STEP BY STEP
Select a lens or telescope to give you the field of view you need for the type of image you are after. A 1m focal length gives good close-up detail but tracking is recommended at such a scale. A 200mm lens will show the Moon’s disc with the eclipse shadow. A wide-angle lens (see opposite) can be used to generate a sequence composite.
If you’re using just a camera set it to [M]anual focusing, with an ISO of 200-400 and aperture of f/8–f/11. Pre-focus using the full Moon just before the eclipse starts. RAW format will produce the best results. If you’re not sure how to use RAW, capture as RAW + large JPEG. This will give you something to work with (JPEG) until you get used to RAW.
The following steps assume the use of a camera attached to a telescope. As in step 2, pre-focus the scope on the Moon before the eclipse. The Moon’s edge is the best target for this. It’s a good strategy to check the focus at regular intervals throughout the event, although this can be hard to do during the period of totality if the Moon is especially dark.
Exposures depend on your setup and the darkness of the eclipse. Totality can range from light coppery-yellow to deep brown, so dark the Moon’s disc virtually disappears. Pre-eclipse, expose correctly for the Moon’s surface and make a note of the settings. This will give you the settings for a correctly exposed surface with a virtually black shadow.
To show colour and detail within the umbral shadow you’ll need more light sensitivity. Consider lowering the f/number, increasing the ISO to a mid-range value and increasing exposure time, in that order. Once you’re happy with the detail you’re imaging, make a note of the setting so you can return to it if you later decide to experiment further.
During totality consider taking a shot with the Moon centered in frame using increased sensitivity to push the eclipsed Moon towards overexposure. This should reveal background stars. A normal eclipse image and this ‘star’ shot can be combined using a layer-mask to produce a beautiful composite showing the eclipsed Moon against a star field.
200mm (APS-C) 300mm (APS-C) 1,000mm (APS-C)