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SIX TIPS FOR SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON PHOTOGRAPHY

Words & photos by Olympus Visionary, Alex McClure. (source: getolympus.com)
 

Before dawn on January 31, 2018, sky gazers will have the chance to witness a rare celestial event not seen since 1866. The second full moon of the month (called a BLUE MOON), in the closest position of it’s orbit (known as a SUPER MOON), will enter Earth’s shadow to produce a “BLOOD MOON,” a dramatic moment when the moon turns a reddish color.

Views of this unique lunar eclipse will vary, with totality only visible to those on the west coast (see viewing details here to see what to expect in your area). Even if you aren’t in the path of totality, you can still shoot and enjoy the Super Blue Moon! Check out these tips from Olympus Visionary Alex McClure to prepare yourself for capturing this spectacle.
 
PLAN AHEAD
Pick a shooting location with clear skies. The last thing you want to be is in a place that develops afternoon clouds, so be sure to check the local weather reports.
 


Photo taken with an OM-D E-M1 & M.Zuiko 75-300mm F4.8-6.7, 0.4 sec, F6.7, ISO 100.

 
KEEP STEADY
Use a tripod! A stable platform is very important when shooting the moon. The longer the lens, the more support and stability is needed. You will have to slow your shutter speed down as the moon gets darker and changes to orange and then red colors. I also like using the Olympus RM-UC1 remote cable release to keep the camera from moving.

Editor’s Note: Using the O.I. Share App to remotely trigger compatible cameras will also keep your camera from moving.
 
PICK THE RIGHT LENS
Shoot with a telephoto lens that is 300mm or longer. Try using the M.ZUIKO 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 lens, the M.ZUIKO 40-150mm F2.8 PRO + MC14 1.4x Teleconverter (resulting in 210mm in coverage = a 35mm equivalent of 420mm) or the M.ZUIKO 300mm F4.0 IS PRO + MC14 1.4x Teleconverter (resulting in 420mm in coverage = a 35mm equivalent of 840mm!).

When it comes to shooting the moon, the bigger the lens, the better!
 


Moon over Flatiron, shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 & M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4.0-5.6, ISO 100.

 
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE SETTINGS
Monitor and adjust your settings during the different phases of the lunar event. As the moon begins traveling across the night sky, it’s moving at a rapid rate of speed, so you need to start your shooting at around 1/640 second, F6.7 and ISO 200. As the moon gets darker, make sure to lower your shutter speed and raise the ISO. When the moon goes dark, you will have to open your aperture all the way up; with the M.ZUIKO 75-300mm that’s F6.7, but with the M.ZUIKO 40-150mm F2.8 PRO and MC-14 that’s F4. You will also need to bump your ISO up to around 4,000 and slow your shutter down to 1/10 second, depending on your lens. Lastly, as the moon comes out of the Earth’s shadow, you will need to do the opposite for your settings; remember to raise your shutter speed and lower the ISO.
 

Shot with an E-M1, M.Zuiko 75-300mm 4.8-6.7, F6.7, 1/10sec, ISO 4000.

 
SHOOT FROM START TO FINISH
Take multiple shots of the moon going in and out of the eclipse. Taking multiple shots ensures that you can create a composite post-production image that shows the total lunar transformation throughout the event.
 

Composite shot with the Olympus E-M1 & M.Zuiko 75-300mm F4.8-6.7. The start of the eclipse 1/640 sec, F6.7, ISO 200 & Blood moon, 1/10 sec, F6.7, ISO 4000.

 
KNOW YOUR FEATURES
Try using your camera’s specialized features to help you capture the drama of the lunar cycle. For instance, try using Focus Peaking (recent model PEN and OM-D cameras) and Zoom Magnifier to focus on the moon.
 
ABOUT ALEX MCCLURE
Web: alexmcclurephotography.com
Alex McClure, an avid photographer for over 30 years, joined the Olympus Trailblazer program in 2013. Alex works to achieve his stated goal to “make beautiful photographs that inspire and motivate people” through his nature, commercial and fine art photography.

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