31+ Days Of Photography Experiments – Shooting The Full Moon At Moonset

Building on yesterday’s post of Shooting The Full Moon At Moonrise, let’s flip the coin and shoot at moonset. This one is harder for many people because, frankly, we enjoy sleeping in. I enjoy sleeping in. Sorry, I didn’t mean to project my desire to sleep. Sleep is good, but pretty moonset photos are great too.

The key to a good moonrise photo is to get out the day after it is actually full. I prefer the day after because then the sun is higher in the sky and Golden Hour light is bathing the foreground while making the moon not too bright in comparison.

Let me give you a couple of websites to find full moon dates and times in your area:

You can actually get all the info from the Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE)  but it’s good to have the other sources as well. I like TPE because it has a free desktop version for PC and MAC, making planning at home/office easy.

You can use TPE to plan your shot. Here is a good post on how it works and how to use it.

Here’s the experiment you can run:

1) If you are not familiar with shooting the moon, read my post here first. It has what you’ll need to know for this experiment.

2) Use the tools above to find out when the full moon is rising at your spot on the planet.

3) Plan to head out the day after the full moon to shoot. Use TPE to find a good location to shoot the moon and pick a place where you can find an interesting foreground. If you want some inspiration, take a gander at this post where I interviewed Michael Riffle about his wonderful Seattle moonrise photo (and then imagine he got up ungodly early for a similar moonset image from the other side of the city). Luck works sometimes, but preparation gives you better odds.

4) Go out and shoot the moon!


While you might think I just cut and pasted that whole thing and changed “before” to “after”, while you would be right, the point is there is not much difference between the two, except the timing. Shooting  the moonset on the day of the full moon (as measured by GMT) leaves less light on the foreground (see third picture below).


Machermo, Nepal. Shot two days after the full moon because of the height of the mountains.

No, this one isn’t a full moon, but let me explain. When your foreground is very tall, wait even longer after the full moon. Alberta, Canada.

When shot the day of the full moon, the foreground is often darker. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

On Monday we’ll cover Take A Portrait. Until then, have a great weekend!

31+ Days Of Photography Experiments is a series written by professional photographer Peter West Carey on The Carey Adventures.Com. The series is designed to unravel the mysteries of photography so you can take better pictures through practical experiments on the material found in 31+ Days To Better Photography. Subscribe here to receive all the updates and bonus material. Your comments are always welcome.

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