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By Anacithidus
I was in a rush last night when I got this so I pretty much let the camera do what it wanted but i'd like to be able to get better shots of moonlight but especially silhouettes in moonlight. Taken handheld, no tripod.

I will be upgrading to a Canon 60d soon, I don't know if the advice would differ with that than the A200 I have now. And I won't be getting a tripod as it'd be very rarely used it won't be worth spending the money.

Tags: General Silhouette Moonlight

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


paulbroad 9 116 1064 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2014 9:25AM
Smple tripods are not expensive. Aldi do one at less than £15. Not ideal but better than nothing. In this case you need the moon and the silhouetted branches much bigger in the frame. There also needs to be specific interesting shapes i there. I fear you will not shoot such images properly without a tripod is the simple advice.


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pamelajean Plus
10 969 1832 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2014 6:25PM
I see from your portfolio that you take a lot of gig photography, Ash, and are therefore competent using your camera in low light situations.
In those situations you are dependent upon the available lighting for your shot, and so you choose a high ISO and a fast shutter speed.
With live music, the musicians will be moving....not so the moon.

Most people will use a tripod and a long exposure to capture the moon, but that is usually when they are taking moonlit landscapes or scenes.
I have personally successfully taken a shot like yours here without a tripod or long exposure, but a lot depends on the strength of the moonlight. You want to avoid what has happened in this image, that is, to prevent the moon’s light from degrading the silhouette that you are going to use as the important element of your image, if possible.
But exposing to balance detail in the foreground against detail in the full moon’s disk is sometimes difficult. Trial and error will help you find the best exposure that doesn’t overexpose your moon. You may choose to rely on the blinking highlights in your camera, or your meter or histogram for the best exposure settings, but you will probably find that taking several shots at different exposures will serve you well. Because the moon’s brightness will vary each month, it’s difficult to be more specific, but a glance at the histogram on your LCD screen could tell you if you need to adjust the exposure or not.

But it’s worth bearing a few things in mind.
When the moon is low in the sky, the light is softer.
Unlike the sun, the moon varies considerably in brightness, depending on its ‘phase’, which changes over the course each month.
Although the full moon can look spectacular, as a light source it is often too strong.
The best time to shoot the moon is shortly after the sun has set, just as the moon is beginning to rise, when it appears largest.
When the moon is higher in the sky, like the sun in the middle of the day, the light is harsher.

You are probably already aware that the way to create a silhouette is to have significantly bright light behind your subject, then take your light reading off the background, not off the subject, so that your camera adjusts for its exposure based on the moonlight.
This helps to ensure that your subject is successfully underexposed (silhouetted) whilst your background hopefully has a well-balanced exposure.

On the subject of tripods, you can buy a perfectly adequate one on the internet for as little as £10!
Then you could consider taking this challenge a step further and use some long exposures, starting with an exposure of around two seconds at f2.8 with an ISO of around 800-1000, making several additional exposures, doubling the time at each shot, because each time you shoot the moon its light will be different, so trial and error is required.
You can also add some more light by using your Exposure Compensation.
Another useful piece of equipment is a remote release, which will further minimize any vibration, but you could alternatively use your camera’s self-timer, so that you don’t move the camera when pressing the shutter.

You still have some good colour in your sky here, which looks good behind the branches.
I don’t think you needed all the space at the top. In fact, a square crop might look better, just showing the sky, the moon and the silhouetted branches, keeping it simple and effective.

pamelajean Plus
10 969 1832 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2014 7:07PM
I meant to give you a few links, Ant.
Here is an EPZ article about Moonlight Photography.
And here is a picture I found on the internet, of ferns against the moon, which might fire your imagination.
16 Jan 2014 8:31PM
That's brilliant, cheers. I'll be sure to have a play around next chance I get. With regards to the empty space at the top, if i'd have lowered the camera much more i'd have McDonalds in the background but I will be using this as a gig poster soon so it'll soon be filled up.

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