How to Photograph the Moon

If you own a DSLR or a point and shoot with an optical zoom, I’m sure that every once in a while you see a beautiful moon and you think about taking a picture of it, especially when the moon is full and beautiful. There are other times when you spot a news announcement about a Lunar Eclipse and you think about capturing the moment, but do not know how to do it right. Or you want to capture the moon together with a foreground object such as a house or a lone tree, but the picture is not coming out right because the moon is much smaller and looks like a white blob. If you had any of these situations or simply want to find out how to take a picture of the moon with a digital camera, then this guide is for you.

Waning Gibbous

Moon photography or How to photograph the Moon

1) Why does the moon look smaller in pictures?

Before we start talking about how to take a picture of the moon, let’s first answer some basic questions. I’m sure if you have already attempted to take a picture of the moon, you probably ran into a problem where the moon looks tiny in comparison to what you saw while taking the picture. Why does the moon get photographed so much smaller? The simple answer is – you are probably taking a picture of the moon with a wide-angle lens. Keep in mind that your eyes are like a 50mm fixed lens and if you are taking a picture with a wide-angle lens that is shorter than 50mm, the moon will be captured in smaller size! So, if you want to capture an object like a big tree or a house with the moon, you would need to stand further away and photograph the scene at least at 50mm to try to match what you saw with your eyes. And even at 50mm the moon might look smaller, especially if it was near the horizon when you took a picture of it. This also happens because of a phenomenon called “Moon Illusion“, where the moon appears bigger to your eyes, when in fact it is not.

2) Why do I see the moon as a white blob?

If you have taken a picture of the moon after sunset and it looked in the picture like a white circular object rather than the moon, it is because the moon was overexposed. When you take a picture of the moon with other objects around it (as in the example with a tree above), your camera by default will meter, or calculate the exposure, based on everything but the moon. This happens because the moon is too small in comparison with the objects around it and a single spot of light should not affect the overall exposure of the picture. Think of it as a light bulb – if you take a picture of a dimly lit room with a visible light bulb, the room will be exposed normally, while the light bulb will be overexposed. If the camera measured exposure on the light bulb, the room would be completely dark, while the light bulb is properly exposed. The same thing happens with the moon – it works just like the light bulb at night and it will always be overexposed. During the day, however, this is not a problem, because the amount of light coming from the moon would differ only slightly in comparison with the objects around it, including the sky. So, why do our eyes see everything normally, while a digital camera cannot? That’s because our eyes and our brain can see a much broader range of light. In photography terms, this is known as “dynamic range“.


NIKON D700 @ 40mm, ISO 1250, 1/50, f/7.1

3) Where and when to photograph the moon

Obviously, you should be taking a picture of the moon on a clear night with no clouds in the sky. Even a thin layer of clouds will make it impossible to get a clear picture of the moon, so absolutely make sure that the sky is clear. Pollution in large cities, especially in hot summer days will also play a big role, so I recommend getting out of town and traveling to a remote location with no light or air pollution, preferably at a higher elevation. The less the distance between you and the moon, the better the pictures. In terms of when to photograph the moon, take a look at this US Navy Moon Phases page, where you can find out what phase the moon is currently in and you can also calculate what it will be by picking the date from the bottom of the page. As for the time of the day – any time works, as long as the moon is visible.

4) Required equipment – Camera and Lens

  1. A DSLR camera with a 200mm+ telephoto lens or a point and shoot camera that has an optical zoom capability.
  2. A stable tripod.
  3. Remote camera trigger (optional). If you do not have one, a timer in your camera will also work

If you want to enlarge the moon and show the details of the moon surface, a good telephoto lens longer than 200mm is almost required. The longer the lens, the better. If you have a telephoto lens that can take teleconverters, I highly recommend adding a teleconverter to increase the overall focal length. For example, a 1.4x teleconverter will increase the focal length of a 300mm lens by 40% or to 420mm total, while a 2.0x teleconverter will increase the focal length of the same lens to 600mm. The only thing to keep in mind, is that teleconverters negatively impact image quality and decrease the maximum aperture of the lens, so if you had a 300mm f/4 lens, it would essentially become a 420mm f/5.6 lens (which is not that big of a deal, because you will be using higher apertures for moon photography anyway). As the focal length is increased, camera shake can also become a big problem. At long focal lengths of 300mm and above, even a slight move can screw up the picture. That’s why if you are using a telephoto lens, a stable tripod is required to be able to produce a sharp image of the moon. Having a remote camera trigger also helps reduce the camera shake and if you have a Mirror Lock Up (MLU) feature in your camera, you can almost completely eliminate all vibrations.

The best setup for moon photography is an astro-telescope with a camera mount. Basically, you mount a digital camera to a telescope, which works as a long telephoto lens. But those setups can get very expensive and are suited best for dedicated astrophotography.

5) How to photograph just the moon

To photograph just the moon by itself, without any objects in the foreground, you will need a long telephoto lens like explained above to magnify the moon and try to fill as much of the frame as possible. Even with a good telephoto lens setup though, you will most likely be cropping the final image, simply because only a telescope would be able to provide enough magnification to fill the entire frame. With your telephoto lens mounted in your camera, secure it on a tripod and point at the moon. Make sure that your tripod is good and stable enough to accommodate and hold your lens and your camera. When it comes to shutter speed, aperture and ISO, here is what I recommend for general use:

  1. Camera Mode: Set your camera mode to full Manual Mode.
  2. ISO: Set your ISO to 100 if you have a Canon DSLR and to 200 if you have a Nikon DSLR (basically, whatever base ISO you have in your camera). For most other brands, the base ISO is also 100. If you have a point and shoot camera, see if you can find a menu setting to set your ISO to 100. Make sure “Auto ISO” is turned Off.
  3. Aperture: Set your aperture to f/11.
  4. Shutter Speed: Set your shutter speed to 1/125 on cameras with base ISO 100, and to 1/250 on Nikon DSLRs with base ISO 200.
  5. Lens Focus: Set your lens to manual focus (either through a switch on the lens or on the camera) and set your focus to infinity. Be careful while setting the focus to infinity, as some lenses allow focusing beyond infinity. On more advanced DSLRs such as Nikon D300, there is a handy feature called “live-view with contrast detect”, which can accurately acquire focus on distant objects. I have used it many times for my moon photography and it works great! If you do not have such a feature in your camera, then try setting your lens to the center of the infinity sign, then take a picture and see if it came out sharp by zooming in the rear LCD of the camera.

