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Thread: moon photography

  1. #1

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    moon photography

    i tried moon photography lately and this is the sharpest i can get,
    this is cropped from 15mp shot. (don't know how many % of the image i got).
    lens: 55-250mm (set at 250mm)
    canon 50d
    please advise me how to improve my moon photography...
    moon photography

  2. #2
    John C's Avatar
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    Re: moon photography

    Your photo looks rather good. I'm not sure how you took the photo but using a tripod and a shutter release cable will give the best results. If you want a more realistic color, use daylight white balance.

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    Re: moon photography

    First off, don't shoot the Full Moon. When the Moon is full, the Earth is positioned nearly in line between the Sun and Moon, leaving the Moon looking flat because there are no visible lunar shadows to indicate a sense of relief to the Moon's surface.

    Here is a shot that I did when the Moon was 16% illuminated:

    moon photography

    Another example is this shot taken in the afternoon when the Sun still provided a nice blue sky. There are trade offs photographing the Moon during the day, The lighting is not as harsh or severe, but the Sun's heating of the atmosphere causes more turbulence blurring the view. Here the Moon was 59% illuminated:

    moon photography

    Notice how the craters along the terminator have a Sun facing rim lit while the opposite rim casts a nice shadow.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the Moon is, astronomically, a very bright object. It's second only to the Sun and even as a thin crescent, you will not be needing a high ISO or long shutter. In fact, since the Moon also moves relatively quickly, you need to keep the shutter short enough so that the image is not smeared. Just think of lunar photography like shooting any moving subject. Also, as you go to ever longer focal lengths, you'll need to shorten the shutter even further to make sure you freeze it's motion.

    The Moon is also full of challenging opportunities. I have been trying to see just how thin a crescent I could photograph. So far, I've gotten it down to 4% illuminated. Another challenge, quite difficult actually, is to photograph the crescent Moon while capturing Earth shine. If you look carefully, and when conditions are favorable, you will be able to see that the region of the Moon that is not illuminated by the Sun is still not completely dark. This is because the Sun light reflected by the Earth shines back to dimly light the dark side of the Moon. This one is hard to capture in a photograph because the dynamic range of the light levels. It should be something cool to try as a HDR composite. Another challenge that can take a while to achieve is to familiarize with the lunar features and try to photograph the Moon while the terminator intersects specific craters. Or do a succession of shots to capture the shadow evolve over time as the terminator transverses the lunar surface. This can really provide some wonderful insight to lunar features. Note that such events can actually pass rather quickly, in the matter of an hour or two in some cases.

    Now, here is a nice tool to help you locate the Moon and learn about what's up there:

    Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory

    An Interactive Map of the Moon

    For more of my Lunar and Astromonical photography, check out:

    My Astrophotography

    In each image's description, I include date, time, location, subject, exposure and lens details. This should provide some good info regarding where to start out. Remember, experiment, and see what you get. You may actually surprise yourself.

    I hope this helps and please do not hesitate asking any questions.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 8th May 2010 at 03:42 AM.

  5. #5
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: moon photography

    Try photographing the moon at the start of its rise, it is closest to the earth at this point.

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    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: moon photography

    Good Luck

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    Re: moon photography

    big thanks to all...

  8. #8

    Re: moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    Also, as you go to ever longer focal lengths, you'll need to shorten the shutter even further to make sure you freeze it's motion.

    This is not true, the faster shutter speed for longer focal lenths is a guideline when attempting to handhold a shot. Any decent moon shot should should be taken tripod mounted. Everything else about your post was excellent!

  9. #9

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    Re: moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinf View Post
    This is not true, the faster shutter speed for longer focal lenths is a guideline when attempting to handhold a shot. Any decent moon shot should should be taken tripod mounted.
    The longer the focal length the faster the object will appear to be moving - and the faster the shutterspeed needed to freeze that motion.

    (Compare how long it would take the moon to fully traverse it's image on a sensor with a 14mm lens attached (several hours) -v- how long with a 1200mm lens attached (probably less than a minute)).

