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Thread: Full moon photography

  1. #1

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    Full moon photography

    What f stop and shutter speed should I start with to photograph a full moon including surrounding clouds?

    Thanks in advance
    John

  2. #2
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    Re: Full moon photography

    Hi John. I'd really recommend trying various settings to see what you come up with, and what you like the best. But here are some base settings that should make for a good start:

    -ISO - 100
    -f stop - what ever # the lens you're using shoots sharpest at. Probably 8-11 depending on the lens.
    - Shutter speed - whatever it takes to properly expose - start around 1/160 I would think...

    I've found (and I'm not the resident CinC moon photography expert but), that keeping ISO as low as possible, and shooting with your lenses sharpest aperture produce the best results.

    Hope that gets you started!

  3. #3
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    Re: Full moon photography

    At ISO 200 try f8 1/125. It will depend a bit on how many clouds but the full moon is surprisingly bright.

    The following was taken at ISO 200 1/40 f14. Not sure why, normally I would be at f8. I was probably just grabbing it to paste over an over exposed moon in a night time landscape. Not true HDR as I tend to exaggerate the moons size a bit. (A camera never lies?)

    Full moon photography
    Last edited by pnodrog; 29th November 2012 at 01:35 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Full moon photography

    +1 to Andrew's advice. I use manual and the settings in Andrew's post and the shutter speed will go up or down according to the brightness/fullness of the moon. Another tip....a full moon is usually not best. It can look flat and without detail. A 3/4 moon is great. Good luck and have fun!


    Ah, I see the other Paul has typed faster. I forget that many Nikon start at ISO 200 {is that correct} if so, that will be the best to use.

  5. #5
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    Re: Full moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    +1 to Andrew's advice. I use manual and the settings in Andrew's post and the shutter speed will go up or down according to the brightness/fullness of the moon. Another tip....a full moon is usually not best. It can look flat and without detail. A 3/4 moon is great. Good luck and have fun!


    Ah, I see the other Paul has typed faster. I forget that many Nikon start at ISO 200 {is that correct} if so, that will be the best to use.
    No, all the Nikons I have ever owned go down to at least ISO 100. My F90x will go down to below ISO 25 if I can still buy the film. You sound a bit more like a Colin than a true Paul. Seriously there are a number of digital cameras around that won't go below 200 so that seems to be a good place to start.

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    Re: Full moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    Another tip....a full moon is usually not best. It can look flat and without detail. A 3/4 moon is great. Good luck and have fun!
    Good advice - someone mentioned that to me a while back, and it's quite true. Although a full moon looks nice, and bright, and many are awed by the mere fact that it's a 'full moon', because the light is hitting it square on, you loose some of the definition and texture on the surface. You'll be much happier with the resulting detail and contrast in shadows if you take Jeeperman's advice.

  7. #7
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    Re: Full moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    No, all the Nikons I have ever owned go down to at least ISO 100. My F90x will go down to below ISO 25 if I can still buy the film. You sound a bit more like a Colin than a true Paul. Seriously there are a number of digital cameras around that won't go below 200 so that seems to be a good place to start.
    I know nothing of Nikon, I just thought I remembered someone once telling me that many Nikons base ISO was 200. Sorry if that was incorrect. I am not sure if the Colin bit was to be a dig or a compliment but what ever, lifes too short.
    As far as 200 ISO a good place to start...yes it is reasonable surely, however if you have the capabilities to go as low as 100 then I would do that.

  8. #8
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    Re: Full moon photography

    It turns out that for just the moon, you won't be too far off using the "sunny 16 rule", since the moon is receiving full sunlight.

    Sunny 16 rule: reciprocal of the ISO at f16, so ... at ISO 100, use 1/100 sec at f-16. To avoid defraction softening from using f16, increase aperture to f8 @ 1/400.

    But if your camera has LiveView, then I'd proceed as follows:
    * Put in LiveView mode
    * If LiveView has "magnified" capability then use that for critical focus
    * realize that the moon moves
    * take a look at the moon with Review + magnification

    Ahhhh ... but the clouds ... you'll probably need HDR bracketing for those. Such as -2 / 0 / +2. The clouds tend to be MUCH, MUCH dimmer than the moon itself.

    Here's a starting HDR sequence:
    ISO 100, f8, 1/25 then 1/100, then 1/400
    The 1/400 exposure should be about right for the moon itself, and hopefully the 1/25 will be ok for the clouds. That's where "chimping" is useful (looking at the Review on your LCD).

    Another heuristic if your camera has "blinkies" to show blown-out highlights ... take a series of captures starting at 1/400 ISO 100 f8. Then gradually reduce the shutter speed until you just get "blinkies". If that happens at 1/200, for example, then increase the shutter speed one click to 1/250 and double check that you don't get "blinkies".

    Then, set up your HDR so the middle shutter speed is 4x longer than the fastest non-blinking speed (+2 stops), and the slowest shutter speed is 16x longer than the fastest speed (+4 stops). In the example above, that would be 1/15 then 1/60 then 1/250. You'll have significant "blinkies" at 1/15 and 1/60, but you hopefully will see some clouds with Review.

    You may have to use "Fill" in ACR 6.x or LR-3 (Process version 2010) or the Shadows/Blacks sliders in PV 2012 to get more of the clouds visible. And perhaps some "Recovery" for the moon.

    HTH
    Last edited by ldasignup; 29th November 2012 at 01:57 PM.

