So all that hype about the ‘super moon’ that we’ve heard not only this month but last month and sometime back earlier this year as well? Well, this is more of it! Apparently this weekend, on Sunday, August 10, is the superest of all super moons (at least in 2014). Scientists like to get all loose and crazy and call it a ‘perigee full moon,’ basically meaning it’s the closest the moon will be to earth this year. Anyhow, along with all the hype about the super moon itself, for us photographers, comes all the hype about how to photograph the super moon, so here are my obligatory tips on how to photograph the super super moon.
1. TRIPOD!! USE A TRIPOD!!! This is one you can’t get away from.
2. Tighten Up! Use as tight a focal length as you have (or can afford). At the very least you’ll want to use a 200mm (remember on a crop sensor, that’s roughly 300mm). If you can get away with it (and your wife /husband or boy/girlfriend won’t kill you, or your creditors aren’t already hot on your tail), get yourself a 400mm or even longer lens.
3. Spot Meter!!! Only Spot Meter!! The moon is quite the bright bugger, meaning, the camera will have a hard time metering properly as the big bright thing surrounded by darkness will confuse it, making the moon completely washed out, causing your shot to miss out on the details, the contours, the lines, the mountains, the valleys, the moon men curiously pondering the mars rover tracks, wondering if there’s other life ‘out there.’ This is also where you might want to use exposure compensation. Take a few test shots, and if the camera still isn’t metering properly, drop the exposure compensation by a stop or two to -1 or -2 (manually underexposing) to make up for what the camera thinks it’s seeing.
4. How Low Can You ISO? Use the lowest ISO you can get away with, which, if you refer to tip #3, can be the lowest ISO your camera supports. Shoot using an aperture between f5.6 and f11. That should allow sufficient light to hit the sensor while giving you a crisp image of the moon’s surface, as the middle apertures tend to give you the sharpest images.
5. Augment Your Reality! Grab an app like PhotoPills or Sun Seeker or Rick Sammon’s Photo Sundial or for Android, there is Sun Surveyor. These are essentially augmented reality apps that you can point at the sky and know exactly where the moon is going to be at exactly what time on exactly what date. Kind of handy eh?
6. Size Matters! Try to find a foreground, like a hill or a tree or a structure for a sense of scale. Even if it's just a silhouette of that foreground object. Otherwise it can look just like any other full moon, and when the super moon is essentially called that because of the considerable size difference in comparison to other full moons, it would be pointless. This is easiest achieved with timing, as you’ll want to capture the moon just as it begins to rise above the horizon. If you wait until it’s directly overhead and there are no other elements in the image, it’s just another moon...
7. Look Up! Don’t forget to look away from the camera. As a photographer, it’s easy to get caught up with what’s inside that little frame of yours, easily forgetting everything surrounding that frame. Stop for a few minutes. Just breathe. Soak it in. At the very least, it’s a nice reminder of you why you do what you do.
When you're all done, moon me! Post links to them suckers here, would love to see 'em!