This is my last chance. My only chance. I need to get this blood moon eclipse. I have to get this copper-red moon.
And a hundred things are working against me. Rain. Clouds. Poor location. Equipment failure. Wrong lens. Wrong camera. Wrong photographer.
But I can’t give up. If I don’t get this blood moon photograph now… I’ll have to wait eighteen more years at the earliest for another try.
[hdnfactbox title=”2015 September Lunar Eclipse”]A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth travels between the moon and the sun.
This is the last of four eclipses, also known as the “Tetrad,” in the past 24 months.
This is also a “blood moon,” where the moon is closer – and appears larger – along the horizon. [/hdnfactbox]I’ve gone through every possible experiment and permutation. My Rokinon mirror lens is locked into my Nikon Df. The 32g chip inside is clean and wiped, a second chip is nearby for a backup. My cell phone is charged; I will need to use it as a timer. My tripod is tight and sturdy. Handheld wired shutter release is plugged in.
I can do this.
All my preparations have been made.
Except… I still don’t know where to set up my gear. I had several different possible locations; some in the Adirondacks, some in the Capital District. Every time I checked the weather reports, one place would have clear skies at night, and then two hours later the “clear skies” became “partly cloudy.”
Back and forth. Where to go, where to shoot…
And eventually, I decided on Waterford. I set my gear up at the canal docks and waited for nightfall. Now where’s that pesky little moon…
Oh wait, that’s no “pesky little moon.” It’s a big moon. A supermoon.
Start shooting, Chuck. That moon ain’t waiting for you.
I checked the schedule. And at around 9:07 p.m., give or take a minute, the moon went into eclipse mode. The Earth blocked the light of the sun from reaching the moon… and…
Okay, clouds, stay away. Please stay away. I don’t have time to drive to Corinth or North Hudson or Plattsburgh right now.
I kept photographing, taking pictures at regular intervals. There were other people at the dock – some recreational fishers, a couple of other photographers, some teenagers who seemed to espouse some view that the blood moon was a sign of the arrival of the Rapture.
“Two-thirds of the human race will disappear tonight when the moon is full in blood,” one of the teenagers said as he puffed on his blue-glowing e-cigarette.
And then… as if on cue…
The moon dropped out of sight. Only a sliver of light could be seen.
I had to crank up the ISO, slow down the shutter speed, and pray that my manual shutter release would reduce the camera shake and breezy atmospheric vibrations.
And once I cranked up that ISO…
Look what showed up.
Photo number 8048 on the chip.
My copper-red moon.
And as I took each picture of the moon… as it went from bright and beautiful to shaded and scintillating, to a bright orange-red-copper hue…
I started to think of things. Things in my life. Where I’ve come from.
No, Chuck. Don’t do this. Don’t do this now, don’t let the bastards and the griefers ruin your moment.
Not this time.
You can remember every horrible thing that happened to you in your life. You can remember every single second of pain and tragedy. You can remember every wound, every piercing, every single heartache and heartbreak.
Not this time.
Every shot you take… focus on the good you’ve done. Just this once. Remember the good.
And slowly… like whispers in the darkness… the memories came back. Bit by bit. Moment by moment.
Savor those moments, every single one.
Adjust. Focus. Snap.
Adjust. Focus. Snap.
And near the end of the eclipse… sure enough… the clouds rolled in. Just as the eclipse ended. Barely.
I finally got my copper-red moon. And after I perform some enhancements and focusing and alignment – which I will do later – I have a feeling that I can put together an amazing full-length panorama. Or maybe I can stitch the pictures across an evening landscape.
I’ll do that another day.
Because right now, after writing this blog post…
I gotta get some sleep. I hope you understand… I’ve been up all night.
It’s either that, or I might just fall asleep at the compu….. zzzzz…… zzzzzzzzz……..