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Lunar eclipse pictures help

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2015 at 02:58
sucker76 View Drop Down
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Hello all, I'm wanting to take pictures of the upcoming lunar eclipse at the end of September.  I did not have good luck photographing the meteor shower in early August.  I'd like some equipment/settings help. 
I have a Nikon D7100.  What lens out of these would be most appropriate? 
Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6ED VR II DX
Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX
Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D

Nikkor 135mm f/2.8
All will be used with manual camera settings and manual focus.
I was messing around last night with the 35mm f/1.8 taking pics of the moon rise over the trees.  A friend told me to start with the aperture at f/8-f/22 to start and adjust the shutter speed to get the exposure I wanted.  How do I tell if it's exposed properly in the LCD? 
In all the pictures I took the moon never looked very good.  It was either put of focus or so bright you couldn't see any definition.  Do I need filters similar to taking pictures of the sun?

I'm not next to the pictures but when I get home I'll upload a few to show.

My settings last night varied.  I found f/22 too little light.  f/8 was OK but got the best results I think from f/2-f/5.6 with shutters ranging from 1 second to 30 seconds. 

I want to have lots of time to practice before the eclipse. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2015 at 10:34
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Use your 18-200, zoomed to 200mm, if you're interested in actually getting any moon detail vs. just taking a photo of a night scene where the moon is present. The shorter focal length lenses will require too much cropping in post-processing.

Definitely use a tripod, with either remote shutter release or shutter timer.

Good starting settings:
Manual mode
f/8
ISO 400
1/250 - 1/350 shutter speed

Adjust as necessary depending on environmental conditions and the "look" you want. First adjust shutter speed to control the mood/drama (faster for "darker" photo, slower for more exposed look). Avoid bumping up ISO unless you just can't get a good enough exposure. You can also lower ISO rather than speeding up the shutter if you want a "darker" photo. There's no need to stop down the aperture any more than f/8...f/8 is perfect.

If at all possible, try to silhouette something familiar and interesting looking in the foreground to improve composition, unless you're able to really fill the frame with the moon and get extreme detail, which you won't be able to do with 200mm; you'll need 400mm+ to fill the frame. Try setting your camera to spot metering and meter on the moon only. That way, your camera will expose for the bright moon and you will then get foreground objects in dark silhouette, which is a cool look (since the moon will be the brightest object in the frame).

No, you don't need any filters. Just spot meter on the moon, and your camera will adjust accordingly.

To tell if it's exposed properly, read up on how to use your camera's histogram. On a Nikon, the histogram is found on the rear screen by scrolling "up" on the multi-selector button while the photo is shown on the rear screen. Just type "camera histogram" in a search and you will find no shortage of information explaining in detail how to use it.

In short, the histogram is a bar graph that shows the exposure value of the range of colors in your photo by plotting the contrast or "brightness" of the pixels in the photo. The resulting bar line plot looks a bit like a mountain range. Bar lines toward the left represent the darker tones or shadows, and those toward the right represent the lighter, highlight tones. If you see most of the bar "peaks" bunched toward the left side of the histogram, the photo is underexposed. If the peaks are all bunched toward the right side, the photo is overexposed. If most or all the peaks are in the center of the histogram, you have a well exposed photo. However, with a night photo, you will see many of the peaks toward the left, indicating underexposed, but that's o.k., as most of that will be the blue spectrum, where you have colors of the night sky.

In the end, if you like the look of the photo, then what the histogram tells you is irrelevant.

Good luck with your moon shot, and please post the results in our "Hot Shots" section of the forum when you get some good ones.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2015 at 17:46
sucker76 View Drop Down
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Thanks for the suggestions Ted.  I totally forgot about spot metering.  I have treated it as a "set it and forget it" type thing.  Same with the histogram.  I never learned how to use it.  I'll read up on it tonight and report back.  I will definitely post pics here for all to critique.  With the members here I have a high bar to get to. 

The reason I started with the 35mm and wanted to use a 50mm was to leave the camera stationary get multiple shots of the moon and stitch them together into one image.  This should get one picture with multiple moons at a different stage of the eclipse.  My skill level may not be there yet so I think I will stick with one shot.  I have several days to experiment. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2015 at 01:04
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I promised a few of my first long exposure pics.  These were taken Sunday nights before I got any info from here.  Pay no attention to the foreground.  I was concentrating on the clouds and moon.  My backyard was a convenient test area.  My neighbors house and fence are in the way. 

