Dear Lifehacker, There is going to be a lunar eclipse early Thursday morning. Can you please give me some tips on how to photograph it, even with a point and shoot digital camera? Yours hopefully, Moonstruck
Assuming you’re willing to get up early (the eclipse will begin from around 5:20am AEST), the lunar eclipse could provide some interesting photographic opportunities. Astronomers are speculating that its appearance could be redder than usual because of the impact of volcanic ash, but we don’t
Some time ago, we ran a post advising people on the best way to photograph fireworks, and many of those tips are equally applicable to photographing an eclipse. Here’s a brief summary:
- Use a tripod for maximum stability. The effect of the eclipse will be lost if there’s any camera shake. You’re not photographing a fast-moving object, so a tripod isn’t a restriction.
- Use a remote control/trigger if possible. Again, this improves image stability.
- Think about image composition and choose a good location. If you don’t have an SLR, chances are you won’t be able to do a detailed close-up, so you’ll have a wide-angle shot with the eclipse as a main feature. Choose a location which adds interest but doesn’t detract from the eclipse; avoid having red cars, signs or buildings in shot, for example..
- Switch off the flash. The moon is (very roughly) 400,000 kilometres away from the earth, so your flash is only going to be a hindrance.
- Use a long exposure time. Photographing a bright object at a distance requires a longer exposure (assuming you can change that on your camera.) Five seconds is useful; if you go longer than around 30 seconds, your shot may lose clarity.
- Take plenty of pictures. Your best shots may not be evident on a small viewfinder; take lots of shots and check them on a large monitor later.
It has to be said: the results you’ll get from a point and shoot will never match what you can achieve with an SLR. However, by applying the concepts above to the extent you can, you should improve your chances of scoring an interesting photo.
If readers with eclipse experience have additional tips to share, we’d love to hear them in the comments. Happy shooting!
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