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How I shoot the moon..

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  • How I shoot the moon..

    I have shot a lot of moon shots with a big lens but I decided to try seeing what I could do with a "run of the mill" zoom and hand held..

    Camera D90, lens 18-250mm sigma (image stabilized lens) hand held.
    ISO 200
    F11, 1/180 sec. at 250mm

    I try to shoot the moon several stops UNDER exposed. Then I use increase contrast and some levels to bring the exposure back up. Doing this drives the background to sold black and gives more definition to the craters. If it looks good on your camera monitor, it's too bright!
    I sharpen at about 1 pixel radius and 50-100% in PS elements 5, usually desaturate the color and that's about it.

    This is a MANUAL exposure and MANUAL focus ONLY proposition. I shoot about 20 shots in manual focus refocusing between EVERY shot. Out of 20 shots manually focused one will simply be better than all the others. I've never gotten what I thought was a good shot using auto focus on the moon.

    I recently got a new Nikon D800E and the live view focus is VERY good. I've now been using the live view focus with this camera and getting very good pictures. Live view on some of my other cameras was pretty much useless.

    Here's the shot from the 250mm hand held. Click image for a larger version


    When I get serious, I use an old manual focus 600mm and a 2x TC for some really spectacular shots. Same as above but using a tripod and timer for the shutter release. More lens you have the steadier you need to keep the shot!

    Click image for the larger version:


    My moon gallery out HERE


    Your moons are always a lot of fun to add to other photos..




    Go out there and give it a try and post your results!


    Just another shot of a plane superimposed with the moon..
    Last edited by arlon; 09-17-2012, 11:42 PM.
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  • #2
    Those shots are absolutely incredible. I tried a couple moon shots but knew I had something way off, must have been that I didn't underexpose. Not sure but your making me want to give it another go.
    Great work and thanks for the tutorial.
    Canon EOS 7D
    EF 70-200L f2.8 IS USM, EF 17-40L f/4 USM
    100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens, 50mm f1.4, SLR Zoom Gorilla Pod, Cactus V4's, Speedlites 580EXII & 430EXII, Manfrotto 190XPROB w/496RC2 Ball Head
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    • #3
      If you have a 70-300, get out there an try a few manual shots. I think you'll be surprised.
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      • #4
        Wow, I can't believe how large and detailed you got it with a 250mm. I have a 55-200mm lens (granted it's a kit lens... I'm saving my pennies for a nicer one) and the moon still seemed so distant, that I decided to give up completely until I get a better lens. Maybe I'll try again sometime. Is there a time of the night that the moon appears bigger than others? (hmm... now that I've asked, I'm sure the answer depends where exactly you are on the planet...)
        Nikon D60
        http://www.flickr.com/jlwirmel

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        • #5
          Thanks for posting this! I recently picked up the D90 w/kit lens, 70-300mm, and 50mm prime. I've been playing around with the 70-300 trying to get moon shots but it's mostly been trial and error. A few more days and it should be full. I'll try your recommendations (with a tripod, though ).



          Originally posted by Joey the girl
          Is there a time of the night that the moon appears bigger than others?
          If you watch closely the moon is constantly moving through the sky....slowly but surely. If you have a good telephoto lens you can see it moving across the camera screen. I tried to get some shots the other day but by the time I started it was almost at the horizon, so it fell behind a treeline.
          Last edited by ClemsonME2010; 08-28-2009, 03:44 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ClemsonME2010 View Post
            A few more days and it should be full. I'll try your recommendations (with a tripod, though ).
            Full moons are by far the hardest to shoot. At least they are the hardest to get any details out of. The sun is straight on and there are few shadows to bring out the relief. My favorite moon to shoot for detail is between 1/2 and 3/4 full. Don't wait for the full moon, try a few just before.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Joey the girl View Post
              I have a 55-200mm lens (granted it's a kit lens...
              You can still get some detailed shots but you'll want to shoot off a tripod and use the timer for the shutter release if you don't have a vibration control lens of some sort.. Just be sure to try shooting more under exposed and manual focus. Try the contrast approach and tell us how it goes!
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              • #8
                Originally posted by arlon View Post
                You can still get some detailed shots but you'll want to shoot off a tripod and use the timer for the shutter release if you don't have a vibration control lens of some sort.. Just be sure to try shooting more under exposed and manual focus. Try the contrast approach and tell us how it goes!
                All right, will definitely try that. Keep your fingers crossed that the wind clears some of the clouds out of the sky before it gets dark, otherwise it might take me a few days before I can make another attempt.
                Nikon D60
                http://www.flickr.com/jlwirmel

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                • #9
                  Too new to know....

                  I have a silly question. How do I under expose and then bring up the contrast. I've had a D40. I have the kit lens and a AF Zoom- NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4-5.6G. Have had it for a year and its the last nice thing I may ever be able to afford so I'm trying to get a little serious. Any help would be greatly appreciated....

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                  • #10
                    You have to shoot in manual mode. It will take some experimenting. Start at F8, 1/250s.

                    Increasing the contrast has to be done in post processing. I use PS Elements to increase the contrast and apply a little sharpening.
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                    • #11
                      Nice tut and amazing images - love the second one, the detail is great.
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                      • #12
                        Moon

                        Thanks for the good advice, Arlon! I've had semi-decent photos of the full moon, before, but haven't gotten out for anything smaller yet. I will definitely try your technique next time the sky is clear enough. Here's my last full attempt with a 300mm lens, tripod, and remote control:


                        Bigger

                        Camera: Olympus E-520
                        Shutter: 1/640 sec
                        Aperture: f/5.6
                        ISO: 100

                        I went back and re-edited the original with your contrast tips, and it worked really well!

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                        • #13
                          Moon Shots

                          Awesome! I love shooting the moon. I haven't had quite as much luck as you though. I really enjoy the capture with the church. Just an amazing capture. I think that all of the captures are great but that one really stands out to me. Thanks for the images and information.

                          Here is my best to date:
                          FULL MOON!

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                          • #14
                            Don't forget to get pictures of the moon during the day. Sometime down the road, you might need them:
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                            Steve Jones
                            La-ruuuue Oh!

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                            • #15
                              Great tips on shooting the moon. Those are some nice photos too. Curiously though in the last picture you added the moon. Is there a way to do shots like that without adding two pictures together? Everytime that I have tried it I either get detail in the moon and everything on the ground is dark or I have a blown out moon.
                              ~Scott W. Gonzalez
                              Canon Elan, XTi and some lenses
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