Here’s a quick guide on how one could enjoy taking pictures of the moon. Don’t be fooled, you don’t need expensive equipment to photograph the moon.
Ideally it would be great to have some neat hardware to take photo of the moon, let’s say an full frame camera, a 400mm high quality prime lens, a 2x tele converter, couple it with a really awesome tripod to hold the weight of the beast – you have the something that captures awesome details of the moon BUT at a cost of more than a car. Not exactly a good idea unless you’re making money out of it.
Low Cost Fun
Here’s the photo of the moon that I took today.
What did I use?
– Canon EOS 500D
– Canon EF-S 55-250 IS
– Prophoto ex Tripod G5
– Canon BG-E5 battery grip (not a necessity for taking photos of the moon).
Settings were : Manual mode, with ISO100 | 1/50 shutter speed | f/10 aperture
With the 500D, the live view makes it more convenient since I can see the output without having to click the shutter button. 😀 Awesome stuff.
It’s fine without live view, you’ll just have to shoot and view. To save space, you could snap them in small JPG size before going for the big one when you’ve confirmed the settings. From what I gathered, Nikon’s live view doesn’t show the outcome of the changes you done to the settings, so take note of that.
Why Manual Mode
The camera’s exposure might not be clever enough to know what’s the right setting to take the photo of the moon. With the moon’s brightness, it’s not uncommon to end up with a photo of 1 glowing globe – no different from taking the photo of a lightbulb.
If you notice, my ISO was at 100 and aperture being narrow – both to reduce the intensity of light. ISO 100 was chosen also for the one giving least noise while the narrower aperture to get better sharpness from the lens.
The camera isn’t clever all the time, in this case I have to manually set everything so that the camera captures lesser light so that the shadows of the craters on the moon’s surface can be seen.
1. Lens flare – if there are other sources of light near by, make sure they don’t cause flare that is over the moon. If there are sources of stray light nearby, put the lens hood on or make a make-shift lens hood.
2. Image stabilization – if your system has the IS on body or on lens, turn it off. This is a tripod mounted shot, you don’t need IS. In fact for tripod mounted shots, IS (such as the one on lens) might end up causing the picture to be a little blur due to the movement on the IS mechanism.
3. Megapixels – use the highest megapixel possible for your camera. The higher megapixel camera you have, the more advantage for capturing such distant subjects.
4. Tele-converters – if you have any, now’s the time to use it. It’ll multiply the distance based on the rated multiplication.
5. APS-C advantage – while full-frame cameras have the advantage of detail, the APS-C cameras have the advantage of range. APS-C camera for Canon’s have 1.6x crop factor while brands like Nikon, Pentax and Sony have 1.5x. Olympus is at 2x.
6. Use timer (or any other equivalent, ie remote shutter release) – pressing the shutter button could cause slight wobble, not good for taking shots when the equipment is already on tripod. So use timer, it will help in avoiding wobbles. Even slight wobble could affect the output.
The moon on my image seems a bit yellow, so here’s what I did to get this……..
1. Converted to grayscale.
3. Adjust color levels, increasing the intensity of the dark and bright areas. If you don’t have this option in your software, you could just adjust the contrast.
Just to add – the photos were NOT resized! It’s a 100% sized crop from EOS 500D’s 15 Megapixel JPG image. 😀 So happen the moon fits perfectly into a 500 x 500 frame. It is not sharpened as well because I wanted to show the EXACT image captured.
(I was using AWB. Play around with your white-balance setting and you could skip the post-processing step.)
Don’t Sorry, The Moon Won’t Die
So there ya have it. Go out, have fun shooting at night.
You could try shooting the moon when it’s not full to get the mystical ethereal feel of it. 🙂