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Photographing the Supermoon

So we are set for the biggest “Supermoon” in 70 years and it will be visible on the night of November 14 2016! "The full moon on 14th November is not only the closest full moon of 2016, but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century," said NASA

Sure, we’ve seen supermoons before and this will be the second of three we will see this year but the full moon that peaks on Monday, 14th November will be closer to earth than any other since 1948. The full moon won’t come this close again until 2034!

The scientific term “perigree moon” refers to when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. When a perigree moon coincides with the full moon, the extra-large, brightly lit moon is known as a supermoon. NASA says this month’s supermoon will appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than a typical full moon.

So, with this lunar event nearing I thought i’d share with you a few tips for photographing this event. If you’re reading this blog and got this far chances are you are keen on photography and looking for some tips.

The moon is definitely one of the popular subjects for photographers of all skill levels to shoot and nearly all photographers want to get at least one decent moon image. If you’ve tried already to photograph the moon, you’ve probably discovered that it’s not an easy shot to accomplish. I’ll look at some dos and don'ts to take your moon shots from quick snap shot to polished image.

1/125 SEC at f/6.3 ISO320 600mm

Firstly lets look at the vitals. I’m talking equipment. These three items are really essential to nailing a decent image.

1. A sturdy tripod. If its a little light try hanging a bag with weight in it from the centre pole to give it some sturdiness

2. A shutter release cable. Whilst you could get away without this cable you really need to reduce any movement of the camera and even the slightest touch of the shutter button being depressed to take the shot can cause a blurry image. If you cannot get a cable then try and use the camera timer function if available

3. A long lens - To get a decent image with detail you really need to be looking at 300mm plus for this. Personally, I use a 150-600mm lens which was used to take the shot above shooting at the 600mm end

Now we have the equipment list it’s time to look at the technical side and camera settings. A question I get asked a lot on my moon image is what settings did I use. There is really no real hard and fast rule for these settings but I will give you guide and general idea. Remember, now we are in the digital age you’re free to take as many shots as you like with no added expense of film!

If you watch a moonrise you’ll notice that the moon moves pretty quick taking around 2 minutes from when you first see it until it rises above the horizon. With that in mind to get a sharp image you should shoot with a relatively fast shutter speed. I generally shoot around the 1/125 second mark for this and it has worked fine till now. Aperture? it’s all about the detail on the moon and keeping as sharp as possible, so I very rarely shoot wide open and look to an aperture of around f/9.0 For ISO is with the settings above I choose around a value around 320, but I’ve also pushed it to 640 so I could use a faster shutter speed.

If your camera has live view then use it! It is fast and easy to get your exposure of the moon correct. It will give you instant feedback on any changes you make to the settings on your camera and if you zoom in you can check your focus is on point. Talking of focus I almost always use manual for moon shots.

Hopefully with using the above tips and the upcoming supermoon you will be able to get some great, perfectly exposed, tack sharp images. I’d love to see what you get so please leave a comment in the section below and don’t forget to leave a link to your images.



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