Moonlight photography tips for making magical midnight landscapes

Professional Photographer to the Rescue: moonlight photography tips making magical midnight landscapes

Final tips from our professional photographer

Final tips from our professional photographer: know the lunar calendar

Lunar calendar
“To get the best results from a moonlit landscape shoot, you need to check a few things before you head out the door,” David explains. “Firstly, you need to shoot on a clear night, and it’s best if there’s little or no wind – you’ll be using extremely long exposures, so you don’t want your tripod getting buffeted.

“Most importantly, though, you need to consider where the moon is in its cycle. We were shooting with the moon at three-quarters full, and we started our shoot at 8pm in the evening; there wasn’t much point in starting earlier, as the moon wasn’t in the right position until 9pm.”

To find out more about moon times and location details, David advises visiting the Photographer’s Ephemeris.


Final tips from our professional photographer: setting the colour temperature

Colour temperature
“If you leave the White Balance setting on Auto you’ll find that your night images have a yellowish tint,” David says. “Although we’re shooting in raw, so we can adjust the colour temperature at the editing stage, it’s best to shoot your images as you want them to look, so you can instantly see the fullest potential of a shot.”

David advised Mark to turn the colour temperature (under the K setting) to 3500 degrees, to give his images a cooler night-time feel.


Final tips from our professional photographer: avoid mirror lock-up

Mirror Lockup
To keep the camera completely still during long exposures, use the Mirror Lockup feature, which can be found in the Autofocus/Drive menu.

“To raise the mirror, press the shutter once, and then to take the shot fire the shutter again,” says David. “This will eliminate any camera shake that may ruin the shot.”


Final tips from our professional photographer: push the ISO

ISO 3200

Push the ISO
“It’s important to know what ISO your camera is capable of reaching before the image quality begins to deteriorate,” David says. “On Mark’s Canon 7D it’s best to keep the ISO at around 800, to maximise image quality and avoid noise.

Final tips from our professional photographer: push the ISO

100% magnification

“If you turn it down too low you’ll be struggling with very long exposure times, and if you turn it up too high noise will become an issue. On my EOS-1D X the ISO can be pushed much higher – the picture shown here (right) was taken in Norway, in complete darkness, at ISO3200.”


Final tips from our professional photographer: set your lens to infinity

To infinity and beyond
“It’s tricky to focus accurately in the dark,” David explains, “so switch your lens to the Manual focusing setting (MF). Past a certain focal length the lens will focus at infinity, so set it to infinity (the infinity symbol looks like an 8 on its side), then knock it back a couple of millimetres for sharp shots.

“If you’re shooting a foreground object that’s closer than the infinity mark, shine your torch on that object and focus. Take a shot, then check the sharpness on your DSLR’s LCD.”


Final tips from our professional photographer: lighting techniques

Lighting techniques
“Light painting involves a fair bit of trial and error to get the desired effect,” David says. “You should also try lighting the immediate foreground of a scene, to see what effect this has on the image.

“The strength of your torchlight will make a difference to the exposure time, so keep shooting, checking and working up the image – you’ll need to fire off a few frames before you get it right.”

PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Moonlight photography tips for during the shoot
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day


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