When a full moon rises, many people pull out their cell phones to try and get an Instagram-worthy photo, but unfortunately the moon is really difficult to capture.
Two reasons: it’s very far away and unless you have a telephoto lens (which makes the moon look closer than it is), it will always appear as a tiny bright dot in the frame.
Second, shooting at night is really difficult. Professional cameras allow you to change your ISO or sensitivity level, which means you can take photos in low light situations without losing image quality.
So, can you use your smartphone’s camera?
The short answer is yes, but I would suggest downloading an app and filming the moon through it instead of using the iPhone or Android camera. Some apps allow you to increase your sensitivity level, which allows you to take photos in low light conditions. I would suggest making sure there is something else to the picture – so capturing the moon as it passes, say, a beautiful bridge or a mountain. This allows the viewer to have a perspective on the size of the moon and also creates a more interesting picture.
But even with these apps, you might be a bit disappointed with the result.
In order to take an amazing image of the moon, you really need a telephoto or zoom lens – the longer the better. Along with a professional camera and tripod, also use a cable shutter release or your two-second self-timer to trigger the shutter. This prevents camera shake when you press the button. It not only allows you to increase the size of the moon in the frame, but also get all the details while keeping the image as sharp as possible.
Your settings will change depending on the quality of the camera you are using. But you want your ISO set to 100, which keeps the image quality at its highest level. Set your file size to Raw – this allows the largest file size for your camera.
The aperture is not as large when shooting the moon, so aim around f8.
So who gets the best photos of the moon?
I love this image taken by Matt Cardy at Glastonbury Tor in 2015:
Cardy created such an impactful setting using her makeup and focal length. The size of the moon juxtaposed with people creates an image that seems from another world.