How to shoot the moon

Last week, we talked about how to get those colorful sunset photos.  Now, in case you’re thinking that the sun has set so now it’s time to go home, not so fast!  There is still some cool photo opportunities to be had.  Taking pictures of the moon sounds really easy, and I’ll admit that when I first started out, I thought it was easy.  I went out to an open field behind my apartment and started snapping picture after picture, only to be highly irritated by the outcome.  Moon photography definitely isn’t as easy as most think but I’m going to help make it as simple as possible.


There are a few items you will need before you can even think about getting those high quality moon shots so let’s get the list of gear out of the way first.  You will need the following:

  • Tripod
  • 300mm lens AT MINIMUM

If you have any filters on your lens, you’ll want to remove them for this particular photo.  While filters are helpful and add some security to the expensive glass on the end of your lens, they also promote lens flare, and when it comes to what we’re trying to achieve here, we don’t want lens flare.  Now that we’ve addressed gear, let’s get into the settings you’ll want to use.

If you remember last week, we started in Aperture Priority mode (again, I’m assuming you understand and are comfortable with using these settings on your camera.  If you’re not, READ YOUR MANUAL!!!), dialed in F8 and got an idea of the shutter speed to use when we switch over to Manual mode.  Were going to do that again here.  Make sure you’re using your center AF point.  Drop your ISO to 100.  Now zoom in as far as you can, compose the shot and focus, then STOP!  Look on the bottom of your viewfinder.  You should be able to see the shutter speed the camera has chosen for you.  Remember that shutter speed.  Now, switch over to Manual mode.  Now the secret to getting those sweet moon images you want is to UNDER EXPOSE the shot a touch.  You actually want to under expose by about 2 stops.  If your camera suggested a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second, you’ll want to go to 1/800 of a second (which would be under exposing by 2 stops) and press the shutter button.  This should get you close to what you’re looking for.  If the image is a bit to bright or a bit too dark, adjust your shutter speed accordingly.  That’s it!  Play around with different ideas.  Remember, if you can catch the moon when it is first rising into the sky, the closer it will appear to be and the more detailed and dramatic it will look in your image.  If you have a photo editor, you will want to crop in a bit, especially if your lens is shorter than a 300mm.  Have fun with this tip, and as always, thank you for checking out my blog.  Talk to ya next week!

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