Is taking a Blood Moon photo different from taking a photo of a regular full moon? Yes! Here are some tips for taking the shot and editing it when you’re done.
My Usual full-moon strategy doesn’t work!
I love trying to capture photos of the full moon when it’s not cloudy outside. There’s something magical about freezing that moment, almost like capturing a firefly. Over the years, I’ve developed a strategy for shooting full moons and written about it. I’ll link to some of my posts below.
However, when you are trying to shoot a Blood Moon photo, those strategies don’t work!
What is a Blood Moon?
But first, what is a Blood Moon? Quickly, it’s a moon that has turned red during a lunar eclipse. It will start out looking like your usual full moon. Then, as the moon passes into the earth’s shadow, it will become darker and turn red.
Blood Moons can be rare, so being prepared to take the photo will help! (I’ll include a link below to an article about the dates of future Blood Moons. Hint: You have a lot of time to practice this technique! 😉)
Setup for shooting a Blood Moon photo:
First of all, when the moon is in the earth’s shadow, it will appear much darker than a regular full moon. As a result, you’ll need to set a longer shutter speed, which calls for a tripod. Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot of my setup on our back deck.
After you’ve attached your camera to your tripod, check to be sure all the attachments are secure. If your camera can wobble, you’ll capture a blurry shot.
I like to use a remote when I’m shooting on a tripod. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to use your camera’s timer to capture a steady shot.
Camera Settings for your Blood Moon photo:
First of all, set your camera to shoot RAW photos. This will give you more information when you process the photos afterward.
You’ll shoot in Manual mode, but you don’t want a really long shutter speed because the moon moves! You’ll be surprised, but even setting a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds will show a little motion blur.
I set my shutter speed to 1 second and my ISO to 400. Then, I set my aperture to f/2.8. (If your lens doesn’t let you set that aperture, you’ll have to increase the ISO for a good exposure.)
Don’t worry too much about how dark the photo is. You’ll increase the exposure in post-processing. Capturing a photo that is a little dark will help you keep the shutter speed at 1 second and the ISO lower. That will help reduce digital noise.
Processing Tips for your Blood Moon photo:
Editing the moon:
I process my Blood Moon photos in Lightroom Classic and Topaz DeNoise AI. It works better if you send your photo to the Topaz plugin to reduce the noise before you do any other processing. You can see the difference it makes in the photos above. I did all the same editing in them, except that I added Topaz to the better one. Quite a difference! 😉
I find that the Topaz does a great job without my having to change anything! I usually accept their suggested edits and send photos back to Lightroom Classic.
Now, the fun begins. I like to use the Mask tool to edit the moon first. I use the Objects mask and select the brush option. When I bring my cursor over the moon, I increase or decrease the brush’s size to fit the moon’s size and click once.
For the Blood Moon photo, I increased Exposure (+.15), Contrast (+40), Shadows (+8), Texture (+99), Clarity (+75), and Sharpness (+89). These settings will depend on your photo, so play around!
Editing the entire photo:
After I’ve edited the moon, it’s time to work on the rest of the shot. For the Blood Moon photo, I added Exposure (+5), reduced Highlights (-100), increased Shadows (+50) and increased Dehaze (+7). In the Detail panel, I set the Sharpening Amount to +82 and the Masking to +55. Again, this will depend on your photo, so have some fun trying different settings until you’re happy with the photo.
Now it’s your turn:
Here’s a post I wrote about shooting a full moon: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/great-moon-photo-seven-quick-tips/
Here’s an article about upcoming Blood Moons: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2022/11/08/when-is-the-next-blood-moon-total-lunar-eclipse/?sh=7f9533036ab0
And are you unsure about using the settings on your camera or shooting in Manual Mode? My online workshop will teach you everything you need to know about using your camera for photos you love! Since it’s all prerecorded and online, you don’t even have to leave home to learn. Better yet, you can learn at your own pace. You can finish it in a weekend or as slowly as you’d like! https://www.carolinemaryan.com/camera-mechanics-workshops-info/