The blood-moon eclipse experience

On 20th January we experienced the first lunar eclipse of the year 2019 and it was also a super blood moon which means it appears 30% brighter with a reddish glow. There was a lot of hype and excitement around the event as the eclipse was about to last for 5 hours which is a very long time. As all photographers, I was thrilled about this event as well. So I joined my partner and we planned to photograph it. The sky was mostly clear and the timing was more humanly comfortable to be out of your bed and cold temperature of -4 Celsius was ideal to stay outside.

The moon before the eclipse

I decided to pick a good spot for viewing the phenomenon, a tie was between downtown with city views or mountains. Between Vermilion lakes in Banff and the Three Sisters mountains as best options, I was undecided which would be best. The first stop we choose just to check out, so we reached the location very early and I picked the first mountains as Canmore is the perfect site for looking at the open skies with beautiful foreground of the Rockies. This is a spot on the way to highway 40 near Old Goat lookout towards Spray Lakes.

As the show began at 7:30 pm, I was perfectly set up with my camera and my big 150-600 mm lens all focused on the spot. Initially the moon just came up as a clump of white cloud around 7:00 pm and I was so sure it was going to be a disaster, but we kept our hopes up. When the moon rose above the peaks it begun to get clearer. Many people drove past us and some stopped on the way to tell the positioning might be incorrect as the other peak may block the view, but we stayed. I had my doubts, but hubby kept me in check.

Over 4 hours my feet froze and my camera focused and unfocused on the subject. It was hard and sometimes frustrating, but I enjoyed my solitude and the longest I've been out staring at the moon. The water over the pond was frozen and as winds hit the ice it made a rattling sound that eerily echoed through the valleys around us.

When my headlamp gave away and my lens settings were changed by some error( I was unaware of it till later), I just decided it was time to quit. The total eclipse had begun around 8:30 pm and it made the skies very dark. This was dark enough to see all the stars and the constellations to peek through. The moment was magical when I saw millions of stars scattered across the sky and perfect mountains surrounding it.

We were hungry and cold and exhausted by the end of it, so pizza and hot coffee sounded perfect. I joined my partner in a hot meal and drove back home to Calgary after the midnight. All the internet was flooded with moon shots from the best angles and wonderful compositions of foreground and background. It makes you compare your skills and results with the world, but you got what you went there to try. This was a wonderful and so far pleasantly memorable astro-photography experience of my life.

Stages of blood moon eclipse 1st half

Composite of lunar eclipse Jan 20, 2019

I managed to create this composite image using some editing and Photoshop to sum it my way, it was a very satisfying experience in my young photography career. I look forward to some more chances and certainly a do-over.

Thanks for reading and sharing my experience. Cheers.