Photo School: Shoot for the Moon

Turn off the lights and turn up the drama.

Backpacker - - CONTENTS - BY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DI­REC­TOR GENNY FULLER­TON

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.

JOHN FOWLER

SPOT WHITE SANDS NA­TIONAL MON­U­MENT, NM SPECS F/ 20, 1/ 30 SEC, ISO 800, 600MM EF­FEC­TIVE FO­CAL LENGTH

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