How I shot this: Lunar eclipse, 28 Sep 2015
Published on DRAFT
This frigid dust-covered celestial body has been a steady occurrence in Earth skies for some 4,5 billion years. I have often wondered what humans in prehistoric times would have thought seeing the Moon in the sky, slowly sliding across the sky every night and changing shape as the days wore on. It must have caused quite a bit of awe. I find it fascinating that Earth has a satellite. It is difficult to imagine life here without the Moon. For instance, ocean tides, caused by the Moon's gravitational pull which makes the oceans bulge on the sides closest and furthest away from the Moon, have a massive influence on marine life on Earth. And this pull has an influence on Earth itself. The Moon's pull causes the Earth to bulge slightly, too, which in turn has an effect on Earth's rotation and over time causes loss of angular momentum. In other words, the Moon is slowing down the Earth's spin and, eventually, the two bodies would be tidally locked. It will take a long time, though, and both bodies will have been burnt up by the Sun having been converted to a red giant by then (as I described in this article). While it cannot be seen in the above photograph, on 27-28 September 2015 the Moon was very close to Earth resulting in a 'supermoon'.
Lunar eclipses occur because the Moon passes through the Earth's umbra or shadow. As can be seen in the photo, the shadow gradually covers the Moon until it has all but disappeared.
As the eclipse begins, Earth's shadow first darkens the Moon slightly. Then, the shadow begins to "cover" part of the Moon, turning it a dark red-brown color (typically – the color can vary based on atmospheric conditions). The Moon appears to be reddish because of Rayleigh scattering (the same effect that causes sunsets to appear reddish) and the refraction of that light by Earth's atmosphere into its umbra.
A few technicalities
I shot this photograph using my Hasselblad 203FE and the excellent and very underrated Carl Zeiss Planar 2.8/80 T* FE on Kodak Portra 400. Because I am a lazy and tired photographer, I shot it from our guestroom on the top floor of our then house in The Hague, Netherlands. The film was scanned on my Nikon Coolscan 9000 and wet mounted, as described in this article.