How to take Moon pictures at sunset?

Started Sep 30, 2012 | Discussions
tim81786
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How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
Sep 30, 2012

Hello all! I am going to try and get some pictures of the full harvest moon tonight at sunset. I just got my T3i so I am still new to all the features and settings it has. What are some settings I can try to get some good pictures tonight? I only would use auto as a last resort since I am trying to learn not to use it lol. Any help will greatly be appreciated!
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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

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Canon EOS 600D Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II +3 more
Canon EOS 600D (EOS Rebel T3i / EOS Kiss X5)
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photonius
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to tim81786, Oct 1, 2012

tim81786 wrote:

Hello all! I am going to try and get some pictures of the full harvest moon tonight at sunset. I just got my T3i so I am still new to all the features and settings it has. What are some settings I can try to get some good pictures tonight? I only would use auto as a last resort since I am trying to learn not to use it lol. Any help will greatly be appreciated!

Alas, this occasion may call for more than the all auto "green box" setting, because you may want a number of different exposures to get the best shot.

I suggest P mode. If you don't have a tripod, keep an eye on the shutter speed to make sure it's hand-holdable (it should be roughly 1/(focal length * 1.6), e.g. if focal length is 30mm, try at least 1/50 shutter speed. If you lens has IS, you may gain 2-4 f-stops, but you need to take a couple of shots to get one good one. Make sure to let IS settle for 0.5 to 1 second before taking the shot.
If shutter speed gets to low, increase ISO.

As to exposure, go with what the automatic system tells you, but make a whole series of shots, where you dial in different exposure compensation (from say - 2 to plus 2) and see how the shoots come out. It can be done automatically with bracketing, but doing it manually step by step is perhaps easier at the beginning, since you look at each shoot and see the effect.

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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

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tim81786
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to photonius, Oct 1, 2012

Alas, this occasion may call for more than the all auto "green box" setting, because you may want a number of different exposures to get the best shot.

I suggest P mode. If you don't have a tripod, keep an eye on the shutter speed to make sure it's hand-holdable (it should be roughly 1/(focal length * 1.6), e.g. if focal length is 30mm, try at least 1/50 shutter speed. If you lens has IS, you may gain 2-4 f-stops, but you need to take a couple of shots to get one good one. Make sure to let IS settle for 0.5 to 1 second before taking the shot.
If shutter speed gets to low, increase ISO.

As to exposure, go with what the automatic system tells you, but make a whole series of shots, where you dial in different exposure compensation (from say - 2 to plus 2) and see how the shoots come out. It can be done automatically with bracketing, but doing it manually step by step is perhaps easier at the beginning, since you look at each shoot and see the effect.

Thanks! I got sub par shots last night. Can't wait to try it out now with some guidance.

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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

 tim81786's gear list:tim81786's gear list
Canon EOS 600D Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II +3 more
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Y0GI
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to tim81786, Oct 1, 2012

tim81786 wrote:

Alas, this occasion may call for more than the all auto "green box" setting, because you may want a number of different exposures to get the best shot.

I suggest P mode. If you don't have a tripod, keep an eye on the shutter speed to make sure it's hand-holdable (it should be roughly 1/(focal length * 1.6), e.g. if focal length is 30mm, try at least 1/50 shutter speed. If you lens has IS, you may gain 2-4 f-stops, but you need to take a couple of shots to get one good one. Make sure to let IS settle for 0.5 to 1 second before taking the shot.
If shutter speed gets to low, increase ISO.

As to exposure, go with what the automatic system tells you, but make a whole series of shots, where you dial in different exposure compensation (from say - 2 to plus 2) and see how the shoots come out. It can be done automatically with bracketing, but doing it manually step by step is perhaps easier at the beginning, since you look at each shoot and see the effect.

Thanks! I got sub par shots last night. Can't wait to try it out now with some guidance.

