then you have to work with a shorter exposure time while increasing the ISO. Is the tripod stable enough? Even a gust of wind can be enough to cause camera shake. To ensure a shake-free release, you should work with a cable release, self-timer and, for DSLRs, with mirror lock-up..

To the Decrease in brightness when entering the penumbra to document, one should photograph the moon every few minutes. Now you can see that with the same exposure time, the brightness decreases(Histogram), so that the exposure time can be adjusted as the darkness progresses. Especially shortly before the umbra phase, only a few percent of sunlight hits the moon at the edge, which darkens before it becomes a blood moon. This is more evident in the pictures than it is when you see it with your own eyes.

If you want to photograph the partial phase without the areas in the umbra being visible on the image, the exposure time could be at aperture 5.6 and ISO 400 about 1/250 to 1/10 second amount, so that the areas of the moon at the edge of the umbra become clear. Exposure series and stacking also help here to find the optimal mean value. Should he moon in umbra are clearly imaged, the same exposure times apply as for totality.

Maximum possible exposure time with full format and lunar eclipse

 focal length Max exposure time
28mm focal length 25 seconds
50mm focal length 10 seconds
100mm focal length 5 seconds
300mm focal length 1.5 seconds
500mm focal length Approx. 0.7 seconds / 1 second at a large distance from the celestial equator

These values were determined experimentally and have no mathematical basis.

Source:heytps://eclipse.astronomie.info/lunar/foto/

Lunar eclipse in Germany until 2025

 date time Type of lunar eclipse
01/10/2020

8:10 p.m
(CEST)

penumbral eclipse
10/28/2023

9:14 p.m
(CEST)

Partial lunar eclipse – Complete course of the lunar eclipse visible
09/18/2024

4:44 a.m
(CEST)

Partial lunar eclipse – Complete course of the lunar eclipse visible
03/14/2025

7:58 a.m
(CEST)

Total lunar eclipse – Completely darkened entrance
07.09.2025

20:11 (CEST)

Total lunar eclipse – Completely darkened entrance

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