Saturday, March 19, 2011
Tonight will be the (pick one: biggest, brightest, closest) full moon in almost 20 years. A lot of guys will be out photographing it, so I thought I'd offer some advice for getting a properly exposed picture of the full moon. Most pictures of the full moon are overexposed--white discs with no surface detail. To get a properly exposed picture, remember the advice I got from The Nikon School traveling show back in the early 70's: it's always high noon on the moon.
This means that the proper exposure for a full-moon shot follows the Sunny 16 rule: the proper exposure for a sunny day is f/16 aperture and a shutter speed of 1/the ISO setting (1.e. 1/100 for ISO=100). So, for tonight, put your camera on manual mode and set the film-speed/sensitivity/whatever to 100, set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/100 sec. You can, of course, use any equivalent setting.
As was point out when I made this suggestion on The Online Photographer blog several months ago, this is only an approximation. The moon is actually a dark gray color (the color of coal, as the Greensboro Daily Photo pointed out) so the applicable rule is more-nearly the Sunny 13 rule, but in today's digital world, either will get you close enough for your first try. (Do remember that a newly rising moon will be darker than an overhead moon so exposure will be different for each position.) Good luck and good shooting.