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How to Photograph Moon by Using the “Sun Moon Expert” App

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.

​How to Photograph Moon by Using the “Sun Moon Expert” App

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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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

sun is priceless for landscape photography

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.

  1. New Moon
  2. Waxing Crescent
  3. First Quarter
  4. Waxing Gibbous
  5. Full Moon
  6. Waning Gibbous
  7. Last Quarter
  8. 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.

Sun Moon Expert Moon Photography

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.

Sun Moon Expert phases of moon

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.

moon photography

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.

tracking the moon

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.

track the sun or moon

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.

twilight, blue hour, and golden hour

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.

 sun is priceless for landscape photography

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”.

twilight, blue hour, and golden hour time and duration

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.

2. Focus:

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.

Phases 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.

  1. Use a sturdy tripod.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Use the timer function of the camera to prevent camera shake.
  6. 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.

tracking the moon

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.

Sun Moon Expert App Banner


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“.

The Best Tips for Phases of the Moon Photography

The Best Tips for Phases of the Moon Photography

As we all know, the moon orbits the earth and also reflects the light of the sun. It takes around one month to orbit the earth and 29.5 days to change from full moon to full moon. Since both earth and the moon are moving around the sun, sunlight hits the moon at a different angle each day. Because of this, the moon appears different each day, and these are called phases of the moon.

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Phases of Moon

In this article, we are going to talk about phases of the moon photography. You can show a single moon in a picture, or you can show multiple phases of the moon in a single photograph. You’ll learn about the multiple one in this article, and everything will be the same for the single moon photo, except for the number of shots and post-processing.

Best moon phase for photography:

Many newbie photographers ask this question, what the best moon phase for photography is? Well, the answer is that all phases are good, but if you are new to moon photography, go for a full or bigger moon first.

Equipment: 

First, let’s elaborate on the equipment you need for moon photography. If you are planning to shoot with a DSLR, you require a super-telephoto lens. The lens that has a focal length of 300mm and above is called a super-telephoto lens. Any lens below 300mm will give you a small picture of the moon. If you are using a crop sensor camera, your 200mm lens will work as a 300-320mm lens due to the crop factor.

moon phases photography

[smart]

If you don’t have a DSLR camera, don’t worry, you can use your point-and-shoot camera or mobile with a binocular or telescope to click the moon. Other than the camera, you just require a tripod so that you get sharp images.

If you have a trigger like MIOPS Smart+ or FLEX, it can be the best camera gadget to capture moon photos. You can use the time-lapse mode of it and click a picture every half an hour and create a beautiful moon trail in post-processing.

[flex]

Moon Trail


Planning:

You have got to plan before the shoot. You must find a place with an interesting foreground and dark sky. You need to go there only once, take a picture of this place, and then you can add moons in post-processing.

With our new mobile app that we release, you can schedule take photography about moon phases.

Phases of Moon Calculate

Sun Moon Expert

Take the perfect shots using most accurate information and most precise knowledge about Sunrise, Sunset, and Moon Phases.

  • Main View, Sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, blue hour, golden hour, solar noon, twilight times, moon phase. Use the slider to set the time of day and directly track the solar movement.
  • AR View, Solar position and lunar position directly overlaid on your device's camera. Use the slider to set the time of day and directly track the solar movement.
  • Map View, Solar and lunar location, direction and shadow on a map to help you plan your activities.
  • Notifications for all sun or moon - related periods & events, such as various twilight periods at a given compass heading or above a given elevation.

    Sun Moon Expert

    Second, you need to decide how many phases you want to show in the picture, and also you wish to show the phases from the new moon to the full moon or the new moon to the new moon. Let’s say you would like to show seven phases from new moon to new moon, you have to take seven shots within 30 days period. The middle shot will be on full moon day and the rest can be on days 4, 7, 11, 19, 23, 26.

    Just google “Moon Phases Calendar” and you’ll find many sites and apps that will show you moon phases in your location, like the following image (Screenshot taken from https://www.almanac.com/astronomy/moon/calendar).

    moon phases

    After all the planning, don’t forget to check the weather during your shoot period in advance so if it’s showing cloudy or rain, you can plan accordingly.

    Shoot:

    Let’s talk about camera settings for moon photography. Set your camera or mobile on a tripod, it’s a must step as you are going to use a long lens and if you are not using a tripod, you may get a shaky picture. If you are using a binocular or a telescope, make sure that it’s also placed firmly during the shoot.

    It’s time to do camera settings. Set your camera to spot metering, this metering mode uses only the center of the frame to calculate the exposure. If you are using any other modes, you may end up with an overexposed picture of the moon because the surrounding area of the moon is almost black.

    If you are planning to shoot in manual mode, set your ISO to 400, aperture to f/5.6, and shutter speed to 1/30 seconds. With these settings, you’ll get a slightly underexposed picture. Always take one stop underexposed picture, so no details are blown out. You may also use aperture priority or shutter priority modes, but the auto mode is not recommended.

    Moon Phases Equipment

    Now you need to focus, and you will use manual focus for that. Many cameras have a zoom feature for focus, if your camera has it, use 5x or 10x zoom and focus properly for the moon. Many photographers set their focus to infinity. You shouldn’t do it, as it’ll give you a very soft picture of the moon.  

    When everything is set, use the timer function of your camera to click the shot. If your lens has IS or VR feature, turn it off too. After taking the shot, check exposure and focus using the zoom feature. Make sure that your picture is sharp and properly exposed. Do the same for all the shots.

    moon phase photography Planning

    Post-processing:

    Our shooting part is done, now create some wonderful moon phases photos. We’ll take our location shot as the background image and add different moon phases photos to it. Before we add the pictures, we need to make sure that all moon photos have the same exposure, size, and color. If you shot all pictures with manual exposure mode and used the same settings, you’ll get the same exposure for all pictures. If not, match the exposure of all the pictures.

    If you used the same lens for all the pictures, the size will also be the same. Just make sure that when you resize pictures to fit on the background image, you use the same settings. If you reduced the size of the first picture to 30%, do the same for others.

    When you click pictures of the moon, sometimes it has a blue or orange cast. We need to make sure that the color of all the moon photos is the same, and the best trick is to desaturate all the pictures. Now you have all the pictures with the same exposure, size, and color. Now select the moon image with the “Elliptical Marquee Tool” with a 5-10 feather setting in Photoshop. Make the selection 40-50 pixels bigger than the moon, so the sky is also selected.

    Selection Moon

    Now copy all the moon images one by one and paste them onto the background image. Make sure that all the images have the same space between them. If you are moving them up or down, align them properly.

    Here’s how you can click superb moon photos, let’s give it a try.


    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“.