On Friday night and Saturday morning, people across the world will be able to see a ‘Blood Moon’ – a rare occurrence that sees the Earth’s satellite turn a striking shade of red.
The blood moon phenomenon occurs as a result of a lunar eclipse, when the Earth passes directly between the sun and the moon and casts the moon into shadow.
This particular lunar eclipse will be the longest-lasting of the century so far, with the moon eclipsed for a total of one hour and 43 minutes – meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to take some incredible astrophotography with your XperiaTM device.
With their renowned capabilities when it comes to shooting low-light imagery, Xperia smartphones including the XZ2 Premium and the XZ2 will help you take stunning shots of the bewitching blood moon.
But just to make sure you capture some awe-inspiring imagery, we spoke to astronomy photographer Andrew Whyte for his top tips on shooting the blood moon with a smartphone.
Is it possible to get a good shot of the blood moon with a smartphone? Absolutely. There are very few scenarios that can be seen but not photographed. The best camera is the one you have with you – and for most people that’s their smartphone.
Which smartphone specs make it easier to take good pictures of the blood moon?
You’ll be shooting in low light, which means a wide aperture is helpful. The XZ2 Premium has a wide aperture of F1.8, meaning it lets in lots of light. Its low-light ISO of 51,200 makes it more sensitive when taking imagery in darker surroundings – in fact, the XZ2 Premium’s specs are about the most impressive I’ve seen for low-light photography in a smartphone. The combination of these two variables mean users have the optimum chance to get a great shot in low-light conditions.
Should I zoom in? No. It’s much better to crop afterwards. The XZ2 and XZ2 Premium both have a 19mp main camera, giving you the opportunity to straighten wonky horizons and crop the final photo without losing too much image size.
Where should I go to get a good picture?
Head away from city lights that will overpower the moon – the less ambient light the better. To get a standout photo, do some research into local landmarks and interesting features of the landscape (see image below). Objects with recognisable silhouettes such as a gnarly old tree or a castle could make for a brilliant shot with the blood moon in the background. If you’re not near anything photogenic, get a friend to stand in the shot as a silhouette to give your picture some context.
Should I use flash?
It’s best avoided in this situation. If you want to add light into the scene, do so with a dim torch, a keyring light or a friend’s phone. If the light is too bright it will overpower the scene – the glow of a friend’s phone screen should be enough.
What other preparations should I make? Hold the phone very still, or rest it on something firm and safe, such as a fence post, bench or friend’s shoulder. The XZ2 Premium has 5-axis image stabilisation which reduces the vibrations from trying to hand-hold the device at the required low shutter speed – which is very helpful in this situation.
Anything I might have forgotten?
Clean the lens to extract every last element of light-gathering power. A greasy thumbprint that you might not even be able to see could filter the light coming through.
Will the weather affect my shots?
As an astrophotographer I hope for clear skies but I’ll be ok if there’s a scattering of clouds to break up the vast expanse of dark sky – just as long as they don’t obscure the moon. Another advantage of the XZ2 Premium camera is its hi-res sensor which means you can trim expanse of dark sky from your shot.