How to take a good photograph of the moon on your phone or camera with the best settings | Photography

When a full moon rises, many people pull out their phones to try and snap an Instagram-worthy photo, but unfortunately, getting a great photo of the moon is really difficult.

Two reasons: it’s very far away and unless you have a telephoto lens (which makes the moon appear closer than it is) it always appears as a very small glowing dot in the frame.

Secondly, night photography is really difficult. Professional cameras let you change your ISO, or sensitivity rating, which means you can shoot in low-light situations without sacrificing image quality.

So can you use your smartphone camera?

The short answer is yes, but I would suggest downloading an app and photographing the moon through it rather than using the camera on the iPhone or Android. Some apps allow you to increase your sensitivity rating, allowing you to shoot in low light. I would suggest making sure there is another element in the image – like capturing the moon as it passes by a nice bridge or mountain, for example. This allows the viewer a perspective of the size of the moon and also creates a more interesting image.

A jet is outlined by the rising moon as it approaches Louisville International Airport in Kentucky on Monday.
A plane is outlined by the rising supermoon as it approaches Louisville International Airport in Kentucky on Monday, April 26, 2021. Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP

But even with these apps, you might be a little disappointed with the result.

To get an amazing picture of the moon you really need a telephoto or zoom lens – the longer the better. In addition to a professional camera and tripod, use a cable release or your two-second delay timer to trigger the shutter. This prevents camera shake when the button is pressed. It not only allows you to enlarge the moon in the picture, but also to preserve all the details in it while keeping the picture as sharp as possible.

The full moon rises in Buenos Aires A super moon rises behind the Carta Magna y Las Cuatro Regiones Argentinas monument in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 26, 2021
The super moon rises on Monday, April 26, 2021 in Buenos Aires, Argentina Photo: Agustín Marcarian/Reuters

Your settings will change depending on the quality of the camera you are using. However, you want your ISO to be set at 100, which keeps the image quality at its highest. Set your file size to Raw – this allows for the largest file size your camera has.

Aperture isn’t that important when photographing the moon, so aim for around f8.

So who gets the best pictures of the moon?

I love this picture Matt Cardy took at Glastonbury Tor in 2015:

The Super Moon rises behind Glastonbury Tor in England on September 27, 2015.
The Super Moon rises behind Glastonbury Tor in England on September 27, 2015. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Cardy has created such an impressive frame with his composition and focal length. The size of the moon juxtaposed with humans creates an otherworldly image.

This article was amended on September 13, 2022 to distinguish between the northern and southern hemisphere terms for September’s full moon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *