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Moonlight Photography Examples And Tips

Here are some amazing examples of moonlight photography and an insight into how they were taken.

|  Landscape and Travel
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David Clapp headed out for an 8 hour night shoot on Dartmoor and here's his results as well as the gear that helped him capture his shots.

Gear Used:

  • Canon 5D MK III
  • Canon 17mm TS-E Lens
  • Canon 24mm TS-E II Lens
  • Head Torch

Photos And Technique:

After a localised start at Saddle Tor the walking got more adventurous and I headed west along the Princetown road to get to Windy Post, and then back to Haytor which ended the shoot with a colourful sunrise, albeit somewhat localised in the sky area.


This first shot, taken at ISO3200, f/5.6 has a huge amount of depth of field thanks to the 17mm TS-E Lens. Literally everything but the very bottom is in sharp focus to infinity.


This shot was taken with the 24mm TS-E II Lens with ISO1600 for 30 seconds at f/5.6. The lens was tilted very slightly (around 1/2deg) to get a little extra foreground sharpness although once again it's losing it a little, but it's barely noticeable. I used a torch to add light to the falls for around 5 seconds then I ran off to the right to light paint the cross.

A huge moon halo was in the sky for around three hours on and off, which kept me busy. This is a combination of two images taken with the 17mm TS-E Lens. I didn't move the camera between shots and both exposures were 2 seconds long.

For the shot of the halo the lens was set at infinity with an aperture of f/5.6 and an ISO of 1600. The focal plane was then repositioned to capture a sharp shot of the cross. It was shot as a silhouette so I could create a mask in Photoshop and I used my torch to light paint the left side for 5 seconds and the right for 10.

Finally the last shot is made from three images combined in Photoshop to get the blend and colours right. I was so exhausted anything was a bonus, but I really wasn’t expecting to get so much colour. I was essentially in the wrong place, but it's worked out well in the end. It was all shot at ISO100, making super-smooth files.

Visit David Clapp's website:

Other Useful Tips:

  • Moonlight can be rather 'hard' and if you find yourself shooting at full moon light levels can be higher than expected.
  • On a clear night, moonlight is strong enough to cast shadows and it is definitely worth having a go shooting scenes with it.
  • Focusing can be challenge because it is so dark so take along a powerful torch to light up the subject to help you focus, whether you are focusing manually or using the autofocus system.
  • If you are photographing just the moon you'll need a long lens and you'll need to meter manually. This is because the camera sees is a blanket of blackness the moon can end up looking like bright light bulb shining out of the sky. More moon tips can be found here.

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avacreates 9 448 1 United Kingdom
12 Dec 2012 7:21AM
ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE - I - I have a lot to learn but I need a lot more patience too. I still don't understand how to use the focal plane - I'll have to google it.
Fantastic work
16 Dec 2012 1:04PM
This is too creative Smile thanks for the tips. such a genius.

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