what setting would I use to shoot the full moon tonight against the ocean on the pier?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lisa_dellano, Jun 23, 2005.

  1. Hi, I have a Nikon D70 digital camera with the short lens and the
    long 300 lens I am having trouble finding the right settings I want
    to shoot the full moon tonight on the pier with the moon reflecting
    off the ocean any suggestions? I have tried with no luck so far and
    I am going out tonight before the full moon is gone this month. I
    also copied the camera setting sheet that was suggested on the forum
    and will try that also but it is for regular cameras does that
    matter? Thank you, Leza
  2. ISO at 200. Shutter speed 1/250th @ f/11 or 1/500th @ f/8 as a starting point.
  3. Sunny 16, Lunar 11 (like Apollo 11, easy to remember). :)
  4. The ISO speed is standardized for film, which means that manufacturers use a standardized procedure for measuring the speed of the film; however, there is no "ISO speed" standard for digital, but you should get good results using those exposures you would use for slide film of equivalent ISO.
  5. jbq


    The moon is a sunlit dark gray object. Therefore if you shoot Sunny/16 (approx 1/100s or 1/125s @ f/16 & ISO 100, i.e. 1/400 or 1/500s @ f/11 @ ISO 200) you'll have it dark gray. You can open up 1 to 2 stops to make it look light gray, which is what your brain actually expects. 1/200 or 1/250s @ f/8 @ ISO 200 should do the trick.

    Use your preview/histogram to be sure that this is the correct exposure.

    Ilkka: there is an ISO standard for the speed of digital cameras (ISO 12232). The other standards are ISO 6 (B&W), ISO 2240 (color slides), ISO 5800 (color negs), ISO 7187 (instant), and quite a few more for papers, x-ray, micrography, etc... (notice that there isn't a unique standard for film).
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    You are using a DSLR and while your subject is not exactly still, it is not moving very fast relative to us. Just use the all manual M mode and take some trial shots and then adjust your exposure. As long as you don't blow out any highlights, you should be fine shooting RAW.
  7. Here's a very recent thread on exactly the same topic:


    And for future reference, keep a copy of the tables from Fred Parker's Ultimate Exposure Computer in your camera bag:

  8. sm



    Use spot metering (lowest spot value) at Iso 200. It will be fast f11 1/1000 or so as the moon is very bright. Tray under exposing by a few stops as well.

    300mm is not very long for the moon, the black sky will dominate the meter reading and histogram which can be fool you. the moon will apear overexposed with not much detail.

    My advise underexpose, tray higher f values and keep shooting its digital after all.
  9. You may also consider shooting two exposures with different focal lengths and combining (if this fits your style). Unless you get the moon right as it's rising with the long lens, the moon isn't going to fill much of the frame if you're including the water (even at 300mm, you'll get a ~3mm moon image on a 24mm sensor = 1/8 of the frame). If you're using a wide angle, the moon will be but a speck. Additionally, you may need more exposure to show the pier and/or reflections; as noted above, the moon is very bright. To get a properly exposed night foreground while not blowing out the moon is virtually impossible.
  10. Hi, Lex I did see yours but didn't get a chance to read it before the moon was coming up, I did print out the paperwork from fred parker. I am just learning about all of the settings and the book that came with it really doesn't explain & tell you how to get to and use certain things very well like the bracketing and when the + & - signs show up how do you move it to the center? is their a book that explains everything step by step and where to find it and what buttons you have to push etc? none of my pictures turned out tonight try again tomorrow any help is much appreciated! Thanks Leza
  11. Ok, but it you want a picture of the moon as it appears from space I think you need to compensate by opening up :)

    Yes, of course transparencies and negatives have a different standard. I'll see if I have the time to read the one on digital cameras, I didn't know that it existed (many people claim that Canon and Nikon DSLRs produce different exposures using the same settings.
  12. Have you considered taking one image of the moon, and then another image of the pier, then using Photoshop to 'merge' the two images into one?

    A pier (at night) would take a longer exposure if you want someone to see that it is indeed a pier. The moon would take less exposure (it is reflected sunlight, as noted above) and the trick is getting a 'split' exposure for two different reflective subjects.
  13. Let's think a little more carefully about these suggestions, folks.

    1. At ISO 200, an exposure of 1/1000 @ f/11 is nowhere near appropriate. That places the full moon at EV 16, which assumes the moon is much brighter than it really is. The EV of a full moon under clear skies is closer to 14. A two-digit difference may not sound like much on paper but it's a huge difference on film or a digital sensor.

    Using EV 16 as a baseline exposure, it would be necessary to bracket in full stops just to get in the ballpark of an appropriate exposure.

    2. Unless a meter is highly selective, it'll be wrong. I can't get an accurate reading of a full moon with my Pentax Spotmeter, one of the most revered (and overrated) pieces of equipment in photographic history. The spotmetering mode on my D2H comes closer and I still have to check the highlight warning, histogram and review screens and bracket in several 1/3 EV increments over and under the indicated reading.

    3. The moon is about one stop darker than a neutral gray card? I don't know what that means but I'm pretty sure it's wrong. The "standard" 18% gray card (actually it's closer to 12%-13%, but let's not split the hairs on Ansel Adams' chin) is used for evaluating reflected light in order to determine where to place certain zones. It has nothing to do with moonlight. Moonlight is already reflected light. And it's covered with shiny bits of reflective minerals. A standard neutral gray card is not.

    Even if we just use our uncalibrated eyeballs it's easy to see that moonlight is several stops brighter than a standard neutral gray card.

    I don't mean to come across as a know-it-all (I hardly know where my own butt is most of the time), but if we're going to give advice to newbies, let's make it as accurate as possible.

    Lisa, while getting a handle on the EV or exposure value concept is difficult at first, it'll really pay off in helping you with difficult exposure situations, such as photographing the moon, nighttime city scenes and other situations that cannot be metered easily with conventional means. Keep studying Fred Parker's material.

    Keep in mind also that quite a bit of post-processing can be needed to get the best out of any digital capture or film scan. Some of my captures were a bit dull and slightly reddish. I tweaked them to bring up contrast without sacrificing shadow or highlight detail, and made the color balance more neutral.

    You can influence some of this in-camera using the tone compensation and white balance settings.
  14. sm


    Lex, I went through my moon photos and 1/1000 f11 is high. I took this photo with spot metering 6mm with D70 & 70 -300 G (not the best lense) @ f8 & 1/640; but again shot this without a tripod and its not sharpned either just corped to show more details. I've shot a half moon as well and that was much better. It was not that defiecult to take and it still seems abit over-exposed. My D70 meter was set to A with no conpenstion. I guess its meter is not bad after all.
  15. Sayed, if I'm correctly understanding the exposure settings you used it would explain why your photos are underexposed.

    However they can be improved with digital editing. Still, I wouldn't try to photograph the moon without a tripod - my hands aren't steady enough.

    BTW, Gerald's suggestion is an excellent one. Some of my best full moon photos have been double exposures. I'll use a telephoto to photograph the moon, placing it an upper corner where I want it. Later I'll use a wide angle to photograph the lakefront, using a longer exposure to get detail on the water and docks.

    The same effect can be mimicked digitally.
  16. sm



    I was just fooling around with the lense when first got it. I agree double exposures are the best way to go with moon shots.

    Many thanks,

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