Moon Photography

Discussion in 'Nature' started by patricia_o., Jul 3, 2012.

  1. When the "Super Moon" was out in May, I only owned a Canon PowerShot SX210. I went out near the peak time and took several beautiful moon pictures on "night mode" that I'm very proud of.

    Recently, I decided to take what was left in my savings and follow my passion for photography and buy a "real" camera. I purchased a Nikon (on the advice of a professional photographer friend) D3200 (because I could afford it and it had great beginner reviews), the kit, a telephoto lens (55-300) and a macro lens. A bought a few books and settled in to teach myself how to shoot manually.

    Now, I love my Nikon D3200, but... I've recently become frustrated, over the moon! I went outside tonight for the full moon and starting playing with settings I had found on various photography sites. I came in, downloaded the pictures to my PC, and they all have a "glow" around the moon with lots of noise. The photographs I took with that little Canon had no "glow" and no "noise."

    What can I do to make my Nikon DSLR moon pictures look more like my Canon "point and shoot" picture?

    Nikon D3200 300mm f11 1/125
    Canon PowerShot SX210 "Night Mode" 70mm

  2. What can I do to make my Nikon DSLR moon pictures look more like my Canon "point and shoot" picture?​
    If your Nikon lens is new, I think you may be seeing differences in atmospheric conditions. If you purchased your lens used, check for haze internally. Also if you adjust the black levels on the Nikon shot the moon will render better. The black sky is a bit gray.
  3. It could be atmospheric conditions but also the top shot looks over-exposed to me. The moon is a bright object in a big surrounding area of darkness so can fool meters. So just bracket any shot of the moon taking shots, on a tripod, IS off, at a range of exposures. Under-exposure works quite well on the moon.
  4. The correct exposure for the moon is the same as for bright sunlight. So either set manually or take a spot reading.
  5. To really be sure that the problem is not the hardware you would need to take identical exposures at the same time with both cameras and compare them. That said, the most likely reason for your "hazy' image is haze in the atmosphere. What you can do to minimize haze in the atmosphere is shoot through less atmosphere, (at high altitude), shoot in dryer places like deserts far away from city lights, or if you live in a "temperate zone", wait for a full moon on a clear night far from the city at a time of year when humidity is low meaning winter. That last one is the cheapest and easiest but potentially the most frustrating answer. Also haze tends to settle out a bit overnight. Your chances of a clear shot go up a bit just before dawn. I would also recommend searching on the sunny 16 rule and bracketing.
  6. Is there a chance that you came out from the AC and the temp and humidity were still high enough to frost over a lens surface? I have thought about going out the last few nights, but here in Eastern NC the sky has been way too hazy and any shots taken outside has involved letting the camera and lens acclimate in a bag as I moved from indoors to out and vice versa.
  7. Patricia,
    I know that PN Member Bob Atkins has written a couple of articles on getting some successful Moon shots at different stages of the Moon. And, there were quite a few discussions in many of the forums around the time of the Super Moon a couple of months back.
    Unfortunately, I can not find the exact article of Bobs that I had read. However, here's a link to one of Bob's articles that may help
    I do wish I could find the ones that I had read. I do remember that they were somewhere under the Learning Tab above, and after briefly reading, I went out and tried a few shots with some great results, and not too much effort thanks to the Articles. I do also remember that the best details can be achieved just after the full moon.
    This was one of my first attempts at a Moon shot.
  8. Moon light is reflected sunlight so the get the proper exposure, use the sunny 16 rule or a variation, like the sunny f 11 rule depending on brightness and atmospheric conditions. For the sunny f 11 rule, set your ISO at 200, shutter speed at a 1/200-250 sec, and your f stop at f 11. Shoot in RAW. Put your lens and camera on a tripod, turn off VR, focus manually (turn off AF) and trip the shutter with a cable release. If your camera allows for ISO 100, set it and lower the shutter speed to 1/125. After you take your basic exposures, bracket them to allow for variations in light. If light is not intense, use an ISO that will result in a shutter speed of at least 1/30 -1/60 of a sec to stop the motion of the moon. I have found that a 400mm lens on a 1.5 crop factor sensor yields a moon size that provides decent size and detail. Full moon shots are not as impactful as other moon phases in that they lack shadows on the face of the moon found during other phases.
    Joe Smith
  9. The first image is overexposed a bit, plus if there is even a slight haze in the atmosphere you'll get that "glow" around the moon.
    Wait for a very clear night, then shoot at several different exposure settings until you get the effect you want. Underexposure is probably better than overexposure. Autoexposure probably isn't the best way to go.
    A little more info here - and another example shot here -
