WWhen the full moon rises in November 2021, also known as a flower or beaver moon, many people will pull out their cell phones rather than try to take an Instagram-worthy photo of the partial lunar eclipse on Friday night, but unfortunately the moon is really challenging to get a good picture of.
Two reasons: it is very far away, and unless you have a telephoto lens (which makes the moon look closer than it is) it will always appear as a very small luminous dot in the frame.
Second, it’s really hard to shoot at night. Professional cameras allow you to change your ISO or sensitivity rating, which means you can shoot in low light without losing the quality of the image.
So can you use your smartphone camera?
The short answer is yes, but I would suggest downloading an app and shooting the moon through it instead of using the camera that is on the iPhone or Android. Some apps allow you to increase your sensitivity rating so you can record in low light. I would suggest that you make sure there is another element in the picture – so take the moon when it passes by e.g. a beautiful bridge or a mountain. This allows the viewer to gain perspective on the size of the moon and also creates a more interesting image.
But even with these apps, you may be a little disappointed with the result.
To take a great picture of the moon, you really need a telephoto or zoom lens – the longer the better. In addition to a professional camera and a tripod, you will also need a cable release or your two-second delay timer to release the shutter. This prevents camera shake when you press the button. It allows you to not only increase the size of the moon in the frame, but to get all the details in it while keeping the image as sharp as possible.
Your settings change depending on the quality of the camera you use. But you want your ISO set to 100, which keeps the image quality at its highest. Set your file size to Raw – this provides the largest file size your camera has.
The aperture is not so important when shooting the moon, so aim for around f8.
So who gets the best pictures of the moon?
I love this picture shot by Matt Cardy at the Glastonbury Tor in 2015:
Cardy has created such an effective setting using his composition and focal length. The size of the moon in juxtaposition with humans creates an image that looks supernatural.