If you want to observe the night sky, you must have wondered how to take pictures of the moon without the need for professional cameras and expensive lenses. Thanks to the advancement of camera sensors added to the processing power of smartphones, it is possible to capture stunning images of the moon using mobile phones or even simpler cameras.
As a rule, we can say that the best devices for taking pictures of objects in the night sky are those that have the resources to manually control exposure time, ISO (the sensor’s light sensitivity scale) and focus – note that this is true for both digital cameras and smartphones.
Of course, devices such as mobile phones or amateur digital cameras will not capture the same shot that a professional photographer would using professional equipment. However, it is important to remember that even with basic equipment it is possible to take amazing pictures of the moon. See some tips below:
How do you take pictures of the moon?
To better understand how to take good pictures of the moon with non-professional digital cameras and cell phones, Canaltech Talk to the professor. Dr. Rodolfo Lange, Professor at São Paulo State University (Unesp), Bauru Campus (SP) and author of the book night sky photography. “To get a reasonable image of the moon with a regular camera, we need good focus control,” he noted.
The professor says that if the camera has the resources to automatically focus on the desired object (which, in this case, is our natural satellite), then just point the focus set-point towards the moon itself. “After that, we have to wait for the camera to do autofocus,” he explained.
Another important aspect is the exposure time, that is, the time the shutter will be opened until the sensor receives the light. Here, it is important to remember that the Moon is the brightest object in the night sky, followed by Venus. Therefore, disable the flash, lower the ISO if possible and make adjustments to avoid excessive light in the image.
For this, the professor suggests choosing camera exposure times that make the moon not so bright, but also not ending up opaque. Start with the lowest possible values and increase them as needed. “Take several shots with different settings to try it out, and see which one looks best,” he explained. And don’t forget to write down the settings for future use!
Guilherme Bellini, a member of the team at the Unesp “Lionel José Andriatto” Astronomical Education Observatory, adds that the ideal time to photograph the moon depends on the phase. “If we are in [fase] Growing, for example, I prefer to set the record in the late afternoon, when there is not much sunlight and details are more visible,” he said. “In the waning phase, the best thing is to do it at dawn or before sunrise.”
More tips for taking pictures of the moon
To take pictures of the moon without losing clarity, consider carefully zooming in on your gear. “It is preferable to use only optical rather than digital zoom, so that the image does not deteriorate,” the professor warned. Lange. This difference is important, because optical zoom uses the viewfinder to “zoom in” the subject being photographed. Digitalis, on the other hand, uses a technology that uses algorithms to try to “guess” details, which damages image quality and leaves it looking choppy or “embossed”.
For photos using a cell phone, it is worth testing different exposure times, leaving the device in automatic mode and even using applications. “There are apps that can help you configure camera control on your cell phone, like Google Camera, for example, but it will depend a lot on the smartphone and its limitations,” the professor said. Lange. “Apps won’t do miracles, but they can help a lot.” Some devices, such as the Google Pixel, have a dedicated astrophotography mode.
The stability of the device is another aspect of great importance to ensure the sharpness of the images. “Stand up your cell phone so that it doesn’t vibrate while the picture is being taken, otherwise the moon will appear blurry or hazy,” the professor said. To ensure the stability of the device, it is worth leaving the phone resting on something or using a tripod.
If you want to enhance your photos even more, you can add other tools to your cell phone or camera. “An indispensable component of taking a detailed picture of the Moon is an instrument that gives you the appropriate magnification, such as telescopes, binoculars, and even monoculars,” Gilherme suggested.
Finally, one last tip is to keep in mind that the higher the moon is in the sky, the less atmospheric interference will be in the image. He concluded, “In this way, problems such as chromatic aberration, turbulence and noise are reduced.” Chromatic aberration is a distortion in the colors of an object in an image, which results in the creation of unwanted colored streaks at the edge of the object.
On the other hand, a moon close to the horizon helps get images that look “huge”. This is due to the optical illusion that occurs when our brains compare the size of the moon to the size of objects (buildings, trees, etc.) in the foreground of the scene.
Source: Forbes, Photography Space
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