Sunday, May 6, 2012

Shoot the Moon

Last night was the super-moon ... the biggest full moon of 2012. Okay, well.... by the time I started trying to shoot the sky clouded up. Three nights in a row, I tried to capture this mega-moon in all of its glory. I was so disappointed.  After calling it a night and putting everything away, I went back to working on the computer till bedtime. Around midnight, I went to take the puppy outside and the sky was clear. Not a cloud in the sky! Shot a half dozen frames and nailed it.

Here is what I learned: the moon is bright. Brighter than you think.

If your camera is set to auto exposure, it is comparing a bright object in an insanely dark sky. When that averages out, you end up with a sky that is tending towards "less than black" and a moon that is just a white blob.

So how do you get the moon to retain sharpness and detail and the proper exposure?

Remember that the moon is reflecting SUNLIGHT. Sounds strange since we are shooting at night. Put your camera on full manual control. Set your shutter speed to 1/250, ISO 200, and f/16. Yep. Sunny sixteen rule that back in the film days was the gold standard for shooting outdoors on a bright sunny day. Shoot and then check your lcd to see how the exposure turned out. I found that I wasn't getting dark enough darks at that exposure, so I pushed to f/22 and then brightened my highlights in Lightroom 4 in post.

This was my first successful photograph of the moon, ever. Now I have some better ideas to try next time!

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