Tutorial – Tips on Shooting the Moon

Supermoon © Jesse Warren

First let me preface this by saying that these are not the best moon photos ever, but…what you may take from this is how to coax a decent moon picture out of some basic DSLR equipment. 

Last night happened to be a “Supermoon” – the closest and brightest the full moon will be all year. I didn’t know this at the time, but when I saw it, naturally I ran for my camera to get some shots.

You don’t need any super-telephotos lens costing multiple thousands of dollars here.  I used a Canon 50D and Canon 70-200 2.8L for this shot. Zoomed out to 200mm, that only gave me 320mm of effective focal length to work with, but it was enough. You don’t even need an L though – I’ve shot with a cheap superzoom (Sigma 18-200) in the past with passable results. Any 70-300mm will do even better.

Now for the few tips…

1. Use a tripod. Duh.

This goes without saying. Actually you can get a decent shot handheld, but to avoid any motion blur, use a tripod.

2. Shoot in manual mode. 

When you’re zoomed in on it, the moon is so bright, you’ll need to underexpose by quite a bit to get a correct exposure. The maximum -2EV of my camera just didn’t cut it.

3. Stop down your aperture.

f/8 will do. This will help make the details of the moon sharper.

4. Take multiple exposures. 

This will help ensure you get the one you want. Out of about 6 shots there was one that I definitely preferred to the others.

5. Wait until the moon is full. 

Why? Because it’s brighter, which will help you shoot at low ISOs and sharp apertures, and will provide more detail to marvel at.

6. Get creative. 

Everyone’s taking the same moon shots. Why not use your imagination a bit?

7. Shop it up! 

With Photoshop of course. I find that cropping to 100%, upsizing, dragging the curves around, and applying an unsharp mask usually does the trick. That’s exactly what I did for this image.

The original image…

Original Supermoon © Jesse Warren

After PS…

Supermoon © Jesse Warren

My first attempt at shooting the moon…with a Sigma 18-200 superzoom.

Slice of the Moon © Jesse Warren

An oddball attempt to fake a lunar eclipse…

Fake Lunar Eclipse © Jesse Warren

There ya go. Happy moon shooting!

Extras

Check out these great supermoon shots from The Big Picture and In Focus.

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