tips for photographing the moon

photographing the moon tips

The moon has been orbiting the earth for around 4.5 Billion years which is around the same time that the earth formed from the cosmic dust surrounding the sun. The Moon was created when a mars sized planet called Theia collided into the earth and almost destroyed both plants. This distant rock has captured the imagination of humans since the beginning of our history; Luna photography is great fun and can yield some stunning results.

Its easy enough to see the moon in the night sky but, it is actually quite tricky to get a nice shot  so i have put together some tips to help you get better photographs of the moon.

Get your shot in the Happy hour

Moon rise


It does not matter what part of the lunar cycle you capture the moon in as it looks stunning in every phase. You just want to make sure that the night you choose to capture it is not on a new Moon. You can find the dates for 2014 here.

The happy hour is just after the moon rise. The earth atmosphere creates a lens distortion which magnifies the moon making it easier for you to get a stunning photograph.

Choose your location wisely

Moon over city scape


The great thing about capturing the moon is that you can do it almost anywhere. The light which illuminates the moon and reflects back to the earth comes from the sun – so its very bright. This has allowed loads of photographers to capture the moon over cityscapes and other light polluted areas.  So don’t get into the mind set that you have to be in places with low light pollution such as with star trail photography.

Make your own unique picture

Think of a style in which you want to capture the moon. There are some shots that are super zoomed in which capture the thousands of craters that have impacted the moon over the millennia – An awe inspiring shot that will never get old. Some people  tend to allow the moon to be slightly over exposed and for close, foreground objects to take over the frame. The motion of the moon in stages at it moves through the night sky will almost always make for a truly wonderful photograph.

Use the right equipment

the moon looks pretty big in the sky, however you are going to need a long range lens to capture fine details on the surface.  To do this you are going to need at least a 200mm lens but I recommend getting somewhere in the region of 400mm. Of course once you start getting into these focal lengths it can get very expensive.

At this point you need to consider getting a telescope. A good reflector telescope will set you back £150 or more – they to get more expensive with focal length and lens quality. What you really want to make sure you can purchase for the telescope model is a camera adapter,

Use a remote shutter release. These can be purchased on-line for around £30 and will allow you to take the photograph without shaking the camera. Having this is very cheap and will make the pictures come out that bit sharper.

A good sturdy tripod is a must too.

Camera settings.

moon camera settings


It all depends on the style of the picture that you are going for. You really want to be in manual mode so that you can get the best out of the camera. In my photographs i like to get the detail of the moon in focus so i use settings like this:

  • Shutter speed: 1/640
  • aperture: 4.5
  • ISO: 800

Post processing is a large part of making a truly good picture of the moon. To really enable worthwhile adjustments to your image you will need to set your camera to shoot in RAW mode.



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