The moon’s glow is one of the most beautiful elements to include in photographs, but it’s also one of the hardest to capture. Images may look more like well-lit golf balls and less like a celestial wonder.
Using a basic nighttime photography setup is the key to taking pictures you can be proud of. Here are some tips to help you capture Earth’s natural satellite in all its celestial glory.
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Use a Flashlight When Setting Up Your Equipment
It’s hard to see details in a blurry photograph, just like it’s challenging to see camera controls with only ambient light. The lack of direct illumination makes it hard to adjust a tripod properly. However, a simple tool helps overcome this frustration.
The bright beam of a tactical flashlight illuminates the darkest of photo shoots. If the moon isn’t full, the light’s extra brightness makes photo sessions easier and faster. The brightest tactical flashlights reduce the time spent fumbling in the dark to set up equipment and create fill light in images.
Get a Lay of the Land
Before shooting the moon, scout the planned site. Becoming familiar with the terrain and obstacles helps you prepare for a productive shoot. For example, light pollution may be so extreme in the desired spot that it ruins otherwise great shots. Also, visiting the site beforehand lets you know what extra equipment and tools to bring and which to leave behind.
While checking out the location, plan your shots. You can make a diagram of the best angles and note the weather forecast to decide if you want a clear sky or a few clouds in your images.
Prepare for Long Nights
Even with years of photography experience, it takes time to set up equipment and grab a great shot. From setting up the tripod to changing camera settings for the proper exposure time, a single task can take longer than you think. The weather may also extend photo shoots if frigid air makes it difficult to adjust camera settings with cold hands.
Check the forecast before heading out to know whether to bring a jacket, gloves, or a scarf. It could also be a good idea to pack some hot drinks or snacks to replenish yourself and stay focused.
Note the Moon’s Position
To capture the best shot of the moon, pay close attention to how low it sits in the sky. The lower its position, the more you have to worry about light interference and reflection. The moon provides the greatest detail in photographs while at its zenith. While scouting the location, note when the moon reaches its highest point and when it’s at its lowest.
Set Up Your Camera First
After arriving at the planned location, prioritize setting up your camera. While it would be great if the moon stayed put throughout night photography sessions, photographers must give themselves a headstart to keep up with its pace across the night sky. Lately, it has even become a trend for wedding photographers to feature the moon in their wedding photography. With the right planning and timing, the results can be absolutely breathtaking.
Give yourself plenty of time to get your camera and necessary gear set up. When every second counts, it’s crucial to take steps to avoid missing a gorgeous shot.
Stick to Manual Focus Mode
Even though the moon’s surface may be big and bright enough for autofocus, stick to manual focus. Adjusting the focus manually gives you complete control over the final image.
The moon matches the Earth’s rotation, so use a low aperture and fast shutter speed to fill your images with the most light. Start with your camera’s base ISO and adjust it from there.
Learning how to photograph the moon with the right tips can become a joyous, rewarding part of a photographer’s journey. Trust your skills, try different techniques, and, most importantly, have fun!