For ages now I’ve wanted to be able to take a photo of the moon that was actually recognisable as the moon, with landscape features visible. In the past I’ve only ever managed to get photos that showed a bright light in the sky. I was out in the back garden this evening trying out my new binoculars which I bought for just £18 from 7dayshop.com. For the record the binoculars are very good and allowed to see the moon in great detail, as well as passing planes up close, including the designs on the tail fins and even windows – not bad considering they were just flashing lights in the dark distance with the naked eye.
So there I was in the freezing cold evening and I thought it might be a good time to attempt, once again, to take a photo of the moon. I’ve had many cameras over the past few years and at the moment I am using a Panasonic Lumix TZ10. Maybe not the best camera for lunar photography but with a 12x zoom I must be in with a chance of capturing something passable. My first try came out just like the others – like a glowing puddle in the night sky.
Undeterred by my failure I decided to go manual and adjust some of the settings myself. I changed the metering to spot meter because in automatic mode it would be focusing on all the black sky more than the moon. I changed the ISO to 80 and the exposure time to 1/250 – with the moon moving and my cold hands moving, I really need to get the shots taken as quickly as possible. Everything in place, I hoped, I ramped up the zoom – 12x optical zoom with an extra 4x digital on top of that, making a grand total of 48x zoom. This is what I got:
I could see from the 3 inch screen on my camera that at last I had managed to take a photo of the moon, and one that I never really thought I’d be able to take with just my compact camera, high end though it is. Why I never took it off of auto mode before is beyond me, it’s the advice I always give to other people with cameras that have manual controls. The following is a close up look at a photo of the moon on maximum zoom. You can see the loss in image quality but it’s still pretty impressive for a camera that fits in my jeans pocket.
Playing with the photos in Photoshop I noticed what I thought was some colouration down at the bottom of the moon, and when I zoomed in I was sure I could see some green and purple.
I then used the the colour picker in Photoshop to see if the colours were there or whether I was just imagining it. Low and behold my eyes hadn’t let me down and here is the green colour I spotted compared to one of the greys from the surrounding area.
Here now is the purple, compared to plain black. This one is harder to see but when you look at this colour in Photoshop it brings up the purple part of the colour spectrum.
I need to do some research and see where these colours come from. A quick search for green on the moon brought up lots of results for the moon being made of green cheese so I’ll need more time to get to the bottom of this. Of course if anyone knows then please leave a comment and point me in the direction of where I can find out more.
Pleased with the results so far I then decided to take a few photos using just the 12x optical zoom, and this is what I got:
Though understandably a lot smaller, the detail of the moon can still be seen and this is what a close up of that same photo looks like:
The detail in this photo is great and its interesting to see the different colour of the moon compared to the photo taken with the full 48x zoom. Focusing on much smaller object when at 12x zoom means different amounts of light being captured, at least that’s my theory anyway.
Would it be very uncool of me to say that I am over the moon with these photos? Well I have no aspirations to be The Fonze so I’m going to anyway, though it does leave me wanting to get a DSLR again, with a mighty zoom lens attached to it. I’m off to the local Astronomy Club’s observatory on Friday where I’ll be seeing huge amounts of detail on the moon thanks to their very expensive and powerful telescope. Before then I will try to get a few more photos in the back garden as it’ll be interesting to see the changing shape of the moon as we approach it’s full moon phase.