Super Flower Blood Moon 2021: Here’s how to photograph the total lunar eclipse
The Super Flower Blood Moon eclipse on Wednesday (May 26) won’t stick around long, so if you want to capture photographs of the celestial spectacle, you’ll want to plan ahead.
Whether you’ll be using your cell phone or a standalone camera to photograph the eclipse, NASA has some tips for getting the so-called blood moon to really shine in your photographs. The agency’s first tip is simple: practice. Consider going out early and taking some time before the lunar eclipse begins to photograph the full moon in its normal silvery hue and get a sense of what your images will look like.
You’ll also want to consider how you frame your shot. “Look for foreground objects to frame the moon, give context, or add to the design of your image,” NASA advises. NASA photographer Bill Ingalls has told Space.com in the past to use tools like Google Maps and compasses to scout out your location in advance and prepare your shot.
Super Flower Blood Moon Eclipse
(Image credit: Courtesy of Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre)
If you take a photo of the 2021 total lunar eclipse let us know! You can send images and comments to email@example.com.
From there, the best approach will depend on your equipment, according to NASA.
If you’re using the camera built into your cell phone, you’ll want to first stabilize the device, ideally with a tripod (but if you don’t have one, you can prop it up on something else to anchor the phone). If your phone includes a photo timer, the agency also recommends using that feature to avoid moving the camera when you snap the image.
You should also make sure your flash is off and the camera is focused on the moon itself, not the sky around it. Reducing the brightness in your settings can additionally sharpen the moon’s features in a photograph. The moon should look gray, not white, the agency notes.
If your phone allows you to adjust additional settings, try reducing the ISO, increasing the aperture or f-stop to a wider setting, and perhaps even increasing the shutter speed as well.
A map showing where the May 26, 2021 lunar eclipse is visible. Contours mark the edge of the visibility region at eclipse contact times. The map is centered on 170°15’W, the sublunar longitude at mid-eclipse. (Image credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)
With a standalone camera, whether it shoots film or digital, you’ll want to take similar steps to optimize your eclipse photography, but with a separate camera you’ll be able to tune the camera’s settings in much more detail.
As with a cell phone camera, ISO, aperture or f-stop and shutter speed are the key settings to adjust. But you’ll need to balance all three factors carefully, just as with any photography, to achieve the particular visual effects you want. This image gallery with camera details can give you a sense of how the settings interact.
But if you’re looking for some settings to start with, moon photographers often recommend using what’s dubbed the “Looney 11” rule: set the camera’s aperture to f/11, then match the ISO and exposure time — for example, start at ISO 100 and exposure time 1/100, then try ISO 200 and exposure time 1/200.
Lastly, remember that time is crucial for this lunar eclipse: totality will last only about 15 minutes.
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