Nikon D90 DSLR: ISO 200, Aperture f/11, Shutter Speed 1/250.
Canon EOS Rebel XSi: ISO 100, Aperture f/11, Shutter Speed 1/125.

Crescent Moon

The above aperture and shutter speeds are derived from a Sunny f/11 rule, which is not necessarily very accurate for moon photography. I recommend starting with the above settings and adjusting the shutter speed based on the brightness of the moon. If it is too bright, set your shutter speed to a higher value. If it is too dim, set your shutter speed to a lower value. You can also play with aperture, but be careful, as changing the aperture to a small number can actually soften the image, while increasing the aperture to a very high number would mean slower shutter speeds. Remember, the moon moves pretty fast, so you definitely do not want to be photographing it with a slow shutter speed (certainly not below 1/100 of a second), especially when using a long telephoto lens.

Another thing I recommend doing is bracketing your shots. When I was taking a picture of the full moon, I noticed that some parts of the moon came out overexposed, while other parts were underexposed. I couldn’t get a perfect shot to properly expose all areas of the moon, so I decided to try taking multiple shots of the moon, then merging them into HDR in Photoshop. To my surprise, the result turned out to be better than expected – the first image in this article was done that way. If you do not want to do an HDR of the moon, I still recommend to bracket the exposures – in worst case scenario, you will keep the best photo and delete the rest.

Lastly, for those who have long telephoto lenses longer than 400mm, you might be able to use “Aperture Priority” mode instead of “Manual“, as long as you set your metering to spot metering. At 400mm and above, the moon fills enough of the frame to be able to use modes other than manual.

6) How to take a picture of the moon with a foreground object?

Let’s now move on to how you can take a picture of the moon together with a foreground object – whether it’s a tree, a house or a large rock. As explained here, the moon will always look overexposed after sunset in comparison to everything else. The only way to capture the scene with the moon properly exposed, is to take two separate shots of the scene – one with the foreground properly exposed and the moon overexposed and one with the moon properly exposed and the foreground objects heavily underexposed. Take a look at the following two shots:

Moon overexposed Moon properly exposed

As you can see, I shot the above two images in two separate exposures – one with foreground properly exposed, one with the moon. Here is the combined shot that I did in Photoshop in just 2 minutes:

Combined shot

NIKON D700 @ 420mm, ISO 200, 1/3, f/7.1

The above example is not the best one in terms of subject and composition, but it gets the message across – you will need to combine two exposures to create a single image. The toughest part is to properly mask out the moon and to transparently merge the darker edges of the moon with the blue sky, which should not be a problem if you know how to use the right tools within Photoshop. If the sky is equally dark in both frames, then the amount of time spent in Photoshop is minimal – all you would need to do is copy-paste the moon and you are set!

Also, I shot both frames with a 300mm telephoto lens. But what if I had a large object in front of me that I wanted to include in the frame? Obviously, shooting a long telephoto lens wouldn’t work, since the object would not fit in the frame, so I would have to shoot the object with a wide-angle lens and then capture the moon with a telephoto lens, if I wanted the moon to appear larger in the final image.

Fireworks with the Moon

NIKON D700 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 25/1, f/10.0

7) Post-processing in Photoshop

No matter how good your image comes out of the camera, I still recommend doing some post-processing in Photoshop to enhance the look of your moon image. Take a look at this photo of the moon, straight out of the camera:

Moon photo straight out of the camera

NIKON D300 @ 650mm, ISO 200, 1/125, f/10.0

Now, take a look at this image that I enhanced in Photoshop:

Moon photo edited in Photoshop

NIKON D300 @ 650mm, ISO 200, 1/125, f/10.0

Click on both to see the difference. How did I do it? It was a two step process:

a) Image->Adjustment->Curves and selected “Medium Contrast” Preset from the drop-down menu and clicked “OK”.
b) Filter->Sharpen->Unsharp Mask and added 150% in “Amount” field, while keeping the “Radius” on 1.0 pixels and “Threshold” on 0 levels.

Very simple and very quick!

8) Reuse the moon photo in other photographs

Once you have a couple of really nice pictures of the moon, why not reuse them for your other night photographs? You could make it whatever size you want (from small to large), you could get even more creative by adding clouds in Photoshop or changing the color of the moon to match your photo – basically, whatever you feel like doing!

9) Why photograph the moon?

So, why would one want to photograph the moon? I was asked this question several times before and my answer is simple – because we only have one moon and it is beautiful, so why not? The moon also makes the otherwise boring night sky look more interesting and can add a sense of enigma to a picture. While photographing the moon by itself might be somewhat boring, including the moon as an element of composition can yield great results. In addition, there are moon phases (crescent to full) that give even more opportunities for various compositions. And lastly, why not experiment with something new and learn how to photograph bright objects at night? It is definitely a lot of fun, so get out and shoot some moon pics! :)

Update: See our new article on how to photograph the Supermoon with some updated instructions.

  • xattabych

    man, i’m starting dissapointing in photography from photoshop’s entrance… Где же искусство? Разве все изюмительные фотки это фейк?)

