How to photograph the November moon

By Geoff Harris

7 Tips On How To Photograph The Moon

Winter can be a dreary time but it's a good chance to work on your astro photography skills, particularly when it comes to shooting the moon. This is relatively easy compared to star photography and you often don't need to invest in much more specialist kit than you have already.

1) Get a long lens


Common sense suggests that you need a long a lens as possible when it comes to photographing the moon. Your 50mm prime just won't cut the mustard, so as a minimum you will need a 200mm focal length or longer. The longer the better really.

2) Focus settings


While it may seem strange to switch to manual focus for such a big and obvious object, remember that the moon isn't going anywhere fast, so it's worth changing to manual focus. Autofocus might struggle to work out exactly where on the moon to focus, so we'd recommend manual. Try zooming in with Live View to check sharpness if you are not that confident with focussing manually.

3) Exposure settings


Since the moon is usually pretty bright in the sky, you shouldn't need to use a very high ISO. This will have the extra benefit of keeping noise down. Choose a narrower aperture, around f/10, and make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to cope with the imperceptible movements of the moon. Obviously it's not a racing car but too slow a shutter speed with give soft results. Try 1/125 sec as a starting point and increase it, or the ISO, from there.

4) Use a tripod

A tripod may also seem an extra encumbrance, but it it will force you to slow down and think more about composition. It will also help with keeping shots sharp. Trying to shoot the moon on a chilly night, without gloves, can introduce camera shake that can be bad enough to spoil the image.

5) The moon on its own can be boring

While it's satisfying to get a technically adept image of the moon, it can look like everyone else's. It's rather more interesting to shoot the moon in the context of interesting looking local buildings or landmarks. You can even photograph somebody in front of the moon to add extra interest.

6) Try and keep some colour in the sky

Another good tip is to try and shoot the moon when the sky is dark blue, rather than totally black. You will have to work fast but again, it can give you a more interesting shot than just another generic image of a full moon against a pitch black sky.

7) Try creative post processing

Once you are on the computer, try tastefully changing the colour of the moon via split toning or cross processing but don't get too carried away. You could also creative a diptych or triptych of the moon waxing and waning.

Further Study

Low Light Landscape

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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