Taking Pictures of the Moon

Last night there was a huge clear full moon, and when I saw this (around 11pm) I of course stopped playing UT2k4, grabbed my cameras, and headed outside. First of all, I really need a proper tripod. Putting a camera on the BBQ, and positioning little bits of wood or random stuff from the porch under the lense to angle it properly just won’t do.

I killed off the roll of film in my Pentax SLR, plus started a new one, using various lengths of exposure and apateurs. Of course, I will have no idea how they will come out until tomorrow when I pick up the film. With my 70-200mm lense on there though I got nice and tight in with the moon.

After that I took a few quick shots with the digital, trying to see if I could get anything good. Of course, the zoom wasn’t the same, and it was a lot harder to position on my makeshift BBQ tripod. I eventually simulated the “beanbag trick” with a ziplock baggie filled with dirt, which worked better, but not great. The digital not having a lense made it a little less steady.

When I reviewed the digital pics, most of them looked like this:

Bleah 🙁 When talking to the camera guy at the store, my folly (as I’m sure that my dad knows already) was having too long an exposure. The camera metered not only the bright moon, but all the dark around it as well. However, since the moon is reflecting daylight, it needed a far shorter exposure time to get a good picture. The camera store guy suggested 1/125 @ F8 as a starter. This is why you have a manual camera 🙂 Not that the manual camera did me much better. I guess I should say that this is why you have experienced people around you to tell you these things 🙂

So none of my digital pics turned out worth a damn, at least nothing near as bright and clear as the moon was last night. That sucks. The shots I took on the film SLR are probably all bad as well, as they were metered to 1s or more in most cases. Mostly I put the length of exposure up thinking that that would let me light in and therefor capture the image better. In retrospect I guess that doesn’t make much sense 🙁 A couple of the shots were 1/2 or 1/4 second, but only a couple. I’ll see if anything decent came out tomorrow and scan it in. I’d be out there tonight but it’s clouded over.

I’m really disappointed about this, as at one point (see second picture above) the moon was just above a bank of clouds which looked (through the viewfinder) like a ocean or something. Live and learn I guess. Next time it looks like that I’ll be prepared!

3 Comments on “Taking Pictures of the Moon”

  1. Just saw the moon about 15 minutes ago. And ran out to try some with my new digital rebel. They all kind of sucked also. So your not alone, the guy at the photo store suggested .5 sec shutter priority zoomed in as far as you can on a nice pod of course or the caveman version as you used 🙂 He also said it’s helps to wait till the moon as close to the horizon when the atmosphere enhances the size of the moon. Good Luck I’m right with you.

  2. The guy at the photo shop was wrong! .5 sec is why your getting an overexposed moon. Set you shutter to about 1-4000 and have fun!