How to Photograph the Moon

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Many people who try to photograph the moon fail because they set their cameras for a nighttime exposure. However, the moon is lit by sunlight, so the camera settings are the same as any photo taken in bright daylight. The following will help you in capturing the moon on film or digitally.

Things You'll Need

  • Camera
  • Film (if needed)
  • Tripod (optional)
  • Cable release (optional)
  • Zoom Lens

Moon Only

  • Load a film camera with ASA 200 film, set to manual focus and an aperture of 5.6. Set the focus to infinity. If you're using a digital camera, set it to emulate a film camera with these settings.

  • Set the camera on a tripod or other solid object and use a cable release. Or you can use the self-timer to avoid camera shake.

  • Take several shots at different speeds and see which gives the best exposure. You should be able to clearly see the Man on the Moon.

  • Change the aperture and take more bracketing shots at different shutter speeds.

Moon With Foreground

  • Set your camera for two exposures per frame.

  • First, take the foreground as a nighttime shot, using a long exposure and tripod. Be careful not to include the moon in this shot, but take note of where in the frame you want the moon to appear.

  • Photograph the moon, adding a zoom lens and setting for a daytime shot. This time, make sure none of your foreground appears in the shot and the moon is placed in the frame so it will appear in the proper place on your first exposure.

  • Develop your film and see how you did. If you take your film to a lab, be sure to tell the technician that the film includes nighttime shots so they don't think you've just underexposed a daytime photo.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you know how to take multiple exposure, you could try taking several photographs of the moon as it rises. Take the photos at precise intervals.
  • Record the camera settings for each exposure so you can learn which is best. On your next attempt to photograph the moon, you can start with the settings that gave you the best result and go from there.
  • If you are using a digital camera, you will have to use photo editing software to achieve the same effect as a double exposure with a film camera.

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