Photography Hacks

How to get bloody good photos of the blood moon with your smartphone

27 July 2018 - 15:32 By Moiketsi Thipe
Rather than trying to zoom in too much on the moon itself, compose a shot where it's part of a larger scene. The overall quality will be better.
Rather than trying to zoom in too much on the moon itself, compose a shot where it's part of a larger scene. The overall quality will be better.
Image: 123RF/rmbarricarte

The much-hyped lunar eclipse on July 27 will be the longest 'blood moon' this century, so there'll be plenty of time to try snap some phenomenal photos of it.

The eclipse will start at around 8.24pm and last until just after midnight, says the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (Assa). The period of total eclipse - when the moon appears darkest - will last from 9.30pm to 11.13pm.

While a fancy, high-tech camera would result in the best shots, you can still take some seriously like-worthy pics to share on social media with your smartphone. Just follow these tips:

1. KEEP STILL

John Rodger, a local astrophotographer, stresses the importance of keeping your phone still if you don't want blurry shots. This can be hard to do if you're holding the gadget in your hands, so now's the time to dig out that smartphone tripod you bought on a whim. No tripod? Try using your selfie stick instead.

2. DON'T ZOOM TOO MUCH

Tempting though it may be, Roger suggests that you don’t zoom in too much because that will only worsen the photo quality.

Rather than trying to get a close-up snap of the moon alone in the sky, consider it a prop: compose a shot where it's part of a larger scene that includes buildings or trees.

You could also get arty and see if you can catch the moon's reflection in, for instance, a window pane.  

3. TURN YOUR FLASH OFF

SA astrophotographer Paul Changuion advises that you turn off your flash because the light emitted from it can clash with the light from the moon, which in turn can change the overall tone and impact on the sharpness of your picture.

4. SWITCH INTO HDR MODE

The Indian Express recommends that you switch your smartphone camera app into HDR mode while the moon is in partial eclipse. This means it'll quickly take several snaps at different exposures one after another; these are then automatically merged together resulting in "a single image with brighter colours and better contrast". 

5. OPT FOR MANUAL FOCUS

Another tip from The Indian Express is to not rely on autofocus while shooting dark scenes as this can result in a loss of detail. "For focusing manually, all you need to do is tap on the subject in the viewfinder and then click it." 

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