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Eye of the Lunar Eclipse | by Kurt Lawson
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Eye of the Lunar Eclipse

Tonight's Lunar Eclipse.

Back in 2012 I shot a photo of this arch with the moon in it. It was in the afternoon. It wasn’t even full. It stuck with me, however, and popped back into my mind as I pondered what to do, if anything, with tonight’s lunar eclipse. I was able to brush aside my schedule and head to the Alabama Hills this weekend. I spent Saturday night as a sort of dress rehearsal, shooting images of the full moon through the arch and verifying that yes, it would pass through the eye at totality. After a rewarding day of photography around Owens Valley I returned here in the evening. Wary that someone else might attempt to copy me I waited until darkness to set up my cameras and then waited. The forecast had been grim - 40% chance of rain and sustained 20mph wind with 40mph gusts. It cleared up almost entirely for a fantastic sunset and then moonrise, but then clouds started growing right in the path of the rising moon. In fact nearly the whole transition from full to total eclipse was completely behind a cloud. Miraculously the clouds thinned dramatically right at the crucial time. In a panic I was shooting all sorts of different exposures as the wind howled. Many images have squiggly star trails from the wind moving the camera in the 20-30 seconds, and others have a sort of double-image of the moon because it disappeared and reappeared behind the dark clouds. At any rate, it was fun to try to meet this challenge. The arch is not in focus and was light painted by a distant car. The thin clouds created a halo around the totally eclipsed moon, and the stars have short trails from the 20 second exposure at 70mm. Although I personally have reservations about this image from a technical standpoint, I find it too compelling not to post. This is a single exposure processed in Lightroom. No compositing whatsoever.


I wrote more about the process of making this here:

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Taken on January 20, 2019