Last night there was an Eclipse of the Moon. This might be a good time to talk about photographing the Moon. It’s not as hard as it may seem! Here is how I do it. (Some may do it differently, but this is how I “Shoot the Moon”
Shot 2/20/08 outside Portland Oregon
EXPOSURE: Don’t use any auto exposure modes (aperture, program or shutter priority) — switch to full manual. Metering will average the exposure over the night sky (most of the frame) and the bright Moon. This will result your images being over exposed. The moon is not difficult to photograph correctly. You can use the “sunny 16” rule quite successfully with the aperture of F/16 set the shutter speed to one over the ISO Let’s say you use an ISO of 100. This means that the right exposure at F/16 would be 1/100s. (The equivalent to F/11 at 1/200s, F/8 at 1/400s, or F/5.6 at 1/800s, and these are the settings you can choose from to be assured that the Moon’s tonal range will be exposed properly).ISO: Always try & shoot at ISO’s that allow for exposures of 1 200th and above. Remember the moon moves almost 360 degrees each day, or 1/4 of a degree per minute, or one Moon diameter per two minutes) I This is very slow to be a concern at the shutter speeds above 1/250th or above that I try to shoot at . MANUALLY FOCUS: If your camera has manual focusing, switch use and set the focus for infinity (or, in case of an SLR, focus manually). TRIPOD:As in all photography a tripod is always necessary for sharp images. Usually you will be using a long lend when photographing the moon (that’s another subject!). The need for a tripod is obvious! MIRROR LOCKUP: Remember that the effects of camera vibrations caused by the SLR mirror are amplified proportionally to the lens focal length. If your camera has mirror lockup (mirror going up some time before the actual exposure), use it, especially for lenses 200 mm or more. And between a 10th and a 60th of a second. EFFECTS of extraneous light With a really long lens, and with a tripod used to avoid camera shake, the detail in your picture will be limited by how much air is there between your camera and the Moon, and how clean this air is.
Humidity, dust, etc. reduces contrast and sharpness. Therefore I suggest you get out of town to avoid pollution, dust, and extraneous city light. (Mountain areas are especially beneficial. Dry air, also makes for clear images.
Moonset over the Tufa, Mono Lake,California