The Super Blood Moon of 2015 (SBM2015) provided photographers who could see it a fantastic opportunity to capture a beautiful, spectacular, rare event. With a clear sky, long lens, tripod, and some understanding of exposure, you too could photograph quite a unique even in sublime detail. Shoot the moon it should be easy! Right?
Well it does test some chops. For starters you need a LONG lens. I used a 600mm/8 and wished it was a 1000mm. Much less than 500mm and you’ll be relying on cropping to get the moon large enough in the frame.
Long lenses are slow. Mine’s a fixed F8. That means dark and difficult to find the moon and focus on it.
Many long lenses are manual focus. You can’t rely on the camera to get it in tack sharp. Also you can’t just spin it to infinity and call it good. Infinity is technically past the moon and even with F8 at infinity the moon isn’t sharp. Additionally my particular lens focuses past infinity to accommodate infrared photographers. Spin the focus ring all the way to one side and the images of the moon aren’t even usable!
Even with a long lens and getting the moon a nice size and in focus, you’re camera’s meter will be next to useless. With a full moon you can use the sunny 16 rule. A lunar eclipse is in the earth’s shadow so it is many stops darker. My exposure ended up being 1.3sec, F8, iso3200!
As you may gather, and may have experienced yourself, what starts off as a simple exercise to flex some photography muscle quickly turns into a formidable challenge.
When you do get that shot and you nail it, it feels really good. Given the beauty and infrequency of the event, I was elated with my results. While I had some stumbles figuring out exposure. When I got it, everything came together extremely well. Here’s the result of my efforts:
It’s uncropped with some sharpening, contrast boost, noise reduction, and saturation adjustment.
But wait, where’s the butt hurt you mentioned in the title?
Well I posted my SBM2015 pic on some social media outlets that night and it got a good reviews. The next morning I woke up and another area photographer had posted this:
Now while it’s possible this photographer is genuinely concerned about overplaying the SBM2015 this just comes across as sour grapes. Tons of people posted their own snaps of the blood moon, even cellphone shots. It even prompted some funny hashtags like: â€ª#â€Žcrappyeclipsephotos.
With an event like this I’m not going to say anyone shouldn’t shoot and share it. I don’t think it’s really going out on a limb to suggest that maybe this photographer thought they’d march out there with all the right equipment and hit a homer only to swing and miss. Why else try to take the wind out of so many others’ sails?
In keeping with the space theme I’d like to offer this photographer the following sentiment.