Photographing the Supermoon (or is it Super Moon)

There is a perfectly good and scientific explanation of why they call it a Supermoon but you’ve got your old buddy Mr. Google to tell you what that is. All I know is that I have not had good luck photographing it. The idea is to give the illusion that the moon is bigger than it actually is (without photoshopping it or otherwise cheating). Last time there was one, I had it all planned out: picked out buildings, and even had a parking garage in mind to use to get a great angle. The problem was, it was a cloudy night and even though you could see a glimpse of the moon now and then, it was not consistent enough to set up for it. I just settled for a quick snapshot with my old 70-300mm VR lens:
Super Full Moon

What many people don’t realize is that the moon is pretty bright so if you want to capture the detail on the moon, your exposure is going to be approaching the old Sunny 16 rule (f/16 with 1/(your ISO) as shutter speed) which if you think about it makes sense given that we are shooting the reflection of the sun off the moon much as we do when we shoot something in the middle of the day here. In the above pictures, I probably overxposed my picture by a stop 1/2 and had to recover the highlights so this is not meant to be a good example.

This time around, I didn’t really plan anything as I was hanging out with a few old friends and a new cool Nikon friend (I think that’s a great way to know someone is a cool character!) so I just brought my camera with me, left my telephoto lens at home, and didn’t want to drag the tripod with me. While in Sugar Land (suburban city in SW of Houston) I see these guys taking pictures – The one on the left looks to be using a D300/D700 class camera and the same 14-24mm lens I have while the Canon guy was using a Telephoto and a well, nobody cares what the Canon guy was shooting. That’s a joke.

Super Moon

Not to be left out and at my friend’s suggestion, we tried to capture the horse, the tower, and the moon. The problem is of course the moon is at somewhere around f/13 1/200 of a second while clock is f/5.6 1/20th of a second and the horse is 1 second. What can you do? Just pick your poison. I thought the building had a lot of character with the lights on it so I tried to underexpose it as much as I could to keep the moon at least somewhat in shape. Then in Lightroom, I lifted the shadows and recovered the highlights the best I could. In effect, this is a one exposure HDR which is a great reason to use RAW and Lightroom. I tried using a flash on the horse too but it didn’t look that much different and introduced flare so I’m happy with this. I may try again tonight for Supermoon++ , but we’ll see.
Super Moon


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