On this day, 40 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to set foot on the surface of the moon. To celebrate the anniversary of this incredible achievement, we have decided to post a few of our favourite lunar photographs.
The moon can often add an additional dimension to an otherwise normal photograph. Recently I was visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris when I noticed the moon rising above the city. I moved into a position where I could photograph the Eiffel Tower with the moon behind. I took a bracketed sequence of shots and then combined them as an HDR image so that I could balance out the illuminated tower with the moonlit clouds and the streetlights below.
On 3rd/4th March 2007, we were lucky to be in the right place at the right time; watching a total lunar eclipse under a clear night sky. We set up our 400mm f/2.8 lens and stacked a 1.4x and a 2x teleconverter to give us a focal length of 1,120mm! Camera shake was amplified at this huge focal length, so to minimise vibrations we used a shutter release cord and set the camera to “mirror lock-up” mode. Mirror lock-up raises the mirror in the camera early and therefore reduces vibrations when the shot is taken (putting your camera into “live view” mode would also achieve this). At this focal length the moon travelled surprisingly fast across the viewfinder so we need a shutter speed of at least 0.6s to get the moon sharp (note that serious astro-photographers would have used a tracking mount to move the camera at the same rate as the Earth’s rotation).
During the height of the eclipse, the moon goes red as the only light reaching it has to travel through the Earth’s atmosphere. The moon also becomes much dimmer so we had to push the camera all the way up to ISO 1600 to capture the phenomenon. You can see the full gallery showing the progression of the lunar eclipse here.
This is an experimental photograph that we took last year in Botswana. There was a lot of dust in the air so the moon was not very bright. This allowed us to take a long exposure of the moon as it ascended without the shot completely blowing out. The resulting image looks like something out of Independence Day – a beam of light coming from an alien spacecraft!