Supermoon Eclipse

September 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Being lucky enough not to have to get up for work the next day, I decided to go out and see the lunar eclipse that took place overnight from 27-28th September.


Unusually it was a stunning, clear night with excellent visibility.  It was a long vigil, with the event starting at just after 0100 and ending after 0600, although I called it a night somewhat after 0500.  I chose to go to Holt Heath, which is a slightly elevated heathland area away from substantial built up areas, but close to home.


I went simply to enjoy the spectacle and as a photographer, hoping to capture something worthwhile.


I took my longest telephoto lens, this being the Nikon 200-400 f4 Vr and used my D800, as despite being a full frame camera and therefore lacking the crop magnification factor, it has about the best pixel density I could put on target.  During the bright phases of the eclipse, as the shadow began to creep over the moon, I used my 1.4x teleconverter to extend reach a bit, but later during totality, the light was so weak I had to use ISO 6400 at f4, so the TC was not viable.


I used manual exposure mode to maintain some consistency in exposure values during different phases.


The event was actually very spectacular and exceeded my expectations.  I was amazed by how dramatic and hard the earth's shadow was.  It was also amazing how the moon dulled to a kind of grey and then started to glow red/orange as it became a proper "blood moon" during totality.  Totality was a long event itself at well over an hour.  Perhaps the most attractive phase to me was as the blood moon started to end and the edge of the moon was lit again by the sun.  This gave a real 3-dimensional look to the moon and a lovely colour and light gradient.


My images as stand alone shots were nothing remarkable so I was determined to make something of them.  I am ashamed to say that since I became an Adobe CC subscriber a few months back, I have not ever opened Photoshop!  Lightroom is so powerful and does almost everything I normally want to do with an image and I am very well-versed in using it.  Photoshop is a rather confusing mystery to me!  I looked up some tutorials on the internet and over a few hours managed to export some 19 images into photoshop as separate layers, created a 30x20 black canvas background layer and then began to arrange my moons!  One issue I had was resizing the larger images captured with the teleconverter to the same size as those taken without.  I was introduced to the transform tool and took the larger images down by the teleconverter's magnification factor in percent.


Eventually I came up with the below composite image.  I wanted to leave things as authentic as I could so I left the rather bright moon number 6 brighter than the others.  It was recorded in manual exposure mode at the same value as the nearby images and for some reason the moon just glowed brighter at this phase of the eclipse.


I am on a steep learning curve in photoshop but I was quite happy with the result.


20150928-_Supermoon Eclipse20150928-_Supermoon Eclipse


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