Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tricking a P&S into getting a shot of the moon

The thought crossed my mind that apart from the average P&S doesn't have a long enough zoom/reach to get a good shot of the moon just how could it be done.

The main problem is that the moon is a small but bright object, see an earlier thread on moon shots,surrounded by a large expanse of black. The camera metering system is designed to work out an average of the light captured by the whole frame ... so the little bright object gets over exposed ... and HOW!

There is a useful trick that one can use for various reasons with most if not all digital cameras, and some automatic film cameras I guess. This is the 'half-trigger' technique where you show the camera something and press half trigger. The camera sets exposure and focus and if you continue to hold the half trigger you can point the camera elsewhere and then fully press the trigger for the shot. Focus and exposure will be as 'pre-set' and not for the recorded subject. I frequently use this technique to avoid going into manual mode when 'exposing to the right' to avoid burnt out skies.

So for the moon ... if one held a cigarette lighter or lit match close in front of the lens the exposure might correct for the bright object which is the moon but focus would be all to hell. So in addition to the light source you need a close-up lens to make the camera think the light is at infinity. [ a x10 plastic magnifying glass such as I have could do this job ] Holding HT you put the light and CU lens away and point at the moon and get a nicely exposed and sharp shot.

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