Moon pictures are entertaining, moon pictures are exciting, moon pictures are enticing and a good moon picture is encouraging. We all have tried to photograph the moon at one point or another. However, results for most of us are not great and we often end up with a blurry image or a bright hard dot in the middle of the frame. In this article I will try to teach you some basic tricks to help you shoot some great moon images. We might not know but most of us already have the required equipment in out closet. All you need is a camera that gives you control over the shutter and aperture setting along with a zoom lens around 300 mm power. Now, don’t let this scare you away. You don’t need a hot-shot DSLR camera. You can use your regular point and shoot camera if it has a 10x zoom. That’s all needed. No need for a tripod, $3000 lenses and super-natural powers. Below are some basic tips.
Since the moon appears at night and during dark we perceive it as a night object and change our camera to the night mode settings. This is not the correct way to go. We don’t want night preset mode, we don’t want slow shutter speed and we don’t want more light hitting the sensor. In fact the moon is so bright that the opposite is true. At auto mode your camera can’t read the situation and will give you an over-exposed image without any details. To get the right exposure of the moon photo you need to drop the exposure by 1 to 2 stops. You can use any aperture settings. However, I recommend using f-stop between 3 and 8 for these shots. Dropping exposure stops can be done by using the exposure compensation feature in your camera.
You don’t want a grainy picture or have noise in your image. Try using the lowest possible ISO in your camera to avoid extensive noise. I use ISO 100 for my moon photos. And remember that the higher the ISO, the more the noise.
The earth is continuously moving as well as the moon. In other words, our subject is in a constant motion. As with all moving objects you want to use fast shutter speeds. Try using a relatively fast shutter speed with a lower f-stop to get a slightly underexposed image. Also keep in mind that you are not using a tripod so keep the shutter speed high enough to avoid any shake. I use a 300 mm zoom lens with 1/250 for the shutter speed. Of course this is variable and you can change it according to your setting.
When to Shoot
You don’t want to only shoot the moon during dark nights. It may seem a little funny but it’s true that the best time to capture great moon shots is just after the sunset or just before the sunrise. Just look for that blue hint in the sky and pull out your camera. If you want a close-up image of the moon you should try shooting within the first 30 minutes after the moonrise. If you’re lucky you can also capture the moon in a position when it’s closest to the earth. Look at the weather before you go out for shooting because you want a crystal clear weather.