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Tuesday, 21 December 2010



...great photos, and great range of pics! You really nailed a nice selection of views...overcast and snowing here...

BTW, I'm always surprised at how many photographers got into the business starting out with an astronomy "jones" when they were kids, and then trying to take astro-photos and getting into processing to "boost" black & white film. It's my story, and about a third of the photographers who I've met and actually heard their complete life stories...there's always a telescope in there somewhere...

Thank you for the pictures. It was all cloudy and rainy in Japan and we could not see anything at all.

Those are absolutely fantastic photos.

Really excellent pictures of the eclipse. All we had here in south-east England was a dreary grey sky so saw nothing of it!

Nice! Thanks for sharing.

Brilliant well done, will one of these be available in your next print offer to subscribers?

Congrats. Totally envious - I woke up early enough for totality here (7.40am) but it was completely cloudy. Your shots make up for it - they remind me of a previous lunar eclipse I did manage to take when I'd just got a D200; same concerns about the dynamic-range of the returning sunlit crescent.

Excellent! Here in central Calif. we had scattered clouds, the images I took are not nearly as nice as these.

If only we could have a photographer on the moon looking back toward earth during such an event!

"...and about a third of the photographers who I've met and actually heard their complete life stories...there's always a telescope in there somewhere..."

I started out early holding binoculars in front of a P&S trying to capture a pair of bald eagles perched together on a log at the side of a misty lake.

The initial hook into photography can often be using it as a tool to enhance your own vision and see things that are indistinguishable to the eye due to distance (telephoto), time (freeze frame), or other factors. Once hooked we learn to explore in completely different directions.

"The initial hook into photography can often be using it as a tool to enhance your own vision and see things that are indistinguishable to the eye due to distance (telephoto), time (freeze frame), or other factors."

Well said. Small size might be another. I use photography to look into the past, which can no longer be seen otherwise.


Your photos are fantastic. We had considerably different seeing conditions in Ohio...

(It was actually worse than the manufactured picture above. I couldn't see a thing because of clouds and snow showers.)

Beautiful photographs Ctein. I'm jealous though; the only thing I saw which was total was the total, unrelenting cloud cover.

I've done something akin to the telescope thing, holding a digital P&S up to the eyepiece. It turned out better than I might have expected, though the vignetting was...substantial.

Great shots. we have cloudy here unfortunately, so I slept in. lol!

Fabulous, Ctein! We were clouded on on NH seacoast.

I downloaded Ctein's photos and told my kids and my wife that I took them last night..Im off to Holiday gatherings now and Im gonna tell everyone else the same thing...

Wondering if negative film might have caught more of the brightness range for that last. Still some beautiful 400 speed negative films out there. It's better at this than a lot of digital sensors. Try it you'll like it

Great photos. You did this hand-holding the Olympus to the lens? These pictures are amazingly clear!

Latest article on photo sharpness: Not awesome
Latest model of camera: Not awesome
Latest movie or tv "star": Not awesome
Ctein's images of the lunar eclipse: Freakin' Awesome!

Those are superb photos, Ctein. Celestial/astronomic events are (nearly) the only thing that really gets me worked up like a 10 year old kid.

So what in the world am I doing living in the never-dark urban heart of America's 3rd largest city? Beats me. The Adler Planetarium, here in Chicago, held a special lunar eclipse event last night, opening the doors at 11pm and offering views through their telescope through totality. Well I've no idea how they filled their time (Christmas carols and cider?) because even William Schneider's image (sorry Bill) would have been an improvement over what the Adler could have seen last night from beneath a snowstorm and a sky thicker than Saturn's.

So thank you for sharing your exceptional photos of the eclipse with us, Ctein.

Excellent work, fabulous photos!

Beautiful, Ctein!
How can I share in your accomplishment
by buying a print of your best shot?

I grabbed my tripod and my big fast long zoom, made sure I had an empty card and charged battery... Sometimes I am a light sleeper and I figured if I was up at that time I would walk to the schoolyard and take some photos...

I slept like a log last night.

Oh well, the next lunar eclipse is 2011, and the next time it's on the solstice is in 2485. I will be around for one of those, hopefully!!

Wonderful photographs.
I tried photographing the last lunar eclipse hereabouts using a 500 mm f:4 IS lens with teleconverter on a Canon d-slr. The initial 'bite mark' images were very good, but totality was basically a washout as the long exposures didn't permit adequate sharpness even with a beast of a tripod. Maybe next time, I'll be willing to crank the ISO high enough.

Can you post a picture of the setup of the telescope on the PEN? I'm kind of curious on what it looks like.

This post is incredibly cool.

@Ctein: Is that timestamp correct? If so, I see that you didn't sleep after the eclipse -- you went straight to the Mac to process and post. If that was the case, I for one, am glad you did!


Pictopia is having an eclipse photo contest, and giving a free 16x20 Lightjet print to the winner. Just post a link to your photo over on their blog.

Dear Marcus and Joe Dasbach,

That's very flattering. I'm really not sure that any of these are good enough to make 11 x 14 prints. There's a hell of a big difference in quality between what's needed to make a decent web photograph and make a good print. I'd have to look at these very, very carefully and think long and hard about whether or not I wanted to let them out as prints.

