Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to photograph the moon on an iPhone: One possible solution

Photographing the moon with an iPhone usually results in a picture like these (first two pictures below). The moon is a solid white circle that is too bright to show any detail. Furthermore, it is difficult to get the moon in focus because there are no references in the black sky around it. After being frustrated by this for months, I believe I've stumbled upon a better way to photograph the moon on the iPhone.

Update 1/21/2013: Check out the second part to this post "How to Photograph the Moon on an iPhone using Exposure Lock"

bad moon photography using the standard iPhone camera
Typical moon photo #1
bad moon photography using the standard iPhone camera
Typical moon photo #2

I believe the biggest problems when photographing the moon are the inability to focus and the lack of exposure control for the bright moon. The workaround that I stumbled across was when I was filming a time lapse video going from day to night. For the video, I used the TimeLapse iPhone app  and locked the focus and exposure to the tree in the foreground before it was pitch black out. Since the focus was locked, the camera didn't try to refocus on the bright moon, and the exposure used settings for a brighter sky which compensated for the bright moon. I was able to pull this image from a screenshot of the video. 

iPhone photo of the moon on instagram
This is the version I sent to Instagram straight from my phone

Notice how you can see more detail on the moon's face, rather than just a white dot. Since the key appears to be the ability to lock focus and exposure, I'm going to try to find a camera app that allows for manual settings. (Update: Holding your finger on the screen during standard iPhone camera function can lock the focus and exposure, but won't manually change the exposure settings). Although taking a screenshot of a time lapse video is a long way around to get an acceptable iPhone moon photo, it is one possible solution. Another method is to trick your camera into the right exposure settings using a stand-in for the moon.

iPhone moon photo
This is a screen shot taken on the computer and sharpened in Photoshop

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your help what about stars i worked on my iphone 4s and i installed 15mp of course i had to use my iphone with out his covers :) but it went fine for a phone cam