How to Photograph the Moon.

Lets look at how to photograph the moon.

I had never photographed the moon intentionally, but because there was a Full Blood Wolf Moon on 1-21-19,  I just had to do it!  The cold did not deter me and I was very lucky that the sky became clear just an hour or so before the eclipse.  The only downside, it was 3 degrees outside. Upon finding that I could set up my camera and tripod just outside my front door, I decided to go for it!

First, below is the composite photo I made of my efforts afterwards. I did not have a telescope or a super telephoto lens, but I did have a 200mm lens. It worked out pretty well. So if you do not have one, you could rent a telephoto lens for a couple of days from Borrow Lenses or any other rental outlet online or in your city and take a day to get acquainted with it.  Be careful, you may fall in love with it!

You must also use a TRIPOD that you can easily adjust almost directly up to the sky and also move it as needed to stay guided on the moon’s movement across space.  Please don’t try this without a tripod, it is nearly impossible as your exposures will be as long as 3 seconds long.

How to Photograph the Moon, Kim Bova Photography, Total Eclipse, Full Blood Wolf Moon 2019

Here are instructions for a manual DSLR camera with a 200mm lens or greater.

1-First turn off auto focus.

You must manually focus on the moon.  Then, find your self timer on the camera.  I found this helpful anyway to prevent camera movement when pressing the shutter button as the shutter can be set with the timer to go off a few seconds after you press the shutter button.  The vibration of the mirror up and down did not effect me at 1/200th of a second.  And , check your focus – it is a moving object so focus check each time.  I am a focus fanatic!

2- Use a DSLR camera and at least a 200 mm lens.  300-600mm is better.

I used a Nikon DSLR.

3- Dial in these 3 settings in ahead of time:  ISO 200, Shutter speed at 1/200 of a second and Aperture at F11.

These were my full moon settings and I never changed anything until the moon was partially covered during the eclipse, reason being, I wanted the sharpest images I could get. My shutter speed which controls the light entering the camera started at 1/200th of a second.  Aperture was set at F11 period and I never changed it.  This is a generally good setting to control sharpness in most DSLR cameras.

4- When the eclipse starts be ready to adjusted the shutter speed.

I changed my shutter to 160th of a second  as the shadow was 1/4 -1/3 across the moon. When halfway, I found I had to slow down the shutter speed almost every shot. (Let more light in as the moon gets darker)  My full eclipse exposure was at 3 seconds at f11, ISO 200.  Be careful to not touch the camera or tripod during a long exposure.  Your camera might be more or less light sensitive than mine, so get yourself in the ballpark BEFORE the eclipse begins and adjust as needed.  I shoot digital so I could monitor how things were going.

That is my best advice on how to photograph the moon, considering it was my first time.  Be aware that it was a clear calm winter sky, after midnight and the moon was high overhead.  These conditions are different than a moon rising over the mountains or ocean with humid air that is thick with moisture.  Be ready to adapt your settings to the conditions you are in.
Wow was it exciting! It really wasn’t that hard… it was harder to be in the cold and not freeze my fingers off!
I hope you will try it the next time we have a full moon or the next eclipse.  In 2 years there will be another total eclipse in our area… you have plenty of time to practice!

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