My Lunar Eclipse Video – December 2011

The moon just as it enters the Earth's shadow over San Francisco

I shot this video from San Francisco on Saturday morning. This is the last total lunar eclipse until 2014. The moon started going dark around 4:30am and stayed in the Earth’s shadow until just before it hit the horizon on the west coast. A brief outline of my workflow is below.

Photos – Taken with a Canon 60D with a Canon EFS 18-55mm lens set to 18mm. I used Av mode because the light changed from full moon to eclipse to daybreak. I used manual focus and disabled the image stabilizer. I had to use ISO 800 to keep the exposures under six seconds in order to keep the motion smooth without blurring the moon or stars.

Processing – All photos were shot in RAW, which meant 1300 photos took around fourteen hours to process. I chose a temperature that kept the moon white in the beginning but let it transition to red at the height of the eclipse. I used the Digital Photo Professional software shipped with the Canon 60D to convert the RAW files to jpegs. The size of the original RAW photos were around 30GB.

Video Processing – I used VirtualDub with MSU Deflicker to correct for minor light changes caused by shooting in Av mode. Frames were compiled at 25fps and compressed with Xvid.

There’s a bit of noise in the video because of the high ISO, but my attempts to eliminate the noise with Photoshop lead to more banding than I’d like. Both versions were around the same level of quality, so I went with the less processed version. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

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