Shooting the moon…

Shooting the moon is not so complicated as most folks make it out to be, so let’s work on dispelling the myths and misunderstandings.  

First of all you need to be absolutely clear on the idea that the moon is a moving target.  By the time you combine the rotation of the earth and the speed of the moon’s orbit you’ve got a subject that is racing across the sky, so NO a slow shutter speed is not what you want to use.  Then you’re going to want to shoot with a long lens, let’s say 200mm as a minimum. When shooting with a long lens; any camera shake is amplified over the distance between the camera and the subject, and in this case the subject is very far away.  To compensate for that problem you need to be using a very fast shutter speed.   

Now of course there is the typical argument that I make about the quality of your image and it’s relationship to ISO and that is that increasing the ISO should be your option of last resort.  If you can shoot the subject at 100 ISO you will have better quality than anything higher.  All of that being said, it becomes obvious (at least if you’ve learned anything from me about exposure) that you will need to be shooting with a fairly wide-open aperture to allow enough light through the lens.   

The last topic to address is focus and this could get a little fuzzy for some of you (pun intended).  The Moon is too far away for you to actually focus on it, therefore you should be setting your focus to infinity.  Yes, that does mean you’ll have to turn off all of those automatic controls you like to lean on for support.  

All of this leads to a simple bottom line: the photo I’ve included here was shot hand-held at 200mm, f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 1/1000 shutter speed.  Oh yeah, White Balance was set to Daylight.

 Photo Seminars by Jeff Cowell© 2009 Jeff Cowell,


~ by jrcowell on August 6, 2010.

2 Responses to “Shooting the moon…”

  1. Thanks for the info – very simple and very helpful! Great job.

  2. Thanks Jeff. Good Blog. I post my moon picture for you to see on facebook.


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