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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

I would suggest Av Mode at f/8 as this is your lenses' sharpest aperture. Adjust ISO to give the shutter speed of 1/(1.6X FL) like Photonius recommended. Shoot RAW or RAW+LJPEG. Use the camera's Exposure Compensation to bracket your shots: -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 EVs. Experiment with Focal Length. Use your 18-55 mm lens at 18-24 mm to get some shots with a lot of landscape. Also try some 250 mm shots with the 55-250 mm lens.

Good luck, and be sure to post some of your best shots!
--
Yogi

When you get down to the nuts and bolts of photography, the results depend on the 'nut' behind the camera!

See the 'Gear List' in my 'Profile' for my current equipment.

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photonius
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to tim81786, Oct 1, 2012

tim81786 wrote:

Alas, this occasion may call for more than the all auto "green box" setting, because you may want a number of different exposures to get the best shot.

I suggest P mode. If you don't have a tripod, keep an eye on the shutter speed to make sure it's hand-holdable (it should be roughly 1/(focal length * 1.6), e.g. if focal length is 30mm, try at least 1/50 shutter speed. If you lens has IS, you may gain 2-4 f-stops, but you need to take a couple of shots to get one good one. Make sure to let IS settle for 0.5 to 1 second before taking the shot.
If shutter speed gets to low, increase ISO.

As to exposure, go with what the automatic system tells you, but make a whole series of shots, where you dial in different exposure compensation (from say - 2 to plus 2) and see how the shoots come out. It can be done automatically with bracketing, but doing it manually step by step is perhaps easier at the beginning, since you look at each shoot and see the effect.

Thanks! I got sub par shots last night. Can't wait to try it out now with some guidance.

Another point is that the time window to get the shoot you may want could be small. The moon is actually very brightly light by the sun. With a clear sky you can use rather fast shutter speeds - like during daylight - to get a good exposure. On the other hand, you may also wish to expose the evening sky properly, which - if exposed correctly - can lead to the moon being overexposed. So, you may want to try some pictures when luminosity of the moon is similar to that of the sky. On the other hand, when the sun has set, you can get some really nice dark purple skies, but you have to accept that the moon may be overexposed.

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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

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tim81786
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Here are some pics
In reply to Y0GI, Oct 1, 2012

Here is a shot at 250mm

Same picture cropped and edited in Elements

Another at 250mm

Again cropped and edited in Elements. So did I get the moon the best I can at 250mm without a different lens?

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Y0GI
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Re: Here are some pics
In reply to tim81786, Oct 1, 2012

tim81786 wrote:

Again cropped and edited in Elements. So did I get the moon the best I can at 250mm without a different lens?

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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
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EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

I could be wrong, but I believe that camera and lens can do better.

The edges of the moon look fuzzy, as if they were produced by over-sharpening a blurred image.

Did you take these from a tripod? How did you focus?

Nevertheless, I like the enlarged first photo. Having the branch from the tree in the photo really makes for a nice touch!
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When you get down to the nuts and bolts of photography, the results depend on the 'nut' behind the camera!

See the 'Gear List' in my 'Profile' for my current equipment.

Check out WilbaW's beginner FAQs at - http://snipurl.com/RebelFAQ

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Messiah Complex
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Re: Here are some pics
In reply to Y0GI, Oct 1, 2012

Y0GI: If that's the 55-250 IS, then you're right; it could be sharper.

That lens is soft wide open, and is softer on the long-end. Stopping down to f/8 should produce a notably sharper image.

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karl mohr
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to photonius, Oct 1, 2012

If you set the camera for spot metering and expose for the moon, you might be able to get much faster shutter speeds - I usually hand-hold when shooting moon pics, and I like to get a fairly fast shutter speed if I can. Also, you will get much better moon pics when the moon is not full because the light is hitting it from an angle that provides more contrast, shadow, and
detail.