1.6S f/3.5 ISO800


30S f/18 ISO800


0.5S f/2 ISO1000


0.5S f/4 ISO1000




Edited by sucker76 - September/02/2015 at 01:12
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/04/2015 at 19:10
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I use a different method but the end result will probably be the same. Use auto focus, it should lock onto the moon easily. Use whatever settings you normally use. I use aperture priority 75% of the time. Use your exposure compensation controls and back off 3 F-stops. (-f3.0) If you can't get your shutter speed fast enough to not motion blur the image, use a tripod, use an off the camera shutter release or the timer and use your mirror lockup.

If you want really stunning astrophotography images, shoot them through a telescope with a camera adapter as I did with this one.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/04/2015 at 19:34
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Excellent picture Tejas. Thanks for the tips.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/04/2015 at 19:39
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I don't have a telescope nor a digiscope adapter for my spotting scope. Frankly my Nikkor lenses are superior to my spotter. I'll make due with the 18-200 Ted suggested I use. Exposure compensation is one more setting I need to be more familiar with. it has been on 0 the whole time I had the camera .
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/04/2015 at 23:28
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That particular lens has an auto/manual focus switch I believe. Just hand hold the camera before you start and auto focus on the moon, then turn your autofocus off. When your shooting at space objects with no foreground, depth of field is not an issue but sharpness is. That lens should be at its best at f6.3 or so. In aperture priority when you use exposure compensation it will only change the shutter speed, in this case to intentionally underexposed the shutter speed will be increased. Going down 3 f stops is just a good starting point. Use your exposure compensation to "bracket" the shot. As Ted mentioned above you can read this histogram to check your exposure. When you shoot pics of the moon using any kind of auto exposure they will nearly always be overexposed and you won't get any details. Usually you'll just end up with a white circle.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/06/2015 at 08:37
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Will do, thanks
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/15/2015 at 13:11
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Crap! When was this?


I can't believe I missed it and kudos to Ted, Awesome advice brother!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/15/2015 at 13:14
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You haven't missed it yet. It's at the end of the month. I've been practicing night photography. Cloud cover and no moon lately has slowed it for me.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/15/2015 at 13:20
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Oh, phew! I thought I missed out on that opportunity.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/15/2015 at 13:26
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It should be September 27
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/15/2015 at 13:27
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Thank you.

I will put that on my calendar and post the results. I'm intrigued to see how you do. Please share once you have processed your pics.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/27/2015 at 14:33
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Guys, I'm back with more pictures.  I think they are much better than my first go round but not perfect.  I did not have the best weather.  There were very high, thin clouds.  I have taken your suggestions and used them.  Thank you very much!  Please critique these photos for me.

The cloud cover got too bad before I had a chance to lower the aperture to 5.6 and speed up the shutter.  This was to get rid of any tripod wobble.  Like I said the shutter speeds are a little slow.

I tried using the histogram to get better exposure, but all I could get was a bar on the left that was all the way to the top of the screen on the camera.  This happened on even the very dim photos.  I'm still working on getting this right.

Nikon D7100 18-200VRII with VR off.

1/20   f/8   ISO100   EV -3   200mm


1/30   f/8   ISO100   EV -3   200mm



1/60   f/8   ISO100   EV -3   200mm



1/20   f/11   ISO100   EV -3   200mm



1/20   f/8   ISO200   EV -3   200mm



I slowed down the shutter to illuminate the clouds to show how much were in front of the moon.
1s   f/11   ISO200   EV -3   200mm



Edited by sucker76 - September/27/2015 at 15:09
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/28/2015 at 09:02
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Phil how did it go last night?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/28/2015 at 12:43
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Not the best.  We had a rain storm earlier yesterday.  It was partly cloudy after 8:30 so I only had a few minutes of moon to shoot at a time.  The clouds rolled in and blanketed the sky by 10:30.  It was frustrating but i hope I got some good shots.  I'm transferring to my computer today and going to process in Lightroom later.  I'll upload a couple in the Hot Shots thread later tonight.

How did you do?  Was your weather better than mine?

 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/28/2015 at 12:45
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I think considering what I had to work with they turned out ok. I'm working on something right now and not able to do the PP at the moment, but I will post it up as soon as I can.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/28/2015 at 15:52
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http://www.opticstalk.com/topic42139_post624670.html#624670 

Shot with:

Nikon D7000 & AF-S Nikkor 16-85mmf/3.5

Shot in RAW on Manual Mode

Manual Focus 

F/11

1/60 Shutter Speed

ISO 100

EV -/+: Even

Spot metering


This is one of those times when I wish I had something like a telephoto or mid-length telephoto. But for what I have and being able to catch this, I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.



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