How to capture the beauty of the blue supermoon with your phone or camera

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The blue supermoon, the second of August 2023, will grace the night sky on Tuesday, 29 August. This rare phenomenon occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth, making it appear larger and brighter than usual. The term “blue” does not refer to the color of the moon, but to the fact that it is the second full moon in a calendar month, which happens only once every two or three years.

If you want to take a stunning photograph of the blue supermoon, you might be tempted to use your smartphone or your regular camera. However, you might end up disappointed with the results, as the moon will look like a tiny dot in a dark background. To avoid this, you need to follow some tips and tricks from Guardian Australia’s picture editor Carly Earl, who explains how to capture the beauty of the supermoon on your phone or camera.

Use an app or a DSLR camera

The first thing you need to know is that shooting at night is very difficult, especially if you want to capture the details of the moon’s surface. You need to adjust your camera’s sensitivity or ISO settings, which determine how much light your camera can capture. The higher the ISO, the brighter the image, but also the more grainy and noisy it will be.

If you are using a smartphone, you might not have access to these settings on your default camera app. That’s why Earl suggests downloading an app that allows you to increase your sensitivity rating, such as Camera+ 2 for iOS or Camera FV-5 for Android. These apps also let you control other aspects of your camera, such as shutter speed, aperture, and focus.

If you have a DSLR camera, you can use the manual mode to change these settings according to your preference. Earl recommends using a low ISO (around 100 or 200) to avoid noise, a fast shutter speed (around 1/125th of a second) to freeze the motion of the moon, and a small aperture (around f/11 or f/16) to keep everything in focus.

supermoon with your phone or camera

Use a telephoto or zoom lens

The second thing you need to know is that the moon is very far away from Earth, about 384,000 kilometers on average. This means that unless you have a telephoto or zoom lens, which can magnify the image of the moon, it will appear very small in your frame. A telephoto lens has a focal length of more than 50mm, while a zoom lens can vary its focal length from wide-angle to telephoto.

Earl suggests using a lens with at least 200mm of focal length, or even longer if possible. This will allow you to fill your frame with the moon and capture its craters and shadows. However, using a long lens also means that you need to stabilize your camera to avoid blur caused by camera shake. That’s why you need to use a tripod and a cable release or a timer to release the shutter without touching your camera.

Include another element in your composition

The third thing you need to know is that taking a photo of just the moon can be boring and uninteresting. You need to add some context and perspective to your image by including another element in your composition, such as a landmark, a silhouette, or a reflection. This will create contrast and depth in your photo and make it more appealing.

Earl suggests finding a good location where you can see both the moon and something else that catches your eye. You can use an app like PhotoPills or The Photographer’s Ephemeris to plan ahead and find out where and when the moon will rise and set in relation to your location. You can also use the rule of thirds or the golden ratio to balance your composition and place the moon in one of the corners or along one of the lines of your frame.

Experiment and have fun

The last thing you need to know is that there is no one right way to take a photo of the blue supermoon. You can experiment with different settings, angles, and techniques until you find what works best for you. You can also try some creative effects, such as using filters, lenses, or apps to change the color or shape of the moon. You can also try some post-processing tools, such as Photoshop or Lightroom, to enhance or edit your photos.

Earl encourages you to have fun and enjoy the experience of witnessing this rare celestial event. She says that taking photos of the supermoon is not only about getting a perfect shot, but also about appreciating its beauty and sharing it with others.

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