Are you ready for the full moon? Here’s how to take the best photos
(CNN) – Another full moon event is just around the corner and you don’t want to miss it.
This Friday the 13th the harvest moon will light up the sky.
Before you step out with your camera to capture that Instagram-worthy image, here are some tips and tricks from an avid space photographer.
Dennis Doucet, 61, has been taking stunning images of the moon shining over Kobe, Japan for several years, and many of his photos have even been featured on CNN. The moon, for him, symbolizes one of the “common constants of humanity”.
“When I’m abroad and miss friends or family, I look at the moon and hope they look at it too, and we have a shared experience,” said Doucet, a native of of Canada, to CNN.
OK, let’s get down to business. First of all, you need the right equipment. Doucet suggests a good camera, a variety of lenses, and of course a tripod.
“I decided to use what are called ‘micro four thirds’ cameras because they are smaller, lighter and cheaper than standard interchangeable cameras,” he said.
The reason it appreciates the smaller, lighter camera is that it’s easier to carry around, especially with all your gear. He also suggests having a number of different lenses, from extreme wide angle to 300mm. The latter, he said, is “in relative resolution, equivalent to a 600mm telephoto lens on a regular adult cam sites.”
This goal will help you get closer and closer to the moon.
Location, location, location
Now that you have your gear, it’s time to decide on the best location to install. Doucet typically takes the footage of his backyard, but during special events, like eclipses, moonrises, and sunsets, he’ll look for an area with a clearer view and less light of the city.
He suggests downloading a moon locator app on your phone.
“A lot of them can overlay this information onto a real-time camera image on our phones,” he said. “We point the camera (of the cell phone) at the horizon and the app will show us where the moon (or the sun) will rise, its path in the sky, where it will set and the times of these events.”
This will help you find the perfect location to set up your tripod.
Pro tip: The Taj Mahal will be open on a full moon nights every month except Ramadan (Ramzan), as well as two nights at each end of the full moon night, for a total of five evenings per month.
Before leaving the house, Doucet suggests making sure you have the right clothes for the weather (some nights are cold) and dress comfortably.
“Plus, don’t wear your favorite clothes – lying on the ground, climbing a tree, etc. can often give you an angle that can mean the difference between a good shot and a BIG one!”
Now on to those pesky camera settings, this “automatic” setting is not your friend when taking pictures of the moon because the moon reflects a bunch of sunlight.
If a camera is set to the ‘AUTO’ setting, it will ‘see’ all the darkness (black) in the space and try to expose it halfway between black and white – thus increasing the show (by a lot!), “he said.
“This increase in exposure will in turn erase ALL of the features of the moon, and the resulting image will only show a (totally) white circle.”
But don’t worry, Doucet shares his exact settings that you can use and he said it should “produce some fantastic moon displays.”
When using a lens with a focal length (or equivalent) of 600mm or more:
Aperture: 6.7 (or close)
Shutter speed: (somewhere in between) 1/1250 -1/2500 second
But wait, there is more!
Doucet says that at these shutter speeds handheld shooting is doable, but he highly recommends a tripod. He even suggests a remote shutter release button to ensure almost all camera shake is eliminated.
Now that you have your images, Doucet suggests editing them in black and white. Here’s why:
“As the lunar soil (regolith) is a light greyish brown in color, it is not very photogenic and it does not show much contrast between brightly lit areas and shadows,” he said. This then helps it to adjust the contrast and brightness, if necessary.
The upside is that you don’t need fancy programs, he said. Most of the photo editing apps on our phone will do.
Now you are ready to jump in and capture the perfect shot to show off to your friends.
Doucet’s final tips are to make sure your gear is working before you leave home and always have extra batteries and a new memory card with you.
“And most important of all: HAVE FUN!”