21.01.2019 marks the next lunar eclipse –
Photography Tips & Procedure
We had such a great reaction from our coverage of the last lunar eclipse (blood moon) in July 2018 that we thought we would mark the next lunar eclipse with some great offers and tips on how to photograph this spectacular event.
The next blood moon will appear on 21.01.2019, but unfortunately will not last as long so it is important to know exactly what to do with your camera to get the best out of the lunar eclipse.
We will answer all relevant questions about taking pictures of a lunar eclipse and the course of events in January.
- What do I have to pay attention to when photographing a blood moon or a total lunar eclipse?
- Which camera filters make sense?
- What is the timing of the lunar eclipse in January 2019?
- What are the phases during a blood moon?
Total Lunar Eclipse in January 2019 - Successful Photography
A total solar or lunar eclipse is a rare and promising opportunity for every photographer to try out new techniques. Filming a time-lapse of this phenomenon has been particularly popular amongst photographers, but the unique light of a blood moon presents photographers with many challenges, which we will help to demystify.
The good news: even with basic digital cameras you can take pictures of a lunar eclipse, as long as they can be adjusted manually. Much more important is the choice of the correct ISO values, the exposure time, the right accessories (i.e. a tripod), Astroklar Night Pollution Filter and remote release. This along with some helpful advice from Rollei will set you up in good stead for capturing this event no matter what your level of photography.
The last lunar eclipse on 27th July 2018 was the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century at 103 minutes and could be seen from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The next lunar eclipse will be much shorter and after a long 6 month wait, it is important to make sure that you get it right and capture the perfect image.
The next total lunar eclipse can be seen from Germany at 03:36am on the 21st January 2019. Here the full moon enters the half shadow and then the actual lunar eclipse begins at 04:10am and continues until 05:41am to a total lunar eclipse. At this time the moon enters the core shadow. At 06:12am the blood moon is in darkness. The total event lasts until 06:43am and the sun rises at 8:00am.
For an interesting read, check out this comprehensive list of all lunar eclipses in the 21st century on Wikipedia.
What is a lunar eclipse? Why does the blood moon happen?
Unlike the sun during a solar eclipse, the moon never darkens completely during a lunar eclipse. As soon as it enters the core shadow of the earth, it often shines in a pale or copper-red color, which is why it is called a blood moon. During a lunar eclipse, the earth is located between the moon and the sun. With a blood moon the sunlight is refracted in the earth’s atmosphere and falls shines as a red shadow on the moon.
Blood moon of Rachel Powers
The special thing about the lunar eclipse on 27.07.18 was not only the its long duration (103 minutes), but also the position of the planet Mars, which was opposite the sun and therefore also shone brightly in the evening sky - a particularly attractive sight for photographers from all over the world. This is how Mars accompanied the moon on its orbit.
In the following table you will find the phases and the respective times of the blood moon on 21.01.2019.
Phases of the total lunar eclipse on 21.01.2019
|Phase||UTC Time||MESZ Time|
|Entry into the semi-shade||02:36||03:36|
|Partial Lunar Eclipse||03:33||04:33|
|Entrance to the shadow of the Core||04:41||05:41|
|Highlight of the lunar eclipse||05:12||06:12|
|End of the main phase||05:43||06:43|
|End of the partial lunar eclipse||06:50||07:50|
|Exit from the penumbra||07:48 Uhr||08:48|
- The eclipse has a magnitude of 1,195.
- The penumbral (half shadow) magnitude of the eclipse is 2.168
- Duration of the total eclipse is 5 hours 12 minutes.
- Duration of partial phases total 2 hours 15 minutes.
- Duration of the total phase is 1 hour 2 minutes.
Tips & Accessories for Lunar Photography in January 2019
The list below outlines the most important tips for photographing the lunar eclipse. We have also included some camera accessories that will also help capturing the blood moon. The tips are similar to the recommendations for general lunar photography, but there are some special challenges you have to overcome during a lunar eclipse.
In order to observe and photograph the lunar eclipse, you should choose a location that is as dark as possible. Ideally you want to make sure you are somewhere away from a big city as the city lights mean than the sky is usually too bright to observe the eclipsed moon. Since the moon will only be about 10 to 20 degrees above the horizon, the view to the south and east should be as free as possible and not be impaired by trees, mountains or houses. A skyline, but also a mountain ridge or treetops can of course enhance lunar images, but present extra challenges and are especially recommended for advanced photographers.
The most important thing is to make a plan. One should keep the following things in mind before the lunar eclipse:
- Weather forecast - a few clouds may set accents and create atmosphere, but a closed cloud cover makes pictures of the lunar eclipse impossible.
- Phase of the moon and the lunar eclipse - depending on the phase of the lunar eclipse, different exposure times and lenses are recommended. A full moon is also a special challenge due to the amount of light.
