Shooting the Moon!
Betcha I’m the first person to title a blog post on moon photography this way. After all, no decent person would use a phrase with such unpleasant connections just to get people’s attention, would they?
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback about my moon shots, so I feel like I should include some thoughts on this topic. For this one, I have to thank Trilogy bandmate Jeff for his tips–I’ve invited Jeff to post a photo or two as a guest blogger on this site at some time in the future.
Anyway, Jeff and I were talking about moon photography one day and I asked him for his insight. At that time, I had pretty much “gotten out of the box” (for you Canon shooters, that’s the term I use for escaping the Canon Full-Auto mode denoted by a green box), but was still really getting used to why the camera did some of the things it did. Jeff told me that the trick to moon photography was a SMALLER aperture (larger f number), not a LARGER one. That, of course, went against everything I had learned about low-light photography, and since I was shooting at night, that was the ultimate in low light photography, right?
Wrong, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing it up this way!
Jeff pointed out to me what should have been obvious, and would have been if I was as smart as he. Taking a picture of the moon is like taking a picture of a “big ol’ light in the sky,” because, after all, that’s what it is. So I figured it this way–to take a picture of a “big ol’ light in the sky,” you close your aperture to a point where the light is not blinding your sensor, and bingo–you get sharpness! The next trick is to experiment with the shutter speed until you get the right brightness, and yes, that means shooting in manual mode… I hear a bunch of you tuning out right now, but it really isn’t that difficult because you’re not in a hurry. Just shoot and shoot until you get the one you want, and note the settings for next time!
This shot was at f/20, for no really good reason, and 1/125 sec at ISO 400. Going to f/16 and 1/250 would probably have worked too. Three more tricks: Sturdy tripod… hard to handhold this shot, although it’s been done (more on that in a later post); Mirror lockup, if your camera has it–the shake when you take the picture can affect sharpness unless you have a really expensive tripod, which I don’t; and remote control–ten bucks at Amazon and worth every penny!