How Do I Photograph the Supermoon? Photography Tips From NASA Pro

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How Do I Photograph the Supermoon? Photography Tips From NASA Pro

Photo Credit: NASA/ Bill Ingalls

  • A full moon is this close to the Earth after about 69 years
  • NASA offers some tips to shoot the Supermoon creatively
  • The Supermoon won't be this close till 2034 at least

Unless you're living in the middle of the desert (in which case you'll have the best view), the moon is going to be the closest to the Earth on November 14. This is happening after almost 69 years, and the 'Supermoon' is set to rise in all its magnificent glory. Why this is important? Because the last time a full moon was close to the Earth was in 1948, and will not happen again till 2034. This means that it will be the largest moon seen through the naked eye in more than an 80 year time-frame. Pretty neat, right?

Now that we have you convinced that the Supermoon is a big deal, we (and NASA) predicted that you'd want to take grand pictures of the real deal. With that in mind, NASA's senior photographer Bill Ingalls has shared some pro-tips on how to shoot the supermoon and capture its 'gloriousness'. Here are some useful pointers to gear up for the perfect shot.

(Also see: What Is Supermoon and What Time Can I See It Live in India and Other Countries?)

Do not shoot the moon by itself
The most important tip he gives to his readers is that shoot the moon with a reference to magnify its largeness. "Don't make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything. "I've certainly done it myself, but everyone will get that shot. 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," Ingalls advices.

Do your homework
Ingalls says that doing your homework before the shot is imperative. For example, if using a rooftop for snapping a picture, it is important to be ready with permission to avoid any last minute hiccups. "I use Google Maps and other apps - even a compass -- to plan where to get just the right angle at the right time," he said

Be creative with your resources
The NASA photographer breaks the myth that emphasises the need of good equipment in order to capture a good photo. It's not necessary to have big telephoto lenses, and other grand equipment to take a spectacular shot. While taking a photograph of the Comet Lulin in 2009, Ingalls faced a challenge and overcame it brilliantly. He explained, "I had just basic equipment and saw all these people with great telescopes making a picture I could never get. So what could I do differently?" Ingalls aimed his long lens between the trees, using the red light of his headlamp to paint the forest with a long exposure. The result was magical, with National Geographic naming his comet image one of the top 10 space photos of the year.

Personalise the photo
Remember all those illusion photos of people holding the Sun, Taj Mahal, or the Eiffel Tower? Well, you can now pretend to hold the Supermoon as well. Just by taking the photo from a certain angle can create a photo where it would look like you're holding the Supermoon - a great trick to experiment with the family. "I think this would be a lot of fun to do with kids, if nothing else, to just have them witness it and talk about what's taking place. There are lots of great photos of people appearing to be holding the moon in their hand and that kind of thing. You can get really creative with it," Ingalls said.

Clever tips for smartphone photography
While Ingalls isn't all that excited about clicking the Supermoon with a smartphone camera, he does provide some valuable tips for those who have no DSLR to shoot. "It may be a good challenge, actually. 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."

Clever tips for digital SLR photography
Ingalls recommends using the daylight white balance setting for capturing moonlight through a digital SLR. For those with longer lenses he instructs, "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."


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Tasneem Akolawala Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to More
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