Home Photography 20 Dos and Don’ts for Shooting the Moon

20 Dos and Don’ts for Shooting the Moon

by kyngsam

In case you’ve ever tried capturing the moon, you’ve most likely found that it’s really a fairly tough topic!

However don’t fear; there are some suggestions and strategies you should utilize to shortly enhance your moon images.

On this article, let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts to take your moon photos from snapshots to gorgeous artwork.

city with rising moon
The April moon, known as the “Pink Moon,” rising over Marietta, Ohio. The setting solar lit town with a heat glow.

1. Do use a tripod

One of many most essential items of kit for capturing the moon is a good tripod.

For the reason that moon is so small, it is extremely essential to have a sturdy basis, as a result of even probably the most minute motion of the digicam will trigger your picture to blur. 

You would possibly assume that, should you use a fast-enough shutter velocity, you may handhold the digicam. However since your topic is so small within the body, even small actions might be exaggerated.

2. Don’t use a gradual shutter velocity

Whereas it’s a good suggestion to make use of a tripod, you should keep away from utilizing a slow shutter speed.


As a result of the moon is definitely transferring very shortly across the earth. The moon is so distant, it doesn’t seem like touring very quick. However should you let your shutter velocity chill out an excessive amount of, you’ll find yourself with all types of undesirable movement blur.

An excellent rule of thumb for tack-sharp moon images is to shoot at 1/125s or quicker.

3. Do use a telephoto lens

To efficiently seize any type of element on the moon, you want a minimum of a 300mm telephoto lens.

If you would like the moon to take up your entire body, you have to round an 800mm lens.

shooting the moon with a telephoto lens

4. Don’t use any filters in your lens

To stop any probability of a blurry picture, don’t use any filters.

Sure, even take away the UV filter. This will sound scary should you by no means take away the UV filter out of your lens, however on this case, it’s finest to set it apart.

Some might recommend utilizing a impartial density (ND) filter for moon images to chop again on the brilliant mild of the moon. However all it will do is require a slower shutter velocity, and also you wish to use the quickest shutter velocity attainable to get that crisp, tack-sharp picture.

5. Do strive the Looney 11 Rule

The Looney 11 Rule is much like the Sunny 16 Rule. It’s designed that will help you publicity correctly when capturing the moon, whereas additionally guaranteeing you get a fast-enough shutter velocity for sharp photographs.

Right here’s the way it works:

Set your f-stop to f/11.

Then match the shutter velocity to your ISO. 

For instance, in case your ISO is about at 200, set your shutter velocity to 1/200s.

(This isn’t a precise science, but it surely ought to provide you with a superb start line.)

6. Don’t use the shutter button to begin your publicity

Don’t manually press the shutter button and even contact your tripod when initiating your moon shot.

Do not forget that even the slightest contact may add sufficient vibration to blur the picture.

As a substitute, use a cable release or remote trigger to begin your publicity. In case you don’t have both of those devices, use the self-timer function in your digicam.

7. Do use mirror lock-up

In case you’re working with a DSLR and it has the choice, lock up your mirror. This will tremendously enhance your probabilities of getting a tack-sharp moon picture.

You see, even the slightest shake of your digicam’s mirror will be sufficient to blur the shot. So in case your digicam has this feature, use it!

Lock the mirror up and wait just a few seconds to permit any vibrations to settle earlier than starting your publicity.

(In case your digicam doesn’t have a mirror lock-up choice, you may all the time shoot in Live View, which may have the identical impact!)

8. Don’t use picture stabilization

Your lens’s (and digicam’s) picture stabilization expertise have to be turned off as quickly as you place your digicam on a tripod.

Turning on a picture stabilization function together with your digicam mounted on a tripod will really create blur in your picture!

9. Do know the cycles of the moon

shooting the moon over a barn
Use The Photographer’s Ephemeris app to foretell the situation of the moonrise.

There are 29.5 days between full moons.

And by studying when the complete moon will come, you may make sure you get the best-looking moon in your photographs!

There are numerous on-line and smartphone purposes that may assist you monitor the phases of the moon. One must-have app is The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which offers you the phases of the moon, and in addition present you when and the place the moon will seem within the sky.

That is particularly helpful when planning your moon shoots. The complete moon may be very well-liked and photogenic, but it surely’s additionally the brightest and probably the most tough to show accurately.

The aspect lighting of a gibbous moon produces some fascinating shadows which can permit you to seize craters and mountains. The crescent moon is, after all, the darkest stage, however one which will supply some fascinating results when added to a nighttime panorama.

10. Don’t all the time place the moon within the middle of the body

Placing the moon within the middle of the body – particularly if there’s nothing else within the shot – is boring.

It’s been finished one million instances earlier than. So attempt to put the moon off-center.

