.Moonlight Photography | Chroma Key Software Moonlight Photography

postheadericon Moonlight Photography

The moon simply reflects sunlight, but very weakly. Capturing a scene by moonlight means allowing for the way we perceive it as dark, colorless and mysterious.


Photographing by moonlight needs long exposures, even at a high-sensitivity setting, as the intensity is in the region of 19 stops less than daylight. Such shots are generally worth attempting only around the time of  a full moon, with clear skies.


A bright full moon is about 400,000 times less bright than the sun. Start with a setting of about one minute at f2.8 at ISO 200, and check the result in the LCD display. Such long exposures make it tempting to switch to a higher sensitivity, but this increases the noise in the image and , as you will need to use a tripod in any case, it may be better just to make a longer exposure at the standard setting. Two other factors come into play. One is that we see moonlight as dim, and to reproduce that impression you should keep the exposure at least an f-stop or two less than normal. The other is that our night vision lacks color sensitivity, whereas the camera’s sensor will pick up color as normal. Consider de-saturating the image, or increasing the blue, for final display.


To photograph the moon itself you will need a telephoto lens of at least 400mm equivalent to make a reasonable-sized image. The brightness depends on atmospheric conditions and on the phase. A bright, full moon needs an exposure at ISO 200of about 1/250 second at around f8, but check on the LCD screen. Other phases of the moon and hazier conditions need longer exposures. Apart from the need to avoid camera shake, keep the exposure short because the rotation of the earth causes the moon’s image to  move across the frame. You will usually need to re-frame each shot.

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