Last Night’s Blood Moon

Jan 21st 2019

5 Go To Photograph The Blood Moon

“I believe there is a rare “Blood Moon” tonight” said George as she leant over to grab another handful of Hedgehog flavored crisps.
“That sounds jolly scary” said Anne.
“Don’t be such a wuss Anne, it can’t hurt you, it’s just a total lunar eclipse” explained Julian.
Dick scratched his head and reached for another can of pop whilst Timmy whined and chased rabbits in his sleep.
“I know what!” George suddenly stood up excitedly. “Lets go and photograph it, what an adventure that would be!”

And so it was decided. Julian went to get Uncle Quintin’s old Ford Mondeo from the garage and Timmy was bundled into a wire cage and put in the boot of the car.
“Sorry Timmy” whispered Anne as she closed the car boot “It’s the law now”. Timmy just looked at her with his big brown eyes from behind the cage bars as the boot lid came down.

Off they went with Julian at the wheel and Dick navigating whilst George and Anne argued heartily over whether or not they really wanted to leave the EU.

“I have to say it’s awfully dark” said Anne after a few minutes.
“Best time to see the moon” explained Julian. “During the day it’s jolly hard to see”.
Anne decided against saying any more and instead tried to look out of the windows into the darkness.

And so they drove on in the night passing Corran Castle and up into the hills that seemed to tower over the old castle on both sides until eventually Dick managed to find them a car park where they could park the car.
“Park here” said Dick to Julian. “this should be a perfect spot to photograph the moon”.
“Oh yes – this will be perfect” added George excitedly.

Having parked the car Julian and George got out. “Oh I say!” exclaimed George. “It’s rather chilly you know”.
“That’s because it’s winter” explained Julian. “It happens every year around this time”.
“I’m staying in the car” said Anne. “It’s much too cold for me”.
“Oh Anne, you are such a wuss!” said Julian.

George went to get Aunt Fanny’s camera from the wicker picnic hamper whilst
Dick set up the tripod a short distance from the car. Having set up the tripod Dick called out to George.
“I say George, hurry up with the camera there’s a good girl”.
George glared at him. “I’m looking for the tripod mount” she eventually replied.
“Oh do hurry up both of you” pleaded Anne from inside the car.

Julian went off behind a bush for a few minutes before returning to the car.
“That’s better” said Julian to no one in particular.

“Which lens should I use?” asked George
“I would use the big one” answered Julian. “You want to make the moon as big as possible in the frame” he explained.
After a few minutes fiddling George managed to put the big lens on in the dark.
“What settings do you think I should use?” she asked.
“I would try Aperture Priority at F8 ISO 400” said Dick. “Let the shutter speed sort itself out”
“Oh Dick you are funny” said Julian. “It would be much better to use Manual Mode and use a wider aperture as you don’t need the depth of field” he explained.

“What’s depth of field?” asked George.

“It’s the part of the picture that’s in focus you silly girl” replied Julian.
George glared at where she thought he was in the darkness. “I’m setting the camera to F5.6, ISO 400 and a 2 second shutter speed” she announced.

“If your zoomed in on the moon with the big lens it might over expose” replied Julian. “You need to be jolly careful with the exposure or you lose the detail in the moon” he continued.
“Why not just use P mode and let the camera do it all” suggested Dick.
“Everyone knows that using P Mode is jolly lazy Dick” replied Julian. “And anyway P Mode would over expose the moon. You need manual mode and expose for the highlights” he continued.

“What are highlights?” asked George.

Julian sighed into the darkness before explaining to George “the highlights are the brighter areas of the picture, you should use manual mode and use the Histogram to meter for the highlights so you get all the detail in the moon” he paused for breath.
“Histogram?” said George in a puzzled voice “meter?”

“P Mode and 2 stops Exposure Compensation” said Dick.
“What is Exposure Compensation?” said George
“Manual Mode stopped down for the highlights” said Julian.

There was a bit of a silence broken only by the chattering of Anne’s teeth from inside the car.

“Maybe auto ISO and shutter priority set to 4 seconds with -1 stop exposure compensation?” Dick asked.
“Stop?” asked George “What is a stop?”
“A stop is an amount of light” replied Julian.
“How can you have an amount of light?” George said. “I don’t understand”.
“No-one understands stops” replied Dick “they are jolly tricky!”
“A stop is a doubling of light, or a halving of light which you can do using the camera controls” explained Julian.
“What” said both George and Dick at the same time.
“A stop is a halving or a doubling of the light on the sensor – it’s simple really! Julian tried again.
“How do you half and double the light?” asked George.
“You use the Aperture, Shutter Speed and the ISO” replied Julian.
“Aperture?” asked George. “What is an Aperture? This is all so very confusing”.
“Yes it is George, it’s all jolly confusing” Julian continued “Maybe you should stick to taking photos of Timmy with your phone camera instead of trying to take real photos.”

