February 20, 2008
It was cloudy most of yesterday and the clouds kept thickening right through sunset. The lunar eclipse was supposed to start right around then in the Mountain Time zone we live in. It was getting good and dark outside when a thunderstorm with lots of bright lightning began rumbling to the north. Radar showed it moving west to east just north of our home.
But against all odds, the moon broke through the clouds around 7 PM. We saw it from the den, where we were watching the Colbert Report on DVR. I hurried downstairs to fetch my Nikon D80 camera, new Nikon 55-200 mm lens, and tripod and soon had them set up on our upstairs back patio.
This first photo was taken not long after 7 PM. The exposure was tricky. If I exposed for the light part, the dark part would be too dark. If I exposed for the dark part, the light part would be too light and the shutter speed would be so slow that the moon would move while the photo was being taken. (I have lots of blurry photos of the moon, so I know from experience.) I fiddled around with bracketing. This shot was taken at f5.6 with a 1-second exposure.
This second photo was taken at least a half hour later. The moon had disappeared behind the clouds and come out several times. Then it developed this reddish glow that was likely from the shadow of the earth’s atmosphere. (At least that’s how I remember these things working.) This shot was taken at f5.6 with a 1/4 second exposure. There’s pretty good detail on the face of the moon.
I closed up shop (so to speak) after this shot. It was just too darn windy and cold to keep at it. Besides, the clouds kept hiding and revealing the moon. Call me a fair-weather photographer and you wouldn’t be too far from the truth.
Next time I’m going to try to do one of those multiple exposure shots where you see the earth’s shadow creeping over the moon a bit more in each shot. For that, however, I’ll need a good, clear shot of the sky, reasonable weather, and a quicker lens.