Why take pictures of the moon … because it is hard

Above is a shot of the “supermoon” from July 22, 2013. As of late I have been preoccupied with night time photography of the moon.


I am bored and I am brushing up on my camera knowledge. I have acquired a lot of Canon bodies and lenses over the past two decades and I want to put them to good use.  Boredom may have something to do with it, too.

Why not?

Part of it could be when I grew up. I came of age in the 1970s, when we still thought their might be lunar colonies and trips to Mars in our lifetimes; images taken by Apollo astronauts were still everywhere in the American culture. I was always captivated by astronauts, space station … and science fiction. “Star Trek” showed what sailing the ocean of space might be like and “Space 1999” revolved around a moon colony blasted out of Earth orbit. It was all pretty exciting for a youngster of 10 years old, and I was just programmed to think about images of the moon.

For the past couple of months, I have taken a short jaunt out to the drive and shot the moon. At first my pictures were just luminescent blobs, then I refined them more and more by playing with the manual settings on the Canon T2i I shelled out for about three years ago.

Thank the maker for digital cameras – DSLRs – as there is no cost with film. You can experiment all day long without paying for developing film.

You need a telephoto lens – mine is 200mm and I really want a 300mm – and a steady grip. Some people use a tripod, and for long exposures that would work, but I have found that if I just shoot, shoot and shoot for about a minute – some 100 exposures – I can find one I want.

Zoom in on the moon and shoot on a cloudless night.

I set my Canon T2i to 1/320 at F/5.6 and ISO of 800 and get good results and resolution. Depending on the light, I can shoot at 1/1250 at F/5.6 and ISO 800 and get the shot below – taken at 7:10 am on Bastille Day, July 14, 2013:

I am very happy with the resolution of the craters and surface features of the moon.  It is not the same as the Voyager 1 photo of the moon and Earth together, but I try, try and try. 

Some of the sites suggest a shutter speed of 1/125, a stop of f/11 and an ISO of 100 for Canon cameras. That is with a tripod. When you are your own tripod, the faster shutter is better and just shoot, shoot and shoot. Program your camera to bracket at full stops, too. 

Enjoy the moon … and sunsets. I enjoy sunsets, too:Image 
The Colonel

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