Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shooting the Moon!

One would think that shooting the moon is probably easiest, because it seems pretty obvious logic that since moon comes out at night you would need a slow shutter speed. Right?

WRONG! :-)

If you are shooting the  moon – I mean shooting THE moon, which means moon is your only subject in the picture and not shooting a landscape with moon in it –  and if you have a slow shutter speed then you would end up with a picture like this

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This is shot at Aperture Priority with F/7.1 and shutter 1/6 sec @ ISO 200. As you can see its obviously terribly over exposed and also a slightly blurred because moon has moved (I used tripod & remote shutter release to shoot this, so no chance of camera shake). If I had used a smaller aperture and slower shutter speed the result would have been worse.

The reason why the obvious logic doesn’t work is because, although its night time on earth, its actually daytime on moon [now that’s a revelation, isn’t it ?:-)]. So when you use the aperture priority or shutter priority or any other auto or semi-auto mode, the camera’s metering system thinks that since the ambient light is very less, it needs to compensate. So it averages the light from all sources (which is essentially just the moon light + the darkness of the night) and the chooses the aperture or shutter or both as the case may be.

This averaging distorts the exposure leaving the moon itself badly over exposed.

So the best way to shoot the moon is to have the camera in Manual mode and set the aperture and shutter manually as if you were shooting in a shade during daylight.

So for the picture below I chose the same Aperture f/7.1 but I chose a faster shutter at 1/160 @ ISO 200.

As you can see, its a prettier sight :-)

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Happy Shooting!!