Centreville, VA Photographer: Shooting the Supermoon

Photo credit Luc Viator

Photo credit Luc Viator

OK, I’ll admit it – I’m a closet dork. Actually, I’m not even sure quite how closeted that is… Anyway, my dad raised me with a healthy appreciation of astronomy and I’ve loved the stars and star-gazing since I was little. One of my absolute favorite memories is laying out with my family in the middle of the night in our backyard out in the country, watching hundreds of meteors shooting through the sky. Stunning. So I’m really excited for this weekend’s supermoon!

A supermoon occurs roughly once per year, when a full moon coincides with the moon being as close to the Earth as it will come in its orbit. The moon will be at its perigree (closest point to the Earth) this Saturday at 11:34pm EST, then will be come officially full just one minute later. This means the moon this weekend will be extraordinarily bright and close, and should appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter than your average full moon.

Interested in catching some shots of the supermoon? Me, too! Here are some tips:

  • Check what time the moon will be rising in your area and take advantage of the “moon illusion” – the optical illusion that occurs when the moon appears larger near the horizon. Use objects along the horizon (buildings, trees, even people) to really showcase how HUGE the moon looks!
  • Use the longest focal length you have to help you fill the frame with the moon.
  • Check out this moon exposure calculator – ┬áthat will give you an idea of what shutter speed you’ll need to use given your ISO and f-stop values.
  • Consider shooting before it is totally dark out. In my area, the moon will be rising at 7:55pm and the sun will set at 8:05pm. That means it won’t be totally dark while the moon is rising and that will help properly expose the landscape without blowing out the moon.
  • The moon is brighter than you think. Just because it’s dark outside, does not mean you’re going to need a slow shutter speed and high ISO. If you want a shot of just the moon, start at ISO 100 and an aperture around f/11, then play around with the shutter speed, metering off the moon, until you get a proper exposure.
  • If you just can’t seem to get the moon properly exposed without totally underexposing your landscape, bracket exposures then combine in Photoshop! Your camera probably actually has a setting to do this automatically.

If you get a great shot, I’d love to see it! Share it with me on my wall!