Monday, September 28, 2015

Super Bloodmoon

  Super Bloodmoon! It hasn't happened since 1982. Won't happen again until 2033. Maybe by then I'll actually have the lens I want for my camera.
  It's a decent picture. It was, in fact, the best one I got out of about thirty that I took. Before I get to that, though, let me backtrack a little bit.
  My original plan was to drive up to Palmdale where there would be a more clear view. I have watched other celestial events from a hilltop just outside of town, and I've gotten some great pictures from there as well. Ultimately, though, I decided I'd just view it from the park just down the street. The eclipse would reach totality around 7:45, and moonrise would come about an hour earlier.
  On the back side of our apartment building, there is a ladder that grants access to the roof. The bottom rung of the ladder is about six feet off the ground, though, with the intent of restricting access. I decided that I'd scale this ladder and try to shoot moonrise from the roof, hoping this would be a great vantage point for the bloated moon as it rose over the horizon.
  At 6:40, I threw my camera gear into a backpack, bungeed the tripod to it so I'd have my hands free, and headed outside. It was cloudy.
  After a few choice curse words, I decided I'd still climb to the roof to see if the clouds extended all the way to the eastern horizon. I had to lurk for a couple of minutes, though, as there were other residents parking their cars nearby, and I didn't want to be seen. Finally, I made my way over to the ladder, jumped up to the bottom rung, and climbed.
  Sure enough, the clouds obscured everything. A once-in-thirty-years event, and I was going to miss it. Clouds! Of all things, clouds! We NEVER get clouds here. Why now? I went back into the apartment and prepared to wait for totality, hoping against hope that there would be a hole in the clouds by then.
  Fortune shined on me, as I looked out my window at about 7:30. I could *just* make out the faint edge of the rapidly-eclipsing moon. I grabbed my gear once more and headed to the park.
  A few minutes later, I was setting up and getting a focus on the faint, brownish-red moon. After I had snapped a couple shots, and was dialing in just the right combo of ISO and exposure length, two women, who were sitting on a blanket nearby, approached me.
  "Sir? SIR? Are you looking at the eclipse?" one of them asked. I quickly determined they had enjoyed a few drinks. "Yep," I answered. "Getting a few pictures, hopefully." "Where is it? We don't see it," the second lady said. I showed them the most recent shot on my viewfinder. "Right there. You can see that it's just about-" "FUCK!" the first lady interrupted, hollering in my ear. "Look at THAT!" she said to her companion. We had a brief conversation next as they asked me what exactly they were seeing, why the moon was red, and what it meant.
  As I began to explain about perigee and apogee and how different wavelengths of light get scattered by the atmosphere, I noted that a glazed look was coming over the two ladies faces. "I should get back to shooting before the thing moves back into the clouds," I said, and they thanked me and left.
  I snapped a few more pics, and then the moon moved into a bank of clouds and began to lose color and clarity. I decided that I had gotten the best shots I could, so I packed it up and came back home. I'm actually pretty pleased with the shot above. I'm sure I'll give it another go when it happens again in 2033. See you then!