Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the winter solstice lunar eclipse

It was cloudy and gray for much of the day yesterday, so imagine my surprise when I went outside shortly before 11 at night and found a startlingly clear crisp night. Too bad Sacramento and Elk Grove are a dingy orange glow on the northwest horizon! I bundled up and went out with The Beast camera and the tripod, and sat on the back patio shooting photos until my fingers got too cold and it was too hard to keep the lens from fogging up (foggy lens = blurry photos!).

I'm glad I got to see the eclipse, it was pretty amazing. I know a lot of my friends didn't get to see it though. So I'm posting a lot of photos. These were taken between 11:04pm and 11:53pm Pacific time. All were shot with a Nikon D80 and a Tamron 200-400mm lens. Most were taken at 400mm, a few at 200mm. Shutter speed varied from 1/1000 of a second (the ones where the shadow area is totally black and the moon appears gray), to 4 seconds (where the entire shadow area is visible and bright). This was the most horrible shooting angle, it was nearly straight up. That makes it hard to see the viewfinder!

These photos are uncropped and unretouched. They are huge, 1680 pixels wide. If you want to use one as a new desktop picture, go for it!

I must say, as much as I like these photos, none really quite capture how it looked to the naked eye. When you look at it, you see the detail on the shadow area as well as the bright area. The camera, in my relatively unskilled hands, tends to want to pick one area or the other. I never was able to get the balance that I wanted. Oh well. Enjoy the range of pics, some of which are more accurate than others.

This is a really fast shutter speed, so it picked up the detail on the bright part of the moon but you don't see the shadow area at all. Neat pic, but this is NOT how it really looked.

This, on the other hand, is a much longer exposure, so while it sure brightened up the shadow area, it totally blew out the bright part. This is also NOT how it really looked.

Again, neat pic to see the detail on the moon, but not how it looked.

Still a little dark.

The shadow area is a bit on the dark side, but the bright part is still overexposed. Arg. In real life you could still see "the man in the moon" on the bright area too.

Not bad...

That's pretty good!

That's pretty accurate.

Too dark, but cool picture!

WAY too dark, this was definitely one of the 1/1000 shutter speed pics. Neat though to show much much of the moon was in shadow at that point.

A little dark.

This must have been a couple seconds of exposure. Not that bright in real life but I LOVE this photo!

A little bright.

WAY dark, but neato!

That's pretty close, a little too red though.

Pretty close...


Anonymous said...

Im kicking myself for not checking it out! Thank you for sharing your pics!- Steph

Peggy said...

What terrific photos, Katherine! We did have a great vantage spot out here in Wilton. I had taken some panoramas of the creek with the clouds and moon earlier - but in the darkness I set my camera on the wrong setting. The photos turned out kind of blurry - not too bad if you want to view them at 6.5% but a blurry mess at 100%. It was just a beautiful night. Thanks for sharing your photos.

Unknown said...

Beautiful photos, Katherine! We were under total cloud cover here and your photos are almost like being there to see it!

Jan Blawat said...

Are you changing the title of your blog to "My life, using a telescope"?

Granny Annie said...

Wow that sure makes up to those of us who missed it. Great photos.

Happy Holidays to you and yours Katherine. Thank you for making my year 2010 better through your blog. I look forward to sharing 2011 with you.

chickensforeggs@gmail.com said...

Like everyone said, great photos! We tried several times, bundling up and going outside to see if we could make out the moon behind the clouds, but it remained cloudly about 2 hours north (where we were). I love the art of photography!

Swellbelle said...

It's been said before but FANTASTIC PHOTOS! I am in awe. Thank you.

David Lobenberg said...

Fantastic photos! I'm using your fav. as a screen saver. Thanks!