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Full Moon

Jan 23, 2008 Just yesterday I was answering e-mails and the subject of the ‘F8’ rule came up. In photography the F8 rule is: if your subject is lit by the last hour or so of daylight, your exposure can be F8 and the nearest time value to the ISO setting. In other words if you are shooting at ISO 100 then you can set your exposure to F8 for 1/100th of a second. In bright daylight the 'Sunny 16' rule comes into affect. The 'Sunny 16' rule is used when your subject is lit by bright sunlight. In that case you set your aperture to F16 and the time value to the ISO setting. So if you are shooting ISO 100 then your exposure would be F16 for 100th of a second.

We sometimes forget, or more accurately we don't think about the fact that the moon is lit by the sun. The moon does not generate its own light; instead it is reflecting light fro the sun. Most novice photographers of the moon, including myself, think that it will require a long exposure. This is not the case, as my early shots of the moon returned a bright indiscernible blob. The moon is actually a perfect subject for the F8 and Sunny 16 rules.

I used last night’s nearly full moon to put these rules into practice. In Los Angeles the weather had been drizzly and cloudy all day. However, sometime during the night the clouds broke apart and the moon was in unobstructed view. In fact with the cold and clear air the moon seemed very bright. My initial shots lacked detail of the darker areas and confirmed the brightness. I used the 'Sunny 16' rule as a starting point (F16 @ 1/100th) but needed to increase my speed to 1/250th of a second in order to bring out some detail of the features on the surface of the moon. In this Photoshop'd version you can see the Tycho Crater in the lower right ( Wikipedia 2006 ).

My understanding is that during the full moon, photographing the details is difficult because the brightness of the full moon washes out the darker features. This is a reason scientist use lunar eclipses as a time to study the moon surface. I'll have to take some more pictures of the moon in its different phases to see for myself.


 Tips, Techniques & Tools Utilized
  Minimizing Vibrations     EOS 1D Mark II SLR     TC-80N3 Remote Shutter  


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