    • Nasim Mansurov

      xattabych, no, not all the great photos out there are fake. I personally almost never edit photographs in Photoshop, unless I work with Panoramas or HDR – my workflow is 99% based out of Lightroom. For moon photography though, since the moon is so bright, you have to use two separate exposures and combine them together. There is just no other way, simply because no camera can capture that kind of a range of light.

  • shams

    It’s fantastic. I can even see our house there. :)

    Just a question please? I am about to buy a zoom lens and I have got two options.
    1). NIKON 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S VR
    2). NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR

    Which one do you think more useful for beginners right now?

    thanks a lot.

    • Nasim Mansurov


      Thank you for the feedback! Without a question, I would go for 70-300mm VR! Although it is considered to be a consumer zoom lens, even professionals use it because it is so good!

      I believe Nikon has a great promotion on that lens until December 12, 2009, but it might be a bundle deal.

      • Shams

        Thank you for your advice. I am going to buy the 70-300mm one. But, if you remember Mirza Holmedov, saying, “Qulupnay Bahorda Buladi…”. The same thing in the UK. “Promotions US da buladi…”.

        best regards,

        • Nasim Mansurov

          Ah…true, I forgot! Sorry about that :)

    • Nora

      I’m a beginner and I have a Nikon. I use a 55/300 and I love it !! :) although 70/300 might be better, just a bit more expensive. But, eventually, i’ll get that one too. :P

  • Emilia Tokes

    Thank you soooooooo much for this page/advice/tips ! I just had the most beautiful moody cloudy bright gorgeous full moon ever tonight ! (funny it happened just on the winter Olympic closing night) and it was perfect and I finally had the right cam to capture it !

    so thank you soo much ! you saved a few tears ;)

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Emilia, you are most welcome! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :)

  • Terry

    hi there
    just a quick question, i took a picture of a moon with a 300m lens for the 1st time with a tripod n got a double image of the moon. one clear short of the moon n next to it the glow of the moon. is this due to the slow s/speed as i used F/11 at 2sec and only noted that i shld be using 1/125 (i’m using the canon Rebel XSI). great info though. cheers!

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Terry, the second image is most likely the lens reflection. Try placing the moon in the center of the frame and definitely use a faster shutter speed of 1/125 and above. Also, make sure that there are no clouds around the moon…

      • Terry

        i did as u mentioned n got a great short although even with max 300m lens the moon is still small, need to buy at least 600m but too expensive…any other method of zooming without spending $$$


        • Nasim Mansurov

          Terry, what kind of 300mm lens are you using? If you are using a fixed 300mm lens, you could add a 1.4x or 2.0x teleconverter to get more reach, which would make a huge difference for moon photography.

          • Terry

            that’s an idea, will hunt for one, TQ for your feedback

            • Nasim Mansurov

              You are most welcome! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • kerry

    Thank you Nasim. This is exactly the sort of info I was looking for. :-) It is much appreciated that you take the time to do these write ups.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      You are most welcome Kerry! :)

  • Philip (North Wales (UK)

    Hi there
    Many thanks indeed for your interesting article. It is pretty technical to capture amoon shot as you mentioned. Your shutter settings and aperture are very useful advice.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Philip, you are most welcome! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Philip (North Wales (UK)

        Hi Nasim
        It was nice to hear from you. I have since captured some pretty amazing photographs of the moon, which is down to your accurate write up on camera settings. Many thanks indeed, am very grateful


        • Nasim Mansurov

          Philip, you are most welcome! Thank you for your feedback, I appreciate it.

  • PNSC (Portugal)

    Hi Nasim
    I am also interested on moon photography. Surfin on the net I found more sites like this one. However the one I am sending the link is really special for moon photo lovers.
    Please take a look.

    No questions for now.
    I will try to do that with my D300. By the way, I am not very happy with the camera
    Regards to you all

    • Nasim Mansurov

      PNSC, wow, that’s a very interesting concept – I will definitely give it a try! Thanks for the link!

      Why aren’t you happy with your D300?

      • PNSC (Portugal)

        Hi Nasim

        My D300 seams not to work very well in low light conditions. many times i try different ways in those conditions and the pictures noise is huge. On top of that using the automatic 51 focus points the pictures are not focused in all scenes. I also tried to change the lenses but still the same result. One way I found to reduce that efect was changing the setup to central point focus. Improuve a little but not perfect. Maybe because I dont know how to handle properly all the options of the camera, so many time I end up using a small pocket camera that assures me nice pictures almost all times that I have to work in the field picturing rocks (I am Geologist).
        On D300 even the aautomatic mode doesnt look like completely automatic. I am an amatuer fotographer.

        • Nasim Mansurov

          PNSC, the amount of noise in the pictures depends on your ISO level. If you set your ISO too high, you will get noisy images. If the amount of ambient light is very poor, the camera won’t be able to do much and you will need to use flash. In terms of focus points, the center focus point is the one that should consistently work very well and will certainly give the best AF performance. The corner AF points do not perform well in low-light situations, so I would suggest to avoid them. One thing you can do, is map your AF to the front AF-L button and focus with your thumb. That way, in low light conditions, you can focus with the center focus point and then recompose as needed…

          I think you need to learn your camera…it should yield much better results than a point and shoot.

          Hope this helps.

  • John Leger

    i have a nikon d3000 w/ a 200mm lens and im trying to take a picture of the moon with a tripod but the pictures imtaking are blurry and advice..the lens is a nikon DX
    af-s nikor 55-2001.4-56gED..

    • Nasim Mansurov

      John, what is your shutter speed, ISO and aperture? How stable is your tripod and how are you triggering the camera?

