Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Moonset Chicagoland

Shooting the moon, or in other words, photographing the moon can be a bit challenging. The problem is trying to capture the detail of the moon and the actual color of the sky. Actually I am not sure that it can be done without some very high priced equipment that I don’t want to invest in at this time.

The pictures in this article were taken on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. While sitting outside in the early morning enjoying my coffee I noticed the moon was full. My wife told me the full moon was very picturesque. I stared at it for quite a while and I wasn't really ready to take any pictures but then suddenly I felt it was time to take some pictures.

I have a Pentax DSLR camera but I don’t have the new and automatic 55-300 zoom lens. What I do have is a manual 80 – 200 zoom along with a 2x multiplier. When using manual equipment on my Pentax camera I set the time exposure to B (for longer exposures) and M (for camera controlled time exposure) and my autofocus to manual. Initially I set the F-stop to F/8 and began to take some test shots. After a few shots I also decided to adjust and bracket my f-stop also.

So I started snapping away as usual. The difficulty in photographing the moon is that it is a very bright light normally with a dark background. This morning however the sun was rising as I took these photos. So the sky along with the moon had a very interesting effect. Even with the camera in a manual mode and bracketing a number of photographs the camera cannot capture accurately the colors of the sky and moon together, hence the photograph above. What I do not care for is that even though the sky color is closely accurate, there is no detail of the moon as you will see in the following photos.

In the four photos above I was able to capture some of the detail of the moon but by metering on the detail of the moon I lost the color of the sky. The sky in these photos is darker in color than the actual color I photographed.

Here are some additional images ...

In these two images the sky color and the tree greens are average to good but the brightness of the light of the moon washes out the details of the moon.

Then finally ...

This image I cropped using the camera function, then I used PhotoShop to edit and used the Auto Contrast and Auto Levels functions to generate the image seen.

Enjoy Life! Take Pictures!  

BTW ... On Twitter I am @TMSphotos ... I am always willing to connect with photographers. You are also welcome to follow my Blog here. I try to share knowledge, information and experience of my photography.


  1. What a great set! The moon makes for a fabulous subject for photography, and you've done a GREAT job here!

  2. If your camera can bracket shots, try a two or three shot bracket. The first shot meter the moon and second and third, meter the sky then layer in Photoshop :D

  3. Nice moon shots! It's tough to get the moon and the rest of the photo all properly exposed because the moon is very bright compared to everything else. The best way to do it is just after moonrise when the sky is still pretty bright from the setting sun (or just before sunrise). Otherwise, overlaying with Photoshop works best!

  4. You've done a great job with these shots. The moon is a beautiful subject that's hard to capture.