How to Photograph the Moon

How to Photograph the Moon

Photographing the moon is pretty easy to do, once you have the settings right, but I’ve learned that just guessing doesn’t do much. Matt has been trying to take pictures of the moon for awhile and gets frustrated by it turning into a white, detail-less blob. I decided to take a stab at it myself, with not much luck.

All of these pictures are straight out of the camera, shot with a 80-200mm f/2.8 lens. The focal length was set to 200mm, I used spot metering, and I stabilized the camera with a tripod.

Attempt #1 – There was a bit of detail, but the moon was still too bright.

Attempt #2 – Again, a bit more detail, but not what I wanted. So, I turned to the internet — how do you photograph the moon?!

A few things I learned:

  • The moon moves, and fast. You’ll need a quick shutter speed, then, to capture it without blur. Use a tripod, too!
  • Even with a telephoto lens, you probably won’t be able to fill your frame with the moon, so make your image sharp enough that it can crop.
  • Manual focus is best.

I ended up trying the settings suggested here, which is basically a variation on the Sunny 16 rule (ISO 100, f/16, 1/125 sec):

  • the lowest ISO possible for your camera — mine was ISO 100
  • f/11
  • 1/125 – 1/250 sec shutter speed

After a bit of post-processing (colour, sharpness, crop, contrast), here’s what I ended up with:

I feel like I’m on the right track to getting better moon photos! Do you have any tricks to share?


3 Replies to “How to Photograph the Moon”

  1. Gosh, those are gorgeous photos! Ryan was reading about a lens recently, and one of the comments was something like, “It makes Mars look blurry.” It’s amazing to me that photography lenses are that powerful.

Leave a Reply