Moon Photography for Beginners…by a beginner?

15/11/16, 6:30am – The first time I’ve ever attempted to photograph the moon (all previous attempts have consisted of my iPhone and resulted in something alike all those blurry grey images with a white dot in the middle that you’re probably sick of seeing in your Facebook timeline)

You’re quite possibly thinking, if this was her first time taking moon pictures what makes her qualified to give tips? Well, the answer to that is; I’m not qualified in the slightest. Sorry, not sorry? But truthfully, I don’t think you need a professional to give you beginner tips, often the best tips you get are from other beginners learning and trying and experimenting together and being able to convey simple truths rather than complex photography jargon. I remember reading several photography articles a day before in preparation but when it came down to it, all those settings and technical numbers and ISO figures and tripod suggestion and £1,000 lens recommendations flew completely over my head when I saw the moon the morning after “supermoon” day – All I did was grab my camera and went with the flow, playing around with stuff until it I got results I was happy with. And hopefully I can give you some direction on how you can do the same.

Here are some of my final shots:

1) You’re going to need to decrease your Exposure. Massively. I was on Manual Mode for this but whatever mode that will allow you to do this is perfect. With a higher exposure, the more light your camera is collecting which is good for normal picture, however with the moon – and a super bright moon at that – it’s all light and it completely eradicates all the detail, (creating that floating glowing blob effect) so we want to tone down the amount of light that is being captured in order to bring back some of the detail.

2) This probably sounds so basic, but it actually didn’t click for me until I was edited the pictures. If you have a zoom lens – the image is zoomed yes, but this also means that any movement that you make will also be seriously increased. So the way to combat this would be to either make sure your camera is super still by putting it on tripod if you have one, if you don’t or like me, you didn’t think to take it out, try some of these steps:

  • try leaning your body against a wall or something solid.
  • Have two hands on your camera, one the body the other on the lens to get the maximum stability.
  • Try and taking a few shots at the same time, so even if the first one if blurry the second one should be slightly more stabilised.
  • Increase your shutter speed which will allow less time when the camera is taking a picture, which means it reduces the chance of any movement happening in that time frame and creating any blur. A faster shutter speed also helps with reducing the exposure (first point)

3) I’m super happy with the way my pictures turned out. But don’t get me wrong, I must have taken about 300 pictures overall in the space of an hour and maybe about 50 of them were decent enough to consider. But you have to take those bad shots to get the good shots, so never stop trying. Learn from wherever, whomever you can. You don’t know whose words will make something click for you. And also use what you have, people were complaining about how it’s always cloudy on supermoon days – don’t give up. Wait for the morning, or the next day, or the day after that. Use the clouds to create a moody shot like I did. Good pictures don’t come easy, sometimes you’re going to have to lose out on a little sleep, and gain a whole load of frustration when things aren’t working out for you. But believe me, that rush when you see one of your pictures turn out even better than you ever imagined, because you persevered, you tried different settings, you didn’t give up. that excitement of being able to capture that awe and wonder that you felt in that precise moment in time and being able to relive it again and again every time you see that picture, that feeling is everything. Don’t miss out on it.

Okay, So that’s enough from someone like me pretending like they know what they’re talking about and let’s actually hear from some more seasoned moon photographers. I had the pleasure of reaching out to Hana Seedat and Han_El_ who are two amazing photographers on Instagram. Here is a few of their moon shots and what they have to say to us beginners;

“Firstly, it doesn’t matter what dslr camera you have, as long as you know how to manipulate the settings to get a good picture! 

Secondly, a tripod is essential!!! Sometimes you can get away with balance on books etc, but tripods are way way easier. 

Third, have a remote shutter! Mine was about £10 I think, off amazon many years back. But having one helps to avoid any movement blur that could happen when you press the shutter on the camera (no matter how good your tripod is)

fourth (this is optional, but still good to have) is to invest in an editing software (e.g Adobe Lightroom) I shoot in RAW format and then post process afterwards just o make the image look nicer and more how the human eye would see it. I hate OTT editing, it just makes the picture look yuck. (having something like photoshop is also good.)

also, have a good lens! I use a Tamron 70-300mm lens. And don’t just take one picture and think ‘yeah, cool I’ve got it.’ Adjust zoom, settings etc and take multiple shots because you don’t want to pack up and go to edit and find they’re all blurry or something.”

“Use a tripod. Take as many shots as you can and filter through them later. Plan ahead for the supermoon by figuring out the perfect spot and keeping an eye on the weather. Play around with settings and filters but don’t make it look too filtered because it is the moon and nature shouldn’t look over filtered. But lastly, don’t worry about perfection, have fun!”

So there you have it,  kinda similar yet kinda different pieces of advice from three different people. Try all the tips out if you can – see what works for you, see what doesn’t. And let us know how you get on because if we’re all photographing the same moon – we might as well do it together. (that was so cheesy, i’m sorry)


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