The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

Prepare to shoot Sunday’s lunar eclipse

Weather permitting, we will have a good view of the full eclipse of the Moon starting about 9:36 pm this Sunday. If the sky is overcast, it will be May 26, 2021, before we’ll get the next chance to see such a show. 

If you have little or no experience photographing the moon, but this event seems too good for you to pass up, then your first step is to practice to give yourself a better chance for a great photo Saturday night.  

The November 28 article on the Looney 11 Rule suggested your initial settings were: f-11 lens opening for a full moon, f-8 for a half moon, and for a total eclipse use f-2.8. In each of these situations, the shutter speed is set according to the reciprocal of the ISO being used. If your ISO was set on 800, your shutter speed setting would be 1/800th of a second. The best thing to do is to give these settings a try, examine your results, and write down the settings that provided you the best results with your photo equipment.

Dress warmly and maybe have a container of something hot to sip. Have extra batteries and keep them in your inner pocket because cold will cause them to drain faster.  Have a flashlight so you can see to make setting changes. Set your tripod in a place that is as free from lights as you can find. If you are set up by 9:30 p.m. and the full eclipse is not till 12:12 a.m., you will be out in the cold over 2½ hours! Bring a lawn chair and blankets to be comfortable during the different phases of the eclipse. 

To minimize camera shake, pick from image stabilization, a cable release, timed release, and/or mirror lock up. If wind is a factor, attach a heavy weight to the tripod. If you’re going to use a mobile phone, see if the holder on your Selfie Stick will attach to a tripod. 

Astronomer Andre Danjon created the Danjon Scale with five levels. Check the accompanying illustration. The brighter the eclipse, the higher the level. His scale may aid in determining what ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed you’ll use.

A higher ISO setting will permit smaller lens openings and/or faster shutter speeds, but there’s more chance for digital noise. Practice and camera specs should enable you to determine your maximum ISO setting. Lens opening and shutter speed work together. A smaller lens opening gives sharper results, but reduces the light hitting the sensor. As a result, it takes a slower shutter speed to deliver adequate light. Practice and find a compromise setting that provides the best for both f-stop and shutter speed. It’s a lot to consider, but you’ll have some time to make some test shots and evaluate them before the full eclipse.

If you do achieve some good images, consider posting them and info on your camera, lens, and settings. Sorry for all the “ifs”, but I was trying to cover all the bases.

POSTED: 01/17/19 at 1:41 am. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News