How To Take A Picture Of The Moon

We have a nice almost full moon out tonight, and just after sunset it was inviting me to take a picture of it from my front porch. I have to admit upfront, that I did almost no preparation. Simply grabbed my camera, which happend to have a 70-200 F4L lens attached, leaned against the pillar to steady myself, and snapped off a few frames.

When I ran inside and loaded them onto the computer, it was almost immediately obvious that I wouldn't be sharing any of those shots.

... they were all way overexposed, with no detail at all.

Crap, I forgot how to take a picture of the moon.

So if my problem is over exposure, I need a faster shutter speed, a smaller aperture, or both. Ok, let's try this again ...

I manually set my camera to ISO 100, F11, and 1/400 sec exposure, and when back out to lean against the pillar.

The picture at the top of the page is what I got. It's not the greatest moon shot in the world, but for a spur of the moment, run outside and snap away, I'll take it.

However, one of these nights I might actually have to plan for some good pictures of the moon. I can use a lot of the same tips I've already written about in How to take fireworks pictures.

  1. I'm going to go to the garage and get my tripod

  2. I'm going to dig through my camera bag to find my remote shutter release

  3. I'm going to continue to use the manual settings on my camera, but I'll take a few more test shots at different settings. Ideally I'd own a light meter.

  4. Since I own a (quality) lens that extends out to 500mm, that's really what needs to be on my camera if I only want the moon in the frame

  5. However, just like with fireworks, it might be more interesting if I could position my tripod to try to capture something interesting in the foreground .. even though it will almost certainly be in silhouette.

  6. I'll take quite a few shots, then probably spend an hour or two editing ... to come up with one or two picture that I like. ;-)

So did I miss anything?

What are some of your favorite secrets for getting really good pictures of the moon?



  1. Todd,
    Good shot of the moon, but knowing you as I do, you won't stop until you get a "perfect shot" of the moon.
    Good luck with it and be sure to send it to me so on your blog.
    God bless and keep up the great work you are doing Mr. Camera Man.

  2. Thanks Cille. You're probably right, I'm sure I'll take more pictures of the moon one of these days. But next time I'm going to organize ahead of time using my list above. ;-)


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