Freezing Fun Shooting the Moon

Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a composite photo of the lunar eclipseSuper Blood Wolf Moon

Now there's a mouthful!

The super blood wolf moon. What the heck?

It's a super moon because its orbit brought it close to earth, making it appear bigger. The Farmer's Almanac calls January's full moon a wolf moon. Refracted light made the moon appear red. Thus - super blood wolf moon!

Here in Atlanta, the night was clear and cold - in the high 20s.

To me, that's just plain inhospitable. But Lauren and I went and met with another photographer, Brad, down at Centennial Park. We jumped in his toasty car and drove over to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and got a few shots. Then we went to a parking deck to get a little higher up. 

I'm so wimpy when it comes to the cold. Before we left, I pulled on tights and put some warm yoga pants over them. I had on a long-sleeve shirt, a sweater, a scarf, and my long down coat. I had some fingerless mittens. I was wearing thick socks with warm, cozy boots. 

Ugh. I was still so cold. My core was warm enough, but those extremities - yikes. And it's the extremities I need when manipulating the camera.

Sony a6000

I took the Sony a6000 because it has the lens with the zoom - a 55mm-210mm lens. The equivalent on my full-frame Nikon would be about an 85mm-300mm which I don't own. I needed the best zoom I had for shooting the moon. It would have been nice to have something that would zoom a little closer, but this worked pretty well.

That's the thing about photography, the accessories are expensive!

Shooting the moon

We set up our tripods on the top level of the parking deck.

Shooting the moon is a little easier than shooting the stars. Unlike with the stars, I can use the auto-focus mode. I focus on the contrasting area between the black night sky and the light moon. There was some on-and-off frustration when the auto-focus couldn't seem to get it right. But, most of my shots were in focus. 

The other frustration was how quickly the moon was moving. I had to reposition my tripod head multiple times as the moon worked its way out of the frame. 

I don't like getting cityscapes beyond the Golden Hour, so I didn't shoot many shots of the buildings or horizon line. I pointed my camera up at the moon and shot away. I'm struggling to learn how the Sony shoots. The way it functions is so different than my Nikon. Over and over, I hit the wrong button when trying to regain focus, and I'd end up jumping into a menu function or changing the display. 

I remember when I was first learning the Nikon. I had a lot of weird things happen then too. I'll get this eventually. 

After about two hours out in the cold, we were all ready to call it quits.

We didn't make it through the entire eclipse. After I got home, Lauren texted and said she was out in her front yard getting a few more shots. I went outside and looked. The moon was so cool - it had the blood-moon look. There's a couple of bright street lights right in front of my house, so I didn't try and get any more shots.

I didn't have the gumption to stand out in the cold any longer either. 

I've been having fun creating some composites with the shots I have. The top photo is the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I used a shot I took of the moon and composited it into the stadium shot. 

I actually hand-held the shot of the stadium. There was quite a bit of light there. I pumped my ISO to 640 and hand-held at 0.4 sec, f/10. I was a little surprised at how well the shot came out. There's definitely some noise because I had to bring up the shadows. 

The new pedestrian tunnel at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta

The second photo isn't a composite. I liked the way the new pedestrian bridge looked with the red light spilling everywhere. 


A composite photo of the lunar eclipse against the backdrop of the Milky Way

I used a photo I took previously of the Milky Way and added in the eclipsing moon. 

Did you get to see the lunar eclipse? I hope so.

I love the night sky. I love thinking about the journey we're on and how small and insignificant we are in comparison to the Universe. 

I hope the rest of your week is awesome. 

See you between the raindrops!