Photographing the Lunar Eclipse from Huntington Beach, CA

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5:52 AM

If you slept in or do not live on the west coast of the US, you missed the super blue moon eclipse.  Here is what you would have seen.

Using my handy LightTrac app, which is a pretty easy ephemeris, I knew the moon was going to set right over the Huntington Beach pier.  I was up at 3 AM and on the beach by 4 AM along with quite a few other watchers and photographers.  Shortly after 4 AM the earth’s shadow started moving on the moon.  It took a good 50+ minutes to completely cover it.


This phase of the eclipse is particularly difficult to photograph because of the difference in the bright light and the shadow.  If you expose for the light, you get a black shadow.  If you expose for the shadow, you get a “blown out” white blob.  Regardless, it was fun to watch.

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4:46 AM

The moon was a good blood orange color for about an hour.  It was still pretty high above the pier, so a wide angle composition was not all that attractive, yet.

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5:25 AM

Finally, about 6 AM (morning blue hour), I switched from my telephoto lens to my wide angle and starting shooting the pier.  It would have been nice if the moon had been a bit farther out, but we will take what nature gives us.

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6:11 AM

I would say around 6:30 AM, we got an awesome belt of Venus with the moon right in the wedge.

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6:39 AM

As the moon got closer to the pier, I made my compositions tighter and tighter.

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6:42 AM

This was my last photo, as the moon slipped under the pier.  If you know Southern California geography, then you know that Huntington is a south facing beach.  The moon set right over Long Beach and the Palos Verdes peninsula.  We did not see it slip into the sea.

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6:45 AM

Make your plans.  The next lunar eclipse is only a year away, January 21, 2019, and will be seen in most of North America.

I made all of these photos with my Fujifilm X-T2.  I used the 100-400 mm lens with a 1.5 extender for the close-up photos and cropped them about another third in Lightroom.  The pier photos were made with my 18-135 mm at various focal lengths.

After the sun was up, I would say there were about a 100 tripod photographers on the beach and many more with iPhones enjoying the spectacle.

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  1. Seattle Park Lover

    So jealous. I was ready to head out with my Fuji X-T20 and same lens as yours, including the TC. But the clouds here were too thick by the time the eclipse started.

    1. Anonymous

      That can be so frustrating, especially for an event that happens so infrequently. We’re sending positive karma your way for next year….

      1. Seattle Park Lover

        We’ll need it because that one is in January also. Ah well, part of what makes capturing uncommon celestial events in Western Washington so exciting when it does happen is how rarely the weather cooperates.

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