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Why Can't I Take a Decent Picture of the Moon?

WTF Just Happened Why Can t I Take a Decent Picture of the Moon WIRED

WTF Just Happened Why Can t I Take a Decent Picture of the Moon WIRED


Hot Tips for Cool Moon Photos

There are a few settings you can adjust without even looking at the moon. Once you find a combination you like, you can save some time during future moon-shootin’ sessions by setting it up as a custom mode on your camera (if your camera has that option).

1. Flip your camera to full manual mode so that you can set shutter, aperture, and ISO independently.

2. Use the lowest ISO setting on your camera to make the sensor less sensitive to light. That’s usually 50 or 100, but you may want to try ISO 200, too.

3. Set the shutter speed to 1/X, where X is the ISO setting you used in step 2.

4. Use a narrow aperture to keep the depth-of-field deep and limit the amount of light funneling through to the sensor. F11 is sometimes referred to as “Looney 11” because it’s especially good for moon shots, so you may want to try that first. Anywhere from F8 to F16 should work well.

That combination of settings should be a great starting point for your hand-rolled Moon Mode. But you’re not ready to shoot the moon just yet; there are a couple of important things to do once you’re ready to take some pictures. Once the moon is in your viewfinder, adjust the following settings.

5. The most important step is changing your light-metering mode to Spot Metering or Partial Metering, which will expose your shot to cut through the glaring glow of the moon. You’ll need to choose spot metering, frame the moon in the middle of the shot to meter it, and then frame the shot once it’s set. Keep in mind that when you do this, the moon may be the only thing in your shot that’s properly exposed; anything darker than the moon will look pitch-black.

6. Use manual focus to get the sharpest shot possible, and if your camera has an exposure-bracketing mode, turn it on. It’ll give you three shots with every press of the shutter at different exposure levels, giving you the freedom to pick the best-looking one later on.

That should do it, but make adjustments as you go. Once you’re shooting, don’t be afraid to tweak the aperture, shutter, ISO, and exposure compensation (usually downward) to fine-tune the results.

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Seems like too much work for an amateur.

Amateurs should stick to kids and animals. The camera loves them!

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