Photographing The Moon Tips #SuperBloodMoon

I've taken pictures of the moon before, but not by using actual photography skills; ie. manual adjustments of shutter, aperture and ISO. I set my camera to auto and managed to get ONE lucky shot capturing the details of the moon but after that, the moon appeared as white blobs of light.

Tonight (Sept 28 2015), is my chance to snap a pic of a full moon AND it's eclipse. So the challenge is a snap a picture of the full moon AND try to capture some time lapse images. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm equipped to take the time lapse portion. The lunar eclipse will take about 5 hours and I don't think there's a battery that will last 5 hours let alone 2.

My Camera Equipment

Nikon D3100 -
Nikon Nikkor Lens 55-200mm Zoom Lens -

Photographing The Moon Tips

I did a quick Google search on photographing the moon and stumbled on the following tip. I'll give it a go, seems like the author knows what he's taking about, but the bit about 'no need for a tripod' i won't follow. I'm going to place my camera on tripod.

The moon is reflected sunlight. It adheres to the same exposure as if you were taking a photo on a sunny day, which means the "Sunny 16" rule. This means that on a sunny day you can set the aperture to f16 and your shutter speed should match your ISO. So if your iso was 200, you would set a shutter speed of 200.

This is where you need to learn to use your camera properly instead of in full Auto mode. In automatic the camera is trying to expose for the darkness of the sky and thus setting the slow shutter speed. Putting the camera on a tripod, yes, will stop the blur, but you are only going to have a grossly overexposed moon that will only look like a bright blob in your photo. There is no need for a tripod for a moon shot. Your shutter speed can be something like 1/320 with an aperture of perhaps f8 at ISO 400. Start there then adjust as needed to get the moon exposure correct.

You may have to raise or lower the shutter speed or open or close the aperture to get it just right, but YOU are going to have to make these settings in MANUAL mode because the camera cannot take such a photo in any kind of automatic mode. Even when you get the exposure correct, unless you have a very strong telephoto lens, the moon is only going to be a small area of the photo. You can crop the photo in software to get the moon larger in the scene, but there is still not going to be good detail.