Photographing the Supermoon

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full-moon-4

 

I have a lot of love and respect for the moon – after all it has such a tremendous effect on our lives, and I find looking at it both curious and calming at the same time. On November 14th 2016 the moon will pass closer to the earth than it has since January 26th 1948, and it’s not expected to come this close to the earth again until 25th November 2034 (source: NASA). This means that on the evenings of 13th and 14th November the moon could appear approximately  30% bigger and brighter than usual – a great opportunity to get out and try to photograph it then!

 

What you will need:

A DSLR camera

A long lens – ideally 250mm or more (most appropriately 600mm+ but you’re unlikely to have a lens this long unless your an astrological photographer!)

 

How to shoot it

I took this shot last month, which was also a supermoon, but the November 14th supermoon will pass closer to the earth than last month and will therefore appear even bigger and brighter. I used my Canon 5d mkII and my 70-300mm f4-5.6 lens. It’s a lens that I rarely use, never use professionally, but for moments like this it is great, and so I can never quite bring myself to part with it!

I hand-held my camera for this shot, with a shutter speed of 1/800 I really felt that no tripod was necessary. I shoot in manual and my settings were:

ISO 400

f5.6

1/800

If you are not comfortable shooting in manual, you could also use shutter speed priority (Tv or S depending on your camera) and make sure your shutter speed is above 1/250 – although your subject is almost stationary, with a lens this long it will be extra sensitive to small movements so a faster shutter speed is required. Don’t forget to adjust your ISO, and if you are shooting in shutter speed priority and using evaluative metering you will need to adjust your exposure compensation in a negative (-) direction to acknowledge that your subject (which is relatively small in the frame as a whole) is brighter than the rest of the image. Getting it just right will depend on your conditions and settings, so try -1 and adjust up or down from there until you reach correct exposure.

 

I had my lens zoomed all the way to 300mm and I still needed to crop the image in post processing, so I wouldn’t recommend shooting with anything shorter than a 250mm.

Your camera may find it tricky to focus on the moon when you have it on autofocus – you can try focusing on the very edge of the moon, where there is a stark contrast between it and the sky and therefore the focus has something to ‘grip’ on to, or you can switch to manual focus (on the side of your lens) and focus by turning the ring on the lens until the moon looks sharp through your viewfinder – if you are doing this, make sure that your diopter is adjusted for your eyesight before you try!

You will probably want to tweak your image in post processing – I shoot in RAW so I always edit otherwise my images would be very flat. For this shot I used Lightroom and increased the contrast, highlights whites, clarity and vibrance  and decreased the shadows and blacks. I also made a nice little tweak to the tonal curve – changing it to medium contrast, which immedeately brings greater definition to the surface of the moon.

On 14th November in the Surrey area the moon will come up at approx 4.45pm – this is a great time to photograph it as it is low in the sky and you may have the opportunity to include an interesting skyline to add extra interest to your image too. We’d love you to share your images of the supermoon with us – post them on our facebook page, or tag us (ahappycapture) on your instagram photograph and use the hashtag #ahappycapture – can’t wait to see what you come up with!

 

If your keen to learn more about using that fancy camera, why not join one of our popular one day photography workshops or a photography walk? More dates coming soon!