Shoot for the moon
Whether as a stand-alone subject or used in a wider landscape, the pull of the moon is strong for photographers
Mankind’s fascination with the moon is undeniable and this celestial wonder presents plenty of opportunities for photographers. From close ups and wider landscapes to more special occurrences like eclipses, the moon can be a useful source of illumination for a night-time scene or a spectacularly detailed subject waiting to be captured.
Like the northern Lights and star trails though, nothing with astrophotography is ever that straightforward, and in this case, photographers are at the mercy of not only weather and light pollution, but also the moon’s cycle. again, research time can be slashed by using an app like PhotoPills, which will enable you to plan ahead and not only know exactly when is moonrise in a certain location, but pinpoint the exact phase and percentage of the moon that will be visible as well.
Two common pitfalls that photographers make when capturing images that include the moon are the focal length needed for a decent close-up and just how bright the light from the moon can be. Let’s start with focal length; it’s generally accepted that the minimum focal length needed to capture an image that will show real detail on the moon is between 300- 400mm. This is where crop-sensor cameras have an advantage, giving a higher effective focal length (1.5x nikon, 1.6x Canon), but there is another option too. Pairing your lens with an affordable teleconverter will give you even further reach – in fact, a 70-200mm used at its long end on a aPs- C Canon camera that’s paired with a 1.4x teleconverter affords the photographer a maximum focal length of 448mm. Remember, dsLRs or mirrorless cameras aren’t the only option when it comes to capturing pictures of the moon. superzoom cameras like nikon’s Coolpix P1000 features a 125x optical zoom, giving a focal length of 24-3000mm!
Photographers can struggle to balance ambient light in the scene with the bright light of the moon. shooting during twilight as darkness is still falling can be a good solution as there will be less difference in light levels between the moon and the rest of your scene. What’s more, the moon will be lower in the sky, allowing you to frame up more imaginative compositions, such as the moon placed in the arch of a bell tower. all that bright light from the moon can be used to your advantage, however, as it can provide illumination for a wider landscape scene that would have otherwise been dark or needed an ultra-long exposure.
Capture a close-up of the moon to reveal the tones and textures of the moon’s surface Nikon D800, 80-400mm, 1/250sec at f/8, ISO 200
A crescent moon makes a great shot Nikon D800, 80-400mm, 1/200sec at f/5.6, ISO 800
Use the PhotoPills app to plan your photo shoot accurately