Supermoon over Manhattan by Kevin Ly on

The moon is probably one of the most popular things to photograph at night but most people struggle to get great images. The moon is essentially a reflection of the sun so you have to think quite differently when photographing moonlit scenes. If you use traditional night modes, you will end up overexposing for the moon and just get a bright white orb. Most people like moon images that actually show detail of the moon. This is usually only possible immediately before sunset or after sunrise when the sky is brighter and more evenly balance between foreground and background. At night, the contrast between the bright moon and dark foreground makes things quite difficult.

To take great moon images, try finding a telephoto lens or a zoom lens to increase the size of the moon in your images and allow your sensor to capture more detail.

Christmas Moon-Jupiter Conjugation by Kevin Ly on

A tripod would also be helpful. The biggest trick if you want to have interesting moon lit shots is to take two exposures, one exposed for the moon and one for the foreground and merging the two images in post. I’ll create a tutorial on that shortly.

Another tip is to focus on the moon rather than the foreground. Sometimes I find that the moon is not always in focus when you focus to infinity. I tend to also use manual focus while using a zoom focus assist (commonly found on DSLRs).

iPhone tip: Turn HDR on, and stabilize your phone focusing on the moon so the exposure is initially set for the brighter moon. Obviously the quality and detail in the much smaller moon will likely be less but it should help. If you have a neutral density filter or sunglasses available, putting that over the camera will also create less of a white orb and allow your phone to take more detail.