This is our second iteration of the “How was this picture taken?” series of articles and this time we have a fun picture to dissect – the Total Lunar Eclipse, a.k.a. the “Blood Moon”, which took place on the 27th of September. I had the chance to photograph the Blood Moon along with a few other Colorado Fall Color workshop participants last week, so after I put together the image below, I thought it would be fun to ask our readers about this one to see if they can figure out exactly how the below image was captured:
The answer has been posted here.
Here are the questions to answer this time:
- What equipment was used to capture the Moon phases and did it matter?
- What was the focal length?
- Specifically how was the Blood Moon captured and at what camera settings?
- How was the foreground captured and when?
- Is this a composite image or is it possible to capture the moon in a single shot like above?
- What post-processing steps were used to yield the above result?
I am sure those who have tried photographing the moon will most likely be able to answer most of the above questions, but let’s see if anyone can figure it all out!
P.S. A high-resolution 4096-pixel wide image will be released for the public domain when I provide the answer!
Just wondering any update on how is it done?
Nasim I’m eager to learn the answer. When will you post it?
Have already seen a lot of images of this blood moon and took a few myself, so I’ll take a stab at some of your questions….
I believe this to be composite of several images. Where the foreground was captured separately from the blood moon pictures…
1) Some DSLR with a tripod (critical!). The foreground was captured with a wide-angle lens, and the moon pictures were taken with a telephoto lens against a black background (night sky).
2) Focal length for blood mon I’d say was maybe 100 mm to 150 mm, but made smaller on top of this foreground image. Foreground was shot at 15 mm or so, for wide angle…
3) Blood moon was captured using iso of 800 or 1600 together with shutter speeds of a few seconds (3-10 seconds)
4) Foreground captured before blood moon started, possibly as the sun was setting. Looks like a low-brightness picture so I’d say it was a high aperture shot (F-stop > 10) with ISO or 400 or so. The higher F number requires a higher shutter speed…
5) Composite image (as detailed above)
6) The arc of the blood moons was created by taking them out of their own separate shots. By removing the darker background on those shots (i.e. making background transparent), they could be “arced” on top of the foreground image, creating this final image.
We’re told that this image is the product of the most recent lunar eclipse. That took place just a few days after the autumnal equinox, so we know that the Moon must lie exactly on the ecliptic and on or near the celestial equator. So it must have risen from nearly exactly due east, and set nearly exactly due west.
Which means that the path of the Moon as shown in this image is completely bogus.
If you’re not going to respect what nature looks like, please don’t do nature photography.
Peter, of course it is – it is a composite image. Moon never rises in a rainbow like it is shown in the image, that’s a given isn’t it? A lot of images of the eclipse you see are done in a similar way. That’s just another artistic way to show the eclipse. I never claimed anywhere that the path was correct. The only way you can do a composite that traces the moon as it went over the horizon is a vertical shot and putting the landscape as shown in the above image would be impossible. No need to get upset about this.
Of course you want people to assume that the path is accurate. You set it up to look just like an interval-controlled composite, and the world is full of such series of lunar eclipse photographs, so people are used to seeing images of these real paths and assuming that they’re real.
And given the right high-latitude location and time of year (midsummer/midwinter), yes, you could catch a lunar eclipse whose path would form a short shallow arc something like this.
So don’t be disingenuous. This shot is to astrophotography what a stuffed owl on a branch would be to wildlife photography. Nat Geo would never print it.
Peter, anyone who does astrophotography knows very well what’s possible and what’s not – the moon would never arc like shown in the shot, unless you were capturing extreme wide angle with a fisheye type lens. The foreground would look miniscule in comparison and you would see the moon as a dot. Unless the photographer used a telephoto lens with a foreground shot with the same telephoto lens, any time the moon is pasted into a shot, it is oversized. Even for the shot above, I made the moon look much bigger than it really is when compared to the foreground.
No need to get so sensitive about the shot – I have no plans to get it submitted to National Geographic :) It is just a composite shot of the moon, that’s it. My aim was not to make the moon look like the reality, that was not part of the plan.
Please stop your self. Of course you can’t tell people how to express their artistic mind.
1. Full frame DSLR like Nikon D810
2. Tele lens
3. Tripod, same camera position for all shots (not panoramic, image was cropped from top/bottom), for moon exposure: f8 starting from around 1/500 to 1/60 and back, time intervals around 5 min
4. The foreground was captured earlier – light source from top left relatively high (short shadows, details in shadows)
5. This a composite image, all images from the same camera position.
6. Post-processing steps included frames local color/brightness adjustments prior to merging.
It’s definitely a panoramic shot. I think several (10) vertical frames at around 50-70mm for the landscape on a full frame camera. The reason i think the focal length is 50-70 is because the mountains in the distance appear closer. If they were photographed with 24 or wider lens they would appear not that close, but i might not be correct. The foreground was lit by the light of the moon. Iso 400, f2.8, 30 sec. can make the night look like a day during full moon. Stitching the panorama with lightroom/photoshop and basic editing. Colors, contrast, dehaze maybe, shadows, whites, ect. For the moon was used a longer lens, around 150-200mm and then the moon was cut and added to the scene. Settings for the moon, when white: iso 100, f8, 1/400, when red maybe couple of stops brighter settings: iso 100, f4, 1/400 or 1/200. That’s my assumption.
I’m curious as to how it was taken, but that was a secondary thought. My main thought was what a pleasing image it is and how imaginative and technically capable it is. I get more from viewing it than working out how it was done. That you for posting it, I really enjoyed looking at it even on an iPad.
Most of the questions you asked could have multiple answers that would give the results you got. However I believe you shot the foreground after the eclipse was over using the full moon as the light source since it had risen quite high in the sky by that time. I would guess you stitched a number of images together for the foreground since it covers such a wide field of view. There is no way to know what combination of stitched images was used just by looking at the image. The moons were probably shot between 200 and 400mm. Numerous combinations of F-stop and ISO would work as long as the shutter speed remained less than around 1/4 or 1/2 second to get a proper exposure. Longer shutter speeds will start showing a blurry moon because of it moving.