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tim81786
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to karl mohr, Oct 2, 2012

Yeah I think I over cropped the last one and I probably over sharpened it in Elements. I am still new to editing and what all the features do. They were taken without a tripod. Focusing was just auto with center dot in the middle of the moon. Still have lots to learn. Thanks for the compliment Yogi and Karl thats a great shot. I see what you mean about not shooting at a full moon the detail is great.
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EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

 tim81786's gear list:tim81786's gear list
Canon EOS 600D Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II +3 more
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photonius
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to karl mohr, Oct 2, 2012

karl mohr wrote:

If you set the camera for spot metering and expose for the moon, you might be able to get much faster shutter speeds - I usually hand-hold when shooting moon pics, and I like to get a fairly fast shutter speed if I can. Also, you will get much better moon pics when the moon is not full because the light is hitting it from an angle that provides more contrast, shadow, and
detail.

I think the two shots are not quite comparable. The orange color, the tree, indicate it was shot when the moon was still on the horizon. With the orange color also, I would hazard that air conditions were hazy, the shoot went through a lot of atmosphere, and therefore shutter speed had to be lower than for your shoot going higher in the sky with a clear night.

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Y0GI
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Re: How to take Moon pictures at sunset?
In reply to tim81786, Oct 2, 2012

tim81786 wrote:

Yeah I think I over cropped the last one and I probably over sharpened it in Elements. I am still new to editing and what all the features do. They were taken without a tripod. Focusing was just auto with center dot in the middle of the moon. Still have lots to learn. Thanks for the compliment Yogi and Karl thats a great shot. I see what you mean about not shooting at a full moon the detail is great.
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Canon EOS Rebel T3i
EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

Normal focusing through the viewfinder doesn't always work so good on the moon. If you put the AF point on the moon, it doesn't have much contrast to work with. It's better to use Live View, Live Mode AF to set your focus.

You may be able to also improve sharpness by increasing ISO to 1600, increasing shutter speed to 1/125 and upping the f/stop to f/8. This will cause a slight increase in noise but you should be able to correct that in Post Processing.

Keep up the good work!
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Yogi

When you get down to the nuts and bolts of photography, the results depend on the 'nut' behind the camera!

See the 'Gear List' in my 'Profile' for my current equipment.

Check out WilbaW's beginner FAQs at - http://snipurl.com/RebelFAQ

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Olga Johnson
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EXIF shows flash on?
In reply to tim81786, Oct 2, 2012

Was your flash on or is the EXIF reader misinterpreting the data?

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tim81786
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Re: EXIF shows flash on?
In reply to Olga Johnson, Oct 2, 2012

Thanks Yogi! I wrote that info down and I'll have to go out and try it. I'll let you know how it works out. Olga, yes I believe the flash was on for the first picture. It went off on some and I turned it off on some others.
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ThorkildC
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Re: Here are some pics
In reply to tim81786, Oct 2, 2012

Hi, I think you've gotten some sound advice about handheld moon shots with the amazing 55-250 IS. But I still think it would be a great help to use a tripod. I have often used the T3i with the same lens you use - but allways on a tripod when going for the moon. It will permit you to use ISO 100 - and a much slower shutter:

Of course you'll be able to shoot without atmospheric 'noise' with the moon higher in the sky. And with more detail if you avoid the full moon and go for the waxing or waning moon instead:

In my experience a tripod is a very nice piece of gear to have in the collection - and one I use a lot. And you don't have to go for an expensive one. Just be sure it can carry your camera with the the heaviest lens in your collection. But then again, you are in luck: The T3i/600D - 55-250 IS combination isn't exactly heavy-weight....

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tim81786
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Re: Here are some pics
In reply to ThorkildC, Oct 3, 2012

Thor those pictures are fantastic looking! I do have a tripod. It's nothing expensive its a Zeikos I got for cheap from Amazon as it was the only one that rose up to 72 inches so I wouldn't have to hunch over. Next time I am bringing it with me as I want to try both hand held and tripod shots.
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EFS 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII

 tim81786's gear list:tim81786's gear list
Canon EOS 600D Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED MC Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II +3 more
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