The Moon in full eclipse, commonly then called a Blood Moon. Fancourt, George, Western Cape Province, South Africa.


Canon EOS R3 with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens + Canon EF 1.4x III converter attached with an RF/EF adapter.

Mounted on a Gitzo 1548 tripod with an RRS  PG-02 LR pano-gimbal head. Triggered with a Canon TC 80N3 intervalometer.

ISO 12800. 0,5 sec at f/5.6. Exposure set manually.

Note: This blog was principally put together for the astro-photographers. You can skip some of the verbage but there are some facts that you may find interesting. But either way enjoy the images.

This blog is somewhat – no, rather very – belated.  The total eclipse of the moon took place in the early hours of the morning of the 16th May 2022.  The next day we commenced our journey to Tswalu where we spent 5 days.  On my return I quickly put together a blog on that amazing place.  I then intended to do a blog on this unusual and unique Eclipse.  However, we had to travel to London unexpectedly, where we ended up spending 6 weeks.  I did not have access to my image library so nothing got done.  Finally, I have mustered the motivation to put this blog together.  The more I looked at the images, the more excited I got.

What made this eclipse so unique was that the moon was still partially eclipsed as it was setting and the sunrise about to take place. Whilst this may be visible somewhere in the world during some total eclipses, it was very special to be happening right here in George. In fact much of the southern part of the Western Cape experienced this occurence.  It gave me the opportunity to plan the photo shoot and capture all the images virtually on my doorstep.

I planned this eclipse well ahead of the event with the assistance of PhotoPills®, an extra-ordinary photo planning application and also the celestial software package Sky Safari Pro®. I wanted to do a timelapse and then also use some of those images in a composite against a common background/foreground. Given the light pollution in the residential area of Fancourt, I decided to capture this event on The Links, especially as its western-facing region is fairly free of intrusive light.

Using PhotoPills and my extensive knowlege of the layout of the area, I decided to position myself on the back tee box of the 15th hole.  This gives a good view over the golf course (12th fairway) to the west and southwest – the compass points that would contain the eclipse.

As mentioned, this event took place in the early hours of the morning of the 16 May 2022.  The key timings were:

1.   Start of the penumbra converging on the full moon. (not easily visible)         03:30 am

2.   Start of the umbra converging on the full moon. (partial eclipse)                     04:28 am

3.   Totality (Moon fully covered by umbra)                                                                        06:12 am

4.   Moonset   (Full Moon still in partial eclipse)                                                               07:24 am

5.    Ending of the umbra’s convergence on the full moon (not visible)                 07:56 am

6.   Ending of the penumbra’s convergence on the full moon (not visible)          08:51 am

The important time for the capturing of the eclipse images was thus from 04:28 am to the moonset time of 07:24 am.  Wanted the composite image to record from just after step 2 above until moonset. However, the weather did intevene and a low ground mist began to move in from the southwest towards my position just after  totality (the Blood Moon). In the composite image below you can just make out the mist moving in. The images captured thereafter were all blurred and very dim – so they were discarded from the composite image.

The other consideration was the path of this eclipse, as this would also determine the lens and orientation to be used for the composite images. The position of the moon at the start (Step 2) would be at an azimuth of 264° (nearly due west) and at an elevation of 26°. At moonset the position of the moon would be at an azimuth of 246° (near to WSW) and zero elevation. This meant the moon would move through a horizontal arc angle of 18° – fairly upright.  I chose an RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens as this would comfortably cover the whole event and cater for  a reasonable foreground area. It is also my fastest (widest aperture) lens. It was used in the portrait (verticle) orientation.

Just bear in mind that I was shooting images for a timelapse video so that I did start earlier (04:03 am) than the “top” chosen moon image in the composite. The timelapse images, which numbered 688 images, were taken at 13 second intervals starting at an elevation of 38°. The images used for this composite were extracted at intervals of 4 minutes.