  • Nathan Ciurzynski

    I just did some moon photography out in Joshua Tree with Canon 7D. My goal was to capture a shot of the moon by itself close up so that I could potentially use the image in other nighttime shots. Here’s what I got:

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Nathan, looks like you had a successful shot, congratulations!

  • Teng Chelsea

    hello…Mr Nasim
    nice to meet youi
    like your ” photograph web site”

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Nice to meet you too Teng!

  • Diane Burchfield Johnson

    HI Nasim,
    I had my D200 Nikon Camera for quite a few years now. The most of all I’ve always love to shoot the moon which is my huge hobby. I’ve also took the moon before it gets dark like around before 6 PM. It came out great and for tonight I totally forgot what iso and shutter speed the f/stop too. Thankfully, I had my message on my blackberry to save my setting menu. Sure enough I took quite a few shots. Will do the photoshop tomorrow and put it on my face book. I dont even see anything wrong with the D200 camera at all. I had the lens with 400mm plus was using my handheld with high shutter speed. If things are not working like it suppose to then I will do another one with tripod.

    • Diane Burchfield Johnson

      THE PICTURE CAME OUT PERFECTOOOOOOOO…… I LOVE IT AND AM VERY GRATEFUL FOR THIS WONDERFUL D200 NIKON CAMERA. I’m trying to put my picture on your website. How can I do this? Hope you can help. Shooting with RAW is the best!! :)

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Diane, the Nikon D200 is a great camera, I am glad you are enjoying the results from it!

      As far as posting a picture, simply upload your image to Flickr and then provide a link here for everyone to see! :)

  • Pradipta

    Hi! Inspired by you I have taken moon last night..Have look at it..Thanks for your guidance. Camera D7000, Lens 300mm f4D..Hand held

    Best Regards

    Pradipta New Delhi

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Pradipta, that’s a neat shot of the moon! I really like how it came out with all the textures, nice job!

  • bill

    thanks. very helpful – bill

  • Saurabh

    Thanks a lot for these wonderful tips sir.
    But will you please tell me how to achieve this kind of image in photoshop ?

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Saurabh, just copy the moon and paste it into a new picture…

  • Mark

    Hi Nasim,

    I like your Moon shots.

    How do you take a picture of the Moon and Venus, when they are close together.



    • Nasim Mansurov

      Mark, just wait for the moment and take a shot when it happens! :) Use the above tips and you should be able to do it…

  • Barbara

    Thank you for the article. It was very informative.
    I was told that I would have to buy a more expensive lens for my Nikon D3000 to take lunar photos. I have tried, and failed miserably, taking pictures of the moon, they turn out blurry. The lens I am using is the 55-200. Because of your answer to someone else, I am going to try it again. Fingers crossed for, at least, a good picture.

  • Navdeep


    In deed a great technical tip.

    I have canon 550d and 18-55m kit lens. What kind of shooting mode, aperture (with focal length), shutter speed and ISO do you recommend?

    Thank you for the feedback.


  • Iris

    thank you. I found your site tonight as I was trying to capture a couple of clear, crisp pictures of the moon tonight. Your tips were a tremendous help. Thank you again.

  • Alex

    Incredible article!! Everything I need to know to photograph that moon..
    Thanks Nasim.


  • Mike

    Photoshop is definetly woth its weight in gold.What would you recommend as far as exposure times to photograph a lunar eclipse? Thanks

  • Red

    Thank you sir for your wonderful info. I was looking in a astrophotography book on how to take moon pics but was unable to find anything about iso and f-stops values. The only useful info I got from the book was about mirror lock. Last night was a full moon and I got some pretty nice pics using a canon kiss x2 (d450) with a ef 55 – 200 4.5 – 5.6 usm II lens.

  • Luis Gomez

    Thanks for your help on shooting the moon. It was very helpful.

  • Krishna Kumar Mishra

    What happened in universe see it through my eyes…

  • Brian

    Thanks for your info Nasim I have a Nikon D7000 with a NIKON AF-S 70-200 F2.8 VR II LENS and a NIKON TC-20E III AF-I TELECONVERTER. I will play around with the settings a little and use your guide to start. Any suggestions about variations in my settings to what you have shown to get the best possible picture with my camera? I will be in Northern Ontario Canada on July 8 and 9 and should have a clear sky and the moon will be about 75%. I had tried this before with my D300 and a 55-200 lens and my results were not very good ( lack of knowledge as well was the main cause). Now that I have a much better lens and a new camera I have a feeling I will be getting a lot more detail of the moon vs as you put it a white blob

  • holly

    appreciate all your tips..heading to wyoming to capture the full moon july 16th..hoping for a nice shoot…I have a nikon D3000 with dx AF-s 55-200mm 1.4-5.6g lense. been practicing on the half moon and worried about the brightness of full moon ..right now my setting is at manual 1/40 Iso 200 with tripod. it’s not too bad…what should I try my setting at with a full moon and tetons in the background? thanks for your time.

  • holly

    oh, goal is to capture the moon just rising on the tetons so when I crop and zoom the picture I will have both mountain and moon in crop picture..

  • Philip

    Holly, hi there, just saw your mail re photographing the moon when full

    I normally use the following settings varying on fullness of moon

    Manual setting
    shutter 1/125
    Aperture F5.6 to F8 (F11 ideally)
    ISO 100 to 200 depending on brightness (have used ISO 80 in the past)
    Have captured fantastic moonshots hand held with IS on board but guess tripod
    would be improved

    Not sure on capturing the mountains though. Good Luck

    Not sure about background mountains though

    • holly

      appreciate your advice …I will try it out..heading out this week and have only one day to shoot the moon….I’ll drop by and let you know how it went…thanks again

  • DK


    I am using Canon 500D with Tamron 18-270 Lense.
    I used the same settings as you have mentioned in this post ( ISO 100, Aperture f/11, Shutter Speed 1/125).

