Photo School: Shoot for the Moon
Turn off the lights and turn up the drama.
Turn down the lights and turn up the drama.
Increase your focal length. It takes a long lens to make the moon, at 240,000 miles away, seem close. An effective focal length of 200mm to 600mm is your best bet.
Steady the camera. A long focal length magnifies everything, including movement from your hand (or the shutter itself). Use a tripod, the self-timer, and the mirror lock- up feature to eliminate shake during exposure.
Add context. Put the moon in a landscape by planning your shoot around moonrise or moonset (when it’s closest to the horizon). Check times at weather.gov.
Pick the best exposure. It takes a tiny aperture to focus on both the foreground and the distant moon. Compensate by upping your ISO and shutter speed. Remember: The moon is moving, too, so keep your shutter speed shorter than 1/4 second. Try HDR and/or bracketing mode. Post-process to balance the bright moon and dim foreground.
Consider composition. Either frame the moon or use it to encircle a foreground subject. Juxtapose the moon’s circular shape with natural lines like trees, grasses, or stacked horizons. Balance the image by staggering the moon and prominent landscape features on opposite sides of the photo’s vertical centerline.
SPOT WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT, NM SPECS F/ 20, 1/ 30 SEC, ISO 800, 600MM EFFECTIVE FOCAL LENGTH