In this post I go through how I got the shot below of the Blue Moon Easter weekend in Virginia.
To get a really detailed shot of the full moon, quite a few things are needed. You have to have a camera with manual setting capabilities and a really long lens at a minimum. Most people use a 100-400mm lens, but that still doesn’t have the reach needed to get good detail. You will have to crop in too much and lose a lot of quality in doing so.
“Can’t I use an extender and basically double my lens length?” You say. Yes, you certainly can, and you will effectively go from 400mm to 800mm, but you have drawbacks in doing so. The first is quality. The 800mm that you are getting with you 2x extender is nowhere near the quality that you’d get by having a dedicated 800mm lens. You lose sharpness when you extend, which is fine for a lot of situations, but the moon has a great deal of detail. The second issue is aperture. When you use an extender not only are you doubling the length of lens, but cutting in half the amount of light coming into the lens. You 400mm f5.6 is now a 800mm f11.2. Ouch. Depending on the camera you now have to boost your ISO to compensate and that will give you noise.
So so how did I get this shot? With a gigantic lens of 1100mm, which is my Meade ETX telescope.
I have a handy dandy eyepiece projection adapter allowing me to set my Sony A6300 up to use my telescope as a lens. I do still have a small aperture, but it is fine for this task.
‘So do I just go out, plop my telescope on its tripod and shoot away? Not really. The earth spins about 25,000 mph (if I remember correctly). That is fast and you see it when you are using a lens that big on a tripod. To stop the action, I needed to increase shutter speed.
‘My settings here with the telescope as the lens as 500 as my shutter speed and ISO2600. But I had 1 more problem, the lens was too large as the moon would not fit in frame. 😊 Okay, then how did I get this shot? I took 2 shots and merged them into 1 in Photoshop.
Well that’s how I got the shot. Hope that answered a question or two. I’m setting up some moon workshops right now, so come out and shoot with me. As always, feel free to ask questions on Twitter or Facebook, and please follow me on each.