    The picture I have taken they are pretty good when I view them on computer. As the moon look very small I try to zoom in or corp the image but I can see that moon is actually blurred. How to resolve this.

    Thanks in Advance.

  • Chris Thorpe

    I have a nikon digtal camera D3100 and is trying to take a picture of moon with my 55-300 telephoto len it have VR and also auto and manuel, I set it all on manuel and seem not able to get it big that I wanted and get it focus it still small, maybe I did something wrong so help me out



  • marc van der meulen

    so like you see i take at 1/125 , ExposureBiasValue : EV-4,0, FNumber : F8,0
    try it out, works great with a nikon 1972 300mm 4.5 and D300 Camera.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Marc, the image you posted cannot be opened, because only your contacts in Facebook are allowed to see it. You would have to share it through Flickr or other services.

  • Zero

    Thank you for the tutorial.

  • Daz Woolven

    Just wanted to say a big thanks to you for this page, i followed your instructions and set up my D600 just as you suggested and the photo’s i have taken tonight are awesome! Hugely helpful, thanks again! :o)

  • Amartya

    Hello Mr. Mansurov

    I have a Canon 60D, EFS 18-200mm. I wish to capture the moon, any particular suggestions/tips?

  • Neil

    Just wanted to say thanks for the tip, had been struggling with my Canon 600D until I came across your site.

  • Robert Evans

    bob/ South wales 7/11/2011

    thanks for the settings for my 7d took photos of the moon tonight came ou great
    tried before just got white blobs next job load it into Photoshop

    thanks again

  • Lisa Savage

    Thanks so much for your expertise!! The full moon tonight should be beautiful. I am going to attempt some shots of the eclipse in the morning. It will be taking place around 5:30 a.m. here. I don’t really know what to expect. I know the brightness of the moon will probably decrease rapidly when the eclipse starts. Do you think their will have to be extreme changes made in the typical settings? Finding a place to have both horizons with an unobstructed view seems to be my greatest challenge :/ I hope you are going to photo the eclipse so we can see some good shots of it!

  • Endri


    Why on Nikon i should have the ISO 200 and on Cannon ISO 100?!

  • Kashif Sherjeel

    Thank you very much with your help I was able to take pictures of the Moon Eclipse last night. I have posted the pictures on flickr

  • Gunjan Bagheshwar Verma

    Thankyou Nasim Munrov for all your gr8 literature here it helped me a lot! Well I want to ask you That I got Nikon D5100 and iam going to Buy a Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm lens and want to photograph the Moon well a teleconvertor would be necessary to use? And if yes then recommend me the one teleconvertor to use for bird photography!

  • Gunjan Bagheshwar Verma

    Sorry for that misSpell your Name Nasim!

  • Sherry


    You have posted a great read! I will take it to heart. I want to know how to photograph “Star Trails” I went out saturday night, it was about 20 degrees and the night sky was clear. All I got in the shot was a pink picture. I think there was too much light pollution in where I was at but planning on going to a rural area next. According to many posts I was to use a 30 sec shutter speed. Im wondering if it would work better to not have my lens at 300x?
    Have you ever tried capturing the star trails

  • Mahan

    Hello Nasim

    I tried your recipe above . . .marvellous ! It worked to a tee ! Thank you !!

    We had 2 days of beautiful moonlight here in NY. I switched my lens to an older manual 50mm 1.2 AI-S on my D300. Setting the aperture to f/16 gave a beautiful “star” just as it would with the sun on a bright day.

    Thanks for your tips !

    • Nasim Mansurov

      You are most welcome Mahan!

  • Ken

    Thanks so much for your information. I have a Nikon D7000 and I am attempting to bracket exposures as you suggest. I am able to bracket + or – several increments….what do you suggest? Maybe +1 and -1? I will be using Nikon 70-400 zoom.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Ken, yes, +1 and -1 should work well for bracketing!

  • ace

    Nice, thank you so much for your information. It helps me a lot.

  • Kirat

    Hi, it was really really helpful!Thank you so much.I needed some advice.

    I have Nikon D5100 and 55-300mm AF-S DX Nikkor lens.
    – I am eyeing Tamron 2x SP Teleconverter.Is it good?Also, do you recommend using a teleconverter or a dedicated telescope for moon photography?P.S. that I am a hobbyist.

    – Lastly, if I am using a teleconverter which affects the aperture by 2 stops, what aperture would you recommend?

    Thank you.Once again a very helpful post sir.

  • Aiman Zhafransyah

    Hi Nasim,

    I tried your tips last night and it really works! Here’s the link of the moon captured in Flickr:

    Thanks for the useful tips and keep them coming!

  • Abhishek

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I have tried a few times with my 70-200 but without a tripod. Will try your tips and hopefully get as good pictures as your random examples ;-)

  • Michael Hare

    Nasim, don’t know if you will see this since such an old article , but specialized situation this weekend , a Supernoon . I loved the article , my problem for this shot I have not encountered before . Sunset and moonrise is only one minute apart on May 5 , 2012 . The next night the moonrise (day after full moon) the rise is more than an hour after sunset . I can’t think of a way to get a good shot on the ”official” full moon in those relatively bright light conditions. Any ideas ? My best is to just shoot on the day after , I presume the moon size will still be above average in appearance. Or shoot the landscape shot on May 5 , and moon on 6th and superimpose .

    • Jason Weber

      Michael, I’m in the same boat.. I am trying for the shot tonight (5/4/12) around 6:41 Mountain time for the moon rise and again tomorrow (5/5/12)for the setting and rising around 8:00. Definitely worth trying both or all three nights. Good Luck.. I think the official Full Moon will be officially Full Moon on 5 May 2012 at 9:36 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. i found this useful..

  • Peter

    Thank you! I was very happy with the images I captured tonight thanks to your advice.

