Sony a6300 & 70-200mm f/4.0

0.8 seconds | f/5.0 | ISO 800

Capturing Tips


These tips are for photographers wanting to capture the rising or setting moon behind an interesting foreground. This is slightly more challenging than just taking a shot of the moon itself as you have other factors to consider.


You'll need: A tripod & a camera with a decent zoom (200mm - 800mm).


Location, location, location


Planning and getting the right location is probably the most important step in getting the shot. I use The Photographer Ephemeris​ (TPE) to find a suitable location. The app lets you know the exact direction and movement of the moon, from rising to setting, from any pinpointed location on the map. It'll even show you elevated areas nearby if a high location is needed.

You need to be quite some distance in order to create a forced perspective of the foreground subject looking a lot smaller when compared to the moon. Depending on your foreground subject, ideally you will be 2km to 10km away. I was 11km away when taking the Auckland City image, above.

Image stabilisation


Turn this off, whether it be on your lens or part of the built-in camera function. You'll be on a tripod so any image stabilisation from your lens/camera during the exposure will adversely effect the sharpness of your image. Unfortunately I learnt this the hard way; the comparison image of Auckland City (above) had image stabilisation left on and is not as sharp as it could've otherwise been.

Getting the right exposure

You'll be faced with a bright moon and probably a dark foreground. This is where knowing your histogram and getting the right exposure is key. Exposing so that you don't blow out the highlights of the moon is important but don't be afraid to push the highlights to their limits. The moon may look overexposed on the back of the camera but as long as the histogram shows that the highlights are not blown out, you will be able to recover the detail in post-production. By pushing the highlights to their limits you will capture maximum shadow detail. See the histogram comparing the RAW image against the processed version. You can see that the shadows and highlights were able to be recovered.

The Histogram



Lift up the exposure to bring out more detail in the shadows. Be careful of creating noise (dependent on your camera).

Reduce the highlights to bring out the details in the moon.

Increase the shadows to bring out more detail in the foreground. Again, be aware of the noise this might create. Noise can be reduced in post to a point but be careful not to lift the shadows too high if your camera's dynamic range limited.

Increase the clarity to make the image pop.

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