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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.

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

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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.

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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“.