Photographing the Moon

Three moonlit trees.

The image here was taken during the full moon in March, 2012.  To capture the full moon and the trees requires; a good camera (digital or film), a steady tripod, a shutter release, and the proper camera settings.  This image was taken with a DSLR camera, an 18-55 mm lens (zoomed out to 55mm), ISO was set to 200, F16 aperature, and was on Manual (bulb) for 30 seconds, and mounted on a steady tripod.  The IS (image stabilize) feature on my lens was turned off and the focus was set to manual.  The shutter release was a short cable and is a manual one, which helped lock the shutter open for the long exposure here.  Be sure to have the camera secure on the tripod and everything set before you start the exposure.  Any movement of the camera or tripod will cause the image to be blurred and yield less quality.

Most photographs of the moon where you can see the detail are often made using a telephoto zoom lens (70-200+) and a teleconverter (either 1.4 or 2.0).  Many times these detailed full moon photographs are then saved and combined with another photograph using photo editing programs.  The composites may be difficult to identify unless you know what to look for; the moon looks to be too close to a building and is not large enough (a moon just rising is not the same size as one which has been in the sky for several hours), the lighting on the moon is brighter or dimmer than the lighting on the building (most likely the image has been altered in Photoshop or Lightroom).  Many photographers may not label their composites or Photoshopped moon images as such, which has become more common as digital technology advances improve.

It is possible to capture the moon using telescopes and special adapters.  These telescopes and adapters can range in price from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.  The settings on the lens and the requirements of a steady tripod will remain the same when using a telescope.  There are several websites which discuss astrophotography in more detail.


About Douglas Wilks Photography

I am an advanced photographer who lives in western Montana. I create a variety of strong images using a DSLR, computer, and digital software. I am available for hire for full time, part time, or projects. Most of my images are of landscapes, still life, and events. I am always looking to improve my skills, network of friends and professionals, and portfolio. I look forward to creating new friends, contacts, and others who are interested in photography.
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