Lunar Eclipse 2/20/2008

Start of the 2/20/2008 lunar eclipse

There are approximately 365.24219 days in the tropical year. Which means that you get either 365 or 366 sunsets in a year. You get either 12 or 13 full moons in a year. But you only get two opportunities for lunar eclipses each year, and often times they won't be placed where they're convenient for you.

So, the number of sunsets you could expect to experience if you take the time frequently could easily be a five digit number. The number of opportunities for watching the moonrise you will have can easily be a four digit number. But you will be very lucky if you have a three digit number of lunar eclipses seen, given the stats.

I can count three lunar eclipses. Total.

The past 12 months have been fairly lucky for me in the eclipse cycle with two total eclipses. Last time it was positioned high in the sky, so I decided to do time lapse video, which actually came out much better than the stills. This time, it was happening right around sunset, so I concentrated on getting the eclipse and the scenery of the sunset from the closest good hilltop to work.

I would have been happier with the moon being red right at moonrise, but it was rising with a chunk taken out of it instead. So, impressive, but not as impressive as it could be. I ran into another person along the trail and we chatted for a bit as I took my pictures.

2/20/2008 lunar eclipse: Early HDR

I haven't gotten my film back yet, but I think the two digital shots I'm happiest with are the three exposure blends. I took one shot to get the moon just vaguely blown out on the white side and a whisp of the red side, an intermediate shot, and a shot that emphasized the scenery and the moonshine on the surface of the bay (but totally blew out the moon).

I'm not a huge fan of most HDR work, which I think is largely because I feel that the easiest to achieve HDR effect is the one that grabs your attention with heavy tonal mapping to leave an image with the same level of brightness all over, removing any sense of highlight and shadow and just recording color. So, instead of using one of those tools, I blended the three exposures by hand in Photoshop, giving each tonal segment it's own tonal curve. It took me a few tries to get it the way I wanted it.

I suspect I could have accomplished it optically with a stack of rectangular filters, but this was much easier and less expensive.

2/20/2008 lunar eclipse: Later HDR


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