Oh, and ensure to incorporate different fascinating objects within the body!

That’s the way you’ll find yourself with a really spectacular moon photograph.

moon photography with a foreground object
Don’t simply place the moon in an empty sky. Together with a foreground object will create a extra dramatic picture.

11. Do change to handbook focus

There are a few totally different strategies you should utilize to concentrate on the moon.

First, strive utilizing your digicam’s autofocus to make the moon tack sharp. Then, after you have a fascinating level of focus, flip off the autofocus and change to manual focus.

Alternatively, you can begin by setting your lens to handbook focus. Together with your digicam’s Reside View function turned on, zoom in on the moon and switch the handbook focus ring till the moon turns into sharp. Then don’t contact the ring once more.

12. Don’t simply shoot the moon at evening

One of the best time to {photograph} the moon is simply after it rises or simply earlier than it units, when it’s low within the sky.

Why is that this essential?

For one, when the moon is close to the horizon, it can seem bigger in your photos (attributable to a trick of the attention).

Additionally, as the complete moon rises, the solar might be setting, and because the full moon units, the solar might be rising. This may give you nice lighting to intensify foreground objects.

Be aware that capturing the moon within the daytime (e.g., within the late afternoon) offers you the chance to incorporate foreground objects, and you may additionally have the ability to seize some craters on the moon’s floor.

moon photography with a tree in the foreground
The June full moon, known as the “Honey Moon,” captured because it units at dawn.

13. Do use publicity bracketing

After getting discovered an publicity that you just’re pleased with, it’s finest to bracket around that setting.

You see, the view of your photos at midnight, on the again of your digicam, can usually be deceiving. At nighttime, photos all the time seem brighter on the digicam LCD than they’re when opened in your pc.

So after you’re glad with the publicity you could have dialed in, bracket two stops underneath and two stops over, simply to make sure that you get a outcome you’ll be pleased with later.

14. Don’t use Auto White Steadiness

Utilizing Auto White Balance offers you very inconsistent outcomes.

As a substitute, I like to recommend you strive the daylight white steadiness preset. And should you’re in search of a special impact, strive the tungsten or cloudy presets.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

And bear in mind:

If you’re capturing in RAW, you may change the white balance in post-production.

15. Don’t rely in your meter

Typically, your digicam’s light meter might be fooled by the quantity of sunshine reflecting off the moon.

So be sure you consistently test your LCD and histogram to make sure you’ve nailed the publicity.

Additionally, you will need to word that, because the moon rises, the publicity will change. The moon will get brighter because it rises, so that you’ll have to maintain adjusting your shutter velocity to compensate.

16. Do shoot the moon in RAW

Shooting in RAW will permit you to seize extra particulars of the moon’s floor, and in addition provide you with extra latitude for changes in Lightroom and Photoshop.

So, until you aren’t in any respect comfy with utilizing digicam RAW software program, all the time shoot the moon in RAW.

17. Don’t be afraid to crop your photos

Except you might be capturing with a really massive telephoto lens, you’ll want to crop your picture to show the moon at an honest dimension.

However bear in mind:

The extra you crop, the extra you scale back your capability to print at a excessive decision.

18. Do tweak and sharpen

Most moon images goes to require some post-processing in Photoshop or different photograph enhancing software program. Including readability and distinction will assist convey out particulars, and it will improve the craters and mountains of the moon.

As talked about above, the white steadiness and publicity may additionally be adjusted to attain a pleasant outcome, as each are considerably tough to excellent in-camera.

19. Don’t be afraid to get artistic

Right here’s the reality:

Most nice moon images has been manipulated in post-production, due to the problem of capturing an amazing moon shot in a single picture.

So don’t be afraid to get artistic.

As an illustration, you would possibly create a composite, as I did for this picture:

the moon and a flying seagull
Be artistic! I mixed two photos to make this composite.

A well-liked technique utilized by many photographers is to mix two exposures: one set to convey out the most effective of the foreground panorama, and a second uncovered for the moon. 

When combining these two photos, strive enlarging the moon barely to attain a extra dramatic impact, however don’t overdo it to the purpose that it appears pretend. The moon must look plausible, until you’re going for a science fiction impact (which isn’t all the time a foul concept, creatively talking!).

shooting the moon above a bridge at night
Two exposures had been mixed to make this remaining picture. One picture was uncovered for the panorama and the opposite for the moon. The moon was enlarged barely for dramatic impact.

20. Do follow, follow, follow

You now know all the things that you must get began with moon images.

So get on the market and shoot the moon!

Do not forget that moon images will not be as straightforward because it appears, so in case your first outcomes are usually not as dramatic as you anticipated, then maintain attempting!

Now I’d wish to see a few of your moon photos! Please share any moon photographs within the feedback beneath.

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