This month’s supermoon is known as the deer moon, as the moon occurs when male deer, called deer, flaunt their newly grown antlers. It rises Wednesday evening at 9:05 pm in Washington DC and sets at 6:31 am the next day. Check TimeandDate.com for moonrise and moonset times elsewhere.
On Wednesday evening, weather fronts along the east coast and in the intermountain west will create scattered cloud cover that could reduce visibility. Skies will be clearest in the central US and west of the Rocky Mountains.
The term supermoon was first coined in 1979 by Richard Nolle to describe a new or full moon that is within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth. In recent years, supermoons have become popular subjects for photographers.
And to help those of us hoping to photograph the moon this month, I’ve asked local photographers for tips and tricks on how to get the perfect moon shot – from how to plan your shot, avoid overexposing the moon, and achieve star framing.
Below are photographers’ proposals for photographing the moon, as well as a collection of their photographs. I also included a few of my own. The camera settings used to take photos are included in the captions.
- The first step to planning a lunar photograph is to check the schedule for moonrise and moonset and the phases of the moon. — Kevin Ambrose
- Patience is needed, and it helps to go to bed late or wake up early, depending on the position of the moon. — Chris Fukuda
- Always use a tripod and remote shutter release, wired or wireless, to keep the camera from moving. — Kevin Ambrose
- Turn off autofocus and lock focus on foreground objects before moonrise. Otherwise, autofocus may jump during shooting. — Dave Lyons
- Take lots of photos, as you never know which one will end up on your wall or someone else’s. — Josh Steele
- You can use various apps to plan where the moon will be on a given day. Some popular apps are PhotoPills, Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE), Sun Surveyor and Planit Pro. Google Earth and Street View also help you understand the foreground view from a specific location. — Dave Lyons
- Don’t worry if it’s not a perfectly clear night, as low clouds can often create a much more dramatic backdrop with the moon. — Josh Steele
- The moon is very bright shortly after it rises above the horizon, and if the moon is overexposed, details are lost. — Kevin Ambrose
- Underexpose. — Kevin Wolf
- Since proper exposure is a problem at dawn and dusk, consider exposure bracketing. I often do brackets (+/- 1 or 2 stops). — Dave Lyons
- Add interest to your moon photo by combining it with a foreground subject such as the US Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, etc. And, whenever possible, position yourself further away from the foreground subject so that the moon appears more. — Dave Lyons
- I like to shoot the moon from a distance with a telephoto lens, ideally 400mm or more. This makes the moon look bigger and more interesting compared to the foreground. — Josh Steele
- For perfect alignment in photographs, it is necessary to measure the angles of the place of rising, setting of the moon and its phase. You can get information with PhotoPills or Photo Ephermeris (TPE). — Chris Fukuda
- The closer the moon is to the horizon, the more color variations you will see and photograph. — Josh Steele
- Wind can cause blurry photos because it shakes the tripod. And the blur intensifies when the camera zooms in from a distance. Thus, fast shutter speeds, 1/20th of a second or less, are often necessary for clear photographs of the moon with wind. — Sasha Lin
- It is important that your subject in the foreground is sharp. It doesn’t matter that the moon is sharp, because when the moon is near the horizon, it often appears distorted by the atmosphere. — Dave Lyons
- I love photos that combine a moon view with a flash of lightning. This is a rare combination, but possible when shooting a distant thunderstorm surrounded by clear skies. — Kevin Ambrose
- While a telephoto lens (300mm or more) is best for shooting far away from the subject in the foreground, a 70-200mm lens is all you need for many of the classic DC moon shots. — Dave Lyons
I also turned to smartphone photographers for tips on how to capture the moon with camera phones:
- Point the telescope at the Moon, then position the iPhone camera next to the telescope’s eyepiece without touching it. Take several photos of the eyepiece and choose the photo with the best focus. — David Roberts
- In low-light conditions, you can use the iPhone’s night time-lapse photography mode with a tripod to shoot videos with longer intervals between frames. Open the camera app, then swipe all the way to the left until Interval appears. Press the shutter button to record video. — David Jenkins
- Photographing the moon with a smartphone can be more difficult than with a DSLR. Long exposure apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store can greatly improve the quality of night photos. — Nicole France in Mark Lord Photography
Let us know if you have any tips or suggestions for taking pictures of the moon.
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