To take a picture of a Total Lunar Eclipse
On the 15th June 2011 sitting in my apartment in Downtown Jerusalem watching the news, I was politely informed by the newscaster that there would be a total lunar eclipse within the next few hours that would be seen over most of Asia, The Middle East and Africa.
Talk about being well prepared in advance! It had probably been predicted by the Astronomers decades in advance, and I had only managed to hear about it by chance a couple of hours before.
I thought it might be worth a look, so I grabbed the camera bag, a tripod (which I hardly ever use) and Googled Total Eclipse, I had seen a partial eclipse before while living in England, and while impressive wasn’t very spectacular in relation to photographs.
I had to think about where to position myself to get the best chance of good images and hope that the fact I am completely geographically and directionally challenged wouldn’t put me in the wrong place.
I made the decision to go down to Jerusalem’s historical Old City and stand on a well known vantage point overlooking the famous Jewish Western Wall and the Muslim Dome of the Rock, which chose to be a wise one.
Happily admitting that I had no real idea of the best way to photograph this would be putting it mildly, no experience really prepares you for this kind of unique event.
I am sure the long exposure night time landscape photographers will tell us a million and one different ways to photograph at night, and some of them may even be useful, anybody telling you that it was anything but hit and miss would not be being entirely honest with you.
For someone who has been a peak of action and movement freak, to sit and wait patiently for the sky to be clear of clouds, the moon to be visible and the predictions of the experts as to what time things would start to happen was not easy, as well as a cumbersome tripod that was just restricting my movement and soon discarded.
Add to this a guy standing next to me wanting to know my life history and my opinion on the creation of the world, I was hoping that this was actually going to be worth it.
At that point after going hand held, putting the camera in to manual and under exposing for the brightness of the moon as it was at that point by four f.stops, another guy standing near to me gave the cue to his friend with a video camera to start filming as he went down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend right in front of me which was actually the most romantic thing I had ever seen, and changed my mood instantly from one of going through the motions of photographing a total lunar eclipse to the magic and awe of witnessing what we were all about to see.
At the exact time the experts had predicted, as you can see in the pictures, which words could never do justice to, the moon started it’s process of entering the umbral shadow of the earth and for the next hour I was totally mesmerised and captivated at what I was witnessing personally and as a photographer, it will always be one of the most amazing events that I have been fortunate to witness, seeing it over the Biblical country of Israel and City of Jerusalem for me just made it extra special…