  10. #10

    Re: moon photography

    I'm not sure that's true. The object is simply magnified, its speed across the sensor remains the same. The moon takes hours to move out of frame for a UWA simply because of the massive FoV, it's still moving at the same relative speed inside the frame. Regardless, you have enough light from the moon to pretty much choose your shutter speed though. I could get up to 1/800 with the right equipment :P

    Having shot at 500mm I'd say the biggest challenge is getting focused exactly right. I didn't have much trouble keeping the moon in frame even while making adjustments. If you are shooting at 1200mm you'd probably be better served with a scope on a tracking mount, rendering movement of the moon moot.
    Last edited by kevinf; 9th May 2010 at 07:54 AM.

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    Re: moon photography

    Hi Kevin,

    Imagine two cameras and tripods; one with an ultra wide angle and one with an 800mm telephoto.

    If the shots are to be taken tripod mounted (and we rule out tracking mounts) then we're not panning with the motion are we?
    They are static shots (of a moving object).

    Now think about the diameter of the moon in relation to frame size - it's not just the object that gets magnified, but the sky around it too (if that makes sense).

    The long telephoto is looking at a much smaller section of the sky, the moon must traverse that shorter viewed distance in less time, requiring the higher shutter speed to avoid smear of surface features, or disk elongation (in the extreme).

    That is indeed why telescopes need tracking mounts, at such extreme magnifications (many beyond 1200mm), they cannot attain a high enough shutter speed for the sensor iso and their effective f number to make a decent photograph. It's less of an issue for a casual human viewer using the same telescope (or 500/800/1200 lens) because either they pan the whole thing manually or (subconciously) their eyes follow the feature/moon/star across the field of view - something the sensor cannot do.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 9th May 2010 at 08:55 AM.

  12. #12

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    Re: moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinf View Post
    I'm not sure that's true. The object is simply magnified, its speed across the sensor remains the same. The moon takes hours to move out of frame for a UWA simply because of the massive FoV, it's still moving at the same relative speed inside the frame.
    Not sure how you figure that one out. If the moons image takes several hours to move across a sensor with a WA lens, but only several minutes to move across the sensor with the long lens, how can you say the speed across the sensor is the same?

  13. #13
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    Re: moon photography

    The only reason that I did not mention a tripod is that I figured anyone interested in astronomical photography would be at least using a tripod. I doubt many people here would have a telescope mount with Lunar tracking. Even the mount that came with my 1250mm Maksutov Cassegrain is incapable of it. This is why I wrote my post as if everyone would be conducting their lunar photography from a static, non-tracking, tripod.

    Yes, the tracking angular velocity needed to track the Moon is different from the angular velocity of the stars. If you watch and follow the Moon, making sure to note the position against the background stars, you'll see that the Moon would only occult a given star for less than a couple hours. Check out these links:

    Information Site for Lunar Occultations & Grazes

    The International Occultation Timing Association's LUNAR-OCCULTATIONS.COM

    This reminded me of another lunar photographic opportunity which non-astronomers can try, Photographing grazing events. (Hey, this may turn you into an amatuer astronomer.) Just as the Moon will occult more distant objects, some will simply graze the edge of the disk of the Moon. Sometimes the distant object flickers as the lunar mountains pass in front and for others the object may briefly vanish. First, well, second if you need to be told to use a tripod , you need to know the precise location where you'll be conducting your lunar photography. Just as solar eclipses trace out a path across the Earth's surface, occultations are highly dependent on where you are located. (Now everyone understands why I list my location by latitude and longitude to the second and include elevation to the meter.) Then look up up coming occultations and see if you are, or can be, close to the edge of the occulatation path across the Earth's surface. Now you'll really have a "once in a life time" chance to get that shot.

    Along with occultations and grazings with stars, the Moon will also provide opportunities to photograph such interactions with planets, asteroids, and comets. These happen all the time, but trying to photograph a specific interaction can take a lot of preparation and the success can still be difficult to achieve.

    Along with listed predictions of up coming lunar occultations and grazes, the link above also has information on how to conduct and officially report your observations where your work can be professionally recognized.