- Consider times for moonrise and sunset - the moon on the horizon is a particularly attractive sight
- Consider times for sunrise and sunset - the reddish sky after sunset creates a special atmosphere
- Horizon – check online for the times for sunrise and sunset, as well as moonrise. Make a note of your horizon, because if you photograph in the mountains or similar, then these times also shift.
Equipment Checklist for Lunar Eclipse Photography:
- Solid tripod for wobble-free and sharp long exposures and focusing. In order to capture the dark moonlight, several seconds of exposure time are used in normal moon photography. With a lunar eclipse this extends accordingly. Nevertheless, keep the exposure time as short as possible, as the moon moves relative to the earth and this becomes noticeable from an exposure time of more than one second, which can cause motion blur. We recommend:
- The Rollei wireless remote releases and our cable remote releases are suitable for vibration-free recordings. They guarantee a wobble-free release.
- Astroklar Night Pollution Filter against light pollution from artificial light sources that cause yellow tints in night sky and astrophotography.
- Taking account the distance to the moon from earth, long focal lengths are needed accordingly. A 70-300 millimetre telephoto lens (full format rather 500mm) is a good orientation, but it can be even more. An extender can also be used. The choice of the focal length also strongly depends on whether one would like to create moon pictures with reference to the environment, or super zoom pictures of the moon surface in the lunar eclipse, without buildings, landscapes etc. as a part of the picture.
- Camera: in principle you can photograph a lunar eclipse with all cameras. For optimal pictures it is important to be able to make a full manual adjustment. High-quality compact cameras with a large zoom range are well suited, as are cameras with interchangeable lenses (DSLR / DSLM) such as system and SLR cameras with telephoto lenses. For full frame sensors 500mm telephoto lenses are recommended, for APS-C cameras 300mm telephoto lenses are usually sufficient.
General tips for lunar photography during lunar eclipses:
- It is best to record in RAW format to achieve noise reduction with exposure series and stacks. It is best to expose 40 shots consecutively and then take a single exposure. Stack the 40 shots with AviStack2 or similar and sharpen them with functions such as the Mexican Hit Filter from Giotto in order to then adjust the tonal value in Photoshop.
- Exposure series are also suitable because moon brightness and phases vary and depend on the clarity of the atmosphere and the height of the moon above the horizon. In addition, as already mentioned, the image noise is reduced by stacking the image series made one after the other, because image noise is a static phenomenon
- Disable ISO Auto to manually adjust ISO values. Lunar photography requires ISO values between 100 and 200 and aperture at f/8.
- Zoom in manually via Live View and focus, but make sure to switch off the autofocus afterwards. In Live View, you can adjust the exposure using the shutter speed. Focus on the moon and observe how bright the moon is when you change the shutter speed. Set the shutter speed so that the outline of the moon is clearly visible. Auto metering often fails because most of the image is black. Cameras with sports exposure metering offer the advantage here, as the exposure can be calculated on the basis of the brightness in the active focus field. So place the moon in the middle, choose the aperture (also in "A" mode), measure the exposure and take it over in "M" mode.
- Switch off VR/IS stabilisation, because you take pictures using a tripod.
- Fade out the lens by 1-2-thirds for optimal sharpness (even with time-lapse lenses, which can be deflicked with LRTimelapse during post-processing of the RAW file)
- Use mirror lock up or self-timer (1 to 2 seconds delay time) to prevent camera shake.
- Check on a moon calendar that the size of the moon is optimal for the desired photo
- A full moon guarantees an optimal size and more impressive shots.
- Choose a place with enough space to move. If you have made a planning mistake, you may have to move a few metres quickly to get the optimal image section or the moon to the right position.
- Select a building, tree, or object that is large to photograph next to the moon. When comparing, you can imagine the size of the moon.
- The brightness of the moon during the totality (blood moon) and the exposure time are difficult to estimate, so make an exposure series, which ranges from short to the maximum possible exposure times
- Telephoto lenses with focal lengths from 200mm to 300mm should be photographed mainly at the beginning and end of totality, because the core shadow to the edge is brighter and exposure times can be reduced.
- During totality, autofocus sensors can hardly focus anymore. Therefore, it is best to focus first and then switch to manual focusing on the lens.
- Superzoom photos of a lunar eclipse with high focal lengths can be exciting. However, pictures where the moon is related to the surroundings are more versatile and attractive for many photographers. An interesting picture is created when landscape, trees or houses are built into the picture.
Example for photographing the full moon
In order to optimally stage the full moon behind the Caravaca de la Cruz in Murcia, Spain, photographer Antonio Carrillo planned the location and the image composition in advance. The result is an exciting picture in which the moon is included in the surroundings.
Checklist for the photography of the lunar eclipse 2019:
- Astroklar filter and filter holder ready for use
- Observation site suitable? (clear sky, clear view, dark, no wind)
- Camera operation known?
