Here’s how to shoot Friday’s total lunar eclipse for best results

With the total lunar eclipse just around the corner, here are some tips to capture the eclipse in the best possible way.

Updated: Jul 27, 2018 12:22:23

By Pratik Chorge

A girl peeks inside the viewfinder of a camera to see a lunar eclipse at a park in Manila, Philippines in January earlier this year. (AP Photo)

Photographing a total lunar eclipse is something every photographer and hobbyist wants to do. Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to watch with the naked eye.

The total lunar eclipse will begin at 10.44pm on Friday in India and the total phase will extend from 1am to 2.43am and will be the longest blood moon in 100 years. The moon will vanish into the Earth’s darkest shadow, known as the umbra. It will be noticeable in a red tint for more than 1 hour and 43 minutes, which is 40% longer than some other blood moon visible last time.

The eclipse starts as a little score and gradually shows up along one edge of the moon, following which it step by step dunks further into Earth’s dull umbra shadow. If the eclipse is a total one, the last remaining minutes of the partial phases can be quite dramatic and beautiful.

With the total lunar eclipse just around the corner, here are some tips to capture the eclipse in the best possible way.

Camera settings

The most important part is the settings. Prefer using manual settings for more precise control. When you shoot a bright moon, a good exposure is typically around 1/125-1/250th of a second @ f/11, ISO 100-200. When an eclipse starts, this exposure will work great to expose the bright part of the moon, while the dark side of the moon is not going to be visible at all.

At some point, you will have to change your exposure to expose for the dark side. Do not push the ISO to a larger value. It is advisable to use a sturdy tripod to achieve maximum stability.

Lenses and teleconverters

Using a long focal length lens will amplify the size of the moon in the images. Using anything more than 200mm/300mm lens or with a teleconverter attached to a compatible lens will allow you to go even closer to the moon. And with a wide-angle lens, you can make composite images and show all the stages of the eclipse as the moon moves through the sky.

Focusing accuracy and sharpness

For the most effective way, use manual focusing to achieve pinpoint accuracy. You can zoom into the desired area with the help of the Live-view magnifier on DSLRs/Mirrorless cameras and focus accurately. Even a slight shake will make the image to lose sharpness and look dull.


A composition is a very important part. If you are shooting a close-up, fill the frame with adding something in the foreground to add a drama in the picture, if you are shooting wide, allow elements in the frame to make the image more dynamic as well as you can make a composite of the eclipse and show all the stages of the eclipse.

Weather condition

If it is cloudy or overcast, there will be fewer chances of sighting an eclipse let alone taking photographs. In densely populated cities, skies are mostly filled with dust and smoke matter, which reduces the overall visibility and affects the overall quality and sharpness of the image. Moving to a hilly area with a rise in altitude will be a great move to counter some effects of weather and pollution.

Useful apps

Night sky planetarium apps, for example, Stellarium and SkySafari, enable you to envision the way of the moon through the sky to help plan your shoot.


Post-processing the moon images would be necessary to an extent. Slight adjustments in shadows/highlights, contrast and sharpness will give you the desired look. Do not over-process the image, as they will look too unrealistic.

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 12:13:38


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