Super Moon Coming this Weekend, Pablo.Raw Gives Some Advice on How to Photograph it

As you all know, this weekend we will have a Super Full Moon. What does that mean? It means that the moon will be only 238,000 miles away from the earth! It also means that the moon will look bigger and brighter than usual, and that could be good for taking some photos.

There are a couple of things you’ll need to know in order to take good photos of the moon. First, you’ll need a good vantage point. Second, you’ll need to know the point where the moon is going to rise relative to that vantage point. Third (optional) you’ll need some kind of reference (building, natural formation) that will help you compose and dimension the scene for the photo. And finally, you need to know at what time of the day or night this is going to happen. In the photo below, the vantage point was Freedom Plaza, the azimuth for the moonrise was 110 degrees and the reference was the Capitol Building’s dome.

Moonrise 1

The best and easiest way to get all this information, is a free software called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” (the mobile version is not free). By the way, you can also use this software for information about sunsets and sunrises.

Regarding equipment, you’ll need a camera, a lens, a tripod, and a remote control (wireless or cable). The length of the lens depends on what kind of photo you want to take, I usually work with my 50-300mm. I try to arrive to the location (vantage point) some 30 minutes early and start setting up my equipment and doing test shots. My starting settings are usually: Aperture of f8 to f11, shutter speed of 1 second, ISO 100, I use Manual mode. Once the Moon shows up, you can always adjust your settings. Keep in mind that higher ISO means more noise in your photo in most cameras. And if you don’t have a remote control, a 2 second self-timer also works pretty well.

One last thing: Weather. Some clouds could make your photo look wonderful, but too many clouds could hide the moon completely. And the moon looks brighter when the moonrise happens after sunrise. If you have questions, feel free to e-mail me or just post it in the comments section. Thanks!


Moonrise 2

Vantage point: World War II Memorial; moonrise azimuth: 90 degrees.

8 Comment

  • Great points and advice, Pablo!

    By the way, I saw Azimuth when I was in high school, back in 1978 at the Capital Centre. They were incredible!

  • Is it at all possible to catch on an IPhone camera?

  • Great advice. I will add that you need to use a telephoto for the moon to appear large relative to a reference building. This means you need to be fairly far away from the building so that it will fit within the picture frame. A wide angle lens, on the other hand, will let you be closer to the building, but the moon will be a tiny dot. To other anon, this is why an iPhone camera won’t yield a good picture.

  • Anyone know if the super moon will happen in Europe? I’d like to tell my brother-in-law that lives there. He loves photography.

  • Oooh, The Photographer’s Ephemeris looks fun and useful. Thanks so much for recommending it!

  • Nice article. I love the Azimuth software.

    Question: Is this a single exposure? I know many photographers use two and blend/layer the images in Photoshop. I was wondering if one could get this type of result with one exposure. Thank you.

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