Photo Tips: Shooting the Moon

Blood Moons Happen Once in a Blue Moon


Photograph by Erika, My Shot

Lunar eclipses happen when the sun, moon, and Earth are aligned just right for Earth's shadow to cover the moon—and make it appear red.


The moon may be the biggest and brightest object in the night sky, but that doesn't make it easy to get good photographs. Check out the tips below and then head out one night soon and point your camera toward the sky!


You can also look up the moon phases so you'll know when the moon will be at its biggest and brightest!

(AD) Get the guide!

Learn from the pros.


Photograph by Bluebonnets67, MyShot

Choose a Cool Foreground

Make the moon look extra cool by photographing it behind an object near the horizon. Buildings, statues, trees, and hills can all make great foreground subjects. You could also silhouette a person, animal, bicycle, or an airplane flying by. Of course, you'll need to find out what time and in which direction the moon will be rising so you can position yourself—and your camera—in a good spot.

Bonus Tip: Check the weather forecast! If it's cloudy, you might still be able to capture a cool pic of the moon poking through the clouds. But if the weather's really bad, you could always go out the next night and still get some super shots!

Less Noise, More Zoom

Use a tripod, which will allow you to choose a low ISO setting that results in a cleaner image with less "noise." Get far back from the object you've chosen for the foreground and zoom in as far as your camera will go to fill the frame with the moon. Doing so will help you make the moon look supersize. Oh, and even with the camera on a tripod, you'll want to use the self-timer or a shutter release to eliminate any shaking in the photo when you press the shutter.

Bonus Tip: You could also try the "night mode" setting if your camera has one. However, keep in mind that this mode can result in a slower shutter speed and make it tricky to capture a moving subject like the rising moon.


Photograph by SharpShutter, MyShot


Photograph by Mollymawk, MyShot

Give Manual Mode a Try

Shooting in manual mode will allow you greater control in capturing a tricky subject like the moon. And it's what all the super Nat Geo photographers use! Expose for the brightness of the moon. If you're photographing shortly after moonrise when the surroundings are still relatively bright compared to the moon, start with ISO 100, an aperture of f/11, and a shutter speed of 1/125. If the image is too bright or too dark, decrease or increase the shutter speed, respectively, while keeping the other settings the same.

Bonus Tip: If you have an SLR, try the "spot metering" mode to help you expose for the brightness of the moon.


Super Bonus Tip: Your camera's autofocus might have trouble locking in on the moon, so you might also want to give manual focus a try.

Secrets revealed!

Get your best shot with tips from the pros.


Get facts, photos, and more!