November 8, 2022

Shooting an Eclipse with Bryan Minear

The details behind how Bryan got this incredible shot.Spotlights

Not going to lie — lunar eclipses have always struck us as a little boring. They're slow, just a little color, you're exhausted, and then it's done. But Bryan is single-handedly changed our minds with this photo. We had to know how he got the shot. Here's what he had to say.

Walk us through your process for getting this shot.

There is only so much planning that you can do for these types of lunar events here in the Midwest. I ended up being completely clouded out of every eclipse I tried to shoot in all of 2021. I shook my fists at the sky more times than I can count. Also, considering my wife just gave birth a few weeks ago, I knew I wasn’t going to be traveling. It was a “shoot it from the driveway, or shoot nothing” scenario.

I just got a new lens this past week: the Fujifilm XF150-600mmF5.6-8. This one is my dream lens for shooting lunar events. I’ve never had this kind of reach before in all of my years of shooting, so I knew that I wanted to really put it to the test. All of my eclipse images up to this point have been of totality, which is the “main event”. I’ve always tried to do a bracketed exposure showing both the light and dark side, with very little success. That was my main goal for this morning.

The clouds made it a little more difficult, because I needed to bump the ISO enough to not have them blur completely, but once I saw the colorful rainbow effect that happens when the reflected light is hitting those clouds around the brightest part of the moon, I knew I was on the right path. This shot is a blend of two exposures from 5 exposure brackets allowing me to display all of that dynamic range from both the penumbra and umbra.

Between the detail from shooting at 600mm and the clouds, I couldn’t have asked for a better image.

How much planning goes into getting a shot like this versus just getting lucky?

There can be a lot of planning, but I think for shots like this just knowing your gear and having an artistic vision for the kind of shot you are trying to achieve goes the farthest. Had I not made some shutter speed and ISO adjustments on the fly, there’s no way I would have been able to retain the clouds in the way that I did. But at the same time, once you have your settings dialed in, it’s just a matter of clicking and clicking and just crossing your fingers that the clouds will perform and one of the sets of images will work in the final output.

All in, I shot just over 1,000 total images between two cameras.

What did post-production look like?

Honestly, the post on this was very minimal. I edited my base exposure with the “red” portion of the moon and clouds in Adobe Camera Raw, and opened it up in Photoshop. The dynamic range of the X-H2S made this part SO easy.

Then I grabbed the underexposed bracket to restore the “light” side of the moon, layered the images, manually lined them up, and just used a soft brush to mask them together. Once that was done, I accentuated the light with some dodging and burning, dialed in my color palette with a curves adjustment, and then ran it through Topaz Labs' DeNoise and Sharpen AI for the finishing touches. Voila!

Post photograph by Bryan Minear

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