  9. #9

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    Re: Full moon photography

    Point the camera at the moon at full telephoto and take an exposure with AE .... note what it is and then cut back the exposure in two stop increments until the moon stops being a white blob and you can see detail in it. When it gets too dark you may decide to open up a bit from that exposure .... my first attempt ....
    Full moon photography
    From threads elsewhere where people quoted their settings it seemed obvious that there is no 'moon exposure' but quite a wide range depending on where you are in the world and the amount. I assume, of pollution in the atmopsphere.
    On the other hand while for just the moon itself you use a low ISO for when you want to include other detail you might choose a higher ISO as I did for these shots, each end of my x12 zoom on my bridge camera, at 1600 ISO .. something I would not normally use with a small sensor. 1/80 shutter f/4 aperture. Moon rising over Denver during the TT Billy Concert 2010.
    Full moon photography
    While EXIF tells me the photo was taken at 2.54pm I could not have changed it for local time in the States, 8.54 is more likely
    Last edited by jcuknz; 29th November 2012 at 08:05 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Full moon photography

    I would be inclined to use F8 if possible as that is likely to get the best out of your lens unless it's a rather fast one. Then maybe F5.6 or 4. The moon looks rather bright in the view finder and the camera exposure is likely to be way out. One of the problems is that there is a fair amount of white detail in the moon and that would be washed out. I set 500 iso and F8 and simply reduced the shutter speed until I obtained this one at 1/500th. If anything it's very slightly over exposed but the white ray detail can just be seen in places. Not a great shot. There is a lot of high mist in the UK at the moment thanks to our wonderful damp weather. I would say it may be best to under expose a little and bring up in PP as there isn't going to be a lot of tonal range in the shot. Anyway those numbers should give you a good starting point. I found that AF worked well with the area part on and part off the moon. Occasionally straight on it.

    Full moon photography

    -

  11. #11
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    Re: Full moon photography

    I agree, all the settings discussed so far are good starting points. The main thing I try an do is start out at the settings which will allow greatest detail. I normally shoot the moon handheld and some days I ambetter than other days. That is just one factor I figure in when shooting. I am going to post three images all with different settings and different moons but close to the same results.

    ISO 100 400mm f8 1/500sec
    Full moon photography

    ISO 200 400mm F5.6 1/500 seconds
    Full moon photography

    This one was taken at dusk, the sky a bit blue yet and a small sliver.... so little light. ISO 400 400mm F5.6 1/160sec got lucky because it was handheld as well
    Full moon photography
    Last edited by jeeperman; 30th November 2012 at 02:51 AM.

  12. #12
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    Re: Full moon photography

    Nice shots Paul! They're all really, really good - #2, and #3 are my favourites, makes me want to keep practicing!

  13. #13
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    Re: Full moon photography

    Keep at it Andrew and thank you. It just takes a bit of figuring the conditions out. The last image I posted I think has the best detail and I believe it was at least partially due to being out in the country. It was quite cold and clear that day and there were no lights within a few miles. The other two were taken in my driveway in town.

  14. #14

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    Re: Full moon photography

    Excellent images Paul, particularly 2 and 3.

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    Re: Full moon photography

    I'm no expert at moon photography but have found a technique that works for me. I agree with most of the recommendations already given. The moon's surface is very bright but our atmospheric conditions reduces this brightness. When the moon is high in the sky, its light travels through a minimum of atmosphere, dust, haze, etc. A moon rise/set will be much dimmer... as much as 2 or 3 stops.

    Vibration can be a real "detail killer." I shot a series at different shutter speeds,f/stops and ISO settings with a used 500 f/4 (series 1). The night sky was very clear and the moon was about 60 degrees above the horizon. My best capture was this one at 1/800 sec, f/4.0 and ISO 200 with a 1Ds III body and tripod. This lens is very sharp wide open and I was amazed at the detail it resolved. Detail at slower shutter speeds were not as crisp (but close). I've used a 1.4 Extender on this lens for previous moon shots but did not get as sharp of an image. I think my shutter speed was probably too slow. I need to reshoot and make another comparison since the Extender works well on this lens.


    Full moon photography

  16. #16
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    Re: Full moon photography

    This is very nice Paul, very well done.

  17. #17
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    Re: Full moon photography

    There is an unusually good web page on this area http://photo.net/learn/nature/sunmoon. Not possible to set a definite exposure as he explains but he does give a useful starting point.

    The last paragraph will surprise some but mainly relates to stars.

    Found because I wanted a moon image size against focal length. It gives that too.

    -

  18. #18
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    Re: Full moon photography

    Full moon photography is certainly depends upon time and climatic conditions. i have collected so many moon, cloud photographs of various photographers you can check it out in my blog
    http://www.antsmagazine.com/photogra...s-of-the-moon/

  19. #19

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    Re: Full moon photography

    Moon with clouds will require 2 exposures - one for the moon the other for the clouds then blend in post.

    Clouds here were shot at iso1600, 1/30, f5.6. Moon was f8, 1/160, iso 100.
    Full moon photography

    Full moon photography

    Better still, take the shot during daytime.
    Full moon photography

    Full moon photography
    Last edited by Bobobird; 7th December 2012 at 07:02 PM.

  20. #20

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    Re: Full moon photography

    Forgot to mention. Settings-wise mostly covered in previous posts.

    For sharpest shots try this.

    Tripod
    Spot meter
    Use AF to get approximate focus correct.
    Turn off AF, use liveview x10 and manually adjust the focus
    Mirror lockup
    2sec timer (better still with remote release)
    Shoot a few but not in quick succession. You want everything stable for each shot.

    Hope this helps.

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