Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse 21 Dec, 2010

I was all set for the hyped winter solstice lunar eclipse last night. I borrowed a telephoto lens (Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/4L USM) and had setup my camera and tripod in the garage (without battery) so it could acclimatize for the -18˚C night it was going to get into.
The plan was that I was going to photograph the eclipse out of the luxury of my driveway/garage. Alarm clock was set, iPhone loaded with a bunch of alarms (start, max and end totality) and the battery was fully loaded and ready to go.

Coming outside at 12.15am it did not look good. First of all I had locked myself out of the house (the genius that I am) so I had to wake up my girl (who was laughing about it, thank god) just to get my car keys. Why? Because the one big cloud that was in the sky was over my community. Darn! I had to move. And move quickly.

I decide to drive south. And ended up 15min from my house on a road called Springbank Road. It was cold though. -18˚C but -26˚C if you calculate temperature with the windchill. Let me tell you, that's cold. Thankfully I have some serious winter clothing.

I caught the whole maximum of the eclipse, just like I planned to do (all though it was a bit of a scramble). And my battery died just when totality had ended. Perfect!


  1. beautiful shots mano- and great telling of the whole thing too, interesting to see what the 70-200 can do for a moon shot. whats the deal with the acclimatizing? i always acclimatize before bringing my gear in to warm from cold ( for condensation fears) but i just jump out into the cold and shoot without concern- whats your reasoning there? the oddest i have heard regarding this is tom guilmette telling of strapping his 5d mkii to the roofracks and driving for a half hour in the cold- not something i would do! have a nice day and happy holidays- found ya through dan juraks blog.

  2. Hi Nate. Thanks for your comment.
    You are correct. If your camera is not fully weather sealed, correct acclimatization when you are coming back inside is a good thing to do. If your camera is sealed, it does not really matter.

    One of my other personal interests is astronomy. When we – as astronomers – are pulling out our telescopes (from inside our homes), we let them sit outside for an hour or so. This way the optics (lenses or mirrors) cool down to the outside temperature. The telescope reaches it's 'thermal equilibrium'. Also mind you in our telescopes and therefor our photo lenses, there is air on the inside of the lens assembly that needs to acclimatize too. If you do this correctly you get less distorted images. Think of it as looking over a hot fire to a distance subject. You will see hot air moving in front of that subject making it all blurry. But if the air is cold and crisp, you don't get any distortions.
    Another plus is that cold lenses are less prone to fog up.
    Also in astronomy a lot of people cool down their CCD chips or imaging senors. Cooler chips mean less thermal noise.

    So with all that in mind, I let my camera sit in my garage for a while so everything is nice and cool. I only do this when I am going out to shoot stars.

    O and these images are cropped. A 1200mm on a full frame would give you a frame filling moon shot. But who has to dough to buy such a lens.