The 21 chosen images were processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic and then transferred as individual layers into Adobe Photoshop. All layer blend modes were changed to “Lighten Color” and a few tweeks made to noise reduction. Changing the layer blend mode gave prominence to the lighter elements of the images thus emphasising the colours, brightness and tones in the later images – hence the lovely magenta tones starting to appear. With much detailed planning and execution ….



Composite of 21 images showing  most of the sequence of the eclipsing of a Full Moon.

The Links, Fancourt, George, Western Cape Province, South Africa.

Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens.

13 images at ISO 3200, 1.0 sec at f/8 and 8 images at ISO 6400, 1.0 sec at f/5. All images at 4 minute intervals. Exposures set manually. 


The above composite was only part of the overall plan. I also set up another camera, a Canon R3, with an EF 600mmf/4L IS III USM lens and a 1.4x extender (effective focal length 840mm) on a Gitzo 1548 tripod with an RRS PG-02 LR pano-gimbal head to randomly photograph various stages of the eclipse close-up. I selected images of the various phases and composited them into a linear image.

It is interesting to see the moon colour change as totality completes. A big difference between the 5th and 6th image above. By the 9th image the “Blood Moon” is fully visible. For a detailed view look at the first image in the blog.

It is worth looking at some of the close-up images in more detail.

Full Moon when the penumbra has just moved on to the upper right side of it. 

Canon EOS R3 with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens and Canon EF 1.4x extender connected with an RF/EF adapter.

ISO 800. 1/4000 sec at f/8. Exposure set manuallly

Partial eclipse of the Moon with the umbra covering about 1/3rd of it.

Canon EOS R3 with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens and Canon EF 1.4x extender connected with an RF/EF adapter.

ISO 800. 1/1000sec at f/8. Exposure set manually.

Note the big change in shutter speed as the moon is eclipsed.  Moving from 1/4000 sec at an ISO of 800 to 1/1000sec at ISO 800.  As the eclipse moves to full totality it was necessary to change the ISO to 12800 at a shutter speed of 0,5 sec.  That is a 13 stop difference in exposure!  With such a long focal length lens 0,5 sec of shutter speed is about the slowest without causing too much motion blur.  All these images were captured using a remote shutter trigger.

Nearing Totality as the Moon moves to becoming a Blood Moon.

Canon EOS R3 with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens and Canon EF 1.4x extender connected with an RF/EF adapter.

ISO 6400. 1/20 sec at f/5.6. Exposure set manually

Difficult to keep detail in the highlights and show detail in the shaded part of the moon. It is an eery feeling as the moon reaches totality and the moon glows a blood red colour.

I mentioned earlier about the mist rolling in just after totality and spoiling the images after that as the moon moved towards moonset. There was however redemption! For me this was one of the most fascinating events of the whole morning’s sequences. Just before the moon set, the mist cleared slightly and the moon was still largely in eclipse with the top portion of the moon now  out of the shadow of the umbra. The sun was shortly to rise and the light was already much brighter. Not only could you see, what looked like an impossibility, a crescent moon setting in the early morning (this can only happen in the evening) but even more spectacular the moon set up against the uniquely coloured Belt of Venus (see explanation below) which appears on the opposite side of the rising sun just before dawn (or the other way around at sunset).

Setting Moon, still partially eclipsed, set against the backdrop of the Belt of Venus.

Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM lens. ISO 640. 1/60 sec at f/11. Exposure set manually.

Explanation of the Belt of Venus. The Belt of Venus is an atmospheric phenomenon visible shortly before sunrise or after sunset. It is a pinkish glow extending roughly 10° to 20° above the horizon. The pinkish glow is due to the Rayleigh scattering of light from the rising or setting sun, which is then back-scattered by particulates. Ironically a similar effect can be seen on a “blood moon” during a total lunar eclipse.  

The pink arch is separated from the horizon by a darker blue band which is caused by the Earth’s shadow.

It was a great morning even though it required getting up before 03:00 am and making my way in the darkness  to the chosen spot on The Links. It was all well worth it!