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February 2013
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How to take great photos of the moon – Part 5




Read the previous post in this series (Shooting Great Photos of the moon – Part 4)

Tip 1101 (The moon is dimmer when it is lower in the horizon): This is a fact that you need to keep in mind. Shooting the moon means that you need to be aware of the dynamics of the moon movement as well as the light emitted (okay, actually reflected) by the moon. When the moon is lower in the horizon, typically near evening or the morning, the amount of light shining from the moon is lower than when the moon is higher up in the sky. One of the reasons for this is because the light from the moon has to pass through a longer stretch of the atmosphere to get to the camera and that dims the light more.

Tip 1102 (Mirror lock): If your camera allows you to lock up the mirror, you should do the same. The mirror lock up allows for reduction of another risk item in the camera, the risk being that of a small amount of vibration in the camera.

Tip 1103 (Ensure batteries are fully charged / have additional batteries): When you are doing night photography (not specifically moon photography), you might end up doing long exposures, and in such cases, you should ensure that your batteries are fully charged. If you have additional batteries, then ensure that you have these with you and also charged fully (even if you do not really need them in the end, they give you an additional level of assurance).

Tip 1104 (Try to use manual exposure rather than use auto-exposure): You may have done a lot of photography in the past using auto-exposure (and no matter what the purists say, you can still get some fairly good photos when the light levels are good by keeping the exposure metering as automatic rather than using some of the manual modes). If you use automatic metering and let the camera set the exposure, it will try and balance the scene in front (and these are 2 very dramatic different light levels – with the moon being bright and the rest of the night sky being dark); in most of the cases, you will find that the exposure level set by the camera using the automatic method will lead to the moon being over-exposed and hence totally blotting out the details on the moon.

Tip 1105 (Use sharpening in software, but comes with a cost): Sometimes you can see photos that are very sharp, and wonder why your photo is not looking as sharp as those photos. Well, I can’t promise that your photos will look pin-sharp, but here is a tool that allows your photos to become somewhat sharper. I normally don’t use in-camera sharpening (since that leaves the calibration of the sharpening to be decided by the camera), and instead do the sharpening through software (remember previous tips ? I typically end up using Photoshop or Lightroom for my photos – get them from Amazon (Photoshop, or Lightroom). However, sharpening is like ISO, there is a cost associated. You should ideally do sharpening once and then leave it like that, if you do excessive sharpening, your photos ends up looking weird (and the big problem is that you are doing sharpening and typically accept the results, while somebody else seeing the photo immediately realizes that there is something wrong).

Some great books and a filter (from Amazon):

The Digital Photography Book Night and Low-Light Photography Photo Workshop 1.25″ Orion 13% Transmission Moon Filter

Videos from Youtube on shooting the moon:

Shooting the moon Part 1

Shooting the moon part 2

How to Photograph the Moon, tutorial for video and still images

How to photograph the moon?

Read the next post in the series (Shooting great moon photos – Part 6)




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