Moon Photography – How to Capture Our Illusive Satellite in All Its Glory
If you own a camera, chances are you know how difficult it can be to capture a quality picture of the moon. If you’ve ever taken a picture of an amazing full moon and ended up with a shot of a blurry dot against a black sky, you’re among many. The moon’s stark contrast against the night sky, coupled with the fact that the only reason we can even see it is because it’s reflecting light, makes it one of the trickiest objects you’ll ever try to photograph.
This can be terribly frustrating because our ever-changing perspective of the moon can offer up some truly stunning views. There are a few tips that can help even a novice photographer snag some gorgeous shots of our illusive satellite.
What Camera to Use
While it would be easier to simply run out and blow a few thousand dollars on a super-duper professional camera, no moon photo is going to warrant that kind of purchase. It is possible to capture a good shot without pricey equipment. However, you will have the most luck if your camera features shutter speed control and a zoom capability of 300mm or 10x zoom. A higher shutter speed will prevent your image from blurring so easily. Remember to hold your camera very steady if you don’t have a tripod. The more you zoom, the more blur you will get with even the most subtle movement.
When to Shoot
While most of your failed moon photo attempts have most likely been spontaneous, there is a “golden hour” for optimal moon photography. The half hour directly after moonrise and prior to moonset is the best time for capturing these shots. Photographing the moon while it’s still on the horizon and the foreground is still visible will lend contrast to your shot. This will give your camera the opportunity to illuminate the foreground, preventing your moon from appearing as an indistinguishable dot in a sky of darkness.
How to Set Up the Shot
You’re going to need a point of reference. While the moon may look lovely to you, out there all alone, chances are in a photo it will be a bright, boring dot in the sky. By adding something else in the frame, you will have a point of reference that will not only enhance your photo but make your moon appear much larger as well. Try catching it alongside a tree or above a mountain. A gorgeous full moon reflecting across the ocean is another idea for you beach bums.
While it may not always be easy to plan the best moon shots ahead of time, knowing the best times and places to make an attempt can get you started. There are many websites that can let you know where the moon will set and rise on any given day. Use this as a tool to choose a location for your backdrop. Whether your moon is a crescent, full moon, or just a hazy glowing ball behind some angry looking clouds, by using these tips you can capture it in all its glory. Good luck!
Justin Morris writes about arts and crafts, astronomy & finance at www.creditreport.org.