Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.

— George Eastman.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

How to Photograph the Moon

If you have attempted to photograph the moon with automatic modes on your camera, you might have concluded it is a hopeless endeavor. When your camera looks at the vast, black, night sky, it overexposes the moon as a bright blob in the night sky. However, by setting your camera to manual exposure mode and following this simple guide, photographing the moon is easy.

When to photograph the moon:

To start, choose a night with a full moon. If you photograph the moon when it is close to the horizon, the moon will appear larger. For sharper, more detailed photographs, take photographs when the moon is higher in the sky. The less light pollution where you take the photographs, the crisper the moon will appear. A clear sky yields the sharpest photographs of the moon. Clouds create a different aesthetic.


1. A camera with manual exposure mode — M on the exposure dial.
2. A telephoto lens or a telephoto zoom lens. The longer the focal length the larger the moon will appear in your photograph. A 200mm to 300mm focal length is great, especially on a crop sensor camera where your focal length is multiplied.


Set your camera to single point focus and choose the center focus point. On most digital cameras, this is a cross-type focus point which is more accurate. Because the moon is such a bright object in the night sky, putting your center focus point on the moon should ensure sharp focus.

Image Stabilization or Vibration Reduction:

Turn on Image Stabilization (Canon) or Vibration Reduction (Nikon). Other camera manufacturers have different names for this feature. Sony calls its SteadyShot. This will eliminate motion blur in your photographs.

Exposure Mode:

Set your exposure mode dial to M, or manual.


Exposure Value is a number where all combinations of shutter speed and aperture that yield the same exposure have the same Exposure Value. At ISO 100, the full moon has an Exposure Value (EV) of 15. This is the same EV as a scene lit by direct sunlight. The “Sunny 16 Rule” applies, which says that in direct sun, at f/16, your shutter speed is the reciprocal of your ISO. So, for ISO 100, your shutter speed is 1/125 second at f/16. Since you should be capturing the moon with a telephoto lens, to minimize camera shake set the ISO based on the focal length of your lens. Setting your ISO based on the focal length of your lens yields a high enough shutter speed to eliminate the need for a tripod. The relatively great depth of field of f/16 will yield sharp images at infinity.

  •     200mm lens — ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/16
  •     300mm lens — ISO 400, 1/500 second at f/16
  •     400mm lens — ISO 400, 1/500 second at f/16

Checking Exposure:

Check your exposures using the histogram on your camera. When viewing the images on your camera’s display they will appear too bright at night. Viewing the histogram will give you an accurate idea of your exposures. If the histogram spikes at the right of the graph, increase your shutter speed. If the histogram spikes at the left of the graph, open your aperture to f/11 or f/8 as needed.

What next?

Now that you have photographed a full moon, try photographing the moon in different phases. The gibbous moon has an EV of 14, the quarter moon has an EV of 13, and the crescent moon has an EV of 12. For a 300mm lens, use these exposure settings:
  •      Gibbous moon  — 300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/500 second at f/11
  •      Quarter moon   — 300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/250 second at f/11
  •      Crescent moon — 300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/250 second at f/8

Finally, take plenty of photographs, and have fun.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

7 Things Photographers Should Know About Memory Cards

  • Do not listen to those who teach that brand does not matter, or that SanDisk and Lexar are the same. The truth is that there many differences between the two. SanDisk has had several exclusives with Nikon in which they worked together to create memory cards that are able to access the full processing power of Nikon D-SLRs.

  • I often hear professional photographers say that photographers only need to get a super-fast memory card for shooting video. While HD video produces large files, digital RAW files produce more data in a shorter time when photographers shoot a quick burst of multiple RAW files. Fast memory cards are even more important to still photographers who shoot bursts than HD video users.

  • Never “Erase All Images” on your card. Always “Format” the card. Some D-SLRs provide both an “Erase All Images” option and a “Format Card” option. Choose the “Format Card” option to prevent a variety of different errors that can arise by simply erasing all images. Formatting the card will re-organize the folder structure and prevent database errors.

  • While discussing how to erase all images, never erase any of the images on your card by using the computer. This will corrupt your database and can cause even more errors than “Erase All Images.” If you persist in erasing images by using the computer, you will corrupt your memory card and you will get errors.

  • You will rarely have errors with memory cards if you properly format your cards and never edit the contents of a card from the computer. However, you can break memory cards by not storing them properly or ripping them out of the card reader. This is especially true with SD cards, which have delicate pieces of plastic underneath which can bend or break off. Treat them gently.

  • Both Lexar and SanDisk professional-level cards come with free software that can help recover images on your memory card if you accidentally delete them. If you delete something accidentally, STOP SHOOTING, bring the card home, run the card through the program, and you will most likely get the image(s) back—even if you formatted the card. Lexar's Image Rescue and SanDisk’s RescuePRO get high marks for image recovery.

  • Lexar’s Image Rescue and SanDisk’s RescuePRO are licensed software. You get a license key for the software in the package your memory card comes in. Be sure to save or record the license key somewhere in case you ever need it. Without it, you will need to buy a license to use the software.