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posted: 5/8/2014 10:59 AM

Naperville photographer David Neesley captures stunning views of lunar eclipse

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  • David Neesley of Naperville won our April Photo Finish contest with this incredible work showing various stages of a lunar eclipse.

    David Neesley of Naperville won our April Photo Finish contest with this incredible work showing various stages of a lunar eclipse.


At first glance, it kind of looks like a pearl necklace against a velvet background.

Then you get in a little closer and you say, wait a minute, what exactly is that?

And then you discover it's a composite of pictures of a lunar eclipse and you think, holy cow, how did he do that?

The photographer, David Neesley of Naperville, says the finished product is a combination of skill, patience and a computer program that allowed him to place individual pictures he took of the eclipse in a somewhat circular shape on a dark background and come up with the image you see here.

"I didn't plan on doing it," he says now.

On the chilly night of the eclipse, he says, he went out about 12:15 a.m. "just to see it."

Around five minutes later he took out his Nikon D800E, placed it on a tripod and took his first image. "There was still snow on the ground and my feet were freezing," he says.

He says he took a picture of the changing face of the moon about every five minutes for roughly 2½ hours. His final 10 images caught the moon when it turned red -- just before he retreated for warmer environs.

When he was done, he had taken about 150 pictures.

Using Photoshop, he laid out his favorite images on a neutral density background. He then drew an ellipse in white and placed the individual images along its path. When he removed the white, he had the final image you see here.

The Daily Herald's DuPage County photo staff selected Neesley's picture as the winner of our April Photo Finish contest. For his efforts, he will receive a $50 gift certificate from PJ's Camera, Pickwick Place Plaza, 662 Roosevelt Road, Glen Ellyn.

This isn't the first time Neesley has won our contest.

A veteran photographer, he says he started out as a sound man working in movies and documentaries and for news organizations such as CNN. He did freelance work for ABC, NBC, Fox and even for SEC college football.

He gradually transitioned into photography and says he's done everything from working on political campaigns to a three-year stint with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

"When you get out there with the picture people," he says, "you think, well, I can do that."

And, as he demonstrated in our contest, he really can.

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