How to photograph a lunar eclipse

2005-11-19_mg_5765-m.jpg

Tonight the moon will be eclipsed by the Earth which will turn it red for a few hours from about 10:44pm. I’ll be outside with my 20D and a Canon 75-300mm zoom hoping to grab a few shots, but first it’s important to know a few things:

  • The moon shines by reflecting light from the Sun and the Earth, it’s bright.
  • The night sky is dark which will fool camera sensors.
  • All celestial bodies are in motion. You won’t see it from moment to moment with your eyes of course but even a 1 second exposure of the night sky will produce an image that captures that movement.

What can you do? When photographing the moon normally, you expose as if you were shooting at midday on a bright sunlit day. The eclipsed moon isn’t as bright though. If you can, shoot in manual mode. Open your aperture as wide as possible on your lens (smaller f numbers), and take a few shots with different speeds. That’s called bracketing and is really easy and inexpensive with digital. Use the LCD screen on your camera and most importantly the histogram function – that will tell you if your image is exposed properly.

With my lens zoomed in it opens to f5.6, and I found that an exposure of 1/125sec gives a slightly underexposed shot of the moon. Start around there and work your way up and down the exposure times. If you’re using a digital camera it’s costing you nothing.

As you’ll be using a zoom lens, make sure that you have a tripod handy. It also helps to have a cable release too, but if not, use your camera’s timer function to reduce shake.

Here’s an excellent guide to shooting the moon. That guide recommends the “sunny 16” rule. Shoot at f/16 and bracket from there, but the eclipsed moon is much dimmer than a full moon. If you search around there’s a wealth of information online about photographing the moon. Good luck!

The picture above was shot on November 19th, 2005, colour corrected and sharpened but not resized. That’s about as big as a 300mm lens on a Canon 20D will do without extra magnification. It’s getting foggy outside. I hope it clears in the next hour!

Explore Cork City in Photos

Flickr has a wonderful mapping system that makes it super easy to view photos from a particular location. Unfortunately Flickr can’t automatically figure out where the photo was taken. That has to be done by the user but it’s as simple as opening the map in your browser and dragging it to the proper location. In the future your camera will do this for you like the brand new Canon 1D MKIII already does.

I do offer one warning. There are 17 pages of photos around Cork City center alone. It’s going to take you a while to get through them all but it’s an enjoyable romp around the city. You might even come across a few new sights! Go explore the city!

If discovering Cork isn’t enough, you can also visit Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, or even Blarney. Out of interest, I tried Mallow too but the link given for that doesn’t seem to work unfortunately.

I previously mentioned this mapping system here but it’s worth another look if you missed that post.

blueMarine – Free digital photography workflow software

blueMarine

blueMarine is being developed as an open source digital photography workflow environment. It’s written in Java so it’ll run just about anywhere – Windows, Mac and Linux should be “easy” to support.

I haven’t tried it yet and I’m not a fan of Java apps in general but has anyone else tried it? They say they’re close to a beta release so it might be worth a look soon.

Start thinking of an opensource application like Aperture or Lightroom that enables you to organize, develop, print and publish your photos. Pretty standard stuff nowadays.
Let’s go on and let’s think of the workflow. For the existing commercial applications the workflow starts just after shooting the photo and ends with a print on paper, the photo archived and maybe a web gallery published.

Judging by the screenshots, it’s come a long way, even supporting geotagging of images and “Gannet”, a plugin for the amateur ornithologist photographer. (found on the GIMP Users list)

Irish Blog Awards shortlist

Sob! Inphotos.org didn’t make the shortlist! I should have put that vote link and logo in the header like I did last year. I have been shortlisted for “Best Contribution to the Irish Bloggersphere”. I guess it’s for that WordPress thingy, eh? Thanks to everyone who voted for me. It’s really appreciated!

Plenty of great links on Damien’s shortlist post, including a couple of photoblogs I hadn’t visited. Here’s the shortlist, go pay them a visit. There are some excellent images awaiting your viewing pleasure!

The Photocritic wants your glamour and nude photos

The Photo Critic is looking for nude and glamour shots to critique next week.

Would you be interested in having your risque photos reviewed / critiqued? I can’t offer payment, but if I use one of more of your photos, I’ll add a link to your blog, web site or Flickr stream, like I did for the previous photo critiques I did…

He’s quite serious, here’s a previous critique and he has written an introduction to nude photography. I wouldn’t know where to start if asked to to critique a nude. Shooting portraits is hard enough but nude is much harder by all accounts; clothes hide blemishes, spots and other imperfections. The lighting is very important as a shadow in the wrong place can ruin the image. The introduction above goes some way to explaining the problems associated with the format so you can expect some good advice if you submit photos.

We’ve got your picture, now what’s your name?

RTE Radio 1’s Flux ran a programme on the treatment of a community following the death of a woman and her two sons in Firhouse, Co Dublin. last year.

Local community members were interviewed almost a year later by Flux to find out how journalists and photographers treated them. Some of the stories are shocking, others have been discounted as pure fantasy, and the newspapers are defended by a member of staff from the Irish Daily Mail.

I’m writing this from memory because the sound on my desktop box is broken and the sound on my Macbook is just too low for comfort. I used mplayer to record the stream using the following command, mplayer rtsp://streaming2.rte.ie/2007/0129/29012007rte-flux.rm -novideo -ao pcm. That dumps the realaudio stream to a file called audiodump.wav. I wish mencoder worked on audio streams…

It’s well worth a listen though.

This old skool Flickr user doesn’t care

From: FlickrHQ
Subject: Update for Old Skool members

Dear Old Skool Account-Holding Flickr Member,

On March 15th we’ll be discontinuing the old email-based Flickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

It seems that everyone is up in arms about recent changes at Flickr:

  • Flickr and Yahoo! accounts must be merged into a Yahoo! login. If you have multiple Flickr account then you’re logging in and out of Flickr all the time, now do it with Yahoo! Surely you do most of your Flickr work in one account anyway, so why not make that the one your main Yahoo! account?
  • Tags and Contacts are going to be limited. I see that this would affect a tiny minority of the userbase on Flickr, unfortunately for Flickr it’s likely to be the most active (and vocal?) membership. I also feel for Thomas with his Where I’ve Been Lately image because a lot of those tags will be removed but does anyone else have more than 75 legitimate tags on a photo? I’m sure I only have 15 at most on mine. Limiting contacts will hurt the most prolific users of the site such as Thomas Hawk, but others are probably just spamming the system.

Yes, the changes to tags and contacts will hurt a tiny minority but for almost everyone on the site it won’t make any difference. Yes, the change to using Yahoo! IDs will mean Yahoo knows about your photos, but if they know about your email and stock portfolio already what are you worried about? They’ve got more than enough demograpic data to go on to market to you!

Unfortunately I can’t recommend Zooomr either because their service is so slow – images take an age to download, and when they do download, they aren’t cached by the browser. It’s really frustrating using Zooomr.com when it’s so slow as it has so much potential and the people behind it are so smart and full of ideas! Fix the slow connection, caching and add a “blog by email” feature and I’d be over to Zooomr faster than you can say “Flickr sucks!”

There are plenty of pissed off Flickr users, but I’m not one of them. Have a nice day!

Update: Treasa is as upset as I am! Oh Lordy!

Update 2: Richard isnt worried either. Definitely a storm in a teacup.