Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shoot The Moon

First, Pull your pants UP!

I know there are several extremely talent photographers in the Fort Wayne Blog World, and then there's the rest of us.

Kim Komando's tip of the day for today is for the rest of us:

Photographing the moon

QI need help taking pictures of the moon. I have a digital SLR, a 300mm zoom lens and a cable release. The photos don't turn out right. The moon is either too faint or a blazing ball of light. Do I need to filter the light? Any help would be appreciated.

AThe moon is a fascinating subject for photography. Man has been gazing at the moon forever.

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is the moon is a tricky subject to shoot. The good news is you already have all the tools you need. You just need the right technique to get great lunar photos.

How-to ThursdayYour exposure times are going to vary. A tripod will cut out any blurriness from shaking. The cable release will also help with that. Pushing buttons with your finger shakes the camera.

The high-powered 300mm zoom lens is the right choice. To our eyes, the moon looks bigger than it really is. Photograph it with a regular lens, and it will be fairly small. Zooming in also helps pick up more of the surface details.

Getting these photos right will take experimentation and practice. The camera settings used aren't exact. Slight variations can create different effects. The phase of the moon, weather and ambient light are also factors.

Shooting the moon

Start by learning to shoot the moon by itself. Now, the sky is dark. So, you need to capture the most light possible, correct? No. The moon is a lot brighter than you think. The settings are a little counterintuitive.

We'll start with your ISO settings. The higher the number, the more sensitive the sensor is to light. Remember, the moon is bright. In this case, too high a setting creates noisy photos. Start with as ISO setting of no more than 100.

A wide aperture will allow more light in. But a wide aperture here will result in overexposure. You'll get that blazing ball of light you mentioned. And you won't see any of the moon's surface details.

The standard daytime aperture setting is f/16. As a rule of thumb, lunar photography often uses f/11. That's much narrower than regular nighttime photography. Now, I've seen wider settings recommended, like f/5. Experiment for the best results.

Shutter speed is also a consideration. This controls the photo's exposure. Photos of the moon are often taken at 1/250th of a second. But again, experiment to get your desired effect. A faster exposure equals more detail but a darker picture. And vice versa.

So, set up your camera, zoom in and start snapping photos. Keep a log of your settings to find your camera's sweet spot.

Shoot more than the moon

You've seen photos of cityscapes with a full moon in the background. They're stunning pictures. And you can take your own. But things get a little trickier.

Say you want a beautifully lit city with the moon rising above. Capturing both at the same time is impossible. There are a number of issues that make it so.

The setting for photographing a lit city and the moon are different. The moon is much brighter than any city light. Get a clear photo of the city, and the moon is overexposed.

Also, the moon can play tricks on your eyes. Its apparent size will change depending on your distance to other objects. Getting the perfect shot of both is difficult.

So, how do you do it? Double exposure. You'll essentially combine two photos. This is easy on a standard SLR. Take one photo and don't advance the film. Then, take a second photo on that frame.

Digital SLRs don't have film. Some have a double exposure setting. I'll explain how to shoot a double exposure in camera. But yours may not have this setting. I'll explain what to do then, as well.

First, I'll assume you have the setting. To photograph a well-lit city, use a standard lens. If you have only the one lens, I assume it offers a range. Shoot at 35-40mm. Experiment with the settings.

Leave the ISO at no more than 100. Use aperture settings around f/3 to f/4. And try exposure times between 30 seconds and one minute. A tripod is required.

When taking the photo, do not have the moon in the frame. But do leave an area in the sky not blocked by buildings. This void is where the moon will go.

Next, take a photo of the moon against a black sky. Don't have buildings or other light sources in the frame. Use the 300mm zoom lens and camera setting from before. Remember where the moon's position was in your first exposure. Position the moon there for this exposure.

Now, you have a clear shot of the city and moon together. It looks real, even though you took the photos separately.

But what if you don't have a double exposure setting? Then simply take the two photos separately. When you get home, combine them using photo-editing software. You'll actually have more control over the final photo this way.

You don't need expensive photo-editing software to do this. Try IrfanView and its plug-ins for free. Or if you're more advanced, go with the extremely powerful GIMP.

More photography tips:

You can get tips like these in your email too by subscribing free of charge, there is a link on the right side of this page for Kim Komando, whose radio show is heard Sunday afternoons on WOWO.

No comments:

Post a Comment