How To Photograph The Super Moon


On  April 7th-8th we will be treated to yet another “super moon”! April 7th is when it’s the closest to the Earth, but April 8th is when it is actually FULL.
Here are some tips on how to get great photographs of the super moon.


You’ll want a location that is as high up as possible, facing west.

To show off the size of the super moon, you will want to find a building or structure that can show the scale nicely. If possible, it would be better to have something that is very brightly lit up, like a building, or something that has a nice shape that could be silhouetted against the moon.

To find out the exact position the moon will be in the sky as it rises, use an app like Sky Guide (iOS) Sky View (iOS or Android) or the Photographer’s Ephemeris  (iOS or Android or web based). These apps can show you the position of the moon when it rises.

The best time to shoot the moon is when it is full and as it begins to rise or set, since it appears larger and will be nice and colorful.  The super moon is expected to rise just before 9pm Atlantic time.


The bigger the lens, the better. Even though the moon will be larger than normal, you most likely won’t be able to get it very large in the frame with your regular 70-300mm lens. A 200-500mm or 150-600mm lens would be preferred. If you don’t have a big lens, just zoom in a close as you can and make sure your camera quality is set to the highest megapixel setting so you can crop in.


Since you will be using a larger lens, I would recommend using one. Make sure you turn off the image stabilization(IS), vibration reduction(VR) or optical stabilizer(OS) on the lens, as when you use it on a tripod it can actually CREATE blur.


Use MANUAL focus. It’s possible your camera might be able to focus on the moon if you move your AF point onto it, but it’s just easier to do manual focus. If you are having a hard time focusing, try putting the moon completely out of focus and pull back.


If you’ve tried to take a photo of the moon, most likely you ended up with a photo like this:

Exposure: 1/2 second at F16 Meter is balanced

Even with the moon being super, it’s not really possible for your camera meter to get the proper exposure for the moon. A spot meter can get you sort of close, but the moon is really far away.

However, there is a generic exposure for the moon.
Think for a second…why can we see the moon?
Answer: Because it’s being lit by the sun.
That sun light is the same light that is shining on you during the day, so you can use the “sunny 16 rule” to figure out the exposure.

For the “sunny 16 rule” you will need to use Manual (M) shooting mode and:

-set the ISO you wish to use
-set the shutter speed equal, or just slightly slower, than the ISO you just set
-set the aperture of F16
-ignore the fact the meter is in the minus…that is where it should be

So for example, using 400 ISO, set 1/400th/s as your shutter speed and select f16 for your aperture and you will get a nice detailed man in the moon…like this:

Exposure: 1/400th at F16

Now, that is for when the moon is high in the sky. As the moon rises and sets, the light from the sun gets filtered through our atmosphere, which cuts down the light, but also makes the moon look nice and warm yellow/orange. So you will need to use a different exposure for moon rise and set.

From my experience, I would start with exposures of 1/200th of a second at 5.6 ISO 400 and adjust if necessary.

As always, I would recommend over and under exposing (bracketing) to see the effect.


I hope you find these tips useful! If so, it would be awesome if you would check out my LearnPhoto365 Photography Assignment Generator Apps on the app store and the Google Play store, a unique photography app that's meant to inspire you to take great photos!

Perfect for anyone taking part in a Photo 365 challenge, there are over a hundred individual assignments and hundreds of thousands of potential random ones. Versions available for both iOS and Android including free versions so you can try them out! Full details, including reviews and tour videos of the apps can be found at Even if you only download the free version that would help get it up the app store lists!


The only problem exposing for the moon is that anything else in the frame will not get enough exposure, as the exposure to get good moon detail is probably a thousand times brighter than the light in the rest of the scene.

Exposure 1/125th at F4

If you use long shutter speeds to get a good exposure for the rest of the scene, the moon will become a glowing disk.

Exposure 1/4 at F8

Occasionaly you might luck out and the ambient light matches the moon light.

Usually the only way to get a properly exposed moon and land is to do a multiple exposure in camera, take two exposures and combine them in photoshop, or use photoshop to lighten up the landscape or darken the moon down to balance them out.

Exposure 1/250th F5.6 McDonalds sign was lightened in photoshop
Noel Chenier/Telegraph-Journal The full moon rises above the lit Saint John sign on Fort Howe on Wenesday night
The full moon rises above the lit Saint John sign on Fort Howe. Exposure: 1/125th at F16 ISO 400. Sign was lightened in Photoshop


Sometimes the moon will rise when there is still sunlight shining on the subjects, resulting in an equal exposure.

Exposure 1/50th at F4.5. I exposed more for the colorful clouds, letting the moon become a glowing circle
Exposure 1/250 F9 ISO 100
Exposure 1/250 F9 ISO 100

The other issue with using a large lens to record the moon is that even if you can get another subject in the frame, unless they are very far away there is no way to get them both in focus. Focus on the moon, subject is out of focus. Focus on the subject, moon is out of focus.

Focus on the moon, subject out of focus
Focus on the subject, moon is out of focus


Two images merged into Photoshop

The only way to get them both would be to combine the images in Photoshop, which actually works pretty well since the subject will most likely be surrounded by darkness and makes it easier to blend them.

Good luck! I hope you have clear skies and this post helps you get great photos of the super moon.

Happy Shooting!




Think someone you know would like this content? Why not share it with them!

Want to make sure you get all the latest posts and info? Subscribe!

Noel Chenier
Photographer and teacher
Connect with Noel on INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or via EMAIL 
Photography Assignment Generator Apps now available on the app store!
Noel’s Portfolio
Work Done by My Students!

More Photo Tips

  • Making Something Out Of Nothing: The Boardroom Shot

    Making Something Out Of Nothing: The Boardroom Shot

    There is nothing more challenging that trying to make an interesting photograph in a boardroom…. On this particular day, I had to photograph William Stanley of Atlantic Hydrogen at the office as he was coming through town. Normally we would have gotten him with some of the company’s technology, but …
  • How to Photograph A Lunar Eclipse on May 15th-16th 2022

    How to Photograph A Lunar Eclipse on May 15th-16th 2022

    A super awesome lunar eclipse is happening late Sunday evening May 15th into Monday May 16th North and South America are the prime viewing areas and will be able to witness the entire event, but those of you in Europe, Africa, will be able to see some of it. (Sorry …
  • Pandemic Photo Challenge: Black and White Reprocessing

    Pandemic Photo Challenge: Black and White Reprocessing

      So for many of us it’s two weeks into being stuck at home by ourselves (or with the kids) due to the Covid-19 Corona Virus pandemic…are you getting kinda squirrelly? Figured I’d help out and start giving out some suggestions and ideas for keeping yourself busy with your photography …
  • Behind The Photo: Air Canada Flight 646 Crash

    Behind The Photo: Air Canada Flight 646 Crash

    Hard to belive how fast time flies. It has been 25 years now since I took this photograph, which basically led to my almost two-decade career at the Telegraph-Journal. I’ve told the story behind the photograph more than a few times, but never put it down on here. (1906)
  • Some Friday The 13th Themed Photo Ideas

    Some Friday The 13th Themed Photo Ideas

     HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13th! Here are some ideas for taking some spooky themed photographs. (735)



Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.