Thursday, October 05, 2006

to the moon!!

I promised Marnie that I would try and help out with how to get a picture of the moon. So I did a bit of digging and snooping and found some good information. I also have my own hits and misses as illustrations! I wish I could give you an easy answer, but there are different things to think about. I've included the technical info. I hope this helps...

1. Lens...You probably want somewhat of a telephoto lens, whether you're using digital or film. Otherwise, you'll probably get a small moon in a large space. If you can zoom in, then you can see more than just a speck, which is really the whole point, no? If not, you get sometheeng like zees:

technical: 1/15 second exposure, f/5.6, 82mm lens

2. Exposure...How long should the exposure be? This can vary depending on time of day and what phase the moon happens to be. We all know that we can see the moon because it is reflecting the light of the sun, no? When it's night, this actually makes the moon much brighter than its surroundings. I haven't done it, but I think that the easiest shot of a rising moon would be if it's rising at twilight, when there's enough light left in the sky so that the moon and the surrounding is visible. That should be a practically point and shoot...again, I haven't done it so that is my guess.

Question: That's all fine and dandy, but what about when it's night??

That's the tricky bit...first thing I'd recommend? a tripod, or resting your camera on something that won't move. If you're exposure is slow and you handholding the camera, chances are pretty good it will come out blurry. Like is actually blurred.

technical: .4 second exposure, f/5.6, 300mm lens

Now, with the moon being brighter than the rest of the picture, you may get overexposure...a bright moon, without much detail...

technical: .5 second exposure, f/5.6, 300mm lens

Some people think that you have to have a long exposure to get everything in. However, remember that the moon is "travelling" across the sky. Longer exposures will do a couple of things.. overexpose the moon, and you'll get a bright blob, or even if the moon is dim, it will appear blurred because it is moving (ok..actually we're moving but whatever...something is moving and it will blur the pic!!)

technical: .8 second exposure, f/5.6, 300mm lens

If you try to expose to get the surroundings as well, you get a very overexposed moon, like this one! Yes, that is the moon, not the sun!

technical: 15 second exposure, f/5.6, 82mm lens

Ideally, you want a correct exposure for the moon and you'll get nice detail, like this next shot. Like Goldilocks said..."this one's just right.."

technical: 1/15 second exposure, f/10, 300mm lens

So, if you've been following along, you might be wondering how the folks that have pictures of this big fat moon hanging over a skyline do it, no? Well, I thought it was pretty interesting...more than likely, it's a double exposure!!

How it's done...
Set the camera up on a tripod. When the moon is low and fat and happy, get a picture of it, at the exposure it needs. Then you wait...and wait...maybe go have dinner or a drink...or both..

Once the moon is out of the way, then you do another exposure (on the same frame...) for the skyline or whatever the surrounding may be.

And have the picture.

If you have a camera that doesn't do double exposures or you are dealing in digital, you can still get your shot. For the following shot, I took a night picture from back home...then used Photoshop! I cut out the moon from one pic and pasted it into the night shot. My final result?

technical: 60 second exposure, f/2.8, wide angle lens

Like I said, I got my information by digging and some of it was definitely more technical. Some of it I also learned by trial and error...and then the research also confirmed what I had deduced. The moon pics above I took in Florida back in May with a digital camera. The full moon was just incredible and I had to shoot it! If you want to look up any more info, I primarily used these two sites.
Keith's Moon Photography and Dan Heller

So, I would like to think I helped, but really, I think these are some guidelines and then play with it! Let me know how it goes!


Julie said...

Love the moon shots! Moon shots are some of my favorites. I will post one or two of mine soon. I will have to look up the settings though.

Anonymous said...

Very informative post. I love the moon too, in fact only yesterday I mooned someone.

Seriously, seeing big moons over a skyline is a naturally occuring event (although it's better on the coast than where I am now). It depends on the time of year and the time of moonsrise (which is extremely variable).

Your way however guarantees results, rather than waiting for the 4 or 5 possible nights throughout the year.

Nihilistic said...

Beautiful shots!

C. said...

Julie, I can't wait to see them! There really is something magical about the moon, isn't there?

Willow...LOL! You always crack me up (hehe..)
And yes, it does occur, but the whole trick is getting both the moon and backdrop properly exposed...I haven't tried it yet, but I do want to do the double exposure rather than just cutting and pasting...

Nihilistic...thanks! Love your puppy!

Matt said...

Very nice. I was reminded of a time this summer when I walked outside my place and was startled to see the moon so close and so large in the sky. I just stopped and stared.

And then some fat middle-aged asshole wearing a sweater under his suit gave me a dirty look b/c I was taking a moment.

But it was mine to take.

Karmyn R said...

They are all gorgeous shots - my favorite is the moon over the water. Even blurry, the moon is still beautiful.

Laura said...

What is it about the moon that makes us all go slack jawed?

I go outside at night every night with Lily to wish on the first star that we se and I always get caught up by the moon instead.

C. said...

matt...are you sure that wasn't your neighbor you saw?? :P

Karmyn, yes...these shots I took in May...I started trying in Feb!!! Several times it was overcast, a couple of times I just missed it..but finally!!

Laura, I don't know what it is but there is something magical about it. I think it does affect us (physically) as well and that may be a reason! Who knows!

Anonymous said...

this phase of the moon is called
The Full Hunters Moon

My new digital... can't find anywhere for night shots that would capture the moon. I can't find my instructions either.

edee said...

beautiful shots! i have tried a few times with my digital to get some shots but they never come out anything like these!

Anonymous said...

Very cool! I don't think my 35mm will be able to handle this.

C. said...

Pamela, any idea why? Interesting...I've only known that a blue moon is a full moon twice in one month!!

to everyone..
taking these shots helps if you have a camera that you can adjust the settings!! Point and shoots tend to have a mind of their own and probably won't do what you'd like!

SongBird said...

Great pictures! Very informative post.

Anonymous said...

OK, things I have realized:

~My exposures are probably too long. I believe that is to blame for some of my misty moons
~I need a tripod ASAP.
~I need PhotoShop. Badly. Maybe I will put it on my Christmas list...

My telephoto lens is Nikkor 70-300m f4-f5.6 G AF. It's great for day shots... but the moon mystifies me. From what you have told me I think I have a bit more to go on. I have been scared of the manual mode on my camera, and think I need to tweak the exposure time and get myself a tripod. I just missed a great moon the other night too...

You've given me hope! I shall soldier on and let you know.

Anonymous said...

PS.. your "Do not do this" one of the over exposed moon is fabulous.