Catching the Full Moon Rise

Earlier this week, Cleo and I went out to watch the sunset at one of my favorite spots in the city and I hoped to catch the full moonrise in a sequence. I'd seen it done so many times and had always been fascinated, so I wanted to give it a shot. Thankfully we had a super clear night and it was a great temperature, all that was left was to capture the moments. 

I'd done some research earlier in the day (though I should have scouted a couple days before) as to where I wanted to set up based on where the moon would be rising using the super helpful app The Photographer's Ephemeris

Fujifilm XT1  //  ISO 200  //  140mm @ f7.1  //  1/160sec handheld

I set up my Fujifilm XT1 and decided to use the incredibly sharp 50-140mm f2.8 for the sequence. My view was blocked a bit by some of the buildings, so I ran down the street to see if I could see the moon, and sure enough despite my research, it had already started rising 20min earlier than expected. I snapped the shot above then headed back to my location frame up my shot. When framing your shot, you need to think about where the moon will end up in the sky and frame accordingly. The moon rises in the East and sets West.

Fujifilm XT1  //  ISO 200  // 50mm @ f10  //  1/40sec on MeFoto tripod

The first image I took would serve as my foreground for the composite. It's super important to make sure you get your exposure for the moon right, but it's easy to overexpose. Make sure you zoom in (if your camera is capable) and look for the details in the moon. As a rule of thumb, it's always better to underexpose than to overexpose. 

Once I got the first shot, I kept my exposure the same for the next hour and a half. As ambient light from the sunset disappears, my scene get dramatically darker. But what's most important is that the moon is exposed correctly. 

Fujifilm XT1  //  ISO 200  // 50mm @ f10  //  1/40sec on MeFoto tripod

As you see above, all of the detail is lost in the photo, but the moon detail is perfect. Again, my exposure was the same for all of the 22 shots I took in this sequence. Here is the final composite image.

Final Image. Composed of 22 individual photos.

For the editing process, I imported all of the photos into Lightroom and labeled them with a blue flag so I could separate them from the rest of the images taken that night. I used my first images for the foreground and performed my normal edits by straightening and cropping, then tweaking the highlights, shadows, whites and blacks. I bumped the clarity and vibrance up a bit, then sharpened and added just a bit of luminance for a little noise reduction in the sky. Once I was happy with that image, I copied all of the settings from my foreground photo and applied those settings to the rest of the photos in the sequence. 

Now that all the photos were in sync, all that was left was to make the composite....and it's MUCH easier than you think thanks to the free program StarStax! I followed this easy tutorial and the composite was done in less than 5 minutes.

I hope you enjoy the final image and the walkthrough, please let me know if you'd like to see more of these and I will start posting more. Have a great day and go capture something beautiful!  

Fujifilm XT1  //  ISO 200  //  16mm @ f14  //  30 seconds on MeFoto tripod