The total lunar eclipse, or blood moon, that took place on April 15, allowed photographers to experiment with new equipment and techniques. I decided I wanted to experiment with time-lapse photography. My plan was to set up my Nikon D7100 to take a picture every 10 seconds using an external remote. That was going to be relatively easy, but I knew the post processing would be the most time consuming. Today, I am going to explain how I captured the time-lapse photos, edited the photos, and created the final video.
When I first learned of the eclipse, I knew this was my chance to experiment, and I hoped the weather would cooperate. I researched and got all the information about the eclipse from NASA. It was important to knew what time the eclipse began and the timeframes for each stage of the eclipse. When I decided to try time-lapse, I took a few test shots the week before. This is important for all photographers because you might discover potential problems. I discovered that my tripod, which was not the greatest, was too wobbly and the images were blurred on longer exposures. I knew I needed to buy a professional grade tripod, so I did some research and purchased a Manfrotto. I also purchased a second battery, which I highly recommend that all photographers carry a backup battery.
Late on April 14, I set up my tripod and camera in my driveway. I chose the driveway because it was solid footing for the tripod, and because I would have an unobstructed view of the moon as it progressed across the sky. I set the ISO, shutter speed, focued the lens, and set my Apurture timer remote to take a photo every ten seconds. I began taking photos at 11:45 PM and discovered that I had to adjust the camera every 10 minutes as the moon moved across the field of view of my lens (AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR). Throughout the night, I adjusted the camera, focus, ISO, and shutter speed as needed. After several hours, I packed up at 4:45 AM and headed back inside for a little sleep before I had to get up for work.
The next day I uploaded the RAW files to my computer and began the editing process. Of the 1,427 images I took, I picked 16 that I edited separately and posted online immediately (these images are in the slideshow at the top of this post). Then I went through each image using Lightroom. I made minor adjustments as needed and cropped the image so that the moon was the center (or close to the center) of the frame. Once I had gone through all 1,427 images, I was left with 1,382 for the time-lapse (some were left out due to clouds).
Before this past weekend, I had never created a time-lapse, and I had only used iMovie a few time, so I was unsure of the result. I uploaded the images into iMovie and began to create my movie. I adjusted the frame rate, created an intro, added music (Chariots of Fire), and added my logo. After reviewing the images, I noticed some issues with focus, and I believe this is due to the long exposure times required to capture the moon when it was red. I left these in the video for the full effect of the time-lapse, but I would never publish these as stand alone images. I learned a lot on this photo shoot and am already planning for the next lunar eclipse in October. Overall, I was happy with the final result, and the final video is above.