Supermoon 2016: Tips On How To Take Photos Of The Supermoon
Have you set your calendar for tomorrow, November 14? If not, then go ahead and block it, as you might be able to witness a spectacular lunar night with the biggest, brightest full moon expected to appear tomorrow in nearly 70 years.
“The full moon of November 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016, but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century,” says NASA. “The full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until 25 November 2034.”
Referred to as a “supermoon,” this takes place when the moon, in its full phase, is at the closest point to Earth in the 27-day lunar orbit. When these occur together, the supermoon will appear about 15 percent larger than average.
To capture this spectacular event, Bill Ingalls, a NASA photographer for more than 25 years and one of the world’s greats at photographing sky event, has shared his tips for photographing supermoon.
1. Include landmarks in the picture
Ensure that you place perhaps a building or some other land-based object in the same frame as the moon. Ingalls said that the shot won’t stand out among the pack if it does not include any other object for reference.
“Don’t make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything. Instead, think of how to make the image creative – that means tying it into some land-based object. It can be a local landmark or anything to give your photo a sense of place,” he said. This implies that in all likelihood you will be shooting the moon when it is closer to the horizon. Since the moon appears larger at the horizon, this could work in your favour.
2. Scout the location carefully
Scout your location so you can capture the right angle at the right time. This means make use of every tool possible to get the perfect shot, including Google Maps and compasses, to help you locate a spot where you are able to see the moon as well as the reference object you want to include. Also, based on your location, read up on where and when the moon will appear on the horizon. If possible, travel to an area far from city lights to avoid light pollution. The best time for Americans to see the supermoon at its biggest and brightest will be late Sunday night or Monday evening.
3. Use advanced DSLR techniques
According to Ingalls, the daylight white balance setting is good for capturing moonlight. After all, the moon is reflecting the sun’s light. If you’re planning to use a longer lens, “Keep in mind that the moon is a moving object. It’s a balancing act between trying to get the right exposure and realizing that the shutter speed typically needs to be a lot faster,” Ingalls said.
4. Use your smartphone
For those who don’t have an SLR camera on hand, Ingalls said you can still get some good shots on a smartphone. “You’re not going to get a giant moon in your shot, but you can do something more panoramic, including some foreground that’s interesting. Think about being in an urban area where it’s a little bit brighter,” Ingalls said.
Once you are there, to get the right light balance of the moon on newer iPhones and other smartphones, “Tap the screen, and hold your finger on the object (in this case, the moon) to lock the focus,” he said. “Then, slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure.”
5. Be creative
Try and make your shot memorable even if you don’t live near a huge monument or have access to some of the special rooftops. For instance, when Ingalls went to Shenandoah National Park in 2009 to photograph Comet Lulin, unlike other photographers, he didn’t have a telescope with him. Ingalls instead decided to brighten the forest by using the red light of his headlamp while shooting the moon with a long lens between the trees. That photo was declared as one of the top 10 space photos of the year by National Geographic.
6. Use people to bring it to life
The November 14 supermoon is a perfect opportunity to introduce kids to astronomy. If possible, try and get your kids to stand still for a few minutes and including them in the shot with the moon, Ingalls said. “There are lots of great photos of people appearing to be holding the moon in their hand and that kind of thing,” he said. “You can get really creative with it.”
The Slooh Community Observatory will offer a live broadcast for November’s full moon on November 13 at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT on November 14). You can also watch the supermoon live on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh.