Saturday, October 6, 2012

Shooting the Moon

One type of photo I have been aching to take was a shot of the moon. I read a quick tip in Popular Photography on the technical aspects on how to get the shot, and have been waiting for a DSLR to be able to actually take one myself. The tip is simple and produces great results. In manual mode, start with an aperture of f/16 (for a full moon) and set you shutter to be 1/ISO. For a less than full moon, open up the aperture to adjust the exposure.

For my full moon shot shown below, I liked the exposure better at f/18 instead of the suggested f/16. This shot was taken at 1/200 @ f/18, ISO 200.

When it came to my first successful moon shot (image number two), taken two nights after the full moon - the best exposure I found was 1/200 @ f/13, ISO 200. What I really like about the less than full moon shot is the detail of the craters that shows up near the shadow line.

The half moon shot (last image) is where things deviated from the quick tip by quite a bit. Following the magazine tip to the letter may work if you have big f/2.8 zoom lenses, but for most of us and our variable aperture lenses - we will have to get a little more creative. For this shot, my favorite exposure turned out to be 1/10 @ f/11 ISO 400. Of course, we can experiment with shutter speeds and aperture combinations, but this night I wasn't going to spend too much time away from my family since I already got a shot I liked.

When taking photos of the moon, a sturdy tripod is a must. You won't need anything super expensive, but something a little sturdier than a $20 department store special will serve you well. Making use of either a remote shutter release or (as in my case) the camera's self timer is also a must. I found that a ten second self timer was perfect, as it gave the camera time to settle any movement completely after I pressed the shutter.

Full moon (Harvest Moon):

Harvest Moon

Two nights after the August 31st, full moon:

Nearly Full Moon

Half moon (low enough in the sky to have a slight yellow hue):

Half Moon

These photos also mark the start of a new gallery dedicated to night & astronomical photography.



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