Shooting The Shadow Moon

You might recall I’ve had pretty good luck photographing full moons with my it-shouldn’t-work-but-it-does (sometimes) technique of holding a point-and-shoot cam up against the eyepiece of a 60x spotting scope on a tripod and snapping a shot.

Well, not so much — go figure — with a full lunar eclipse, like the one that occurred this morning. Having spent the night double-wide awake and stewing over last night’s traffic citation that I got downtown on my way to donate a toy for a needy child as part of the largest annual holiday charity bike ride in the history of ever, when it got to be after 5 a.m. I peered with bleary eyes outside and saw the moon already had been partially eclipsed. So as much fun as it would’ve been to sit and grouse some more, I decided to get the spotting scope out onto the porch so that after 6 a.m. I could try to get a nice image of the moon in its completely cloaked phase.

The uncentered result as seen below — which could easily be confused with a dirty pingpong ball illuminated from below¬† by the bathroom nightlight and taken while shivering — was obviously not what I was going for, and for two very important reasons.

1) The weather app on my phone said it was 45 degrees outside, which meant that after only a couple minutes of standing out in that temperature barefoot, in shorts and a t-shirt I commenced shivering. S-s-s-seriously. And as you no doubt have already grasped, handheld photography and shivering go together poorly, especially when a 60x zoom is involved.

2) Dark moon is dark. It’s one thing to aim a camera and scope at a blaaaaazing full moon against a blackened sky. It’s another thing entirely to aim same camera and scope at such a sinister and shady satellite blending only too well with its background.

Truthfully, I’m amazed I recorded anything more than a smudge, and I actually kind of like it.

Before I hustled back to the warm indoors, I steadied the cam on the pergola crossbeam and got this wide shot of the red moon backed by a lightening sky over Micheltorena Ridge (the time was 6:09 a.m.):

I kind of like that one, too.