  • Linda

    Thank you–worked perfectly!

  • Craig Waters

    wow! Great article and I wish I had read it before last Saturday for the super moon. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy in my location on Saturday at moon rise, but it cleared around d midnight and I went out with my Canon T2i and 200 mm zoom. I got pretty good pics, but after reading your article I realized I had the f stop too low (open) and the craters, while visible, are muddled. But I know better for next time. I’m also looking for tips on lightning photography. Do you have an article on that and can you point me to it, if so?

  • Raj

    Thanks for the nice article. I am using the following:
    – Nikon D40
    – Sigma DG 70-300mm zoom
    – Manual mode and Aperture mode
    – Settings:
    Between F11 and F8
    Exposure: 1/250 t0 1/60

    I am not getting as crisp and clear image as your photos. I can see craters at the edge but
    the lower right side of the moon is either too bright or not clear enough to spot the craters. What am I doing wrong? Any advice?


  • LJS

    Thanks for your article. I took some photos of the full moon on July 4th. experimented with my camera ( Nikon D5100 w/telephoto lens) at wide range of different settings just to see the results. Got a beautiful picture of the moon in it’s orange state when it first comes over the horizon.

  • Kathy

    Thanks for a very informative post. I’m new to photography and am always looking for specific information to help me. This was great. I’ll be subscribing to your blog.

  • Pradeep Jayaraman

    Thanks for the tips on capturing the moon. I was getting blurry pictures before I read your post. I was going nuts. Now the picture came out pretty descent. I used a Canon Xsi. Since the maximum resolution is less, when zoomed in, the pic does not have much clarity. DO you think it will look nicer if I use a camera like t3i?

  • Emily Roesly

    You absolutely RULE! This is the very first time I’ve taken a photo of the moon that didn’t look like a white blob. You post processing info was brilliant as well. Thank you SO much! You can see it here:

  • Pam

    This was very helpful. I have a Canon EOS 60D, but come from a manaul SLR background.

    I have taken many daytime photographs, but not night time. The f/stop was the only one of which I was unsure, before reading your guideline suggestions.

    I was able to not only take my first satisfying images of the moon, I feel they are better than average – in short I feel it’s a success worth printing and framing.

    The detail is amazing and there’s plenty of room to play with it in Photoshop for all kinds of things.

  • Terry Majamaki

    Thanks for the excellent tips. I got my first moon photos with the blue moon last night. Check it out @

  • Tran Boelsterli

    I have a Nikon D3100. I followed the steps below, but my picture was still very blurry. Please let me know what I did wrong. Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Mount your D3100 to a sturdy tripod.

    2. Turn off VR (vibration reduction).
    3. Zoom to full telephoto –> I’m not sure what this means?

    4. Turn off ‘Noise Reduction’.
    5. Set ISO to 100 (or 200).
    6. Enable Aperture priority (A on the mode dial). Set your aperture to f/8 (or f/11)

    8. Enable Shutter priority (S on the mode dial). Set your shutter speed to 1/125 (ISO 100), or 1/250 (ISO 200)


    If the moon is too bright, set your shutter speed to a higher value.

    If the moon is too dim, set your shutter speed to a lower value.

    9. Adjust your metering mode to ‘Spot’ metering.

    10. Set White Balance to Cloud.

    11. Enable the self-timer and set it to 2 seconds
    12. Set your AF mode to Single-servo AF (AF-S) –> Is this step necessary?

    13. Focus on the moon, then flip the AF/MF switch on your lens to MF –> Is it really important to focus on the moon first, then flip to F?

  • martina

    In times when there was not photoshop I remember that a friend used to shoot the moon or the the sun bigger then they were: he was on a bridge zooming the next bridge with the moon in the background, closing the focal all the way (or something like that). The final result was that the spotted bridge was zoomed but the moon was disproportionately bigger, such as the moon space layer was splashed just behind the bridge. Can you confirm this?

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Hello, Martina.

      Telephoto lenses compress perspective making objects that are far away appear almost as big as those closer to you. So yes, using a long focal length lens when shooting moon would make it appear big.

      • martina

        Hi, thanks for your kind reply. Yes, I confirm he was hanging around with a big tele either, so I suppose closing the iso focal and using a high asa film has nothing to do with the final effect rather than getting the picture lighter as the tele eats the light and make the picture darker expecially in night conditions. Thanks

  • Matt

    You think the sky is otherwise “boring”? Do you not realise what a BEAUTIFUL universe our Lord God created for us?

  • Neo

    Thank you amigo!

  • Dinesh R

    Hi Nasim,
    My shots of the moon had pink/purple ring around the moon . Can you help me understand what could be the reason and what am i not doing right?

  • Khurram

    Hi Nasim,

    Read about your How to Photograph the Moon. I am planing to take picture with my 60D. I was just wondering if you have used this lens or any idea if its good one or not


  • Ines

    Just wanted to say thanks for the tip. I use it tonight on partial lunar eclipse with my 600D.

    Thanks a lot!!

  • jim

    just my two cents. filming the moon when it is full, isn’t always the way to go. while you may be able to encompass the entire area of the moon, it comes at a cost. because the moon is fully illuminated, it will become harder to get the details of the crater to come through in your shot. gibbous and crescent moons allow for an array of shadow depths to hit the moon, creating more depth in the image.

  • Ravi Prakash G

    Hi, Very nice and informative article. thanks a lot dude.

    I have a question for you, is it possible to attach telescope to a camera… I heard something called O ring, using that we can do it.. but I’m not clear about how to identify the right telescope and other accessories for my camera (if at all possible.), can u please explain me.

    Currently I’m using canon 550D, I brought the basic model since, I just started taking photographs :)

  • Srikar Appana

    I loved reading this article! So much good information. I’m about to try shooting the moon for the first time, and this has definitely given me a lot of information.