    Another lunar photographic opportunity that the The International Occultation Timing Association site reminded me of is photographing changes of the Moon. Yes, you may have thought the Moon is the same every time you see it through your camera, but it is a dynamic place. Even more exciting is photographing and capturing what's called Transient lunar phenomena. Some researchers even doubt the existence of such events. Lunar scientists will acknowledge that transient events such as outgassing and impact cratering do occur over geologic time, but the chances of anyone seeing, let alone photographing, anything are pretty remote.

    So here is a photographic opportunity akin to photographing a Unicorn, a ghost, a UFO, or even Big Foot having tea with the in-laws. Even NASA does this research:

    Marshall Space Flight Center's Lunar Impacts web site

    Here is another lunar impact research web site:

    B. Cudnik's ALPO lunar meteor impacts Web site

    and more can be found on the The International Occultation Timing Association site.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 9th May 2010 at 02:31 PM. Reason: typos

  14. #14
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    Re: moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinf View Post
    I'm not sure that's true. The object is simply magnified, its speed across the sensor remains the same.
    Kevin,

    Try this experiment:

    You will need:
    • A 5 to 7 year old child, a relative or neighbor's child would do
    • your camera
    • A wide field of view lens, something between 28mm and 50mm
    • A narrow field of view lens, something over 100mm
    • A tripod
    • Some biscuits or cookies


    The set up, best in a fenced yard: Put the camera on the tripod and across the yard from while facing a bordering fence. Now, with the camera aimed at a fixed point, have the child run along the fence as fast as they can while you shoot photos through each of the lenses. The fence will keep the child at a constant distance from you and the camera. The speed of the child will vary, but will be consistent enough to prove the point. Now see what shutter speeds are necessary to freeze the child's motion as the child passes through the field of view. Now try this again while hand holding the camera, again holding the camera aimed at a fixed point while the child runs through the field of view. Make sure you try a range of shutter speeds, you will not see the significance if you always shoot at a 1/4000th.

    You'll find that it does not matter whether the camera is hand held or on a tripod, a faster shutter is needed to freeze motion when shooting through a longer lens. Plus, you'll see that the time that the child is within the field of view is also shorter for the longer lens.

    As for why I said you'll need some biscuits or cookies, give those to the child as a reward for cooperating and having to do all that running.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 9th May 2010 at 03:08 PM. Reason: typo

  15. #15
    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: moon photography


  16. #16
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    Re: moon photography

    The child running along the fence line would certainly work. I use a swing to demonstrate this to my students. Set up 90 degrees to the swing's motion and perform the same experiment.

    Pops

  17. #17

    Re: moon photography

    You have two lenses, one 500mm and one 10mm, the size of the front element is similiar. There are two flys about and one lands on each lens at one end and then travels across the glass, covering the distance in 2 seconds. Both flys are moving at the same speed. The travel time across the sensor must be the same for each fly.

  18. #18
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinf View Post
    You have two lenses, one 500mm and one 10mm, the size of the front element is similiar. There are two flys about and one lands on each lens at one end and then travels across the glass, covering the distance in 2 seconds. Both flys are moving at the same speed. The travel time across the sensor must be the same for each fly.
    Well, that completely ignores the angle of view and proves you right.

    It's a shame it doesn't really work like that though, because the moon isn't on the front element.

  19. #19
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    Re: moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinf View Post
    You have two lenses, one 500mm and one 10mm, the size of the front element is similiar. There are two flys about and one lands on each lens at one end and then travels across the glass, covering the distance in 2 seconds. Both flys are moving at the same speed. The travel time across the sensor must be the same for each fly.
    You have two lenses, one 500mm and one 10mm. The width of the image, in miles, is 1/50th for the 500mm lens compared to that of the 10mm lens. The Moon will take 1/50th of the time to cross the angle of view in the 500mm lens, compared to the wider view of the 10mm lens. The distance the moon has to travel, when using the 500mm lens, for its image to cross the sensor is 1/50th of that it has to travel to cross the sensor when using the 10mm lens. Thus the apparent speed of the moon is faster with the long lens than with the shorter lens.

    Pops

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    Re: moon photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Try photographing the moon at the start of its rise, it is closest to the earth at this point.
    No its not. Its in orbit, so stays roughly the same distance away. The orbit is elliptical, so the distance varies over time, but bears no relation to rising and setting.

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