Total Eclipse of the Moon

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I had been planning to do this blog every two weeks and had some golden evening shots of the horses to share but...there was this



                                      magical event

that happened right above our farm that I set my alarm for 4:30 am to get up in time to capture and so, you get to hear about the lunar eclipse :)  The night before I decided to take a picture of the moon with the clouds, just in case it was going to be overcast (I wasn't sure) and to just capture a mystical picture of the moon and the clouds.  I was really looking forward to the eclipse the following morning!

Just so you know...there are a LOT of pictures in this blog :)

Yes, as I said, I set my alarm for 4:30, my cell phone alarm for 4:40, and woke up at 4:00 because I was worried my cellphone would crash overnight like it did two nights ago. I got up, went to the dining room and looked outside in the brightness of the moon's hadn't started yet. I went back to bed until the alarms went off and checked out the window again...not yet. I went to bed again until 5:00, looked out the window and it had just started! I grabbed Big Fiona and Little Fiona and my cell phone and my tripod, put my Carhartts on over my candy cane striped pajamas, pulled on my warm, conehead wool hat, slipped my feet into my new Timberland boots and went outside ...excited to be under that blood red moon. The coolness of the dark morning air, the stars watching quietly, everything moving and revolving and I was literally riding in the middle of it all...we all were.

I wondered if it would feel different.

It did.

I had done some research on camera settings to get the best shot of the eclipse and one article suggested setting your ISO at 100 or 200 to get the clearest and cleanest image. This surprised me...ISO is your "film" speed and I thought you would want it much higher although I knew this would make the image more grainy in appearance. They suggested an aperture at f11 and shutter speed at 1/125 for ISO 100 and 1/250 for ISO 200. I put Big Fiona on these settings and set the timer so I wouldn't shake or move the camera when I pressed the shutter button. I set her on my tripod and we were ready.

I think I literally held my breath on that first one!

The beginning....

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 It turned out beautifully...the magic formula seems to have worked!   ISO 100, f6.3, 1/125

I stood there just outside the garage overlooking the pasture taking pictures every few minutes.

Eclipse sequence

This is a sequence of the eclipse and my camera settings

ISO 100, f11, 1/125

ISO 100, f11, 1/125

As the shadow increased, so did the darkness of the image

ISO 100, f6.3, 1/125

Here I increased the light coming into my camera by adjusting the aperture to 6.3.  You will notice that most of the shots have this setting and although I would have liked to lower the aperture, when my zoom is fully extended, this is the lowest it will adjust to. 

ISO 100, f11, 1/125

I changed the aperture back to f11 to see the effect

ISO 100, f6.3, 1/20

Here I adjusted the shutter speed to a slower speed which would allow in more light.  You can see that it just blew out the lighter portion of the moon

ISO 400, f6.3, 1/13

I increased my ISO ("film" speed) as well as slowed my shutter speed to try and clear up the images and get more details and depth

ISO 1600, f6.3, 1/20

I really increased my ISO here to see how that would affect the image.  A little more orange and more definition and detail.  :)

ISO 1600, f6.3, 1/13

These last two are the complete eclipse and I got that red color to show!    I was very happy and might have done a little dance!

I also used Little Fiona to capture some selfies of me in action. I wanted to capture everything...the moon, the view on the back of Big Fiona and me. In the dark, however, I had to use my flash and I knew it was going to be bright so I smiled and closed my eyes! Everything I wanted...the moon, the image, the goofy hat and smile. Happy photographer :)

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Once I had what I was looking for I then realized that this was going to take longer to go through the fullest part of the eclipse than it had seemed to get there. Time really did seem to stand still and it was as if the moon had bargained for extra play time with my camera and the night sky. A shooting star made its way across the sky as if to underline the beauty of the eclipse for me. Sorry, that picture is living forever in my memory...I did not get a picture of it so you will have to imagine it. I made a wish then made some adjustments to take some star pictures.

Nighttime photography is something I love to look at but something I have only tried a few times and that has actually been with lightning.  As you can see these have been post processed into black and white and the ISO was so high they turned out pretty noisy/grainy.  

I was still pretty happy to have captured lightning!

Lightning Storm...

I wrote about lightning once in a writing poetry class.  Wanna read it?

The "I Am" poem....