    Though I don’t have any telephoto zoom lens in my kit right now, I am planning on renting some gear on my way up into the mountains (I’m also from Denver!)

    Which would you suggest between the following:

    Nikkor 80-400 f/4.5-5.6D VR
    Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

    Though I could tack on a teleconverter to the 70-200, i don’t want to lose the clarity and a couple of f stops (though wouldn’t make too big a difference if I follow the “sunny 16″ rule). However, I was hoping to do some landscape photography the remainder of the time.

    Would appreciate any guidance!


    • Nasim Mansurov

      Srikar, I would not recommend the old Nikon 80-400mm AF-D lens – it is too slow, its autofocus is terrible. Wait until I publish the review of the Nikon 80-400mm AF-S today to see what would work best for you. If you want to buy a zoom lens for landscape photography, then the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II is the way to go (see my Nikon 70-200mm review). For wildlife, the Nikon 300mm f/4D lens is a safer bet, especially when coupled with teleconverters.

      • Srikar Appana

        Thanks Nasim! That’s helpful to know.

        Would I be able to get a little detail of the moon if I were to use the 70-200 mm f/2.8G VR II?


        • Nasim Mansurov

          You can, but 200mm can be short for a larger image. You need as much reach as you can get, so you will either have to add a teleconverter or get a longer lens…

  • Richard

    Hi there,just wondering I have a canon7d and was wondering what would be the best lenses to start out in photography.

  • Julie

    Thanks! I used my lil FujiFine Pix and got some awesome pics of the super moon. I am thrilled. I had a zillion epic fails first but finally… success!

  • jayr morales

    Hi Nasim,

    Very helpful article! :)

    By the way I am using a Nikon D90 with lens of 18-105 mm, would it be suffecient to get a quality shot with the Supermoon tomorrow? And what would you recommend best for nikon D90 telephoto lens? Thank you so much.

    • Guest

      hi :)

  • John O’Neill

    Nasim: Thanks for your insightful and detailed ongoing tips to the photography community. Most helpful and appreciated. John O.

  • Olivia

    Hi;). Very helpfull article thanks. I just have one question: why is the ISO setting on a Nikon different to a Canon?

  • natasha

    Actually we have two moons! One of which we cannot see.

  • Dee

    Thank you for your tips – I was so disappointed when I first tried – just a white blob in the sky. Then I ran across your article – changed my settings on my Olympus E-510 with a 2.0x teleconverter on a 150mm lens and got great shots. Thank you again – isn’t it great that almost 4 years later your article is still helping newbies like me enjoy photography?

  • Altaf Hussain Patel

    Thanks for such tips… nice work..

    I want to ask a thing can we capture a smaller image like a toy car look too big using ordinary digital camera ?

    i search but nothing found… do u have tip or solution for that. .. i am fond of it.

  • RGK73

    Thank you very much for excellent article. It’s to the point and perfect. I hope to capture the moon today and upload the photo. I was not able to use the camera effectively and couldn’t understand why my photos of moon are not coming as I see it.
    Thank you again!

  • Hank Black

    Thank you! I hope to capture the moon to use in composites. My last attempt was a “blob of white”.
    I appreciate the Photoshop editing comments as well. Thanks!

  • http://yahoo Freddie Owens

    To whom it may concern. Well I am a beginner in the Photograhy Business but I have a lot of questions , and that is if you do not really answering them.

    Freddie Owens

  •!Shooting-The-Moon-Quite-Literally/c1qao/8EF3709A-370E-4CC1-A9D6-1C5BD2A60C67 Robert Lowdon

    Great post. The moon can be tricky.

  • Sanjay Barar

    Great one once again i am regular visitor of your all the article Thank you much for all the special articles..!!!

  • Mayur

    Dear Nasim,
    I took moon photos on full moon night and a night before. Photograph taken a day before has come fantastic with the above setting, I can see craters very clearly. But on full moon day am not able to take similar photo. Can’t see creates there. My settings :
    D5100, ISO 100,200, shutter speed 1/200 till 1/800 and f/11 to f/18… Looks like moon is brighter than yday… Thanks for reply.

  • George

    So i can’t use the camera of my iPhone 5s, huh? Damn…

  • Elenore

    In paragraph 2 you have written “as in the example with a tree above” …… there is NO example on the whole page that has a tree in it.

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Elenore, it was just an example, an imaginary tree or any other object…

  • Ian Francis

    Thank you soooo much. My first ever moonshot and I’m very pleased

    Sony A58 tamron 300mm lens f11 1/125 on a tripod

    Used 2sec timer as I have no remote and I let it auto focus

    I’m in the middle of a city (Leeds in England) so I thought the light pollution would mess it up but it didn’t. It looked like a white blob in live view but trusted your settings advice and imported to my iPad and cropped it. No photoshop done

    Thanks again. So pleased and grateful


  • Mark

    HI great article very helpful.

    I have one question though. If I was to combine a photo of the moon with a photo of the stars around the moon, how is that possible? In order to expose for the stars, the moon will not only be blown out, it will be flared like crazy, blocking out large areas of the photograph.

    The only thing I can think of doing is cheating, by taking a photo of the moon and then combining it with a photo of stars in another part of the night sky.

    Am this correct?

    Thank you.

  • Himanshu Agnihotri

    I must thank You Nasim for superb article bcoz it works.
    I have tried my first shot to photograph moon basing the article as reference point.
    I am excited about what i got. Yes sure the shot can be further improved but then that’s just the beginning.
    Thank you.

  • Thomas

    I try the settings and i see two moons !!! I used a UV filter in my lens is that a problem ?