Another thing is that there are an awful lot of good astrophotographers out there, and I think these are nice but not extraordinary. I try not to put work in my portfolio where it's easy to go online and find stuff that is obviously better.

Marcus, if I hear from a few other Contributors who would really like a print from this series as part of the gift offerings, I will consider it much more seriously. So, any of you True Fans reading this who would like to see me do that, drop me an e-mail–– ctein@pobox.com. No reason to clutter up the comments list with this private business.

Ditto, Joe. Send me an e-mail and we can discuss this offsite.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 


Why does the eclipsed moon have that color? Is it because it is
illuminated by light that has traversed (and been scattered by) the Earth's atmosphere?



Dear Joe,

I think it's really nice that Pictopia is doing this, but I can make better prints that they can, so the prize isn't much of an incentive for me. Better it should go to someone who would value it.


Dear Pak,

Yes, you got it correct. And right after I worked up the photographs, I sat down and wrote up this little article here. And THEN I went to bed. So if the prose seems a bit less coherent than usual, that's the reason.


Dear Matt,

No direct photograph possible, because I don't have a second camera to make a photograph of the camera with. But it's much the same as the first figure in this article:


The difference is I just take the lens off the camera and the eyepiece out of the eyepiece tube and press the mounting flange on the camera against the flange on the eyepiece tube.


Dear Dwayne,

Yes, they came out all whole lot better than I had any right to hope. It was really a last-minute notion on my part to try this. It shouldn't have worked anywhere as well as it did.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Now that we're all fired up -- we can practice some more on the next lunar ecliipse, which "Jim in Denver" says is in 2011 -- and then catch the solar eclipse that's actually hitting middle America (just a state down from me, in fact) in 2017. (See http://www.eclipse2017.org/ for infinite details.)

Lets see, 1200mm should deliver a 10.8mm dia image at the focal plane. Yikes, that's close to the full height of the fourthirds sensor. Thanks for the post, south Puget Sound was too overcast to see much.

Dear Jeff Glass,

Hey, remember who you're talking to [g]! Been there, done that, and done it better than 99.9% of the other photographers on the planet.

My Olympus actually could capture the entire brightness range of the scene, but color negative film would've captured a longer exposure range than my digital photos did. Printing those negatives well, even digitally, would have been hell, though, and I can assure you it would've been impossible in the darkroom. Aesthetically, they would also leave something to be desired; there are some very very tricky issues with getting a photograph like this to look good (as opposed to merely being a scientific record). Data that's near the extremes of the medium, film or digital, especially the shadow information, has poor color and tonality, so getting it to look nice in a print is exceedingly tricky.

To illustrate the problems, here's the full-range photo I made:

There aren't any blown out pixels, either black or white (whether that will survive translation to the Web is another matter). Only small problem is it's a horrid looking photo! It's that poor separation problem I mentioned above.

If I run major enhancements on this image, you can see how much information there really is in both the highlights and shadows:

Artistically, still looks blehh.

Film'd leave you in the same boat.

The better DSLRs on the market would do as good a job on capturing the exposure range as color negative film and the results would be easier to work with.

Truth, I think the way to go regardless of the camera would be to do a short HDR sequence and merge them. The processing would be tricky to get something that looked aesthetic, but one should be able to get a result that is both pleasing and looks much closer to what the eye saw if one did it right.

I could've done that last night… If I'd thought of it. I didn't. At the time I was really amazed that I was getting anything that looked halfway decent.

Next total lunar eclipse, maybe I'll try an HDR sequence and see if I can make it look good. If I can, now THAT would be a portfolio-worthy photograph.

Another idea-- do more with eyepiece projection. With the 38mm eyepiece and the normal 20mm lens on the Olympus, the field of view's much bigger and the moon only fills under half the frame instead of nearly the whole frame. It'd give me a better shot at capturing that "moon on a field of diamonds" view I wrote about. Which'd also be portfolio-worthy, if good enough.

In any case, I am sufficiently heartened by my exceedingly half-assed efforts this time to take it more seriously next. Nice that these events come around every year or so.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear John,

Yes, figures 2-4 are uncropped, and figure 1 is only cropped horizontally.

Didn't figure this out ahead of time. Coulda, shoulda. Got lucky.


Dear DDB,

And let's not forget my column of last summer:

It's Never Too Early to Start Planning for an Eclipse



Dear Adrian,

Yes, it's for the same reason the rising/setting sun/moon looks ruddy-- the long path though the atmosphere scatters most of the blue light out of beams.

Total eclipses vary hugely in brightness and color depending on the average level of clouds and dust in that rim of atmosphere around the earth at the time. The amount and color of light that gets scattered into the umbra can vary by more than a factor of ten.


Dear Jim,

I think I read somewhere that the next solstice eclipse would be 2095, but I won't swear to that.

pax / Ctein

ILTim, has a great observation: what does a lunar eclipse look like if you are on the moon. I'm supposing the Earth would be pretty dark with a rim of light. Let's get someone up there right away!

