How to photograph the super moon on August 31

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With the second of two supermoons in August set to grace our skies tomorrow night, we asked Canon Master Sean Scott for a few tips for capturing it. 

The first step in all photography is deciding what kind of image you want to capture. This will determine your location, which camera and lens to use, and which settings.

Image: Sean Scott

If you want a landscape image with the moon taking up a smaller portion of the image, you’ll want to use a wide-angle lens, but if you want a large image of the moon, it’s best to use a telephoto lens.

From here you can determine the best location to shoot, which will be key in the outcome of your image, especially for shooting a subject like the blue supermoon. 

For a wide angle shot, you want to find a nice location without too much light pollution to let the moon light up your landscape. Some of my favourite spots are Burleigh Heads or the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

If you’re using a telephoto lens, then using an app like The Photographers Ephemeris is great.

This will not only give you the time of the moon rise but also a lot of information as to where the moon will rise and be in the sky at night.

The basics

The specifics on how to shoot the moon will depend on if you are using a wide-angle lens or a telephoto lens, but these basics apply across all lenses.

  •        A good tripod to stabilise the camera and ensure a clear image is always the best starting point
  •        A remote shutter either via the Canon app or even a 2 second timer works will also be helpful to stop camera shake when pressing the shutter
  •        You will also want to turn off image stabiliser on the lens as it is not needed with a good tripod set up
  •        For those looking to run images through processing, it’s best to set the camera to Manual mode and shoot in Raw, as this will provide the most post processing options.
Image: Sean Scott


It’s important to keep in mind that the actual exposure setting will continue to change as the night gets darker, which will impact the outcome of your images. If the exposure time is too long for the lens you have selected, you will capture the movement of the moon, resulting in blurred images.

With a wide-angle lens, you have a lot of options for a longer exposure - I would normally start at 400 ISO F8 and then adjust the exposure time to suit. 

With telephoto lenses I like to shoot at 1/250 second and adjust aperture and ISO to suit.  If you’re looking for a silhouette, then exposing for the bright part of the moon will achieve this. 

Image: Sean Scott

Incorporating a subject

If you’re hoping to place a subject in front of the moon with a telephoto lens, then this tip is for you. You will need to get a long way away from your subject with a telephoto lens if you want to place them in the same shot as the moon - up to 1km away. I recommend you do a test shoot so you can make sure that you have the angles right for when the moon rises. 

There is no right or wrong way of shooting the moon and just setting the camera to manual and experimenting with some string will not only give you a variety of results but also teach you more about your camera. 

The important things to remember that will enable a great photo are the tripod, remote shutter, and making sure the exposure time is not too long for the lens you have selected.

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