Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shooting the Moon

Blue Moon August 20, 2013 as seen near Springville PA

I have often wondered why I see so many photos of the moon shot at apertures from f8 to f16.  It has not made sense to me.  Researching it on the internet turned up many sources all suggesting that since the moon is lit by the sun that daylight exposure is suggested.  The thing that those writing those "rules" have not taken into consideration is that the moon is hundreds of thousands of miles away and that the usual f8 to f16 setting for a landscape shot is not necessary to have enough depth of field to get a crisp shot of the moon.   The next reason I hear is that we need to shoot at least at f8 to hit the sweet spot of the lens.  At one time that would have made sense as most of us shot stopped down from wide open to get sharper images.  Little did we realize at the time that we were actually hiding the fact that our cameras and lenses were not calibrated to have the lenses actually focus on the focal plane of the sensor.   Using a program such as FoCal opens a whole new area of opportunity for us.  By shooting at wide open or almost wide open and still get sharp images we can now take advantage of higher shutter speeds.  The above image was taken with a 600MM lens at f4, ISO 400 and 1/1600 shutter speed.  It allowed capture of the fine detail on the moon surface as it essentially froze the rotation of the earth and movement of the moon with respect to the earth.  

Until next time

Jim Borden


Atlas said...

Amazing stuff! I really really enjoy your photography. If I may ask where are you located? Looks like a gorgeous area. I subscribed and cannot wait to see more.

Unknown said...

Thanks Atlas. We are in Northeast PA

Unknown said...

Thanks Atlas. We are in Northeast PA

Lindsjö taxar said...

HI Jim!
Amazing Picture!!!
Great job , thanks for sharing!!

Willard said...

Superb photo, Jim.

That is the same color cast the moon had here at that time. Also an excellent point about the calibration. I will never again buy a DSLR for serious still photography that doesn't have micro-adjustment. I wonder if this isn't the entire answer to the sweet spot thing, although I still do consider it possible that certain optical designs may perform somewhat better if stopped down a bit--I am open to convincing either way on this. I do know for sure that my 500mmF4 and 300mmF4 did not work well with any camera at F4. This changed when I calibrated the 7D and now the 5D. They are now sharp when the aperture is wide open, and I almost always use F 4 or 4.5 with these lenses.