Getting pictures of the moon at night.

G80FTW

Active Member
Iv always had problems doing this. I figured with a DSLR I would have a better shot with it, but it seems no matter what my settings are I cant get a good exposure that wont leave it too bright or too dark.

This picture was taken after doing multiple shots at different settings, f/32 1/4 sec ISO 400 @ 55mm using my 18-55mm lens. Granted it would be easier using my 200mm lens but I dont feel like going back outside and I figure if this lens cant get a good exposure I shouldnt expect the 200mm to do better. 1/4 of a second leaves the background pitch black. I want a good exposure of the moon but I also want stars in the background. Impossible?



That was after editing as well, and cropped.

This is at f/22 30 seconds ISO 400 @ 18mm with heavy editing but more what I want but not to have the moon blown out:
 
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Punk

Moderator
Staff member
It all depends on what you want to achieve... Here are some of mine:



This one was cropped.


And this one:





F/32 is WAYYY too much. I usually got a t f/11 or 15 at max and at ISO400, 1/300s usually. I then adapt the speed to get the perfect exposure. If you want both the stars and the moon it's impossible, the contrast is too high. The only way you can achieve that is with HDRs.
 

G80FTW

Active Member
F/32 is WAYYY too much. I usually got a t f/11 or 15 at max and at ISO400, 1/300s usually. I then adapt the speed to get the perfect exposure. If you want both the stars and the moon it's impossible, the contrast is too high. The only way you can achieve that is with HDRs.
:( My camera doesnt have an HDR mode but does offer ADR which doesnt really help at night from what Iv seen.
 

Punk

Moderator
Staff member

spirit

Moderator
Staff member
Photoshop isn't great for HDR I find. The best HDR software I've come across is Photomatix Pro. You can download a free trial. I think I recommended it to Punk. ;)

G80, try sticking your camera on program auto and see how those shots come out. As Punk has said, your aperture is far too small.
 

G80FTW

Active Member
Ok heres what I got of just the moon using my 55-200mm. I tried manual focus but didnt like it autofocus seemed to be better.



f/18, 1/25s, ISO 100. But it still looks blurry to me. Why would a small aperture not be good for something as far away as the moon? Wouldnt the smaller aperture make it sharper? I also edited the color to make it look more moonset :)

I think I might try a wider aperture and faster shutter speed and see if the blur goes away. Perhaps 1/25 isnt fast enough.

And about HDRs. I would have to change the setting for both pictures so how would I be able to get 2 pictures framed exactly the same on something thats moving? Thats why I havent tried something like that yet it seems complicated to make it work right.
 
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spirit

Moderator
Staff member
You did use a tripod and the self timer or a remote shutter release so that you pressed the shutter button you reduced the chances of blur, didn't you?
 

Punk

Moderator
Staff member
Ok heres what I got of just the moon using my 55-200mm. I tried manual focus but didnt like it autofocus seemed to be better.



f/18, 1/25s, ISO 100. But it still looks blurry to me. Why would a small aperture not be good for something as far away as the moon? Wouldnt the smaller aperture make it sharper? I also edited the color to make it look more moonset :)

I think I might try a wider aperture and faster shutter speed and see if the blur goes away. Perhaps 1/25 isnt fast enough.

And about HDRs. I would have to change the setting for both pictures so how would I be able to get 2 pictures framed exactly the same on something thats moving? Thats why I havent tried something like that yet it seems complicated to make it work right.
Use a tripod, and don't worry, Photomatix will crop your photos to make it work.

It's weird that it's blurred though I hope you were using a tripod... Try faster speed and wider aperture. It doesn't make it sharper, it just gives you a longer focus range. Autofocus might be the problem, although that's weird because even my D40 produced good photos of the moon correclty focused in autofocus...
 

spirit

Moderator
Staff member
When I do HDR, I take one RAW file, then I go into Lightroom and export the one RAW file three times with the following changes:

I never change any settings apart from the exposure.

The first time I export the RAW file I want to HDR, I export it with the exposure left on 0.

The second time I export the RAW, I export it with the exposure at -2.

The third time, I export it with the exposure at +2.

Since you're exporting RAW files, it's much easier to change the exposure and not lose any real quality.

Then, I put all 3 files into Photomatix and voila, it makes my HDR.

So much less hassle and fiddling around with the camera whilst I'm shooting, and you're guaranteed to get the same image but at the different exposures. Once the HDR has been made and saved, I import the TIFF which Photomatix creates into Lightroom and do post processing. If you want to see some of my HDRs, you can see my submission for the current 'Bridges' photo tourney or look here on my Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonbrown2013/sets/72157633078706994/ They are all created using this method.

You don't need to use Lightroom. You can use any RAW editor which allows you to adjust the exposure - which they all do.
 
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G80FTW

Active Member
Use a tripod, and don't worry, Photomatix will crop your photos to make it work.

It's weird that it's blurred though I hope you were using a tripod... Try faster speed and wider aperture. It doesn't make it sharper, it just gives you a longer focus range. Autofocus might be the problem, although that's weird because even my D40 produced good photos of the moon correclty focused in autofocus...
haha of course Im using a tripod. I dont do any night photography without one. And yea, I guess the slow shutter speed was my problem although I thought 1/25 was pretty fast but after this picture I took I learned it wasnt:



f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100. Turns out the blur was from the moon moving. I just wish I could get this but wide shot with the stars as well. :(

When I do HDR, I take one RAW file, then I go into Lightroom and export the one RAW file three times with the following changes:

I never change any settings apart from the exposure.

The first time I export the RAW file I want to HDR, I export it with the exposure left on 0.

