Moon is the biggest and brightest object that can be seen during the night. It is so big, that it can be photographed by almost any lens. Even with old mobile phones. But, photographing quality pictures of it can be a bit difficult. It is because the moon is also very bright, so shutter speed can be turned to very fast, thus, avoiding mounting the camera. But, for the best results, tripod is necessary.
Even though shooting the moon seems like a simple task, there are many factors that come into play when doing it. With ISO, aperture and shutter speed being the most important parts. Knowing that, here are some tips and tricks that can be used to get the best shot possible.
First things first, a good long zoom lenses are best way to go. Long zoom lenses are used to get the most details of the moon. Unlike the regular lens, zoom lens can get even the smallest detail when capturing far away objects. It is recommended using them during this kind of shoot. Tripod is something, also necessary to ensure zero shakiness while photographing. While taking photos of the moon without it is possible, it is best to use it.
Besides those basic things, it is always good to check upon the weather. Clear sky with least amount of clouds is the best weather to have. Clouded weather can hide parts of the moon, or lessen the visibility in general. Pollution and bright city lights can hurt the visibility, so the best thing is to go outside the town. Locations with scarce population is better for shooting night sky. Also check upon moonrise schedule, and be sure to be there later in the night. At that point, the moon will be shiny, and background will be dark. That is the perfect condition to shoot the moon without any backdrop.
Be careful. Lower temperatures during nighttime, can bring moist air, and camera lens can catch condensation on it. If that happens, clean it with soft tissue or use the cleaning kit. To prevent that from happening, take some time, when adjusting the camera. Don’t bring it directly from hot to cold. It takes a while for it to adjust, around 10 to 15 minutes.
Last thing you need to check is that you are photographing in RAW format. Most of the DLSR models, and even some mobile phones today, are using that format, so it won’t be that big of a problem. This way, when you edit your photos in Photoshop, you can edit more thing, and tweak things better. You won’t have to worry about dark and light tones, because they can be easily adjusted when using RAW format. And, after you have done all that, you can start shooting.
During the shoot, you will need to zoom in. So lenses of 300mm, or larger, will do the job. Make sure you are capturing the moon as big as possible, with less backdrop. Also, mount the camera on a tripod and use remote shooter, or timed shooter to eliminate all the shaking. Remote shooter can be easily bought, and can save you a lot of trouble. But, you can always go to settings, and turn on timer. Then, change your camera settings so manual. The precise amount of exposure is hard to tell, but, ISO800 with shutter speed of 1/250 seconds and an aperture of f/5.6 seems to be the general setting used for the capture. Lower shutter speed can make the moon look blurry, so beware. And while doing that, check that your shot is in focus. LiveView mode on some camera types will help you do a better job. Also, using spot metering type is a sure way of making sure your camera hits the focus better.
Of course there are other settings you can use to photograph just the moon. ISO set to 100 or 200, depending if you have Canon or Nikon, aperture set to f/11. And shutter speed of 1/125 (with ISO100) and 1/250 (with ISO200). Be sure to watch the exposure of the photograph. Sometimes, too much exposure can happen, but do not worry. Playing around with these settings is the best way to learn how the camera works.
Composition of the moon photography can be a lot of fun. Easiest one to shoot is the moon, without any backdrop. But, if you want to include some elements from the nature inside that shot, be sure to follow the rule of thirds. That means that you will need to line an element from nature, to two thirds of the photo, and position moon to follow the third. You can always mix it up, and make it unique. Some of the elements can be nature, plane, ropes, different kind of silhouettes (if you want to do silhouette over the moon, make contrast higher, and lower the ISO).
And there you have it. Your own unique photograph is waiting to be captured.