Marshfield to the Moon: Capturing a Lunar Eclipse

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Photographers had a perfectly clear night for capturing the lunar eclipse Sunday night – even if the below-zero temperatures were a little chilly.

Branden Bodendorfer was one of those braving the cold in pursuit of that perfect shot.

“Throughout the last week, I’ve seen a lot of pictures people have taken of previous lunar eclipses. It really piqued my interest to take some photography myself,” he said.

He ended up taking 400 shots during the event using a Panasonic Lumix G85 camera. At the start, his camera settings were an aperture of f/8, an ISO of 200, and a shutter speed of 500. The fast shutter speed meant that even though it was a handheld shot, there was no motion blur.

The cold later forced Bodendorfer to switch to a tripod and remote controls. As the night progressed and the lunar eclipse began, he adjusted his settings to a higher ISO, more aperture, and a slowed shutter speed to receive more light into the lens. The ISO was never above 3200 and aperture was always below f/5.6.

The partial eclipse began at about 9:30 p.m. and total eclipse ended at about quarter to midnight, the moon taking on a red color.

As he watched the eclipse progress, he noticed an interesting phenomenon – a blue band appeared on the moon in the photos. This marks the beginning and end of totality, according to veteran eclipse watchers he spoke with.

“This happens because the Earth’s Ozone layer scatters red light and lets through some of the blue light that is otherwise filtered out by other layers of the atmosphere,” said Bodendorfer.

“At first when I saw this, I thought – what am I doing wrong? Do I have some type of filter on my lens? I had adjusted my settings to allow so much light into my camera, I was able to see that blue band.”

The next total eclipse viewable from Wisconsin will be May 16, 2022.