You've got to give it to the Moon. It is not one to be photographed on the fly. Smartphone images of our natural satellite turn out like smudgy, flare-y blobs (unless you are using some AI trickery). But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to get a good picture of the Moon with a bit of patience and the right approach.
Monday’s full moon is going to be a supermoon. This is an occasional coincidence that happens when the Full Moon takes place when the Moon is at its perigee, the closest point in its orbit around Earth. When this happens, the Moon tends to be a fair bit brighter and appear larger in the sky than when it is at its furthest point, the apogee.
Pick the right time and the right settings
The best time to photograph the Moon is actually right after sunset when the Moon is just rising. The color of the sky, and possibly clouds, should make it easier to control the exposure and capture a good picture of the Moon. It is easier when it’s a bit brighter.
And have a look at the settings. Older smartphones might not give you much flexibility, but newer ones let you toy with focal length, exposure, ISO (the sensitivity of the camera), and shutter speed a little bit more. Playing with those parameters might give you THE picture.
“Make sure not to use flash, and switch on HDR (high dynamic range), if your phone has it. HDR, simply put, means that there will be a high contrast between the darkest and lightest parts of an image. This typically makes images more striking. Many modern smartphones feature HDR. Using flash, meanwhile, has ruined many a night sky capture,” Mark Lord, founder and owner of Mark Lord Photography, told IFLScience.
Focus on the Moon… but not too much
It might be tempting to just zoom on the Moon and try to get as much of it as possible but that’s usually the way to a big mess. You are actually better off doing the opposite.
“Even newer smartphones lack the capacity for zoom. Trying to zoom in on an object, particularly one as far away as the moon, may compromise the resolution and quality of an image” Lord continued.
“Instead, I recommend creating a more interesting shot by taking a landscape-style photo, adding depth and variety by making use of objects and landmarks in the foreground. A full moon captured through tree branches, for example, can make for a very spooky and atmospheric image.”
But while having nice things in the foreground is good, you should still focus on the Moon. Go ahead and click on it. Focusing on other objects might lead to the Moon being overexposed.
Hopefully, this advice will lead to some gorgeous images of the Moon.