I went out and shot the Moon last night. A reasonably pedestrian shot, but it got a bunch of comments on Facebook and Twitter. That’s probably because lots of people try to shoot the Moon with little success. I’ll give you my secrets.
If you’ve got a camera that’s full automatic you’re screwed! The moon will be white and totally featureless. Sorry.
However, it’s possible your camera isn’t as automatic as you think! Lots of point and shoot cameras also have manual modes or ways to play with the settings a little.
My shot is underexposed! Well, it is to the on-camera metering system.
The Moon is small enough in the field of view that the camera is willing to think it’s an anomaly and set-up for what’s in the rest of the frame–black! I told the camera, “use your judgement then subtract two f/stops.” That made the finished product darker than what auto called for.
Even with my 200mm lens the Moon was small in the frame. I cropped the shot with Photoshop. You can easily crop or cut away the unimportant parts of shots with Picasa , from Google and free, or at Picnik.com, also free.
Cropping a photo is almost like zooming in farther. You’ll be showing part of the frame in the same space you’d normally show all of it. That exaggerates any motion and increases the chance of a blurry shot. To combat that I set my shutter speed reasonably high at 1/640 second and mounted my camera on a monopod for extra stability.
No monopod or tripod? Sit the camera on a stationary object like a car or a fence. Lean up against a tree or building. If you’ve got a jacket use that to cushion and steady the camera and give yourself a little more latitude in where it’s pointed.
I wasn’t confident my lens would properly focus on the moon so I focused manually. I’m not sure if that helped, but I was more confident in my abilities that its.
This photo was sharpened after it was downloaded to my PC. Almost all my photos are. Again, this is something Picasa and Picnik both provide which really help. Sharpening a photo a little can make it pop out at you.
When I post photos I’ll often be asked what kind of camera I used. Truth is if I took my Canon Xsi and set it on auto it would produce the same type of shot you get from a point and shoot–overexposed and a little blurry. Spending a few seconds to manually adjust can make a world of difference.