  • Richard Miller

    Your directions for Nikon were right on perfect. The way you wrote it up was easy to follow. I seen videos and other pages but your page was the best.
    Thank You

  • Shahzeb Javed
  • Virginia Ramunda-Marty

    Hi Nasim,
    Thank you SO much for this “to the point” tutorial.
    My body is a Canon XSI and the glass a 55-250

    Today I took several shoots at the “Super” Moon. None of them came out sharp.

    I used this great feature “Live View” where I zoomed in and try to get the moon the sharpest I could (otherwise I think is hard to guess when is actually in sharp focus) And I think I got it, but then, in the picture, it look really disappointing… :(
    I was using a ball headed tripod, mirror locked up and remote control for the shooting. Also I tried with both the Noise Reduction Feature ON and OFF as I remember reading to turn it off when you are super stable not to confuse the processor and end up creating a blur.

    Something worth to mention is that at such a high zoom levels, the camera shake just by moving the focusing ring is unbelievable… Any tips?
    What was also very hard to do it was to find the spot in the focusing ring when by moving it 2 mm it would go from blur-focus-blur. Any advice?

    This specific glass suffered a fall and while I never noticed any particular consequences I wonder if just maybe…

    Thank you again for your time,

    • johntate90210

      For shake, if you’re using a tripod, some cameras can use a remote control to click the shutter (my Nikon does). Amazon makes and sells one for the Nikon and I’d bet they do for various Canon’s, too. With a tripod, you’ll probably find the moon moves much quicker than you’d expect at high zooms.

  • Rick Segal

    Thanks for this great article and tips. Worked perfectly for my Nikon. That and a little nudge from Lightroom makes for some great photos.

    best regards,

  • Christine Tipton

    Thank you for this great article. It was easy to follow and I now have some great photos of the moon.

  • Gary Whenman

    Hi Nasim

    I would also like to thank you for a great article and a really informative website. For those new to photography, like myself, having someone explain things in such an easy to understand manner is an extremely useful resource……congratulations on a great website!

    I wonder if I could ask you one quick question on photographing the moon please?

    A few days ago we were lucky to have a super moon, so I took this opportunity to try and photograph the moon for the first time and using your advice. I got a few good shoots which I’m happy with and plenty more which went straight in bin :)

    However, there was one point during the shoot when some clouds passed in front of the moon and made the scene look very moody which I was keen to capture, but my lack of experience let me down. I got a nice shot of the moon but the clouds were nowhere to be seen! Its as if the moon was so bright it almost burned through the clouds and left just a round image.

    I tried in vain to adjust the aperture / lens speed, but gave up in frustration and thought I would look into this a bit more before I try again.

    Do you have any thoughts on this?

    best regards, Gary

    • Nasim Mansurov

      Gary – that’s very normal. The moon is much brighter than the clouds, so you cannot capture both at perfect exposure. Your only bet would be to try a shot with the moon overexposed and one that is properly exposed, then see if you can combine them together in Photoshop…it is a lot of work :)

      • johntate90210

        Perhaps try the HDR mode, if the camera has it?

  • Aravind

    HI ,

    Is it possible to get good results in moon photography with Nikon D3200 and Tamron AF 70 – 300 mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro .

    Thanks in Advance

  • Leon

    I just want to know the basics of editing photos using PhotoShop can you please help

  • Leon

    I just want to know the basics of editing photos using PhotoShop I bough a camera Sony DSC H300 can you please help

  • Santosh

    Hi Nasim,

    As a beginner i found your website is an extremely useful resource.

    I have canon eos 1200d 55-250 mm kit lens. Is it possible to get tat kind of image using this lens or should i buy any extra kit for that.
    I tried taking picture of moon but couldn’t get that kind of clarity.
    Any suggestions ?


  • Sid

    thanks for the guide…very useful

  • Gord

    Exactly what I was looking for! Thank you!

  • johntate90210

    A brief note to anyone using a tripod. It you’re using a high zoom then don’t be surprised to see the moon move out of frame fairly quickly. Also, many DSLR cameras can use an infrared remote to snap the shutter which can reduce shake. Check the ones made by Amazon.

  • ben

    this may seem a silly or irrelevant question , do these settings apply when shooting the moon in the early mornings. when the sky’s gone that light blue colour but the moon is still very clearly visable.

  • Daniel

    Worked perfectly. Thank you!

  • mark girardeau

    This article helped me out greatly!! I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge, I took an awesome shot of the moon tonight with help from reading this.

  • D Wyatt Gib

    Thanks for the article, but why would you say “if you know how to use the right tools in photoshop” without actually telling us what those tools are? Are they some secret? If it only took 2 minutes then it shouldn’t have been a problem to explain the main objective that most would want to take a pic of the moon for in the first place.

  • Ravi

    Hand held Moon Shot with the D610, Tamron SP 150-600mm, using the DX crop, VC on, 15m-infinity setting, f/6.3, 1/640s, ISO 100. The clouds played truant so couldn’t shoot the eclipse, ended up shooting the full moon instead. 04-04-2015, Night.

  • Houratious

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks for the article. Here is what I could do with my first attempt.


  • Christian A Boivin

    Grabbed this one last night w/ Canon Rebel T3 and your recommended settings (and threw a couple PhotoShop adjustments in there to grab the details – Auto Tone and Auto Color). Thanks for the tips!

  • John Schafer

    Always nice to find a good article on properly photographing the moon. Just shot this one a few days ago. What I think is interesting is the improvements in highlight recovery in raw files that we have now, both in camera and in post. I like the look it’s giving me to show more of a moody and mysterious moon image. This could be a good option to add as background to a fashion-type photo.

    I really like your blog here. It has a nice, clean layout without the clutter of so many, and good useful articles to help me cut through all the noise out there. So done with Facebook and other social media postings (which only link me to a website anyway). Blogs and websites are the way to go. Thanks Nasim!