Many people want to learn how to shoot a bright full moon, so we prepared this tutorial for you, to share techniques to shoot a full moon with limited tools!

  • 8 tips for shooting the moon
  • Moon close-up shooting tips
  • [Beginners Must Learn] 9 tips to shoot beautiful night scenes
  • 5 framing tips for shooting the moon

Tip 1) Use Tele-Lens (Telephoto Lens)

As we all know, the use of telephoto lenses is required for shooting distant scenes. Especially for shooting moonlight a telephoto lens is a necessary piece of equipment. If you use an ordinary lens to shoot, no matter how much you zoom, you won’t be able to see the texture on the moon. Generally speaking, the longer the focal length of the lens, the better it is when shooting.

Tripod loading

Tip 2) Use Full Manual Mode

To shoot the moon, we recommend using full manual mode. When shooting moonlight, we are usually in a dark environment. Therefore, if you use the semi-automatic or preemptive mode when shooting, the camera may not pick up by the dark surroundings and mistakenly think that the light and the shutter is slow or aperture is increased. The result of the photo will be overexposed, so it is best to set the camera to full manual mode when shooting moonlight, take a few shots and fine-tune according to the environment. Commonly used settings: aperture f/8, shutter 1/125, ISO 100. Of course, this is only a reference, and it must be adjusted according to the actual situation.

Tip 3) Pay Attention To the Shutter Speed

I believe that many beginners have the same myth. When you shoot moonlight in a dark environment, you should slow down the shutter speed to capture bright moonlight? This is not necessary, because the Moon and the Earth rotate, the shorter the shutter time, the sharper the picture, and reduce the chance of the photo being blurred due to the movement of the moon. If the shutter is too slow, the moon may be overexposed and is not as dark. When the moon is full, the shutter is might not be too slow enough to avoid overexposure. But you can also keep “safe shutter” to prevent camera shake.

Tip 4) Use a Tripod and Timer

With night scenes, it is recommended to mount the camera on a tripod. Shooting in the dark needs a stable camera. Although the distance between us and the moon is very far, a slight shaking will blur the picture. Therefore, when shooting the moon it is recommended to use a tripod to keep the camera stable. To ensure that the camera is in a completely still state, you may also use a selfie timer or mirror lockup/delay function to shoot. For example, when the camera’s aperture and shutter settings are complete, set the 10-second timer to ensure that the camera is not affected by the shake that occurs when the shutter is pressed, to prevent the image from becoming blurred.

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Photo By Tizianoj

Tip 5) Use Fine Aperture and Low ISO

As mentioned in the article “Aperture and Depth of Field”, the smaller the aperture, the deeper the depth of field. Therefore, I recommend using a fine aperture (f/8-f/16) to shoot the full moon. We should lower the ISO to get the best shooting quality, otherwise, the photos will be prone to noise. (Refer to 7 Entry-Level Tips for Shooting Night Scenes)

Tip 6) Use Single Point Focus

To make the moon’s shadow more prominent, it is recommended to use single-point focus when shooting. Use single-point focus to make the focus more accurate and the craters on the moon can be captured clearly.

By Michael

By Michael

Shutter speed: 1/200 second
Aperture: f/7.1
ISO: 200
Focal length: 400mm

Tip 7) Increase the Contrast

Shooting moonlight can increase the preset contrast, which makes the moonlight more vivid. Remember, you only need to increase the contrast slightly. If you adjust the contrast too high, it will have the opposite effect.

Tip 8) Choose The Right Shooting Location

In addition to the techniques mentioned above, the shooting location is very important. On top of being able to see the moonlight clearly, the location must be dark enough, otherwise, no matter how well prepared you are, you cannot produce an adequate photo. Generally speaking, the more open areas are ideal.

By the way, you can use the automatic white balance at the beginning of shooting, and then create effects with different white balances. Finally, there are a few points worth noting, that is, using the reflector to pre-up and shoot in RAW. This might be too difficult for beginners, so we can elaborate on another article!


Author: Michael Leung