I am electricity and power,

I am death in a flash,

I am beautiful to behold...look but don't touch, capture me if you dare...

I am lightning, pure,


and beautiful to behold.

Yes...I love words as much as photography.  Captivating to weave and to feel...but I digress

Shooting stars...

When you point your camera at an object to take a picture your camera looks for something bright enough to focus on. Stars are not bright enough and the camera tries hard, bless her little digital heart, but can't find anything. So I set my LENS to manual focus and tried to shoot the stars over the trees.

I am actually not quite sure that this star movement comes from my lens slipping, the camera slightly moving or the movement of the stars themselves. I am also not sure why they came out looking like rainbows rather than a sky full of little pinpoints of white light. My lens set to manual focus seemed to turn the stars into little orbs in this one.

Obviously, my nighttime photography needs more practice but these still turned out fun and magical to me...just not what I had in mind! It was better :)

Rainbow lights and orbs...aka stars!

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I love the way they turned out all in color!

ISO 2500, f6.3, 20"  (That's a shutter speed of like 20 seconds)

I think this must be slow camera movement on the tripod...

ISO 2500, f6.3, 13"

I think this is actually movement of the stars, but I'm not sure

ISO 2500, f6.3, 6"

Same here...this is the Pleiades constellation

ISO 2500, f6.3, 6"

These last two...IDK how the stars turned out looking like orbs in the sky but I think it probably had something to do with the manual focus on my lens...

ISO 6400, f6.3, 2"5

I decreased my shutter speed so that it would stay open longer and try to get the outline of the trees in the foreground.  Still got the orbs!

ISO 6400, f6.3, 10"

I then thought it would be nice to try and get the shadow of the trees and the stars and the moon all in one shot.  Not too much to ask for, right?  Not an easy task, but I tried and here are my settings.

In this one you can see the color of the moon, but it is a bit blown out and blurred but you can see faint stars.  Not bad but not exactly what I wanted...

ISO 6400, f6.3, 0"5

Next, I adjusted my shutter speed...more definition in the treeline, moon still a little blown out but you can see the stars a bit more

ISO 6400, f6.3, 2"

I decreased my shutter speed here to try and find that happy medium...

ISO 6400, f6.3, 1"

Here I zoomed back in on the moon.  As you can see the focus is a bit soft and you can see faint stars.  I think I just don't have the lens power but I had fun trying! 

ISO 6400, f6.3, 0"5

The moon and stars...

Behind me the sun was rising just as fast as the moon was setting and so I moved to get some pictures of the sky over the corn and the light reflecting off of the window of my sleepy house. Remember to always turn around when you are shooting something interesting!

I realize they are a bit dark but with my ISO set at 1000 and 2500 they are also a little grainy...but that is what it looked like, without the grainy part

Sunrise lighting up the sky in the east

By this time, the horses were gathering around the fence expecting to be fed their breakfast. I noticed the heron sitting in the willow tree and the moon behind it so I set up to get some shots of it on my way to the barn.

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The horses, restless, joined in and in this series, I was set up to focus on the moon and the tree and was photobombed! Then Frederick came and stood right under the moon for me to take his picture with the eclipse. A few shots of him and Bob came over and chased him off and stood there for his picture with the eclipse. A few shots of Bob with the eclipse and Sue chased him off to have HIS picture taken with the eclipse! True story...with pictures to prove it!

Equine photo bombs!

The horses (finally!!!) got their breakfast and I took some shots of airplane trails over the corn that looked like the shooting star I had seen. The Universe is truly a magical place where wonderful things happen and show up to put the icing on the cake.

Suddenly I couldn't see the moon anymore but then caught a faint glimpse of it in the low cloud cover/haze. A few adjustments to get it more clearly.

Shooting "stars" and nearing the end

The final shot...

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I have never really experienced a lunar eclipse before but to be out there, under it all, watching it happen and recording the pictures to relive the experience again later was one of the most enjoyable times I have had. It was worth setting all of those alarms and getting up early for. I hope you enjoyed it, too, either firsthand or through my photographs.

Next lunar eclipse is April 2015 and we have a solar eclipse Thursday October 23 sometime between 3:30-7:30 pm.  


That alone should make that blog interesting :)

Details here:

My favorite lunar eclipse photo bomb picture

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