I was travelling to Paris for the Easter holidays, and I’d had the idea of capturing the moon framed inside the iconic Arc de Triomphe for some time. Checking my travel dates against the moon phases, everything seemed to line up. It was the perfect opportunity to try to capture this image that I’d had in my mind for some time.
Capturing the perfect shot can be a real challenge, especially when you’re aiming to capture the moon in just the right position and size in relation to a monument. This kind of photo requires some serious planning. The moon’s position and size depend on where you’re standing.
What you see from one spot may not be visible from another. The other thing that you have to take into account is that the farther you are from the monument, the larger the moon will appear compared to it. You also have to have the right equipment. A long lens or telephoto is essential.
The key is to figure out the exact spot from which you’ll take the photo. That way, you can ensure that the moon is in the perfect position and has the desired size relative to the monument. Planning plays a crucial role in the success of this type of photo.
In my case, I did my planning well in advance, a few months before the actual shoot. To do this, I used the Photopills app. It helped me map out everything I needed to know. I was able to visualize how the sun and moon would align inside the Arc, thanks to an inspiring video I saw on the Photopills YouTube channel. I figured out that I needed to be at a distance of around 1300 metres (4265 feet) away from the arch in order to make the moon appear so large in comparison to the monument.
To capture the shot, I used my Canon 5D mk III camera and my Canon 100-400mm lens. In order to zoom in even closer, I also used a 1.4x teleconverter. This effectively gave me a focal length of 520 mm. The moon shot was taken at f/9, 0.6 seconds and 400 ISO. You have to work quickly as the moon is only in position for a few seconds. It appears to rise very quickly in the sky, so it’s important to have everything set up ready to go in advance.
Now, I have to admit, there was one aspect that made me a bit nervous: the weather. I had everything planned out, but if the weather didn’t cooperate, all my efforts would be in vain. Fortunately, luck was on my side that day. The weather turned out to be just right, and I couldn’t have been happier. In the end, I did have to composite in parts of the traffic foreground as that needed different exposure times from the moon capture. Here is the full image below:
Capturing the moon in all its glory alongside a magnificent monument takes more than just luck. It takes careful planning, attention to detail, and a little help from handy tools like the Photopills app. But when everything falls into place, the results can be truly breathtaking.
About the Author
Stefano Zanarello is a photographer based in Turin, North Italy. He loves to capture the stunning landscapes and cities around Italy and further afield in Europe. You can see more of his work on his website and follow him on Instagram.
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