Sunday, November 11, 2012

Moon-shots

I remember to have taken really pathetic photographs of the moon. The samples are below.

ISO: 1600, Focal Length: 22.4mm

ISO: 1600, Focal Length: 70mm

Your immediate question then is ‘Why are you showing me such samples?’. Well… from there I get to tell you how not to click bad photographs. I was using Canon’s Powershot SX220. And definitely it was not the fault of the camera for the shots to have come out poor, the settings were such. I had set the ISO to 1600 in these pictures and always believed that higher ISO is to be used in dark settings but I realized that it is only partially true, i.e., when you are in low-lit rooms or closed spaces. My Superpartner told me that “Moon is not dark and hence it is very obvious that good pictures won’t come out when I set the ISO to the maximum”. (He talks louder than his normal voice when he is discussing technical stuff!)

Anyway, ignoring him, I was in my native place last fortnight and I tried playing with the manual mode of my Panasonic camera DMC-ZS20. And one picture came out to be interesting. But before I go into showing you the nice one, I will share with you the steps that I followed to get it.

Having learnt about ISO, I started working with Exposure and tried controlling the amount of light reaching the sensors. I fixed up the ISO to 100 and changed the Exposure. As you can see in the pictures below, when the exposure was half a sec, I got a very shaky picture and it appears like two half-moons. It is a bad click from any angle but I have some reasons for liking it too Winking smile. So ½s seems to be too long as the moon is not only a white spot but the hand-shake has been captured too! Then I reduced the exposure time and saw the shakiness disappearing as well as the brightness reducing till at 1/30s, things seemed just about right. It’s still dim as you can notice and to correct that ISO could have been increased but perhaps zooming was a better option at that point.

Exposure: 1/2s

Exposure: 1/4s

Exposure: 1/8s

Exposure: 1/30s

The following .gif file will show you the improvements as Exposure is being changed in the four pictures above.

My next plan then was to increase the Zoom (the above are shot at a modest 25.9mm focal length). Higher zoom resulted in blurred photographs too because of the camera shakes. But you want the lens zoomed out to max focal length so that you get the best possible close-up of the Moon. So the real issue is to deal with the Aperture settings along with the Exposure. The following shots (as you can tell) are from a different night.

ISO: 100, Focal length: 35.6mm, Exposure: 1/20s, Aperture: f/8

ISO: 400, Focal Length: 41.3mm, Exposure: 1/30s, Aperture: f/8

Well, so I put my knowledge through first-hand experience of ISO (keep it low), Zoom (as much as possible), Exposure (low to the extent that the details are sharp), Aperture (let as much light to fall on the sensors as possible but avoid over-exposure) together and finally, here is the self-proclaimed nice image.

ISO: 200, Focal Length: 41.3mm, Exposure: 1/160s, Aperture: f/8

I’m still an amateur and currently wondering if there could have been the best picture that I could have shared with you with a setting of say, ISO: 200; Focal Length: 41.3 mm; Exposure: 1/60s; Aperture: f/5.4. Who knows?

Acknowledgements: My Superpartner for creating the .gif file, for teaching me all these technical details and for the beautiful Cherry-red Panasonic camera itself.