taking photos of the moon

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Jessica, Jan 24, 2006.

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  1. Jessica

    Jessica Well-Known Member

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    Is it possible to take Moon photos without a tripod?

    I can seem to take nice detailed photos with a normal digital camera before its night time, but once night comes the moon is just a round white/yellow ball with no detail.

    Why is this?
     
  2. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    Shooting at night can be difficult and takes a fair amount of experimentation to achieve the correct exposure and I imagine that this is what is happening. I'm not sure what else is in the frame, (maybe some city lights?), but the camera is not able to handle the exposure right, thereby "blowing out" the details in the moon. The trick would be to find the right camera settings (shutter speed, etc) to even slightly underexpose the moon and then adjust the brightness in photo editing software.

    Many photographers always shoot slightly underexposed images so they can adjust the lighting after the fact. It's possible to brighten an underexposed image, but it's not possible to get the detail back of an overexposed image.
     
  3. Mike22

    Mike22 Well-Known Member

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    An as for not using a tripod, I would have to say no its not possible because you need a slower shutter speed.

    Is that right Ben?
     
  4. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    You are correct. The camera really can't be moving at all. When you use a tripod, most people who shoot at night also recommend getting a remote so that the camera isn't still vibrating from the press of the shutter.
     
  5. SeaMonkey

    SeaMonkey Active Member

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    I had never thought of the camera vibrating from use of the shutter.
    You could always put a timer on, so that way you dont even have to press the camera button.
     
  6. Fable

    Fable Well-Known Member

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    I dont have a remote for my camera but i have been successful with the methods outlined here, including using a timer to eliminate camera shake.

    I still would prefer to use some sort of filter for moon shots, but am unsure which to buy.
     
  7. Jessica

    Jessica Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the tips guys!
    Nice to know I can ask the experts when i need to! :)

    I will take your advice and see how I go.
    If I get any good pictures I might post them here as proof :)
     
  8. Wail

    Wail Well-Known Member

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    To take good pictures of the moon, you would need to look at various aspect, to list a few here: -

    • Use a tripod to reduce camera shake as much as possible.
    • Use a wireless trigger, if your camera supports that, to reduce camera shake from your finger pressing the shutter release button.
    • Set the film speed to something reasonably fast – an equivalent of ASA 800 or more is better to capture more light within a shorter time-frame.
    • Try to get yourself a good location out of city bounds, and where no night lights, street lights are visible. This is to reduce light interference.
    • Set the shutter speed to as slow as you can possibly can while increasing your depth-of-field.

    Keep in mind that the bigger your zoom, the more distortion you will get. Now, with digital cameras, one can take pictures with various settings and view them almost instantly, so I would suggest that you take as many pictures as you can while “adjusting” the settings + / - one step in either direction (depth of field, shutter speed, film speed, etc.).

    Nothing beats trial and error, the best way to build-up knowledge and experience and to collect a good number of “yummy” pictures.



    Jessica,

    Would love to see what you've managed to capture, and it would be best if you could be kind enough to post (with the pictures) what camera you use and what picture settings too.
     
  9. dlynch

    dlynch Member

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    In the days of film :) you could predict better results hand holding. Take the reciprocal of the lens focal length as the minimum hand held shutterspeed.

    So a 200 mm lens would be approx. 1/250. A 500 mm lens would be 1/500.

    A 50 mm lens would be 1/60. You can see I picked the closest shutter speed.

    As far as exposure goes I would have used the f/16 rule. Consider the moon as sun lit. So take the reciprocal of the film speed...close setting of exposure for ISO 400 film becomes f/16 at 1/400 second.

    Dave
    ps If your tripod is easy to carry (read "flimsy") try hanging something heavy from it to absorb vibration. I often drape the strap of my camera bag over it and hang it there. It's the only time I'm happy that I have a heavy camera bag. My 80-200 f/2.8 weighs 3 lbs all by itself!
     
  10. dlynch

    dlynch Member

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    ps I took pictures of a lunar eclipse with my Nikon F3 and 500 mm cat (mirror)lens. I superimposed several shots on the same frame as the eclipse occured with the moon travelling in an arc. Turned out nicely. I'm glad; it would have been hard to do again! ;)

    Dave
     
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