Sunday, November 21, 2010

Photo Carousel #6: "Azure Moonrise"

"Azure Moonrise"
It was a great moonrise here in New York last night.  Cool, crisp, clean air and a full moon.  This is my sixth Photo Carousel entry.

I've taken various pictures of the moon over the years that have come out nice enough to wet my appetite to try astrophotography, but there's such a huge investment in equipment required to do it that I never get around to actually committing to it.  There are many other financial priorities around my eating! Maybe some day.... 

In the mean time, if you want to see some great deep space photos by a guy named Howard Cox, check out this link to some of his photos on the web site.

This type of moon shot is simple from a technical perspective.  Here are some tips:
  1. Always shoot in the time between sunset and total darkness so that you pick up the remaining blue in the sky.  A moon picture with a totally black sky is boring....unless of course that's what you're intentionally trying to do for some other reason.
  2. Expose for the moon.  You don't want it to be too dark or too light in your finished photo because it's your subject.  Let the exposure for everything else fall wherever it does, but get the moon exposed properly.
  3. Use a long focal length.  This was shot on my Canon 7D with the equivalent of about 385mm on a 35mm body.  
  4. Use a tripod.  If you're using image stabilized lenses, shut off the IS feature when you're using a tripod.
  5. Use a remote release or your camera's timer to trip the shutter to minimize camera vibration. 
  6. Use a shutter speed of around 1/200 (to prevent motion blur in the moon) and aperture of at least f/8 (to maximize image quality) and also ensure that you have enough depth of field to keep your foreground elements in focus.
  7. Use a foreground element (and keep it in focus!) to add more interest to your photo.
  8. Shoot in Raw format if your camera supports it.  It will provide you with the highest image quality.
For this composition, I used the arc of the tree branches to keep the viewer's eye from leaving the frame and also to create a little spot to put the moon in.  I chose this composition based on the simple rule-of-thirds principle because it suited this photo just fine.  This setup clearly places the moon as the center of attention. 

Try some moon'll get a kick out of it.  If you do the above steps properly and you're shooting with high quality equipment (and a lens of at least 400mm), you can actually view your photos quite large on your computer monitor and see a lot of detail on the moon's surface.  My kids were blown away when I showed them the detail on the moon's surface in one of my enlarged photos.


  1. This photo is total perfection. Wouldn't change a thing.

  2. hi. love the photo. is your site feed working right? i didn't get this until today through rss.

  3. HI Biernan. Thanks, I like it too! ;-)

    Hi Ruthie. Glad you liked it. As far as I know the RSS feed is working OK so you should be getting stuff whenever I post it. If not, it might be your ISP.