The moon is one of those subjects that always SEEMS like a good idea to take a picture of, but in actual practice rarely turns out the way you can see it with your eyes. The reason is that your eyes can see a much wider dynamic range at once than the ol' camera.
As it turns out, the last time I tried to do this was over two years ago! Apparently, it was quite traumatizing.
As a bonus today, if you click on the picture, you can grab a bigger version, suitable for smaller desktop wallpaper, or click HERE for an even BIGGER version. My gift to you (for personal, non-commercial use only!) See what I do for you?
Exposure information after the picture.
So, if you expose for the moon, which is ASTOUNDINGLY bright, everything around it is just black. If you expose for the surroundings, the moon is just a round light, completely blown out.
My solution to this dilemma is to do two exposures and sandwich them together. Even that poses certain challenges, as the moon actually moves quite fast in the sky compared to your point of reference.
Here are the particulars on the two exposures used in this picture, which I took in my driveway yesterday using my trusty Nikon D60, mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod, with 3047 head. The shutter was released with my infra-red remote. I manually focused on the moon. Camera was in full manual mode, meaning I could set both shutter speed, and aperture.
Clouds: ISO 100, 125 mm, f11, 5 second exposure.
Moon: ISO 100, 125 mm, f11, 1/2 second exposure.
I cut the moon out of the second picture, and pasted it over the burned out moon in the first picture using GIMP. I then tweaked the composite levels a bit, so it looked as close as possible to what I saw with my eye outside. Clever, no?
I like how the clouds are all blurry in this shot (due to 5 second exposure, with moving clouds) while the moon remains sharp. I think what I really need to do is get one of those adaptors to mount my camera on my telescope, and get cool closeup pics of the moon! That's ONE item for my birthday wish list...