Shoot for the Moon

1 Oct

Eclipse merge

Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Of course, that’ll really only work out for you if you happen to be wearing a space suit…. haha

This past weekend we had a super blood moon eclipse.  I don’t recall ever seeing a lunar eclipse before that, and I have to say, it was pretty damn cool.

For those of you who missed it, this is a photo stack composite of the first 20 minutes of that eclipse.  These exposures are approximately 2 minutes apart.

As for the image itself…it’s not going to win any awards.  Unless you’re giving out awards for being awesome?  Yeah, it might win that. 😉  But it *is* an opportunity to talk about photographing the moon.

When you choose to shoot for the moon, you have to remember three things: underexpose the scene to properly expose the moon, large (to large-ish) aperture, and fast shutter speed.

The moon is very bright, and in order to catch the details on the surface, you need to under expose your image.  Otherwise, you’ll blow your highlights.  This is one of those times were it is okay to crush your shadows on the histogram!

In order to prevent the “starburst” effect, you need a wider aperture (aka f/lower number). I would say if you’re heading toward f/16 or higher, you may run into problems. Your camera’s sweet spot (generally f/9-f/11) or lower number will be a wide enough aperture to prevent the starburst effect.

Because our position in the surface of earth is constantly changing in relation to the moon, you will also need a fast shutter speed to prevent blur in your images.  That works out fine, though, since underexposing your image is part of the master plan!

To capture these exposures, I used a tripod and a 2 sec timer to avoid camera shake, a zoom lens, I put my camera into manual mode, and used the live view feature to focus manually. If your camera doesn’t have a live view feature, setting your focus to infinity should get you pretty close and you can tweak it from there.

The image settings are: ISO 100, 135mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6

Happy shooting! 🙂

9 Responses to “Shoot for the Moon”

  1. mickey2travel October 1, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Wonderful composition! Thank you for sharing!

    • seeingspotsphoto October 11, 2015 at 3:22 am #

      Glad you like it. Thanks so much for the support and kind words!

  2. Pat Reeder October 2, 2015 at 12:44 am #

    Simply awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Al Wehrmann October 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    Just want to agree with your “shooting the moon” guidelines. Folks that use the automatic setting on their cameras or even expose according to the camera’s meter on manual setting will find the moon comes out as a big ball of white or yellow light. When full, it reflects a tremendous amount of light, but the surrounding black sky fools the meter into thinking it needs much more light than is really needed.

    • seeingspotsphoto October 11, 2015 at 3:24 am #

      So true! Our cameras are really smart, but the full moon tends to trick the meter.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Its always great to get other’s opinions. 🙂

  4. Photobooth Journal October 2, 2015 at 8:47 pm #


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