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Post Production Tips

How To Shoot Monday’s Supermoon

By Holly Roa on November 12th 2016

The most super supermoon since 1948 will make its appearance Monday, with it’s best viewing – when it’s closest to the horizon – in the early morning. Supermoons occur every 14 moon cycles, when the full moon coincides with the perigee – when the moon is at the point in its elliptical orbit closest to Earth. This particular supermoon will be the closest in more than half a century and will be the biggest and brightest in many photographer’s lifetimes so far. Tony Northrup has made a video to help aspiring astrophotographers get their best shots of the moon.

His first recommendation is to shoot in manual mode, as your camera will want to balance the exposure which will result in a blown out moon. If you haven’t attempted this before, your first thought might be to put your camera on a tripod, but for a simple shot of the moon it’s not necessary because the moon is actually quite bright. All you need is a camera and the longest lens you own. Tony’s first example shot is taken with a Canon kit lens, the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 at 135mm. His settings were 1/60th at f/8, ISO 100. He’s using the lens’s image stabilization so as not to introduce camera shake into the image. If your lens has image stabilization, use it. Don’t forget to check your histogram to make sure no highlights are clipped – you want as much detail as you can get.tony-northrup-moon-holly tony-northrup-moon-holly-3

Aside from gear and technique, another important element to get the best possible moon photograph is planning. If you can be at a high altitude, it’s the best but sea level will also work just fine. Optimal weather is cold, with low humidity as these conditions produce the clearest skies. The moon will look the largest when it’s near the horizon. There are some great apps like The Photographer’s Ephemeris (Android, iOS, as well as desktop which is free) and Photopills (iOS) to help you plan to find the moon exactly where you want it. These apps are also fantastic for location scouting, among other things, to help you figure out where the sun will be at any time of day and from which direction it will be shining to better plan a shoot.


Finally, Tony shares some post processing techniques for moon photography – both compositing the moon into scenes and stacking shots to get the most detail in your moon photography. tony-northrup-moon-holly-2 tony-northrup-moon-holly-4

Watch the video to see how he does it, and find a link to free software for “astronomy nerds.”

Give it a try, and share your results in the SLR Lounge Facebook group!

Find more from Tony here

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    I had a full moon project where I photographed each of the full moons for a year. I did research and prior to the start of the project, the “Sunny 16” rule was recommended. Set the lens on f/16 and the shutter speed to one over the ISO (ISO 100, use 1/125).
    Later I learned about the “Looney 11” rule, set the lens to f/11 and the same relationship of shutter speed to ISO.
    In 2012, I was shooting B&W film, so I used B&W contrast filters, yellow, orange, and red, for each photo of the moon. I also bracketed -1 to +1 by 1 stop, so each filter w, as 3 photos.

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  2. James O

    I’ve never had to stack my photos of the moon; I’m not sure he really knows how to shoot the moon. Personally, placing a moon where it doesn’t belong.

    Hope everyone has a good time shooting the moon!

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