WITH PHIL HALL
What is a supermoon?
A supermoon is a rare natural phenomenon in which the Earth and moon are as close together as they can possibly be, resulting in the moon appearing overly large in the night sky. This spectacular event will happen, in the UK, on Thursday 19 March.
What to expect
As the moon will be much closer to us than normal, expect to be able to see unrivalled detail in its surface compared to any other night. And it’s easier than you may think to photograph it.
What are the best camera settings?
Switch to manual exposure mode to give yourself more control over the look of your shot. Set a shutter speed of 1/125sec and an aperture of f/11, plus a sensitivity of ISO 200, then fire the shutter to take a test shot. You’ll find it’s a case of trial and error to begin with, and you’ll probably have to make some adjustments.
Try and avoid extending the shutter speed too much, as you’ll risk introducing a slight blurring of the moon as it orbits round the Earth. If the image is too dark, first increase the ISO or widen the aperture before you think about extending the shutter speed.
Use manual focus as even the best AF systems will struggle to acquire focus automatically. Use the magnify preview to check the focus is correct – you can zoom in at up to 10x. When you’re happy, lock the focus off so it can’t move out of position.
Shoot in raw
Instead of shooting JPEGs only, try shooting raw files too. This will allow you recover more detail from shadows and highlights in post-production. Remember, it’s easier to recover detail in an underexposed image – if you overexpose your shot, you’ll be left with a white blob in place of the moon, with essential detail lost for ever.
If you’re unsure of the exact exposure, try using the bracketing feature on your camera to ensure you get a correctly exposed image.
Framing is crucial. Rather than simply opting for a shot of the moon against a dark sky (though there’s nothing wrong with that), think about putting it in context with its surroundings. Look for strong foreground interest that will emphasise the size of the supermoon and frame it nicely.
While you can guess where the moon is going to rise and then follow its trajectory, it’s a good idea to plan your location in advance. The day before you plan to shoot, check your location to see precisely where the moon rises – there are many handy apps out there that will help you do this, such as Moon Phases Lite for Android and Moon for iOS.
What kit will you need?
A tripod is essential, while a camera like the Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II, with a vari-angle, pull-out screen, will make composition much easier.
To really fill the frame, you’ll need something like the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75‑300mm f/4.8‑6.7 II, which gives a 35mm focal-length equivalent to 600mm at the long end. The M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO would also be brilliant for this kind of shooting.
So that you don’t jog the camera as you’re pushing the shutter button to capture your exposure, try using either the Wi-Fi functionality to remotely trigger the camera, a cable-release system, or the camera’s self-timer.