  10. Thank you for all the responses, links, etc. I get so frustrated looking at what my "point and shoot" did and then looking at my DSLR on manual settings. I will study all these responses and try the various tips and see what I come up with.
    In response to one person, I did not come out of AC last night, so I ruled that out. However, the humidity has been very high here in the NE so that was probably a big factor. When I did the Super Moon photo in May, I don't recall any humidity.
    Also, I'm a little confused at what bracketing means. I keep reading it, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do? This forum is really helping me learn new things, I love it!
    Also, it is a new lens, not a used one.
  11. Bob, great article! I will try these out when I can find me a nice clear night.
  12. Bracketing just means taking a series of exposures. You take a guess at what might be right, then take shots 1 and 2 stops slower and 1 and 2 stops faster, then see what looks best. Some cameras can do this automatically, though usually not in manual mode. For that you just shoot at 1 and 2 stops slower shutter speeds and 1 and 2 stopd faster shutter speeds while keeping the aperture the same.
  13. Awesome write up Bob! Lunar photography has never been one of my fortes to say he least, I will certainly give these a
    whirl. Best regards Bob.
  14. The most important thing is to wait for a clear night. Also, you're shooting through less dense air when the moon is well above the horizon.
    You don't necessarily need a tripod with a fast shutter speed and a VR lens. Here is a 100% crop handheld at 1/800, f8, ISO 100.
    This is straight from the in-camera jpeg with no post-processing. I used the Monochromatic picture control setting, with contrast and sharpness turned all the way up. You might see even more detail with the d3200's higher resolution sensor.
  15. Around -1EV is usually about right, start there and adjust until you get an exposure without blowing out highlights.
    In general, unless the sky is exceptionally clear of smog, shoot when the moon is 45-degrees up, or higher, to shoot through less atmosphere.
    When it's smoggy, you can't do much about it, except wait for another shot on another night.
    This was with a Canon, but your Nikon can get pretty close. ;-)
  16. LOL at your last comment. Well, I don't have smog here, just high humidity. I may save my moon photography for fall/winter! Every night this week there has been a "halo" around the moon.
  17. Yes, a humidity halo is a sign not to go for detail, but effect. If it's low and big, then shoot with something interesting in the foreground. The moon below is not so sharp, but no one cares because of the pink, 14,000 ft. Mount Evans (Colorado) in the foreground:
  18. Wow what a beautiful image I really like it and my ambition is going to the moon.
  19. The trick to getting a low, clear moon is looking every chance that you get. It even helps to have your spies looking for you. A couple of weeks ago my wife called and said, "The moon is big, orange and gorgeous." So I grabbed my camera, big lens and 1.4X TC and ran to the top of our parking structure to see the Eastern sky. Normally, the low moon is pretty, but distorted by atmosphere and smog, but this time it was clear, thanks to a front that had just moved through. If you're always keeping an eye on the moon and have a camera around, these opportunities present themselves several time annually. I got this shot, thanks to my wife's call:
  20. To be able to photograph the Moon, you must understand it better than taking an occasional peek at it whenever you’re outdoors. The best way to start is to study a moon calendar, which will reveal its many phases and its positions in the night sky in relation to your latitude on Earth. With that information, you can observe it during a number of consecutive nights to formulate some ideas of how and when you might want to photograph it.
  21. Nice references Ganesh.
    My technique is to know what moon is doing every day that I'm out shooting. I use an iPhone app called "Darkness" that gives moonrise/moonset, sunrise/sunset angle and position for any day at my location or another location that I might travel to.
    When the moon set and the sun rise are at the same time (or vice versa) I make it a point to be out and see what happens. Still, this is solar/lunar information is just part of my outdoor photography knowledge, along with things like, when do the white-tail deer bucks tend to get up and where are the likely to cross a meadow at what time. Knowing all these things does not guarantee a good shot, it merely increases your odds.
    Oh yes, you can count on the moon being there, but having good conditions to shoot is still an iffy thing. I find it best to be ready, know what to expect and then try to get the shot, taking into account the exposure tips given in this thread and in links. Like all nature photography, if it doesn't work out due to haze, clouds, moisture, etc., then try, try again.
  22. I know exactly what your saying .... I have the same 2 cameras and the little cannon I can zoom so much closer and clearer..I have Shot Great Super moon pics.... and the Nikon gets half the job done so frustrated.... Its not just the haze ............... its half the size LOL>>> agggh. I thought It was just me.not knowing the camera...

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