How do I take pics of the moon? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Iwas wondering how to take picturse of the moon. All of my shots have come out as blurry light in a dark field. I would greatly appreciate the answer to this question.

-- adam conley (, December 07, 2000


The moon has an angular diameter of 1/2 degree. So, if you want, say, a 1 inch diameter image on the negative, you need a 10 foot focal length lens. Thats a telescope. There are several ways to connect a camera to a telescope. Try looking at astronomy discussion groups.

-- James Galvin (, December 07, 2000.

1/film speed at f8 1/2-11. j

-- jim galli (, December 07, 2000.

I can give you my 2 cents worth. A few months ago during the lunar eclipe i set up my dare i say 35mm canon f1N with my fd 400mm 2.8 lens on a very heavy bogen tripod, i think the largest of the line. I believe i used fuji 800 speed film and pushed it to asa 1600 and possibly used some at 800. I used my sekonic spotmeter to take spot readings on the moon and its just like taking a photo in bright sunlight because its just reflecting the sun from its surface so the f stop was small, i think around f16 and the shutter fairly fast, i believe about 1/500th. i have the data written down but can not get to it at this moment. the pro lab told me that mine were the best that ran through their facility. With the rotation, you could actually watch the moons image go across the view finder in just a few minutes. you might be able to apply these ideas to the LF. If needed , i could look for the exact data this next week. My shots actually show all the various craters on the surface.m.

-- MILES FEIGENBAUM (MFA1@IX.NETCOM.COM), December 07, 2000.

I have used 1/ISO between f8 - f11 with good results. THis is based on relatively clear sky. It is difficult to depend on meters for correct settings.

The rising full moon appears huge as it clears the horizon which is mostly an optical illusion, many are disappointed that the film image is not as huge as remembered but nevertheless, use the longest focal length lens that you have.

The moon travels about 15 degrees per hour, actually we are moving with it as well so it's not just the moon that's moving. Anyway, the moon moves it's own diameter about every two minutes. Shutter speeds much slower than 1/10 of a second may start to blur and lose detail. Multi-second time exposures blur all detail and if they are quite long you will get an elongated trail.

The full moon usually rises within a few minutes of sunset and this varies throughout the year. Usually, the best photo opportunities for the full moon are the evening before the "official" full moon as it rises earlier while there is still some ambient daylight for the landscape and the moon is 99 or so percent full.

Following two links courtesy of the U.S. Naval Observatory help you compute moonrise data for your location. Azimuth bearings are especially helpful, as these vary month to month. I believe their azimuth bearings are based on True North and rise times are based on sea level so if there is a mountain between you and the moon, it will take longer to appear.

-- C. W. Dean (, December 07, 2000.

Since the moon is lit by sunlight, the sunny 16 rule gives a "real" view of the moon (1/ISO sec at f/16). However, you may be disappointed at how dark the image is since the moon is actually a very dark gray, and not the white disk we think it, so a larger exposure may be required to get what's expected. I think Ansel Adams somewhere said he used 1/ISO sec. at f/11. (The moony 11 rule, I call it.)

-- John H. Henderson (, December 08, 2000.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but using the sunny 16 rule gives you Zone V exposure values, and if you are using that to shoot the moon, it should come out middle grey. Shooting at f11 would put it in Zone VI and f8 in Zone VII.

There is a brief discussion of this in The Negative. It's on the page where the Moonrise photo is. It deals with the key stop of the film and the luminance of the object. Bottom line is that it basically works out to f8 or f11 at 1/ISO, if I remember correctly.


-- David Willis (, December 08, 2000.

To answer David Willis. The sunny 16 rule would render the moon a Zone V value if the moon was, in fact, an actual Zone V value, but as another poster has mentioned; the moon is a lower value than it appears. Some of the astronauts have said it's surface looks like an asphalt parking lot. The "Moony 8-11" rule (through very clear sky) has worked well for me after some bracket trials. This renders the tone, luminance, and details close to the aesthetic appearance that one associates with a lunar view. It's still best to bracket when the atmosphere is less than crystal clear.

-- C. W. Dean (, December 08, 2000.

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