Super Moon: June 23, 2013
This year's largest and closest "super moon" will occur on June 23, 2013. Any advice on how to get great shots that emphasize this moon's larger than normal appearance against the landscape? Or cityscape? I know others have asked questions about moon shots, in general, but is the advice the same for this type of event?
I will be using a Nikon D90 and have the following lenses: Nikon 300mm f4 with 1.4TC, Nikon 35mm f2.8, Sigma 18-250mm.
I afraid that the hype associated with "Super Moon" may lead you to disappointment. The variation in size is not all that much, and it would require careful work to distinguish that Full Moon from the one coming up in two weeks.
The June Moon will be just 2.3% larger than the May Moon. If you shoot your D90 with the 300 mm zoom lens, you will have 11 more pixels (out of about 500) of Moon.
Still, pictures of the rising Moon are fine, whether "Super" or not.
The general rules apply, you want to have identifiable objects in the filed of view, and you want to be as far as is reasonably possible from the foreground object. You want to use as long a focal length as is reasonable to frame the shot.
The shot below was taken about a mile from the Makapuu Lighthouse in Hawaii. For a shot like this, you are tightly constrained, and I had to be within 25' of a particular location to get the exact alignment that I desired. In this case, I shot at 220 mm in order to frame a broader piece of landscape. In the end, I cropped it closely, so I wish that I had kept the lens at 300 mm.
Farther away and longer focal length make the foreground object seem larger. If I had been able to get the line of sight I wanted at 2 miles distant, the Moon size would be unchanged (I would be .00005 % further away) but the lighthouse would be half the size (I would be twice as far from it.)
Use a tripod, bracket your exposures, and be sure to turn off VR. In bracketing, use plus and minus 2 f-stops to make sure your exposure isn't blown out.
Focusing is easy at higher focal lengths; the D90 will focus on the Moon (and give you a pretty good exposure around which to bracket) from about 200 mm and higher.
The Moon's brightness changes very rapidly (by several f-stops) over the first few minutes after Moon rise. Pay attention! Once the Moon is up about 10 degrees, you can think of it as dark lava rock in full sunlight, becasue that is what it is. So daylight exposure values are in the right ballpark ... base ISO, f/8 and whatever it takes in shutter speed. (The above shot was ISO 100, f/8 and 1/45 sec.)
Finally, if you have a particular object that you want to have lined up, you may want to get TPE, the Photographer's Ephemeris (http://photoephemeris.com/ ). This works with Google Maps to allow you to see exactly where the Moon will rise from any place on Earth.
You can see some of more examples of my Moonshots starting at http://www.scientiaphoto.com/HawaiianLandscapes/Hawaiian-Landscapes/23063611_p33hGL#!i=1857296527&k=nLp59rW
Bob in Baltimore
Just re-read your post. As to lenses, most likely the Sigma 18-250, becasue it will allow you to play with the framing by zooming in and out. (I am not familiar with the lens quality, and only speak to the focal length range.) I would not mess with the 300 and the TC for the simple reason that you have few options for framing. And the 35mm will yield too small of an image to be of interest. (And just one extra pixel becasue of the "Superness" of the Moon!)
One final thought, try things out the nights around the May 24 full Moon. Day before Full Moon and you will have a better lit landscape. The day of and the day after you will have less landscape lighting, as the Moon rises later. It will also give you a sense of how far the Moon moves around the landscape in just one day.
(And, a final final thought, the Moon's azimuth on May 24 will be very close (to less than 2 Lunar diameters) of where it will be on June 23. It doesn't always work out that nicely, but it does this time, so you can test out your shot and framing.)
Bob in Baltimore
Thanks for the great advice, including your suggestion in the follow up post to do a practice run with the May full moon. I'm new to photography and didn't realize so much went into preparation and set up. Based on the stunning result you obtained from your Hawaii moon shot, it looks like it paid off for you!
I will check out your other photos.
Thanks, Bob for your dose of reality regarding the so-called "super Moon". I appreciate how your reply brought out the hype, but also included specifics about image size, imaging techniques etc. You did this without being discouraging to new lunar imagers. Sometimes we need the "rocket science" perspective.
Some years ago I was reading in a book store (in the science section) when I overheard a clerk trying to help a customer. The customer wanted a book on how to calculate the position of the Sun at any time & from any place. (But what he really wanted was information on how to orient a deck or sunroom. )
I stood up and said, "Excuse me, I am an astronomer. Can I help you? All of my adult life I have wanted to say something like that! I then explained that he could get his questioned answered in an out of print book (1939) titled "Practical Astronomy" by W M Smart, but the answer to the question he should be asking is likely found in a book at Lowes or Home Depot by Sunset Books.
Glad to be of service! Now that is Practical Astronomy!
Bob in Baltimore
Given that the moon won't be significantly larger on the 23rd, would it be worthwhile to go to the top of Haleakala that evening? We were planning on doing both a sunrise and sunset on top of Haleakala - just didn't know if I needed to plan on making the 23rd the day we did the sunset.
Given that the Moon rises 35 minutes after sunset, you will have no useful light on the landscape. It is after the end of civi twilight. If you have a line of sight to a distant cinder cone, you might barely be able to get a decent silhouette of the crater, but I doubt it.
The July full Moon is a better opportunity, as the Moon ruses 9 minutes after sunset.
Be advised, however, that want may want to be in very different locations if you want the crater in your line of sight to the Sun or Moon. You might want to scout out the site before the actual date. And you need to use a program like TPE to plan it.
i don't recall how many locations along the road give you a good view, but I can tell you that from near the observatories the Moon will not be in a good place. You need to be north of there. If you know good locations along the road I can help you plan a shot.
Bob in Baltimore
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