The moon shot with a 300mm lens on a clear night. This picture was cropped from the original picture

Shooting the moon can be tricky but rewarding. Here are some tips

Plan your shoot

If you already have a composition in mind, you may want to check out the phase of the moon and it’s location in the sky so that you can plan the time to go take the picture. Some websites like – http://www.moongiant.com/ are pretty informative. Also check out apps like – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lunafaqt&hl=en for planning out your shoot.

The moon is small

You need a camera with a good telephoto lens (good zoom) to capture the moon. Here are 3 different shots taken at 18mm, 55mm and 300mm on a 2/3rd frame DSLR. With a 18mm lens, the moon with look like a little dot in the frame. With a 300mm lens, you can capture enough details to make out some of the big craters.

 

The Moon gives out a lot of light

Have you ever shot a landscape photo with the moon and saw just a bright ball with no details? That happens because the moon is actually pretty bright and the rest of the landscape is dark. This means that the camera’s meter ends up suggesting an exposure for capturing the dark foreground. To capture details of the moon, you actually need to pick an exposure similar to shooting during the day.

Photomontage

You may have noticed a lot of landscape photos with a large moon in them. These are tough to take because of the two reasons explain above. Firstly, the landscape has to be shot with a 300mm lens to get a decently large moon. Secondly, the exposure has to be such that both the moon and landscape are properly exposed. This is often possible only in the late evening around sunset. In most cases, these photos are created by digitally cutting the moon from an underexposed picture of the moon and pasting it on a picture with the rest of the landscape. Here’s an example of such a photomontage -

 

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