Today Dec 21. 2018, we have the start of winter, and the Cold Moon on the 22nd. In December, winter sets in and the Full Moon is called the Cold Moon.
COLD IS THE NIGHT WHEN THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT
In the winter, the nights are long in the middle and high latitudes. When the sun is not out, the earth's surface can continually cool off.
The stars generally shine bright. Clear skies allows radiation emitted from the earth's surface to escape into space. Cloudy nights are warmer than clear nights, all else being equal. Clouds will isolate the lower troposphere, causing the temperature to not cool off as much at night.
Interior high altitude locations tend to be climatologically dry. Water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas. When water vapor presence is low, temperatures will cool off significantly at night under clear skies. Also, the thin air at high altitude locations allows more radiation to escape from the earth's surface as compared to a location closer to sea level.
So what does all this mean?
Clear skies, means great moon shots!
Here are the moon rise and sets in the United States.
Here are some basic tips for shooting the cold moon.
1. Location, Location, Location.
Try and find a area away from light polluted areas such as large cities. the darkest skies will produce the cleanest shots. I use ClearDarkSky,com for scouting locations. If you live on the west coast of the United States, you’ll have a full view of the event, so finding a good location should be easy.
2. A Really Long Lens
You really do need the longest lens available to you.. You are going to need at least a 300mm lens or longer to get good results. Anything shorter and it will render too small of a image of the moon to be really usable. In this case, size really does matter.. (sorry, bad pun). If you don’t have a long lens, you could either borrow from a friend, or even rent one from borrowlenses.com or lensrental.com
This goes without saying, but shooting at night will require a good sturdy tripod. Long lens and slow shutter speeds all dictate the need for a good sturdy tripod. Tripod tip: weigh your tripod down with a backpack or heavy bag. Most tripods have a small hook on the center shaft to hang a bag from. A good travel tripod for the money is the MeFoto RoadTrip!
4. Use A Cable Release or Self Timer
I can’t stress this enough, if you want sharp shots, use a cable release. If you don’t own a cable release, set your cameras self timer to a 10 second delay..
5. Prefocus on Infinity
Turn off your cameras autofocus, and prefocus on infinity. Autofocus is not reliable at night. You can prefocus on the full moon before the eclipse, then switch to manual focus thus, locking focus at infinity,I recommend manual focus using live view.
6. Use the mirror-lock-up feature of your camera
If you have a DSLR, then Locking up the mirror will greatly improve your chances of getting a tack sharp image. You would be surprised how much vibration a mirror operation can have on your image. If you have a mirrorless camera, your ahead of the game since you have no mirror!
7. Shoot Faster Than you think - Shutter Speed
You’ll really be surprised on how fast the moon moves in the sky.. Your shooting with a long lens and you will need at least 1/50th of a second for a clean shot. Realistically, I like to shoot around 1/250 of a second for a nice tack sharp image. Adjust your ISO to obtain faster shutter speeds.
That turns us to the final question, exposure settings. Now there is just no hard and fast rule for lunar events, Each lunar event differs greatly, I can only give you a starting point.
Here is a starting point. Take a test shot and adjust from there.
Set your aperture to f/11.
Set your shutter speed to 1/125
Set your to ISO 100.