- Flash and any auto flash off?
- Automatic exposure (also for ISO) switched off?
- Mirror lock up activated? (with DSLR)
- Lens clean? Otherwise clean with cleaning kits from Rollei
- Battery charged / spare battery included?
- Memory card large enough / spare card included?
- Rollei cable release included?
- Rollei tripod included?
- Flashlight loaded and included?
Common problems photographing the lunar eclipse
|The eclipsed moon cannot be focused||If possible, the focus should be made before the beginning of the eclipse. As a rule, the autofocus should deliver good results. After successful focusing, switch off the autofocus (AF) and do not change the focus afterwards!|
|Image too dark||It can help to reduce the f-number, depending on the lens 2.8 to 5.6.
The exposure time can also be extended. Attention: Observe earth rotation and moon movement to avoid motion blur!
Increase the ISO number (but remember, the higher the ISO number, the more noise).
|Image too bright||The automatic exposure of the camera will probably get an image that is too bright. This can be corrected by manual exposure. Any auto exposure should be turned off, including ISO.|
|Very strong image noise||Very strong image noise|
|Image blurred||The exclusion procedure must be followed here. If the focus is set correctly and AF is deactivated, the problem is that the exposure time is too long. The moon moves and the image is blurred. Then you have to work with a shorter exposure time while increasing the ISO.
The stability of the tripod should also be checked. Also, wind can be enough to cause shaking in the image.
In order to ensure a wobble-free release, cable releases, self-timer and mirror lock-up for DSLR should be used.
Observation of the entry and exit of the moon into the core shadow
In order to document the decrease in brightness during the entrance into the semi-shade, one should photograph the moon every few minutes. You will notice that the brightness decreases steadily with the same exposure time (observe histogram). Now you can and should extend and adjust the exposure time as the lunar eclipse progresses. Shortly before the core shadow phase, only a small amount of sunlight hits the moon at the edge, which darkens accordingly before it becomes a blood moon. This manifests itself in the images much more strongly than one perceives it with the naked eye.
If you want to photograph the partial phase without the areas in the core shadow being visible on the image, the exposure time at aperture 5.6 and ISO 400 could be about 1/250 to 1/10 second, so that the areas of the moon at the core shadow edge are clearly captured. Here, the exposure series and stacking help to find the optimal mean value. If the moon is to be clearly depicted in the core shadow, the same exposure times apply as for the totality.
The Blood Moon - Photography of the Lunar Eclipse during totality
In the phase of totality, the red sunlight refracted in the earth's atmosphere falls as a shadow on the moon and colours it deep red, hence the name blood moon. The colour varies from orange to yellow towards the edge of the core shadow. While it becomes constantly darker during the migration of the moon in half and core shadows, it is now absolutely necessary to consider the brightness increase to the core shadow edge when photographing the blood moon. This leads to the fact that the edge sometimes appears overexposed and white, if one takes pictures shortly after the beginning or before end of totality. On the photos this can have the effect that it is not possible to distinguish between a total and a highly partial eclipse.
Here, bright optics are recommended for the photography of the moon in the core shadow. The ISO sensitivity between 400 and 800 is also helpful here.
The required exposure time depends on the size of the eclipse, which is not predictable. The size indicates the unpredictable residual brightness of the moon in the core shadow and its penetration depth. Usually the exposure time without ND filter for an aperture of f/10 and ISO 400 is between three and ten seconds. However, this depends strongly on the lens used and the focal length. Because the moon moves in the sky exactly like the stars from east to west. So with longer exposure times, motion blur occurs relatively quickly. The higher the chosen focal length, the shorter the exposure has to be.
Maximum possible exposure time at full size & lunar eclipse
|Focal length||Max. Exposure time|
|28 mm focal length||25 seconds|
|50 mm focal length||10 seconds|
|100 mm focal length||5 seconds|
|300 mm focal length||1,5 seconds|
|500 mm focal length||0.7 seconds/ 1 second at large distance from celestial equator|
NB: These values were determined experimentally and have no mathematical basis.
Lunar eclipses until 2025
|Date||Time||Type of lunar eclipse|
|27.07.2018||22:22 (MESZ)||Total - totality, exit of core shadow completely observable|
|21.01.2019||06:12 (MESZ)||Total - Only core shadow completely observable|
|16.07.2019||23:31 (MESZ)||Partial - moon enters the core shadow after moonrise|
|10.01.2020||20:10 (MESZ)||Half shadow - Hardly visible|
|28.10.2023||21:14 (MESZ)||Half shadow - Hardly visible|
|18.09.2024||04:44 (MESZ)||Partial - complete course of the lunar eclipse visible|
|14.03.2025||07:58 (MESZ)||Total - moon rises completely darkened|
|07.09.2025||20:11 (MESZ)||Total - moon rises completely darkened|