Moon over Baros Island, Maldives.
October 2013. Leica V-Lux4. f/5.6, ISO 200 ,1/400 sec., 108mm, (600mm in 35mm format.)
I took this picture of the moon when my wife and I spent a few days celebrating my birthday on the island of Baros in the Maldives. Having researched some months before, on how to take pictures of the moon, I didn’t make the time to actually put into practice what I learnt, until this occasion arose.
On our last morning on Baros, I woke up early around 5.45 am to take pictures of the sunrise. This wasn’t very spectacular that morning. But upon turning around, I saw the moon that was all this time behind me. It was a gorgeous sight! The morning air was crisp and very clear, not a cloud in sight, and the moon was set fairly high on the horizon, I had my compact camera with a 24 times zoom, a tripod, – it was perfect! I exposed about 6 pictures and this (above) is one of them.
Taking pictures of the moon is something many do! You see a beautiful moon, out comes the smart phone! But so often, all you capture is a yellow or yellowish white, round blob without much details.
To capture a picture of the moon, you need a few basic things. Below I list out a few essential items.
Singapore. March 2015. Leica V-Lux4. f/8, ISO 100 ,1/8 sec., 108mm, (600mm in 35mm format.)
For photographing the moon by itself without any foreground objects, you will require:
-A strong and stable Tripod.
-A camera with a long telephoto lens, of at least 200mm +, even if you will eventually crop the picture.
-Set your camera mode to full Manual Mode. Auto Mode is out!
-ISO: Set your ISO to 100. If you have a point and shoot camera, see if you can find a menu setting to set your ISO to 100. Make sure “Auto ISO” is turned Off.
-Aperture: Set your aperture to f/11 or smaller, ie. a bigger number.
Shutter Speed: Set your shutter speed to 1/125 on cameras with base ISO 100, and to 1/250 on cameras with base ISO 200. The faster the shutter speed the better. Eliminates shake and movements.
-Lens Focus: Set your lens to manual focus and set your focus to infinity. Be careful while setting the focus to infinity, as some lenses allow focusing beyond infinity. Take a test picture and see if it comes out sharp by zooming in the rear LCD of the camera. I prefer to use the view finder to focus and frame.
-Try to release the camer’s shutter with a remote release device or use the camera’s in-built timer. Pressing the trigger for the shutter release produces camera shake.
Chap Goh Meh Moon.
Singapore. July 2016. SONY ILCE 7R. f/7.1, ISO 80, 1/12 sec., 600mm.
There is no single correct set of exposure settings that will always expose the moon correctly. Its luminosity depends on a couple factors, primarily its phase, its position in the sky, and what exactly you want to expose i.e. just the moon, or the moon with some earth-shine or foreground. When editing, crop the image as necessary. You may need to increase the contrast and sharpening to reveal the finer features of the lunar surface.
The Blood Moon Eclipse. Singapore. Sun. 27th Sept. 2015. @ 8 50 pm. PSI 98 12hrly.
September 2014. Leica V-Lux4. f/8, ISO 100, 1/4/sec.,108mm, (600mm in 35mm format.)
The moon eclipse was earlier that afternoon so we could not see this. I shot pictures, including this one above, between 8.45 pm to 8.57 pm. So the peak was around this time. I was just lucky that I caught the moon in the red phase before it returned to the usual color and the PSI was not that bad that moment.
Moon Over Bali, Indonesia.
February, 2016. SONY ILCE 7R. f/22, ISO 100, 1/100 sec., 200mm.
The moon can be a tricky subject to photograph. It is a very bright subject compared to the rest of the night sky. It is also a moving subject, and it moves just fast enough that it can be problematic. Its luminosity changes depending on the time of the month. The clarity depends on atmospheric conditions. It’s a challenge to capture a good picture but if you’re sucessful, it’s most rewarding.
Note: Before we left the island of Baros, I emailed the first picture of the ‘Moon over Baros’ to the Manager of the Resort. While waiting at the lounge for our boat transfer to Male for the airport, the Manager came rushing out of his office excitedly waiving a printed copy of my moon shot! “Did you take this? Did you shoot this?” he asked, glad to have caught me before we left! I asked him, “Why?” ” I want you to autograph it! I want to post this up on my Notice Board for all the staff to see!” My wife and I found this rather amusing! So I signed on the picture!