How to Photograph Moon by Using the “Sun Moon Expert” App
Moon photography is a part of astrophotography. In astrophotography, we click the night sky that involves the moon, star trail, Milky Way, and other deep space objects like nebulae and other galaxies. Moon is the brightest thing in the night sky, so usually, photographers start their astrophotography journey with moon photography.
In this article, we’ll discuss moon photography using an app called “Sun Moon Expert”. If you are into lunar photography, this app can be your best buddy.
Before we dive into the app, let’s talk about moon photography a bit. Mainly, there are two types of moon photography.
- When the moon is your main or the only subject in the frame. In this photography, we use a super telephoto lens to show the details of the moon's surface. Any lens that has a 300 mm or more focal length is called a super-telephoto lens. For this photography, you need a sturdy tripod and a shutter release remote for better results.
- In the second type of moon photography, the moon is one of the elements in the image. The main genre can be landscape, cityscape, architecture, or even portrait photography. In this photography, the moon can be a point of interest or occasionally the main light source of the image. Photographers use a wide-angle lens with a small aperture to get both the foreground and moon in focus.
Phases of the moon:
There are 8 different phases of the moon from a new moon to the next new moon. We can capture the moon in 7 phases only because in the first phase, the moon is not visible. You may be wondering which phase is the best to capture the moon. The answer is that you can take wonderful photographs during all phases of the moon. Well, here are all eight phases of the moon.
- New Moon
- Waxing Crescent
- First Quarter
- Waxing Gibbous
- Full Moon
- Waning Gibbous
- Last Quarter
- Waning Crescent
Now let’s talk about how you can use the “Sun Moon Expert” app for moon photography. This app shows all phases of the moon for the current month at your location. If you want to click at a particular phase, you know in advance using this app, and you can plan accordingly.
Not only the current month or location, but the app can also show moon phases for different locations on the planet for different dates. You just need to add the location and select the month, and it’ll show it.
Let’s say you are going somewhere for 2-3 days after two months. You just need to add the location of that place in the app, and you will know about the moon phase there in advance. Apart from phases, it also shows you the time for the moon's rise and the moon set for any given day. So now you know when the moon will rise, how it will look and when it will set before you reach there.
This feature is useful not only for moon photography, but also for other kinds of astrophotography. Like if you want to shoot Milky Way and star trail, you can use this app to know about moonless nights.
This app goes beyond and also gives you the option to add an event to the calendar with just one tap. So, if you forget about it because of your busy schedule, the calendar will remind you. You can add an event for any location and any day in advance.
Now let’s elaborate on the best feature of this app and which is tracking the moon or sun with augmented reality. It uses the mobile camera and shows the current position as well as the exact spot of the moonrise and moonset. Let’s say you find a beautiful tree or a structure on a mountain and you want to click the moon behind this. This app will tell you whether the moon will align with that object on that day or not.
Not only this, it excels and it can also tell you the day and time when it’s going to happen in the future. You just need to tap on search, place a mark on that location and select whether you want to track the sun or moon. It’ll search and tell you when the sun or moon will pass from that point within the next year.
In nutshell, this app gives you all the information about the moon, so you can plan accordingly and capture the best picture of the moon. Not just the moon, it also gives you the same information about the sun. It shows you the time of sunrise and sunset on any given day at any location, information about twilight, blue hour, and golden hour time and duration, and the option to add that to the calendar with a single tap.
The information about the sun is priceless for landscape photography, architecture photography, portrait photography, and travel photography.
Now we know how this app can be your best comrade to capture moon photos. Let’s discuss some challenges you may face during moon photography and how to overcome that. Photographers usually face three problems during moon photography.
1. Proper Exposure:
The moon is a very bright object and the surrounding area is dark, so the camera always finds difficulty in calculating proper exposure. It’s almost impossible to get a correct exposure if your camera is in “auto” mode. There are two solutions to this issue. The first one is using spot metering and the second one is the “looney 11 rule”.
This rule is easy to remember and you’ll get correct exposure using it. According to this rule, if you are clicking pictures of the moon’s surface, set the aperture to f/11 and shutter speed to the reciprocal of your ISO setting. For example, if your ISO is set to 100, your shutter speed should be 1/100 seconds. If the shutter speed is 1/400, increase ISO to 400. There is a similar rule known as the “sunny 16 rule” for daylight photography.
The second problem you may face during moon photography is focusing. Just remember that autofocus will not work here and you have to focus manually. Most of the cameras have a zoom feature for focusing, use it with 5x or 10x zoom to get accurate focus. Never set your focus to infinity, you’ll get a very soft image of the moon.
3. Motion Blur:
The third problem you may face is that your pictures are not sharp and have motion blur. Well, a few steps help you to get sharp pictures.
- Use a sturdy tripod.
- If you are not using a tripod, your shutter speed should be reciprocal to your focal length. If you are using a 300 mm lens, your shutter speed should be 1/300 seconds or faster.
- If you are clicking handheld, make sure that the “Image Stabilization” or “Vibration Reduction” feature of your lens is on. If you are using a tripod, don’t forget to switch that off.
- If you are using a DSLR, use the “Mirror Lockup” function to reduce camera shake. If you are using a mirrorless camera, you don’t need to worry about it.
- Use the timer function of the camera to prevent camera shake.
- Use a camera remote like MIOPS Flex or Smart+. It’ll help you to control your camera using your smartphone. You can also make a Time-lapse using this trigger.
Now you know how the “Sun Moon Expert” app can help you to get remarkable pictures of the moon. Let’s give it a try, all the best.
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.