A super blue blood moon is about as rare as the moon gets. This morning’s event combined a super moon (larger than usual), a blue moon (the second full moon in a month) and blood moon (a total lunar eclipse – the first since 2015), all at the same time.
So, like a lot of other photographers, I was up early to capture it, and – no celestial photographer – I made every mistake in the book.
First, I failed to shift the internal meter to manual. A camera’s light meter is fundamentally useless in this situation. You need to make the adjustments manually.
Begin by setting the ISO to its base level. My camera’s base is ISO 100. I started there, but scrolled up to see what results I would get at various levels. This frame was shot at ISO 1250.
Second, an ideal aperture for photographing the moon is f11. When shooting manually, once you set the f-stop it will stay there.
The same with shutter speed. Set it at 1/125 sec. and leave it there. Because the moon is in constant motion across the sky, 1/125 sec. (1/250 if base ISO is 250) is needed to stop action and provide a sharp image of moonscape details. This shot was taken at far too slow a shutter speed, blurring detail.
Fourth, focus by hand. It’s much easier to focus on small distant objects manually than by trying to line up the focus sensor with the object. Trust what you see and your ability to capture it as you see it.
Finally, be prepared. If you don’t shoot a specific situation regularly, refer to photo sites like PhotographyLife.com, publications like Outdoor Photographer or ask a photo buddy how to do it right, well before the event occurs. As, during the moment, it changes too fast to step away and figure out what you’re doing wrong.
As, when something as rare as a super blue blood moon comes around, you want to get it right, then and there.