The second time I export the RAW, I export it with the exposure at -2.

The third time, I export it with the exposure at +2.

Since you're exporting RAW files, it's much easier to change the exposure and not lose any real quality.

Then, I put all 3 files into Photomatix and voila, it makes my HDR.

So much less hassle and fiddling around with the camera whilst I'm shooting, and you're guaranteed to get the same image but at the different exposures. Once the HDR has been made and saved, I import the TIFF which Photomatix creates into Lightroom and do post processing.

You don't need to use Lightroom. You can use any RAW editor which allows you to adjust the exposure - which they all do.
That sounds much easier I will have to give that a try. I never thought about doing it that way haha. Mostly because I figured altering the exposure too much would create noise.
 

spirit

Moderator
Staff member
That sounds much easier I will have to give that a try. I never thought about doing it that way haha. Mostly because I figured altering the exposure too much would create noise.
When you're editing with RAWs and only increasing and decreasing the exposure by 2 stops, you shouldn't really reduce the image quality at all. It's when you start changing it by like 5 stops that problems arise.

I edited my post after you quoted it. I put a link to some of my HDRs in it which have been created using this method: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonbrown2013/sets/72157633078706994/
 

Punk

Moderator
Staff member
f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100. Turns out the blur was from the moon moving. I just wish I could get this but wide shot with the stars as well. :(
Try ISO 400 and faster speeds, it will be better.

As far as the HDR goes, I also do single file HDRs but when I can I try to do it with multiple RAW files. Especially given the contrast you're trying to create...
 

mr.doom

Member
OK. Small aperture makes no sense when it comes to astro and planetary photography. Leave it at a maximum, say, 3.5 or less if you can.

Onto a lens. Sadly, having the right lens matters for few reasons. If you do not have enough focal length, then you will end up with a lots of dark sky and your exposure will be very long. You can dial up the exposure to the maximum, and higher the ISO speed as well, but then you will end up with grainy photos. You will also end up cropping your photos and loosing some detail in the process. Long exposure is bad for grain/noise, but worse still is that because of the movement of the earth, your photo will become blurry after more that few seconds, whatever stabilisation method you use.

So, right focal length is vital, as more of the moon will fill the frame, your exposure will be much shorter, and because of that you will be able to use lower ISO speed, and crop less - and have much more detailed photo.

Here are my examples.

This photo was taken at 55mm, F11, ISO 3200 and short-ish exposure, cropped.



Here is another picture taken at 400mm, F5.6, ISO 100, 1/320s, somewhat cropped.



As for the postprocessing - you don't need HDR, in fact HDR of the moon is tricky due to the continuous movement of the earth. Just shoot raw, use photoshop to edit it, adjust the initial sliders for exposure and contrast, but don't forget to try the white and black balance as well.

I hope this helps, let me know if you'd have any more questions.
 

Punk

Moderator
Staff member
OK. Small aperture makes no sense when it comes to astro and planetary photography. Leave it at a maximum, say, 3.5 or less if you can.

Onto a lens. Sadly, having the right lens matters for few reasons. If you do not have enough focal length, then you will end up with a lots of dark sky and your exposure will be very long. You can dial up the exposure to the maximum, and higher the ISO speed as well, but then you will end up with grainy photos. You will also end up cropping your photos and loosing some detail in the process. Long exposure is bad for grain/noise, but worse still is that because of the movement of the earth, your photo will become blurry after more that few seconds, whatever stabilisation method you use.

So, right focal length is vital, as more of the moon will fill the frame, your exposure will be much shorter, and because of that you will be able to use lower ISO speed, and crop less - and have much more detailed photo.

Here are my examples.

This photo was taken at 55mm, F11, ISO 3200 and short-ish exposure, cropped.



Here is another picture taken at 400mm, F5.6, ISO 100, 1/320s, somewhat cropped.



As for the postprocessing - you don't need HDR, in fact HDR of the moon is tricky due to the continuous movement of the earth. Just shoot raw, use photoshop to edit it, adjust the initial sliders for exposure and contrast, but don't forget to try the white and black balance as well.

I hope this helps, let me know if you'd have any more questions.
Hey man!

I don't think you've read his question properly, hence your comment on HDRs. He wants the moon AND the stars :)
 

mr.doom

Member
:eek: I guess I must have missed that!

In such case you will need two different exposures. Three if you are including anything on the ground. And then Photoshop to merge it all together. Not like HDR merging, more like layers, where you create three of them, one for the ground exposure (if you include it in the picture) - the foreground layer. Second is the night sky (preferably taken on a moonless night) - the background layer, from the horizon upwards. And the third layer is a properly exposed moon itself.

If you try to merge several exposures in succession, to the likeness of HDR or stacking, you will end up with a blurry image (time to take pictures + time in between the pictures = shift in perspective towards the moon and the stars due to continuous cosmic movement).
 

MisterEd

Member
I took some pictures of the moon 12 years ago. Since the camera had a fixed lens I used a special eypiece to project the image from the telescape onto the lens of the camera.

Telescope: Celestron C8, fl 2000mm
Projection Lens: William Optics DCL-28, fl 24mm
Camera: Nikon Coolpix 995

moon1.jpg 8.2mm 1/30 sec f/5.3 ISO 100 2048x1536


moon2.jpg 8.2mm 1/60 sec f/3 ISO 100 2048x1536


moon3.jpg 31mm 1/8 sec f/5.8 ISO 100 2048x1536


moon4.jpg 31mm 1/8 sec f/5.8 ISO 100 2048x1536

 
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