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How to Photograph the Moon and the Supermoon

Taking photographs is a great way to capture the important moments in your life and share them with others. In addition to taking photos at parties, you may want to take images of other moments such as a supermoon. While a supermoon can happen up to four times a year, it usually only occurs once every calendar year.

During a supermoon phase, the moon looks much larger than it usually does. You can see more of the landscape and the details on the moon too. In this article, I’ll teach you how to photograph the moon and the supermoon and how to make sure that your images look their best.

Use the Right Gear

One thing I want to make clear is that you need a good camera to get a good quality image. While you can take pictures with a cheap camera or the camera on your smartphone, you won’t get the nice images that you want. A DSLR camera is your best bet because it allows you to zoom in on the moon and capture more details.

A telephoto lens is another must-have for capturing shots of the moon. Both Canon and Nikon make some good choices, including the P900. With a 300 mm telephoto lens, you can get closer to the moon than you expected.

Some of the other gear and equipment that I recommend include:

  • Zoom lens or spotting scope
  • Tripod
  • Astronomy mount

Planning for Your Photos

While professional photographers take the time to plan for their photos, amateurs usually do not. That is why they take photos where the moon appears tiny or the final image is blurry. It’s helpful to look at when the moon will rise and set, which gives you an idea of when the moon will be at the highest point in the sky and how much time you have.

You’ll also want to take a look at the weather forecast for the night. If the forecast calls for clouds and rains, setting up and taking your shots is nearly impossible. Even the best lens cannot cut through the clouds. You may want to take some photos of the moon that show the clouds in front of it though as this can add a dramatic touch to your images.

I also recommend choosing a location in advance. If you want a dramatic series of photos that show depth and intrigue, opt for a location that includes nearby landmarks such as lakes and buildings with large windows. Those who want to focus on just the moon or supermoon might prefer heading out into nature and taking photos on a hill or in an open space.

Tips for Using a DSLR Camera

DSLR cameras allow you to set up and shoot images of the moon or supermoon that include ambient lighting and some of the objects and structures nearby. In the sections below, you can pick up tips on using your camera.

  • Use a wide-angle lens to add background elements that you would otherwise miss
  • Opt for a high resolution setting on your camera
  • Choose the lowest setting speed for the shutter
  • Give some thought to whether you want to shoot the moon while it's high in the sky or other positions
  • Opt for a remote if you want to explore the area as you shoot

Tips for Using a Smartphone Camera

While I recommend using a DSLR camera to shoot the supermoon or moon, you can use a standard smartphone camera. You probably won’t get the same composition that you would with a DSLR, but you can still take some good images. I’ll go over some tips on how to get the most out of your smartphone camera below.

Avoid the Flash

When you use a smartphone camera in a dark setting, you probably don’t think twice about using the built-in flash. While the flash works well in some situations, it can interfere with your moon and supermoon photos because it impacts the natural light in the area. You should turn off the flash before you shoot.

Go with the Optical Lens

Most smartphone cameras include both an optical lens and a zoom lens. The optical lens is best for shooting the moon though because it will provide a clear image without any blurriness. If you want to cut out background elements and other features, you can crop and edit the image after you take it.

Other Tips for Smartphone Users

  • Use a smartphone mount to keep the camera from shaking or moving
  • Turn off the filters that you normally use
  • Move your fingers around on the screen to set up the final image
  • Set the timer to take photos that include you and others in the shot

Get the Best Shots Possible

Depending on the weather in your area, you can usually see the moon every night. A supermoon might occur just once a year, which makes it a rare moment that you want to capture and save. This is when the moon appears more than 10% larger than it normally does. With the tips that I collected, you can easily take photographs of the moon and supermoon with either a DSLR camera or the camera on your smartphone.