Photography tips for July’s ‘Buck’ supermoon Wednesday
This month’s supermoon is known as the Buck Moon, since the moon occurs when male deer, called bucks, display their newly developed antlers. He gets up Wednesday night at 9:05 p.m. in Washington and goes to bed at 6:31 a.m. the next morning. Check Timeanddate.com for moonrise and moonset times in other locations.
On Wednesday evening, weather fronts along the East Coast and in the Intermountain West will generate patchy cloud cover which could affect visibility. Skies will be clearer in the central United States and west of the Rockies.
The term supermoon was first invented in 1979 by Richard Knolle when describing a new moon or full moon that is within 90% of its closest approach to Earth. In recent years, supermoons have become popular targets for photographers.
And to help those of us hoping to photograph this month’s Buck Moon, I’ve asked local photographers for tips and advice on capturing the perfect moon shot – how to plan your shot, avoid overexpose the moon and get a stellar frame.
Below are photographers’ suggestions for photographing the moon along with a collection of their photos. I’ve included a few of mine as well. The camera settings used to take the photos are included in the captions.
- The first step to planning a photo of the moon is to check the calendar of moonrise, moonset and moon phase. – Kevin Ambroise
- It takes patience and it helps to go to bed late or get up early, depending on the position of the moon. —Chris Fukuda
- Always use a tripod and a remote trigger, wired or wireless, to prevent camera movement. —Kevin Ambroise
- Disable autofocus and lock focus on foreground objects before moonrise. Otherwise, the autofocus may jump during shooting. —Dave Lyons
- Take lots of pictures because you never know which ones will hang on your wall or someone else. —Josh Steele
- Various apps can be used to plan where the moon will be on a certain day. Some popular apps are PhotoPills, Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE), Sun Surveyor, and PlanIt Pro. Google Earth/Street View are also useful for understanding the foreground view from a specific location. —Dave Lyons
- Don’t worry if the night isn’t perfectly clear, as low clouds can often create a much more dramatic backdrop with the moon. —Josh Steele
- The moon is extremely bright shortly after it rises above the horizon, and if the moon is overexposed, detail is lost. – Kevin Ambroise
- Underexpose. – Kevin Wolf
- Since good exposure is a challenge at dawn and dusk, consider putting your exposures on hold. I often go parenthesis (+/- 1 or 2 stops). —Dave Lyons
- Add interest to your moon photo by pairing it with a prominent subject such as the United States Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, etc. And when possible, move away from the foreground subject to make the moon appear larger. —Dave Lyons
- I like to capture images of the moon from a distance with a long lens, ideally 400mm or more. This makes the moon look bigger and more interesting compared to the foreground. —Josh Steele
- For perfect alignment in photos, you need to measure the elevation angles of how the moon rises, sets, and its phase. You can get the information using apps on your smartphone called Photopills Where Photo Ephermerides (TPE). —Chris Fukuda
- The closer the moon is to the horizon, the more color variations you will see and photograph. —Josh Steele
- Windy conditions can produce blurry photos as they shake the tripod. And the blur is amplified when the camera is zoomed in at long distances. So a fast shutter speed, 1/20 second or faster, is often needed for sharp pictures of the moon with wind. — Sasa Lin
- It is important that your foreground subject is sharp. It is not as important to have the moon in focus because when the moon is near the horizon, it often appears distorted due to the atmosphere. —Dave Lyons
- I love photos that combine a view of the moon with a flash of lightning. It’s a rare combination, but it’s possible when shooting a distant thunderstorm surrounded by clear skies. —Kevin Ambroise
- While a long lens (300mm or more) is best when shooting a foreground object from a long distance, a 70-200mm lens is all that’s needed for many classic DC moon shots. . —Dave Lyons
I also asked smartphone photographers for their tips for photographing the moon with camera phones:
- Aim a telescope at the moon, then position an iPhone camera near the telescope’s lens eyepiece without touching it. Take several photos of the eyepiece and choose the photo that has the best focus. —David Roberts
- In low light conditions, you can use iPhone Time-lapse mode with a tripod to capture video with longer interval frames. Open the Camera app, then swipe far left until you see Interval. Press the Shutter button to capture your video. —David Jenkins
- Taking pictures of the moon with a smartphone can be more difficult than with a DSLR camera. Long exposure apps, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, can significantly improve the quality of night shots. — Nicole France at Mark Lord Photography
Let us know if you have any tips or suggestions for photographing the moon.