I’ve finally started getting out of my house more often with COVID-19 rates falling off and the weather being quite pleasant throughout the spring. I have to admit, I’m in a psychologically better place as things get better in the U.S with the pandemic. I hope it’s the same for many of you.
Anyway this past Wednesday, there was a total lunar eclipse which was supposed to have been visible for most of the US, well at least if the conditions were right. I got up super early and drove out to a location (40+ miles out) I had scouted out. The hour was early and the clouds were thick. I waited around for a good 2 hours before giving up and heading back home for some shut eye before work.
I was absolutely disappointed that I had come away with nothing for all the effort I had put forth. My previous night trying to photograph a the flower moon over the Dallas skyline had also ended in failure. The moon showed itself at a point way too high in the sky for the dramatic shot I was looking for.
So I was short on sleep, a bit agitated, and behind on work. This was not a great way to start out the day.
As the day swung by, my disappointment started shifting into determination. The forecast looked considerably better and I didn’t want to be the one to be guilty of not putting myself in position for the shot when I could. Despite being drowsy and ready for bed, I got back in my car to head out to the spot once more.
It was a long wait and I was ready to leave more than once, seeing the clouds slowly drift their way into the composition I had setup. However, just about 30 minutes after sunset, the moment finally arrived. The moon rose directly over the Trinity River and I was able to get one of the shots I wanted:
About the technicalities of getting images like this:
The most annoying part about photographing a full moon on the night of the full moon is that the event occurs after sunset at which point the foregrounds are so dark that you really have to push the ISO higher to maintain a short shutter speed. The short shutter is important because the moon is so much brighter than any other object of interest in most frames.
Lucky for me, my Sony A7SIII (my primary camera at the moment) was fully up to the challenge. The ISO (low light) performance on this camera is so good that I was able to shoot most of these at 1/100 of a shutter speed at f5.6 and ISO 12800 on Sony F4.5-F5.6 70-300 lens. I actually didn’t even need a tripod to shoot this image:
For reference, normally the settings I mention using the 70-300 lens would produce super grainy and dark images, on most other cameras. You wouldn’t see much of anything except the moon basically.
As the moon kept rising, I ran across the bridge to another vantage point to get it aligned behind the iconic Margaret Hunt Bridge. This turned out to be my favorite shot of the night.
It was a great experience shooting the Flower Moon this month and I hope to get a hold of some more great images to share next month as I try to improve. A valuable lesson I learned throughout all of this is that I can go for a slightly slower shutter and not worry about the moon moving as much as I thought it would.
Enjoy the rest of your long weekend! Which image is your favorite of the lot?
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