“P Mode, ISO 800 with 2 stops exposure compensation and manual focus” muttered Dick to anyone who was listening.

“Have you finished yet?” called Anne from inside the car.

“No” chorused Julian, George and Dick together.
“We won’t be long” added Julian. “I just need to show George how to use the camera.”
“I know perfectly well how to use a camera thank you very much” George sounded hurt. “My picture of Timmy running in Aunt Fanny’s garden won the Wildlife Competition you know. I scored a perfect 20”.
“You took that with your phone camera” Julian reminded her.
“It was jolly difficult you know – and you only scored a 14!”

“P Mode, ISO 1600, Cloudy White Balance and Manual Focus with 1 stop Exposure Compensation on Spot Metering – that should do it!” said Dick.

“Let’s all take the photo” said George hopefully! “Julian, you set up the camera, and then all three of us can press the button at the same time so we all take the photo!”
“Wonderful idea George!” Dick patted her on the back, “Then we can all enter the same photo into next weeks competition!”
“Ok, let me set up the camera then” said Julian as he shielded the camera from the other with his body so they wouldn’t see his settings.
“All done now – now where is the moon?” he asked.

“I think it’s over there” suggested George waving her hand towards the West over Smugglers Cove.
“I think it was up a bit” from there George” said Dick.

Julian was still trying to shield the camera settings from Dick and muttered something that the other couldn’t quite hear under his breath.

“Oh look, it’s got all cloudy whilst you were talking” called Anne from the car. “Can we go now?”

“No” shouted the others.

“There – over there” George started pointing excitedly to the night sky. “I’m sure it’s brighter over there.”

“Do we all agree that that’s the moon then?” asked Julian

“I think so” said Dick
“I think so as well Dick” said George.

Julian fiddled a little with the tripod and pointed the big lens at the brighter patch of sky. “Right, if you all put your fingers on top of mine and we all press on the count of three, okay?”

Both George and Dick nodded in the darkness.

“Okay?” asked Julian again.

“Yes” replied the other two.

Julian put his finger on the shutter button followed by George’s smaller finger and lastly Dick put his finger on top of both of theirs.

“I will count and on three we all press down together” said Julian. “One … two … three”

And they all pressed down together on the shutter button making the camera go “click” as the shutter opened.

“Did the picture come out? Oh let me see it, let me see!” George was so excited by all the fun they were having.

“Wait” replied Julian. “Someone set the camera up for high ISO noise reduction “on” in the menu so we have to wait for it to noise reduce the picture.”

“Oh do hurry up” George was almost beside herself with excitement now.

“I tried to get Aunt Fanny to buy a Nikon so she wouldn’t need the high ISO noise reduction but she insisted on buying a Canon” said Julian.
“She is jolly quaint isn’t she” replied Dick. “Personally I think the new Sony is the way to go and it’s mirrorless!”
“Hmmmphhh … Sony Phony! Everyone knows Nikon make the best cameras! It’s the sensors you know!” explained Julian.
“But don’t Nikon use sensors built by Sony” Dick pointed out.

“It’s done” called out Julian to change the subject as the picture appeared on the rear camera screen.

“Oh let me see! I want to see NOW” George grabbed the camera to see their new masterpiece. “It’s a little dark isn’t it?”

“We can sort that out in Photoshop later” suggested Julian.

“I use Lightroom” said Dick

“What is Lightroom?” asked George

“Can we go home now” said Anne between chattering teeth.

So the three of them joined Anne back inside the car and Julian drove them home back to Corran Farm Cottage whilst Dick navigated for him and George argued about Brexit with Anne. When they got home Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin were already up and had cooked a lovely breakfast for them with thick greasy rashers of bacon on doorsteps of fresh farmhouse bread spread thickly with golden butter from the farm and lashings of hot sweet tea to wash it all down.

“Has anyone seen Timmy?” asked Uncle Quentin. “It’s not like him to miss out on bacon sandwiches.”

But by then they were all asleep.

Super “Blood” Moon – 20th Jan 2019



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