Taking Pictures of the Moon

Whenever I take pictures of the moon, I get asked how I did it and what equipment I use. So I wrote a piece about that in the current issue of the fanzine Journey Planet, which is focused on the moon and (also) the moon landing of Apollo XI, which took place 50 years ago today. Yes, I was alive for it, although just barely. The article I wrote also contains several photos of the moon I took, so there are pictures to go with the lecture.

Enjoy, and happy Apollo XI Day.

8 Comments on “Taking Pictures of the Moon”

  1. Ah, you kids.
    I was 9, completely obsessed with space and certain I’d be the first person on Mars. We had the only colour TV in our little village and managed to squeeze 3 classes from school in to watch various Apollo 11 coverage- about 100 kids (big classes in rural UK back then) stacked like sardines.
    Sad how things have gone since then.

  2. Thanks for the pointer to Journey Planet. I will now have a hiatus from productive work.

    My oldest permanent memory is of watching Apollo 17 launch from the front porch of our house in Fort Lauderdale. As it was lost to the eye, we went inside to watch and listen – two TVs, one BW with picture, one with sound – as the big tracking cameras danced around the image of the rocket rising into the night, and mission control called out the mileposts along the way.

  3. I was having a fine little sojourn in the Republic of Vietnam. I was already a huge SF fan, and the moon landing really made me happy in the midst of other circumstances.

  4. I used to be able to hand sketch a map of the moon, if only from a children’s book about “Matthew Looney” who lived on the moon.

    While the astronauts were half way to the moon my family made a special trip to McDonald’s restaurant, although we normally couldn’t afford take out food, and came home with a Rand McNally souvenir moon map, as advertised on the radio. I still have it.

    Say, years later I used it to follow the action in The Cat Who Walked Through Walls.

  5. The thing to remember – the thing your camera doesn’t know – is that even though the night sky surrounding it is very dark, the moon (the parts you can see at least) is always in bright, direct sunlight.

    So if your camera is looking at that scene and any aspect of your exposure is being calculated by the camera it’s going to look at all that black and think “Gotta have more light” and act accordingly.

    For more consistent moon photos in a dark sky you need to expose only for the moon, not the sky around it. This isn’t too hard as the brightness of the sun in space doesn’t vary all that much. For quickly figuring the settings we can use the “loony 11 rule”* If you set your camera to manual, set the aperture to f/11 and then your shutter speed to 1/(ISO setting).

    So if you wanted to use a 1/100s shutter because you were shooting handheld and didn’t want the camera to shake you would set ISO to 100 and aperture to f/11 and it should work.

    * A variation on the “sunny 16 rule” that works pretty well on earth in bright sunlight.

  6. Hi there, just a heads up- the fanzine is missing page 25, which is right in the middle of your article 😔

  7. Between page 24 and page 26 there is a page with no page number. It surely is page 25. But the text on page 24 ends in the middle of a sentence and it looks like some text is missing. Layout is harder than it looks!

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