Shooting the Moon

The other night I stepped out to the dock to put away some paddles that the boys had forgotten in their enthusiasm to go to dinner with Walker’s dad… and thirty seconds later came running back into the house because I had to try and get a shot of the moon rising over the bay.

It turned out better than I expected, but isn’t quite what I had hoped for:

Moon Rise Over Chesapeake Bay, 2020/10/2

The difficulty of capturing a moon photo comes down to glass size. The moon already looks large to us because of an interaction between the curve of the atmosphere, density of the atmosphere affecting how light bends, and our own eyes being quite nearly spherical. It’s all a stack of lenses piled up one upon the other, giving you the effect of a giant moon.

That’s why when you try to take a moon shot with your phone, you’ll almost always be utterly disappointed. Even multi-lens fancy phones are still using an array of barely curved lenses. To shoot the moon properly you need a nice, large, curved glass lens. The basic stock lens on my Nikon (AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G) is just barely adequate.

I like this shot, but I do think I should have put the foreground water into focus, rather than trying to focus on the moon and the island, and obviously it would have been better with a larger lens that would show off how large the moon looked over the island, about three miles away.

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