How To

Shooting the Moon

Shooting the Moon 7
Shooting the Moon 6
Shooting the Moon 5
Shooting the Moon 4
Shooting the Moon 3
Shooting the Moon 2
Shooting the Moon 1

There are basically two ways to take pictures of anything out there in the night sky. First you can get out a telescope and connect your DSLR (or SLR) to the telescope instead of an eyepiece. I've done this method and I think that's how I ended up with a very dirty sensor. However the pictures are amazing. The second method is to point your camera with a regular lens. For these photos I used a Canon 30D with Canon 70-200mm F4.0L IS lens.

I shot all of these photos at F5.0 with varying exposure times. In the long exposures notice that they are over exposed and that there is a power line as an obstacle. The power line or tree limbs in the photo probably won't matter much when you do this.

Standard metering always tends to over expose by several stops. If you are using film you may want to vary the exposure time a little less than I've done with this series.

You'll also notice in the longer exposures there is a little bit of a reflection. This is caused by a UV filter on the front of my lens. This is something that is more apparent when you shoot at a light source!

On the night of this particular shot, the moon was bright but there were light whispy clouds moving in front of the moon at varying times. In addition to this, the moon actually moves through the sky. OK, the moon is not moving that's the earth. Look through the lens and see for yourself how fast the earth is moving. It's quicker than you think.

I also used the auto focus of the camera/lens with only occassional manual override. That works fine for me although it may vary for other cameras/lens combinations.

So a quick summary:

Low F stops F4.0-5.0 is just fine for the moon.

In camera metering is not much help. It will way overexpose if you use it.

Auto-focus is just fine.

Don't worry about minor distractions in the photo powerlines, flare etc. Those won't show up in the result anyway.

Good luck and have fun shooting the moon!

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1 response

  • John Edwin May

    John Edwin May said (10 Jan 2009):

    When photographing a full moon at the apex in the sky, use the Sunny 16 Rule. Yes, it is night here but full daytime on the moon. You have to use the exposure settings you would use in normal daytime light. ISO 100 photographing the full moon, high in the sky would be about 1/125 @ f/ 16. Probably better to use 1/1000 @ f/ 5.6 if using a telephoto lens.

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