f/4, 3 seconds, ISO 400, 112mm, Nikon D60
On Saturday at 4:30 AM, I was smugly waiting in my kitchen with a thermos of hot tea. With four hours of sleep, I could boil water but had forgotten most of my research from the night before. Fortunately, the shooting hill was a short distance from the house, so I was hoping to refresh my memory by spending the next 3 hours and 32 minutes referring to the Lunar Eclipse Exposure Guide. As a NASA astrophysicist, MrEclipse explains things like Danjon brightness values and focusing just short of infinity.
|Eclipsing moon setting to right of Mindego Hill.|
f/5, 5 seconds, ISO 100, 70mm, Nikon D7000
After running up and down the hill (which really didn't make any difference but was kind of fun in the dark), we picked a spot near the gate and mounted our cameras on tripods with some muttering over f-stops and shutter speeds. The hardest part was getting a good focus. You would think this would be easy, but the moon is far away and with the big contrast in light/dark conditions, it is difficult to tell if your focus is crisp. Furthermore, you have to keep changing your settings since the brightness of the moon is constantly changing throughout the eclipse, and the moon is gradually moving along an arc. Three hours under the charismatic night sky went by quickly and I never got a chance to refer to MrEclipse's cheat sheet for beginners.
f/2.8, 0.5 seconds, ISO 100, 200mm, Nikon D7000
|October moon rising over cities ten miles away from Dipper Ranch.|
|Cloudy sunrise opposite the lunar eclipse.|
|Eclipse at near totality.|
f/2.8, 2.5 seconds, ISO 100, 200mm, Nikon D7000
Photography is about light. Our eyes and brain see light one way. The camera captures light a slightly different way. With nature photography, I often struggle to make the camera create exactly what I see. Visual art is also about light, and when it reveals light in an unusual way, it helps us see and understand our surroundings differently, and maybe, just maybe we experience feelings that are deeper than our first visual impression. Since photography is a permanent record, we can also refer back to photos to ponder and deepen our experience.
- The moon is slightly more than 1/4 the diameter of the earth. That's bigger than I realized.
- The Moon formed 4.5 billion years ago when something big hit the earth and debris thrown into orbit eventually coalesced 238,000 miles away.
- We basically only see one hemisphere of the moon referred to as the near side. Honestly, I didn't know this. Here is the best explanation I have found so far and although the reference is kind of old, I hope it is correct because it makes such sense to me: "The moon keeps essentially the same face toward the earth as it orbits the earth, presumably because a slight bulge of matter exists in the side of the moon that faces the earth, allowing the earth's gravity to capture the moon's rotation. (As a result, the moon turns once on its axis with respect to the stars during each of its orbits around the earth). " A Field Guide to Stars and Planets, Donald H. Menzel and Jay M. Pasachoff, 1983.
- The dark side of the moon isn't. The Navigator will be researching how this misleading phrase came about.
- The moon moves to the right as it crosses the sky (if the earthly observer is in the northern hemisphere).
- Usually, there is at least one lunar eclipse in a year, and sometimes as many as three. But the next total lunar eclipse is not until April 15, 2014.
- Each total lunar eclipse is visible from about half the Earth's surface.
|November moon rising over Dipper hillsides. The green ghost image of the moon (from light bouncing in the lens) shows some of the details of the moon's surface such as the dark maria.|
|"Will this dream of mind fade out of sight|
Like the moon growing dim on the rim of the hill
In the chill still of the night"
Cole Porter, Still of the Night