I tried to capture the previous Blood Moon earlier this year in April, however it was not a very fulfilling exercise. There was only so much I could do with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, even with the EF 2x Extender III attached and even with the 7D’s crop factor. The shots I got weren’t very pleasing and in my mind, not even worth writing a post about.
Since then I acquired a fully assembled set of astrophotography gear and accessories. I discussed this a little in previous posts Astrophotography: The journey begins and Astrophotography: Solar Observation.
Up until last night I had been dreading the steep learning curve and painful process involved in learning to properly align a German Equatorial Mount with computerized tracking. The Blood Moon was a good reason to dive into it and see if I could figure it out. I got an early start. My first setup and calibration took at least an hour and I got a solid track on the moon.
However the moon had not yet crossed the sky and when it did I had to re align the telescope mount. My second alignment took half the time but was less than perfect and I still had some drift. It was still small enough for me to compensate for in post production.
With tracking somewhat sorted out, I had another challenge of managing the wild swings in exposures throughout the eclipse. You will notice I had to segment the time lapse as I made adjustments. I used spot metering, shutter priority mode with auto ISO throughout most of the sequence and stepped my shutter exposure as the eclipse progressed, switching to manual mode briefly at the peak of the eclipse. As you can see I did not place much emphasis on image quality. Since it was a time lapse, I also set a higher maximum ISO as the clarity and quality of the individual frame is not as important as the consistency of the sequence from frame-to-frame.
I hope you enjoy this time lapse. Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and experiences, especially with GE mounts and photography.