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There’s a blood moon tonight over the UK (January 2019).

My experience of the super blood moon 2015 is below.

 

September 26 / 27 saw a wonderful #superbloodmoon and a great opportunity to photograph this rare occurrence.

So, here’s how I ended up capturing one of the more unusual shots that night, which managed to get featured across several news and media outlets.

Planning:

Location, Location, Location – a key factor when trying to photograph a historical event like this. A few weeks prior to the date I sat making lists of where I thought a good location would be to shoot the moon. I knew I wanted a landscape in the shot rather than just the moon. However, I appreciated that unless the angle was right, then all I would end up with would be a big landscape and a tiny moon high up the sky. I needed something tall. I narrowed the locations down to two possibilities;

  • Glastonbury Tor
  • Corfe Castle

Both historic spots, both on a hill and I figured both would make equally a good spot. A deciding factor would be the weather. First thing first, I needed to pay a visit to both and see how I envisaged the shot might work.

Happy Birthday to me! Yes, on the 22nd September I became older… and I figured it would make a good excuse to drive down to Corfe and see what shots might be possible, whilst enjoying a nice meal and drink.

Corfe is a pretty village and the Castle the focal point. The added bonus of the Swanage steam railway makes for lovely place to visit. Arriving I tried to work out where the moon would be at various times, and then were I thought a good photo might occur. After a nice lunch I drove up a lane and found some land which figured might work. I cautiously walked up a dirt track to see if I had a view of the castle, which it did. Fortunately the land-owner was on hand and I had a chat with him to enquire whether he might mind me trying to photograph the super-blood-moon, possibly wild camping. He was most hospitable and wilfully welcomed me.  I left knowing Corfe could work if the weather behaved.

Glastonbury Tor photography

Glastonbury Tor photography

Saturday 26th had been set aside to spend time with the kids and family at a location of my choosing (dragging out the birthday). I decided a visit to Salisbury followed by Glastonbury Tor would make for a nice day. The added bonus also being I could pickup a new Canon 7D mkiii from Salisbury to go with my Canon 6D. After another yummy lunch and being complimented on my photography by the great staff at London Camera Exchange we set off to Glastonbury.

 

glastonbury3Arriving as the sun was starting to set, I quickly set about working out where the moon would be. Whilst I was at it, taking a few photos of the beautiful light as a large moon started to rise above this mystical location.

glastonbury

Planning done, it was time for a decision. Another check of the weather forecast and I decided I would drive to Corfe, if the weather changed then I would then drive to Glastonbury.

The Shoot:

Sunday came and I packed all my equipment along with sleeping bag, bivvi bag and cooker. Sochi would be joining me (my Siberian Husky), so ensuring a few treats and water for him added too.  As the late afternoon settled I could see the skies locally were beautiful and due to a previous moon-shot decided to jump on the Ducati and quickly ride over to Calshot to capture the ‘super-moon’ as it rose over the horizon.  It appeared over Gosport area and was huge. A few photographs later I was satisfied and jumped on the bike to return home ready to later drive down to Corfe.

Super Moon over Southampton Water

The September 2015 Super Moon rising over the Solent in Hampshire

Arriving in Corfe I had a quick drive around admiring the castle from various angles. The place was empty surprisingly, but then I was early in relation to the eclipse time.  I then headed to the land I had gained permission to spend the night at and setup camp. Checking equipment I set my alarm for around 1 am to allow me to get some sleep. Sochi was already fast asleep (lightweight).

Waking, having some coffee, I checked the moon knowing the shadow would begin to edge across the moon. The ‘main event’ of full eclipse would be between roughly 3 and 4 am, but seeing the shadow move across the moons surface is equally enjoyable. However, it quickly became obvious my location was a mistake for the shot I wanted to achieve! Mistakes happen, but how to deal with it was key knowing I had limited scope and time.  I knew I had to move.

Mistakes happen, but how to deal with it was key knowing I had limited scope and time…

Here’s a quick shot showing my vantage. It’s a nice location, but the moon and object (Corfe Castle) does not work. This image is exposed to show the Castle under the then bright moon.

Corfe Castle Photography

Corfe Castle, Dorset – under the super moon.

Packing up, I jumped into the Car and drove down into the village only to be amazed by the amount of photographers gathered all around. Parking as quickly as I could so not to disturb anyones night-vision I stepped out and wandered around with Sochi trying to find a space amongst the crowd. This wouldn’t do I thought, I am simply taking the same photo as everyone else which is something I was trying to avoid.

Lights were shining from the hills above as others had gathered and I could even see people standing on the railway bridge. I continued my search. I then walked up a road (B3351) wondering if there might be a nice shot from the hill, I happened to turn around and it was then I saw the shot I would take, better than I had imagined. Quite simple really, I would setup under the railway bridge using it as a frame of Corfe Castle as the moon rose above.  Setting up in the road was not the easiest task, on one hand I had my gear and the other I had my Husky. Surprisingly there was traffic! The odd delivery van would drive frantically up the road leaving me to make a dash into the narrow verge equipment and dog in hand. However, I was persistent and managed to get several shots.

My final image was composed of two images: One for the extremely dark underside of the bridge and the other of the castle and moon. Happily there was someone on the hill light painting the castle which gave me detail on the wonderful ruins.

I was happy, wandering back to the Castle I captured a shot of the stars as the sky had become so dark. Admiring the view some more before packing up and returning home.

Magical Corfe Castle under a Super Blood Moon

Magical Corfe Castle under a Super Blood Moon – available to buy

Corfe Castle dark skies under eclipse

The stars shining brightly as the moon is eclipsed

Super Blood Moon

Super Blood Moon

 

  –  You can buy the image in various formats – click the image below:

A shot of the ancient Corfe Castle during the Super blood moon. Taken from underneath the old steam-railway bridge, dodging traffic I watched the moon turn red as it hung over the starry skies.

 

 –  Want to try night photography?

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