@Jim in Denver and David Dyer-Bennet:
The next TOTAL lunar eclipse visible from the USA will be 15 April 2014. Between now and then there will be 6 or 7 visible from Europe/Africa/Asia, as well as a couple of partial lunar eclipses visible here.

Yes, the light reaching the Moon has all been scattered through the Earth's atmosphere. The Moon is being illuminated by all of the sunsets and sunrises on Earth, all at once.

@Geoff Wittig:
A tripod won't help much (not even a beastly one). The Moon travels its own apparent diameter approximately every two minutes, so long exposures result in a blurred subject, especially with a telephoto, since that magnifies the effect. Coincidentally, the same is true of the Sun (but long exposures are seldom required in that case).

No offense intended, but I agree with you that these shots are merely mediocre. I am, in fact, surprised at the outpouring of glowing accolades. Must be because I've shot over a dozen total lunar eclipses over the last 30 years, and believe me, I've seen lots of mediocre shots! BTW, many of those were on 400 ISO print film. I'll take today's digital SLRs any day! (I was set up with my D3s and 85mm f/1.4 and 300mm f/2.8 lenses, but we were totally socked in. Here's to 2014 -- and that solar eclipse in August 2017.)


The next "winter solstice" total lunar eclipse will occur on 21 Dec 2094, or 84 years from now. Between this morning's event and that one, there will be another 70 total lunar eclipses. (I have intentionally not counted the numerous partial and penumbral eclipses). Obviously, a lunar eclipse can only be seen on the side of the Earth that's dark at the time, so not all of these will be visible at any one location. The exact dates, including the 2 solstice eclipses, are:
1. 2010 Dec 21
2. 2011 Jun 15
3. 2011 Dec 10
4. 2014 Apr 15
5. 2014 Oct 08
6. 2015 Apr 04
7. 2015 Sep 28
8. 2018 Jan 31
9. 2018 Jul 27
10. 2019 Jan 21
11. 2021 May 26
12. 2022 May 16
13. 2022 Nov 08
14. 2025 Mar 14
15. 2025 Sep 07
16. 2026 Mar 03
17. 2028 Dec 31
18. 2029 Jun 26
19. 2029 Dec 20
20. 2032 Apr 25
21. 2032 Oct 18
22. 2033 Apr 14
23. 2033 Oct 08
24. 2036 Feb 11
25. 2036 Aug 07
26. 2037 Jan 31
27. 2040 May 26
28. 2040 Nov 18
29. 2043 Mar 25
30. 2043 Sep 19
31. 2044 Mar 13
32. 2044 Sep 07
33. 2047 Jan 12
34. 2047 Jul 07
35. 2048 Jan 01
36. 2050 May 06
37. 2050 Oct 30
38. 2051 Apr 26
39. 2051 Oct 19
40. 2054 Feb 22
41. 2054 Aug 18
42. 2055 Feb 11
43. 2061 Apr 04
44. 2061 Sep 29
45. 2062 Mar 25
46. 2062 Sep 18
47. 2065 Jan 22
48. 2065 Jul 17
49. 2066 Jan 11
50. 2068 Nov 09
51. 2069 May 06
52. 2069 Oct 30
53. 2072 Mar 04
54. 2072 Aug 28
55. 2073 Feb 22
56. 2073 Aug 17
57. 2076 Jun 17
58. 2076 Dec 10
59. 2079 Oct 10
60. 2080 Apr 04
61. 2080 Sep 29
62. 2083 Feb 02
63. 2083 Jul 29
64. 2084 Jan 22
65. 2087 May 17
66. 2087 Nov 10
67. 2090 Mar 15
68. 2090 Sep 08
69. 2091 Mar 05
70. 2091 Aug 29
71. 2094 Jun 28
72. 2094 Dec 21
Probably more than anyone really wanted to know...

Dear Gary,

No offense taken! You simply validated my sense of reality.

I haven't photographed a lot of this stuff, but I've seen a lot.

'Sides, I have high standards [s].

pax / Ctein

Thinking of efficient ways to run through post production, and then effective ways to share an entire series from these types of events can be challenging. How would you recommend assembling something?

I thought about a video montage, a still series, showing various stages of the entire event, but the former is very labor intensive, while the latter doesn't really show all the details that changed literally every five minutes or so.

Ended up going with a spiral type effect, but it more illustrated how I was changing exposures to compensate for varying degrees of brightness and the variation on crops when I went into post production.

Suggestions welcome!

Here's the link to the 800px spiral I posted: http://www.photoshopuser.com/members/portfolios/files/uploads/1133846/full/eclipse800.jpg

Quick question about the Olympus settings: I.S. or no I.S.?


So many telescopes are unsuitable for direct imaging since the mount-sensor distance is too long for dSLRs.. until m4:3 came along. I only recently thought how a focuser might be able to accomodate eyepieces and a shallow-body cam like PENs and Gx (perhaps NEX and NX as well but I don't care since I have a G1 :^). Thanks for showing the possibilities!

Dear Rick D.,

Hmmmm, IS was left on. Didn't think about that. Dunno if it improved things, made things worse or had no effect.

Something to experiment with before the next eclipse.

pax / Ctein

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