And judging from the pictures on digital camera discussion forums, many took photos. Those with a typical 3x zoom (2x telephoto), or with no zoom were disappointed: the moon looked too small. Those with hefty zooms, such as the Canon S1iS' 10x (7x telephoto) zoom got pretty nice results.
My plan was to use the timelapse feature of the S1iS to create a photo-montage of the moon as it became eclipsed. (Canon inexplicably calls timelapse "Invervalometer." You find it as the third-last item on the Rec. Menu.) I planned one photo every minutes; the Canon is limited to 100 timelapse photos, so that would be just over 1.5 hours -- enough to capture the eclipse through to total darkness.
As practice, I took moon shots the night before, so I know that the moon is a very bright object. It may be only reflecting sunlight, but to get a proper expoure, sunlight-like settings are needed: 1/125th second at a wide open f3.1 aperture. That allows the dark "seas" and craters of the moon to show up in contrast to the bright white areas.
Once the moon was in the Earth's shadow, you need to change the exposure. The moon is now very dark; I changed the exposure to 1 second (at f3.5).
Pictures of the moon consists of a large area of black with a small white dot. That fools the camera into overexposing the image. Switch the camera to manual exposure mode (M).
In addition, turn off automatic focus, and set manual focus to infinity. No camera's auto focus works with a bright dot on a black background.
Because I planned to use the Invervalometer, I set up the camera on the tripod. (The other reason was that I had a meeting going on at my house at the same time, and could not hold the camera.)
And for the S1iS, turn off the image stablizer. IS should be turned of when the camera is mounted on the tripod, because otherwise the timelapse pictures "bounce" around from frame to frame.
Naturally, I used the full 10x optical zoom of the S1iS. Even so, the moon is quite small in the overall picture. Later, in PaintShop Pro, I would crop the image significantly, making the moon relatively larger to the image size.
The 10x zoom gets a great image of the moon. (As I've noted elsewhere in this blog, the telephoto portion of the zoom is only 7x; the remaining 3x are used up by the wideangle.) But 10x/7x creates two problems:
* It's hard to find the moon in the viewfinder when zoomed all the way in. The workaround is to zoom back to wideangle, hunt for the moon, and then zoom into it.
* When taking time-lapse photos zoom in that much, the moon crosses the field of view in a mere 15 minutes (15 photos). That means adjusting the camera to re-position the moon in the lower right corner to capture more of its ascent. (You can get a tripod with a computerized motor that tracks heavenly objects; amature astronomers use them for their telescopes.)
After reviewing my photos, I found that I missed one item: white balance. Reviewing the photograph, I discovered that the moon changed its color in some frames, as the camera's automatic white balance tried to be helpful. I should have fixed the white balance manually. (The lower photo shows the 1-minute timelapse, as well as the "changing" color of the moon created by the camera changing the white balance. The black horizontal bars are from lowhanging powerlines. The upper photo's colors are more correct, because the eclipsed moon did turn red.)
After the eclipse was over, I downloaded the photos to the computer. With PaintShop Pro, I did some post-processing to the pictures:
* I cropped the photos to make the moon look larger relative to the image size.
* I applied a hint of enhancement: I used the Highlight/Midtone/Shadow tool to improve a contrast a bit (make the white a bit brighter, and the grays a bit darker). I used this setting:
Shadow = 10
Midtone = 50
Highlight = 85
* And I created two composite photographs (shown here). Set the background color to black, copy one moon image, and then use the Ctrl+Shift+E keystroke to paste it into another moon image.