29 September 2015

Shoot the Moon

10 December 2011 Eclipse

Due to camera stability difficulties I've encountered while attempting to shoot the full moon, and particularly eclipses, in the past, I decided to finally invest in wireless camera triggers and cable releases for both my D300 and my P510, just in time for the 2015 Super Moon Eclipse.

15 April 2014 Eclipse

A tiny little piece of black plastic would allow me to trigger my P510 with my phone!!!

I read the tiny little instruction page that came with the WU-1a and discovered it does NOT work with the P510. It works with the P520, which was released two months after I bought my P510.

For right now, the WU-1a is taking up valuable storage space in my camera bag. It doesn't work with any of my cameras. I haven't decided yet if I should take it back, now that I cut the plastic blister case to find out it doesn't work with my camera, or keep it for the day I buy the P520. It might be nice to one day have an additional backup, just in case both The Lizard and I want to use not-quite-professional but better-than-pocket-or-cell-phone cameras at the same time.

The second Nikon accessory, about 10 times the size of the WU-1a, would allow me to trip the D300 shutter without touching the camera. The mirror inside the DSLR causes a slight vibration during long exposures. Using a cable release and keeping the mirror up reduces camera vibration and results in sharper photos.

I'd used a cable release with my film cameras for decades, but it doesn't work with digital cameras. The MC-26A for the D300 is about 10 times the price of a film camera cable release. After two unsuccessful eclipse attempts with the D300, my favorite camera, without a cable release, I decided the accessory investment was necessary, and the final photo results would make the expense worthwhile.

I read the manual.

We drove up to Lookout Mountain a couple of hours before the scheduled lunar event, thinking we'd be early enough to beat the crowds and get a great spot. We did get a great spot, but we did not avoid the crowds. The whole mountain was Tailgate City! One guy even brought his flatscreen and rigged it up so he could keep up with the Broncos while the moon turned to blood.

I thought I knew what I would be doing with the new cable release, but I didn't have time to practice before hiking up a less-used trail on Lookout Mountain to wait for the moon. Especially after running all over the mountainside to shoot the sunset before setting up two tripods and attaching two cameras. In the dark.

I missed the moonrise, mostly due to clouds, but also because I couldn't get the tripods set up quickly in the dark. Once I got the cameras stabilized, with the D300 and monster lens weighted with my loaded camera bag, which I toted up the trail specifically to steady my tripod, I attempted to plug in the MC-36A. The Lizard and I both missed the pink rising moon because we were fumbling with the plug by the light of our headlamps, to no avail. I decided to wing it and just hope the mirror and shutter vibration wouldn't spoil ALL the photos.

This is where we'd tried to plug in the cable release in the dark.

Once we got back home hours later, we discovered where the cable release goes.

The moon moved behind a cloud, and we missed a lot of the shots I'd planned to take. Many people began heading back down the mountain.

We didn't give up. We waited, hoping totality would still be visible when the moon finally climbed higher in the sky.

While the moon was totally hidden, I played with different camera settings. I found controls on the P510 I'd never used because I'd never really given it a night photography workout. I plan to do more night photography with the smaller camera in the future!

When the clouds finally began to clear, I was growing too tired to keep shooting. We had at least an hour's drive to get home, and I wanted to download the camera and upload photos before hitting the sack, plus I had to be at work the regular time the next morning.

Back at home, while the cameras downloaded and charged, I read sections of both camera manuals again. I'm now quite confident I will be ready to shoot the next total lunar eclipse without any hardships. In January 2019...


  1. You sure got some awesome shots. That must have took some doing for that guy to get the tv rigged up too.

    1. Just crazy, Pat. Just plain crazy to take a TV moon-gazing!

  2. Yes, you did get some good shots. It was a good location, despite the revelers. Being a Sunday night, the spectacle gave Colorado School of Mines students a final weekend excuse to procrastinate.

    1. Thanks for putting up with all my crazy schemes, Lizard!

  3. I think you still got some amazing shots ... and it's good to know you'll be ready for 2019! It will be here before we know it. :)

    1. You are so right, Sue. Time is flying WAY too fast!


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