With all the talk, tweets, posts, and general madness going on about the SUPER MOON, I figured I’ll do my first photography post about this “once in a life time” hot topic. Frankly, just skimming through all the noise on social media, there are more people disappointed or rather underwhelmed when they experience the viewing of SUPER MOON after seeing all the amazing super large moons on the web. Here’s we’ll get into the basic techniques used to achieve some of the amazing images you’ve been seeing.
Super-Moon is not rare and it does happen often, except this most recent one was just a tad bit closer. Frankly, if we put any shot from the previous super-moons next to this recent one, you’re not going to be able to tell them apart. To make the argument even more interesting, it would also be quite difficult to differentiate Super, Harvest or Full moon shots. (I’ll explain this down below)
First thing we need to clarify and understand as we dig deep into photography of moon, is that the size of moon does not change one bit from the time it rises, to the time is sets. From the time it’s rising from below the horizon to the time it’s dipping down the horizon, the size of moon remains constant.
So, Are those images fake? Are they photoshop manipulation masterpieces?
1)Choosing the right lens
Optical illusion and using the right equipment to capture your shot is how you achieve those amazing large images. The longer your telephoto lens the better. Unlike any typical landscape shot using wide lenses, like those you see on my site, you’ll need the longest lens your pocket can afford. We won’t get into the distortion of each type of lens, as that is a whole topic on its own, but it does play a role in capturing amazingly large moon shots.
Unlike wide angle lenses exaggerating the depth perception, telephoto lenses will do the exact opposite by condensing the foreground and background. While condensing those together, you’re ultimately putting the moon and objects like buildings, structures, tree and other elements closer together to create a much greater sense of scale, or an optical illusion.
With any landscape shot, you should never shoot without a tripod. Can you? Is it a must? No, but it really does help taking your images to another level. You’ll have more control over your composition. The rule of thumb is your shutter speed should not be lower than the length of your Focal Length. If you have a 600mm lens you should not shoot without a tripod for any shutter under 1/600 to avoid camera shake. The longer your lens, the more pronounced vibration and camera shake becomes. Let’s not forget a shutter release! Any time your camera is mounted on a solid tripod you should avoid touching your camera to fire.
You’re shooting a moving object! Stay away from Long Shutter speed. If you trust your camera’s metering, you’ll end up with a blown out, over exposed moon. Think of it as shooting a lightbulb, expose properly for the moon. It’s your artistic decision whether you want to silhouette your foreground or be able to bring out some of their detail/color. If you’re shutter is too long, you will ultimately end up with a blurred moon as it travels up the horizon. The best way to have a properly exposed moon and foreground, is to have 2 exposures and in post processing bringing them together. I would recommend under exposing the moon by 1 stop to make sure you don’t loose any details. You typically have room for 1 stop adjustments in post processing. I always highly discourage anyone pushing their images more than one stop in any direction.
Please don’t shoot just the moon! There’s plenty of those at a much higher detail and resolution on NASA’s website. You’re creating art. Shoot during moon rise and moon set. Frame your composition to add interesting elements such as buildings, structures, any unique landscapes that are visually intriguing in your composition. Look at your composition as whole. Make your whole visually stimulant that tells a story. Not only other elements in your composition will create the sense of scale, they should also tell a story.
I hope this was some help to get your creative mind flowing with interesting shoots.
Happy Shooting and Keep on Clicking