Why do my shots of the moon at night suck?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by smackitsakic, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. smackitsakic

    smackitsakic TPF Noob!

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    Tonight I decided to try to take some shots of the moon at night. I waited until the evening and set up my camera with my 55-250mm lens, tripod, and remote shutter release.

    I aimed, auto focused, adn adjusted my aperture/shutter speed/iso to a variety of combinations until my light meter indicated a correctd exposure. While the moon was properly exposed in most of the shots, I had terrible focusing problems. No matter what I did, my moon turned out blurry, fuzzy, and look like they are glowing similar to how the sun looks during the days.

    I switched off of manual mode, being that i'm still a beginner, and on auto mode with no flash the moon was in nearly perfect focus. The auto settings were f5.6 and 1/60 shutter speed.

    When I was playing around with settings in manual mode I tried everything from an f-8.0 to an f36 and adjusted the shutter speed accordingly to get the exposure correct. I used ISO 400 in some and ISO 1600 in others to try to correct whatever my problem was. My shutter speeds ranged anywhere from 4 seconds to 30 seconds.

    I used both AF and MF and neither seemed to make any difference.

    So...what am I doing wrong?? Why is my moon not in focus in manual mode using MF?

    Did I need a faster shutter speed? Did I need a smaller f-stop?
     
  2. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Post examples

    My settings were as follows:
    S 1/250
    A f/13
    Exposure Comp -2
    ISO 200
    Focal Length 200

    Hand held, No Tripod

    [​IMG]
     
  3. denawayne

    denawayne TPF Noob!

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    I'm definitely a beginner but when I tried this I had the same results. I was told that it's because the moon is always moving. It's the same when you try to photograph clouds. You need a fast lens to capture the moment.
     
  4. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you're using a tripod and remote shutter release I suggest the following 12 step program which I have developed exclusively for TPF.

    1) Aim at the moon so it is in the exact middle of the frame (as much as possible) and lock the tripod steady.
    3) Set lens at 250mm
    2) Use live view mode (pretty sure the XSi has live view)
    3) Zoom in with live view to 5x or 10x magnification (same buttons you use to zoom in on a pic you've taken
    4) at 5x or 10x magnification you should have an easy job focusing the moon as perfectly as possible. It is very fiddly and the slightest change will blur it big time, this is why autofocusing on the moon sucks.
    5) Use spot metering (this is why you need the moon in the exact centre of viewfinder) and have the camera in Av mode
    6) Use the lens' sharpest aperture, probably about f/8 is good
    7) ISO100
    8) Enable mirror lockup
    9) Turn off IS on your lens if it has it
    10) Take photo
    11) Review photo - it may still be too bright and won't show any details, in which case drop the exposure compensation down by about a stop
    12) If you are confused about anything I haev said consult your owner's manual
     
  5. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No, the moon moves pretty slowly. If you're using a shutter speed long enough to blur the movement of the moon then you will be way overexposing it, causing it to be a white blob.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The full Moon is quite bright so you don't need high ISO or any other night time techniques. You choose settings as if it were daylight.

    You don't need f/32. Because the Moon is 250,000 miles away the DOF is automatically very deep (subject to camera distance). You were likely getting diffraction effects that were hurting the sharpness of the focus too at f/32.

    Diffraction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    What metering mode did you use? Spot metering is the only way to go since the Moon is surrounded by very dark sky.

    Also the Moon has some very bright parts like Tycho crater and some noyt so bright parts the Mare. If you get the Mare exposed just right Tycho is blown out and if you get Tycho exposed just right the Mare are just black and have no detail.

    A 30 second exposure is long enough to get motion blur because the Earth is turning. About 800 mph towards the east here in central Iowa. Plus the moon itself is also moving. It comes up about 50 minutes later every night.
     
  7. DerekSalem

    DerekSalem TPF Noob!

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    [​IMG]

    EXIF has been deleted (it was cropped) but IIRC the settings were around 200mm, 1/250 shutter speed, ISO100, f/8 or f/11 (probably f/8).

    Problem is most people overexpose *way* too much because it's a small area of brightness. Truth is the moon is *much* brighter than most people realize. The camera overexposes because there's way too much black in the picture compared to light.
     
  8. PerfectlyFlawed

    PerfectlyFlawed TPF Noob!

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    I think i took mine on manual, 800 ISO, F11 ( first try) and one i think one at F-5.6

    Try that?
     
  9. smackitsakic

    smackitsakic TPF Noob!

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    Remind me again how to spot meter? I've read about it, but am new to this and haven't applied it!
     
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Think "Sunny Sixteen Rule" but with the shutter speed adjusted two to three stops faster,and the lens opened up the same number of f/stops, which together will yield an exposure that has a fast shutter speed,and a lens opening that is around the f/8 to f/5.6 zone, thus ensuring no diffraction and a shutter speed that is fast enough to stop vibration; you are after all, using the longest lens you have, to get a good, big moon, right?

    Sunny Sixteen Rule/Guideline: For front-lighted subjects in bright sun under normal conditions: Lens Set to f/16 ISO 100,200,400,whatever. Shutter: fractional value of the ISO...ie, at ISO 100, use a shutter speed of 1/100; with ISO 400, use 1/400 second and with ISO value of 640, use.....a shutter speed of 1/640 second. Pretty simple baseline,right?

    However, the baseline is not the best exposure setting, just the easiest one to remember. With the Sunny Sixteen Rule, the aperture of f/16 is very small, and will typically cause diffraction. So, it's a good idea to open the lens up, to a larger aperture, such as opening up one f/stop to go to f/11, or opening up two f/stops to get to f/8; opening up three full f/stops from f/16 to f/5.6 (16--11--8--5.6) will bring your lens to what is, with many sensors and many lenses, the optimal aperture for ultimate resolution. With some lenses and with high MP sensors, diffraction might actually make f/4 the optimum aperture, provided the lens is optimized for wide-aperture shooting, which is the case for some really expensive lenses like 300 and 400mm primes.

    It takes a very long focal length to make a large moon, so figure that you will need to crop the final image unless you have something like an 800mm to 2000mm lens or lens+teleconverter set-up. Use a daylight or Fine weather white balance.
     
  11. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Check that out in your users manaul.
     

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