I must admit I’m obsessed with the moon and have been photographing her regularly for the last couple of years after I found out how to do it.
Now, I’m no expert when it comes to this – I’m something of an anarchist photographer who can’t be bothered with ‘rules’ – but here’s what I do, which might be of help to beginners.
- You’ll need a zoom lens for this – I use the cheap Nikon 55-300mm VR, which is fine for the amateur.
- Switch to spot metering (otherwise the the moon will be a burnt-out sphere…)
- Use single-point focus (not that the multi-point mode is going to miss the moon, but just in case…)
- Set ISO to 100 (or whatever is lowest on your camera) – yes, it’s night, but the moon is very bright when you’re spot-metering it, and you’ll need the best image quality since you’ll be cropping later.
- Choose an aperture around f8-11 to make sure you’re shooting at a high enough shutter speed to offset any motion blur.
Now, here’s where I’m radical – I never use a tripod! Why? I don’t like them – too cumbersome and annoying to set up, and I much favour spontaneity. Surely this affects the quality, you might think – but no. I’ve done tests with (using a remote shutter release) and without, and there’s no appreciable difference. That’s because you can shoot at fairly high speeds, so the extra stabilisation isn’t really necessary. In addition, I’m good at using railings, etc, to stabilise myself, and practice the art of holding my breath after exhaling while shooting. This deals with any possible motion blur issues.
After shooting you’ll need to crop the image in your software, then add some sharpening and adjust contrast and levels to taste. It’s actually quite a fine art to make sure it doesn’t look over-processed or too unnatural – but then again, this is art, so anything goes…