Do you get a bit envious at those epic photos of the Moon from other photographers? I admit – I do! But guess what? We can take awesome Moon photos, too. If you still haven’t tried it, B&H has an ideal tutorial for you. In this short, yet informative video, Maria Perez shares with you some tips that will help you to get started.
Before you start shooting, you should plan your composition and select your shooting day and time. Apps like Photopills and Nightshift are very helpful to determine the Moon’s phase and position, but also to make sure that the skies will be clear.
For starters, you’ll need a camera and a telephoto lens. Maria uses a Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens on a Sony a7R IV camera. Yeah, I know, a lens like this costs a fortune. So if you don’t already own one, there are other solutions you can try. You can go with a shorter lens and a teleconverter like Ilja Kagan did here. Or you can even use one of those super-zoom prosumer cameras like Nikon P1000. I also plan to try shooting the Moon with my D7000, a prime lens, and my super-crappy $40 telescope you might remember from this article. I’ll make sure to let you know how that goes.
Now, of course, you’ll also need to stabilize your camera. Put it on a tripod and make sure to use a remote or a self-timer. This way, you’ll avoid camera shake and blurry images. Find your composition, and you’re now ready to shoot.
As for the settings, you can keep the ISO relatively low considering that the Moon is fairly bright. You should also use spot metering so that the camera exposes for the Moon only and not the dark sky around it. When it comes to the aperture, you can rely on your lens’ “sweet spot” for the sharpest results. Keep the shutter speed at above 1/125s considering that the Moon is a fast-moving object. This way, you’ll keep your photos sharp.
While we’re at sharpness, Maria shares two more tips to help you with that. First, you can use focus peaking to make the focus perfect. And second, you can also stack your images. This can give you some mind-blowing results like this, this, or even this.
When Maria tells it, it seems easy. Honestly, I’ve only tried shooting the Moon only once: two years ago, when there was a total lunar eclipse. I only had a Nikon D7000 and a 50mm lens because I was on the road. I didn’t even have a tripod so I improvised:
But as I said, I wanna try “get closer” to the Moon. I will try shooting it with that $40 telescope and I’ll follow Maria’s tips for the planning and camera settings. And if the telescope fails me… Well, I can always make the “toilet paper Moon” shots. :)