We love a good astronomy moment, so it's lucky we've been able to witness many a rare eclipse over the last few years: a black moon, blood moon, blue moon, strawberry moon and a super blue blood moon (because one celestial adjective wasn't enough) have all recently graced Sydney skies.
What may be even rarer than one of these special lunar moments is that the stars align and the skies clear so that we can actually, well, see the moon. When that does happen, it's a pretty breathtaking sight, but the wonder is quickly quashed when it comes time to whip out the camera. If you're feeling a little dejected about the little blob of light that is meant to be a natural phenomenon, never fear, because we enlisted the help of Sean Scott, a professional photographer and Canon Master.
How do I take good photos of the moon?
If you are like us, and wish you could capture the sheer magnificence of the full moon/stars with your camera, but somehow always end up with an unsatisfying tiny white dot that gets lost in your camera roll, you’re not alone. Getting to snag a National Geographic-style shot of the moon is what we all dream of – which is why we got some epic celestial photo tips from Sean Scott, a professional photographer and Canon Master who has captured some pretty spectacular starry events in his time, including the total solar eclipse (image below).
This is what he has to say to you. Nat Geo, watch your back.
1. Work out what kind of photo you want
Want a landscape pic where the moon is involved but not the main event? Use a wide-angle lens.
Want a super close-up shot of the moon’s face? Use a telephoto lens.
2. Make sure you’re organised
- Find a good location free from light pollution
- Get a stable tripod
- Get a remote shutter so your fingers don’t shake the camera (you can use a 2-second timer)
- Turn off the image stabiliser function, and turn your camera setting to manual to shoot in raw (it’s better this way)
3. Get on top of your exposure
Exposure is a tricky temptress at nighttime. For best results when shooting a gigantic and bright moon orb, Sean Scott says:
“It’s important to keep in mind that the actual exposure setting will continue to change as the night gets darker, which will impact the outcome of your images.
"If the exposure time is too long for the lens you have selected, you will capture the movement of the moon, resulting in blurred images.
“With a wide-angle lens, you have a lot of options for a longer exposure – I would normally start at 400 ISO F8 and then adjust the exposure time to suit.
With the telephoto lenses I like to shoot at 1/250 second and adjust aperture and ISO to suit. If you’re looking for silhouette, then exposing for the bright part of the moon will achieve this”.
Finally – do you want to get someone in the photo with the moon? Do this:
“You will need to get a long way away from your subject with a telephoto lens if you want to place them in the same shot as the moon – up to 1km away. I recommend you do a test shoot so you can make sure that you have the angles right for when the moon rises.”
At the end of the day, just make sure you’ve got a solid tripod set up, are on high ground (Scott likes headland locations), have your remote shutter working right, and ensure that your exposure time isn’t too long for the lens you choose on the big day.
Happy blue moon watching!