Hello, I am Petko Angelov, the assistant of the Lisbon based photographer João Carlos. He invited me to write about how I got my picture of the Moon eclipse on the 27th of July 2018.
I found out about the eclipse earlier this year, so I had all the time to prepare myself. First of all, I looked at the times that it would be happening and was pleased to see that in Portugal it would be in its total phase shortly after sunset. These were great news since the full moon rises during sunset! Knowing this I was already imagining possible locations and picturing it in my mind. To help myself with directions I used a freeware astronomy software called Stellarium, this is a great little tool I use to plan my astrophotography. There I saw that the moon was rising from the south-east and Mars would be right under it, how awesome could it get.
It was time to figure the location
I was already thinking of Serra da Arrabida, a really convenient location for me since I can go there by bike. I looked it up on GoogleMaps where my goal was to find places with an interesting south-east horizon. In the meanwhile, I also checked how the tides would be during the eclipse. Perfect news it would be a really low tide giving me even more options. What I chose was Comenda, there is a gorgeous abandoned house which is right on the sea coast and I was hoping I could find a good angle for it. If not I always had the backup plan from there which was the panorama of the Troia peninsula.
The day had come, I was ready, batteries charged, SD card formatted, backpack ready. I brought my tripod, 85mm f/1.8 and my kit 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 lenses and my Nikon D5100 camera. Very limited gear but gets the job done for me. I was there an hour before the moon rises to see if I would have the angle of the old house. Unfortunately, some trees were covering the northwest side of the house, so I had to go for plan B. With my camera ready I had to wait for the Moon to show up, it took some time because there was a lot of haze on the horizon. I saw it barely missing the horizon I chose for the image so from that point I knew I would be making a composite image.
Since I saw the moon going slightly off target. I decided to use my 105mm zoom and get the maximum out of this eclipse. Thank god the full phase was still there. Like that, I was able to get pictures of a bigger moon with more details which would make for an awesome final image. I rolled with this decision and started taking pictures fully zoomed of the Moon and Mars every 5 minutes. I was pretty satisfied with the results, not a sharp lens at all but I went home happy.
Editing and final words
I knew what I had to do. Basically chose the background image, which would be one of these with the buildings on the horizon, and then stack the later images on top. I did it, however, the moon still looked kinda small so I gave it some interpolation. Sadly not having the right gear makes you take these ways. And voila I have a great composite image of the eclipse.
Even not with good gear, I could achieve some pretty results. It’s all in knowing what you have and use it to its full potential, and also the decisions you make.