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Shoot the Moon: How You can Get Great Results from Your Moon Photography

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

The moon is a terrific photography subject. It’s meaningful, beautiful and it never looks quite the same.

But have you ever tried to photograph the moon? More than likely, it came out like a tiny white dot and did not do your photo any justice.

The moon is difficult to photograph unless you use the right techniques and the proper equipment. Here are some tips that will help you get moon photos you are proud of.

What Gear Should I Use?

Here is the gear you will need when shooting the moon.

Tripod: A tripod is not absolutely essential, but it will minimize camera shake.

A Long Zoom Lens: A lens of 200mm or longer will help you zoom in close to capture details.

Shutter Release Cable: This will also limit camera shake.

Camera: It’s best to use a DSLR that has a long lens or a mirrorless camera. It will be hard to get good shots with a point and shoot or a camera with a small sensor.

What Camera Settings Should I Use?

It is best to shoot in full manual mode with the following settings.

ISO: ISO should be set to 100 or lower to eliminate noise and grain.

Aperture: An aperture set between f/11 and f/16 will help you get crisp, clean shots.

Shutter Speed: The necessary shutter speed may vary according to the geographical location, the phase of the moon and the shot you are trying to get, but if you are shooting on a clear night, 1/60th to 1/125th should do the trick.

The loony 11 rule will help you remember all these settings. It calls for an aperture of f/11, an ISO of 100 and a shutter speed of 1/100th.

Choosing a Location

If you want the full focus of your photo to be on the moon, avoid shooting where there is ambient light present. Stay clear of streetlights and traffic. A remote road will be your best option.

If you are doing a city scape shot, you will want to look for exactly the opposite opting for a scene that shows twinkling lights.


The moon has been photographed several times. You can use composition to your advantage in making your shots unique by shooting the moon with a lot of foreground, framing your photo so the moon is on the side of the photo or using buildings and clouds to set the scene.

Post Processing

When processing your image, you will most likely be okay with an auto white balance. You may also want to experiment by converting your photo to black and white which can produce a great balance.

Shooting in RAW will give you the most freedom in post and allow you to get the color temperature just right, which can be tricky when your subject is the moon. It is easy for the moon to come out desaturated so be sure to add vibrance in post proceeding. If your ISO is set low during your shoot, you can increase saturation without adding a lot of noise.

The moon is a terrific photography subject matter. The tips in this article will help you capture images that blows all other moon photos away. What suggestions do you have for getting great outdoor nighttime shots?

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