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Super Blue Blood Moon 2018: How to capture photos of the stunning lunar eclipse on your smartphone and DSLR

A tripod, DSLR and a long lens is all you need to capture some good photos.

  • Published: January 31, 2018 10:40 AM IST
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In case you missed it, a rare celestial event is set to take place later today. The blue moon will be eclipsed to create a phenomenon called Super Blue Blood Moon, something that rarely occurs. The last one took place 150 years ago on March 31, 1866, and the same is set to repeat today.

The rare phenomenon will be visible across different countries and region, including large parts of the US, Asia, Russia, Australia, north eastern Europe and the Indian Ocean. In India, you will be able to witness the Super Blue Blood Moon eclipse starting 4:21PM and it will be visible till 7:37 PM across different parts of the country. For instance, people in North East will be able to see it between 4:21PM and 5:18PM, whereas the rest of India will be able to see between 5:18PM and 6:21PM.

Similarly, in western part of India, such as Rajasthan, users will be able to see it between 6:21PM to 7:37PM. Sure, stargazers will be in for a treat. And if you’re one of those who want to capture photos of the rare moon, here’s how you can do that.

Super Blue Blood Moon: Low light photography

Now, the occurrence is not something that we see every day, and if you want to capture photos, you can do it using a DSLR camera, or even from your smartphone. You’ll need a tripod to ensure your device is steady. However, capturing the night sky isn’t as simple as pointing your camera at the subject and clicking the shutter button. There’s an element of trial and error involved as well. So, let’s go ahead and see how to click photos of the super blue blood moon.

Using a DSLR to capture the Super Blue Blood Moon

Whether you have an entry-level DSLR such as the Canon EOS 1200D, Nikon D3300 or a high-end one such as the Sony A-series, you’ll need a telephoto lens. And the longer, the better. Usually, most photographers will have short zooms from 24-mm wide-angle to 250-mm telephoto lens. And while that is good for usual photography, it isn’t ideal for zooming on a celestial body that is orbiting 238,900 miles from the earth. Which means you’ll need a 400mm, 500mm or 600mm lens to capture the super blue blood moon. These lenses are mostly used by pros for shooting sports.

Once you have the required telephoto lens, attach to your DSLR and mount it on the tripod. You’ll also need to know which direction to look into, in this case, it will be towards the eastern horizon. Now, switch to manual mode, and crank the ISO down to 100 or 200, because the moon will be very bright. Next, you’ll need to try a range of shutter speeds between 1/60 to 1/125 to stop the action. You can also slow down the shutter and try one-minute or two-minute to look at the difference. And because these cameras are digital, and you can instantly see the results, you can quickly check what is working for you, what isn’t.

Using a smartphone to capture the Super Blue Blood Moon

Before we talk about how to capture the rare phenomenon using your smartphone, let me clarify that there are some caveats. While zoom is available on smartphones, it is ‘digital’ zoom which just crops your image, and thus it can’t produce DSLR like results. And as the moon looks big in a DSLR’s telephoto lens, it is hard to do that with a smartphone.

If you own a high-end smartphone, such as the Galaxy Note 8 or OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T, which comes with secondary telephoto lens, you can use add-on accessories such as ‘Moment lenses.’ Similarly, for iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, you can use Olloclip, which promises 2X zoom.

The procedure to capture photos is similar to what you do on a DSLR. Put the phone on a tripod, switch to manual mode in the camera app, lower the ISO to 100 or 200, and try different shutter speeds between 1/60 to 1/125 or lower, until you get the desired results. While iPhones don’t support manual mode, you’ll have to download third-party apps such as Halide, Camera+, ProCam 2, ProShot, Obscura Camera and Manual among others. Do note that these are paid apps costing anywhere between Rs 250 to Rs 1,000 or more.

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  • Published Date: January 31, 2018 10:40 AM IST