Photography of the supermoon: The full moon to touch

The moon is not only the only natural Trabant that exerts enormous gravitational pull on the immense masses of water on our earth, but has also fascinated people of all eras since time immemorial with its various manifestations. A particularly spectacular and intensive perception allows us "Luna" in the form of the supermoon - directly on 19 February at about 16:53:58 o'clock. Experience in this blog post, how you can photograph the super full moon best?


The moon had and has enormous significance for mankind. Its way around the earth determines our calendar. The gravitational pull of its mass of 7.349 · 1022  kg provides the tidal range of our seas and oceans.

In fact, the moon does not race in a clean orbit around our home planet, but "races" in an ellipse once around us within about 27 days. The basically elliptical orbit is also influenced by the sun. By the ellipse form the moon takes once in the month a particularly near earth (Perigäum) and a corresponding far earth (Apogäum) position.

If then the full moon (complete lighting without earth shadow by the sun) coincides with the perigee, we see the fissured satellite as "super full moon" or simply as "supermoon". At this moment the moon is actually up to 40,000 km closer to the earth, which is reflected in a visible increase in circumference of up to about 10 percent and a brightness increase of up to 30 percent.

The ratio of the "normal" moon (at an average distance of about 385,000 km) to the supermoon can be illustrated quite clearly with the help of two Euro coins: Simply place a 1-euro coin and a 2-euro coin next to each other to get a rough idea of the optical size difference. If we look at the moon on 19 February shortly before 17 o'clock with "unarmed" eyes, we will, in contrast to the "blood moon", but hardly notice a difference, since we lack the reference size and the full moon itself already appears quite bright.

Therefore, we should take the chance to photograph the supermoon - which occurs only every 14 months. At first glance, the moderate time seems to be quite favorable, but it can cause increased "light pollution" in urban environments (see below). How you can nevertheless capture the supermoon on the memory card of your camera in the best possible way, we would like to explain in more detail below.

Preparation is key

The decisive facts have already been established: on 19.02.2019 at 16:53:58 the moon will be "only" 356,846 km away from the earth. You can therefore immediately begin to prepare thoroughly for the supermoon event.

The choice of the suitable location is of decisive importance - depending on the motif idea, you can place the supermoon in a frame or even "impale" it by spearing it on a church spire. Get a lunar calendar so you know exactly when and where the moon appears and disappears. Relate the supermoon to scenic highlights to emphasise its size or place it at maximum magnification in the centre of the image to show off its rough surface structure to its best advantage.

Not as precise as a lunar calendar, the regional weather report informs you about the meteorological conditions on 19 February. If the cloud cover is closed, you will only achieve unsatisfactory results - but don't throw the shotgun (or camera) into the grain if unfavourable weather is predicted 1 or 2 weeks before the respective date, the reliability increases steadily as the date progresses, even experienced meteorologists will always experience some surprises.

Our tip: Get on your way the day before - on 18 February - with all your equipment to complete a dress rehearsal at the planned location. Admittedly: only on 19.02. the supermoon stands in full, round splendour in the sky and waits for its public - one day before it makes in addition, already quite a good figure and you have besides sufficient opportunity, the exact expiration completely in peace and without success pressure "live and in color" to go through to be able. Nevertheless it helps already on 18 February uncommonly, if you can operate your camera also with darkness surely and intuitively. Furthermore, you should also have tested the required equipment extensively at hand and in advance.

Our recommendation for equipment:

Everything with you? What belongs in your Supermoon photo backpack on 19.02.2019

The most important and natural part of your 2019 supermoon equipment list: Your camera. In fact, you don't need a high-end camera in the highest price range, even good compact cameras are suitable for the upcoming Super Full Moon event, as long as they have some basic features:

  1. You can make all settings manually. Even the most ingenious automatic mode reaches its limits in lunar photography, and some "creative" programs "improve" the best possible result considerably, especially in exceptional situations.
  2. The camera has a zoom lens (built-in or interchangeable) that allows you to choose a focal length equivalent to a DSLR (APS-C) lens of 200 to 300mm. If you're even using a professional full-frame camera, it's better to go in the direction of 500 mm.
  3. Your camera has a connection for a tripod - in the form of a 3/8 and/or 1/4 inch thread. This feature is available even with very affordable entry-level compact cameras.
  4. The fourth feature, on the other hand, is not found on all cameras: the connection for a cable remote control or even an integrated radio receiver usually only distinguishes cameras above the entry-level class. Alternatively, you can work - less flexibly - with the self-timer function, which in turn is part of the "standard repertoire" of otherwise rather spartanly equipped digital cameras.

Ideally, you should put a good camera on the supermoon's fur in order to be able to use the greatest possible freedom and flexibility for the upcoming night shooting. For the successful shooting of the very bright supermoon you don't necessarily need a very bright (and expensive) zoom lens. You should check the suitability of a fixed focal length lens on a case-by-case basis - possibly a further point for your to-do list for February 18.

Perhaps you have already experienced it - our cities are getting brighter and brighter. And as a result of the constantly increasing use of energy-saving lamps of the most varied power classes, a bell of light forms and solidifies over our cities, which in the meantime in its extent and intensity is compared with the SMOG (a suitcase word coined in London at the beginning of the 20th century from "smoke" and "fog" fog) and is accordingly colloquially referred to as "light smog". This "light pollution" occurs in communities with a population of 25,000 or more and, even in its smallest form, artificially illuminates the surroundings within a radius of around 20 kilometres. Within this bell of light, the sky appears unusually low-contrast and unexciting. A possible way out is to get as far away as possible from this disturbing factor - and ideally at the same time to look for the highest possible camera position.

If, however, you do not have the possibility to move away from the light smog screen of your home town, you should consider purchasing a suitable Rollei Astroklar Night Pollution Filter.

The Astroklar is available in round form for lens diameters from 39 mm to 105 mm. If you mainly work with square filters, this valuable optical aid is available in widths of 100 mm and 150 mm. The high-quality Rollei Astroklar filter reliably prevents the yellow and orange components in the light from entering the lens and at the same time improves the general image contrast. Even the smallest details of the starry sky reappear and the sky regains its natural "coldness".

In order to be able to take razor-sharp pictures of the extremely radiant earth satellites with full use of a focal length of 200 to 300 mm, you should mount your camera on an outdoor tripod that is as stable and low in vibration as possible. Depending on the camera weight and the lens and filter combination used, we recommend our professional tripods from the Lion Rock or Rock Solid family.

Lighter DSLMs, for example, will find a secure and quiet hold on the proven C5i. Not unimportant: the right tripod head to align the lens line exactly to the desired point and to fix it backlash-free. When choosing the location, you should make sure that you still have enough room to move in all directions to be able to implement spontaneous ideas directly.

Depending on the camera position and weather conditions, it may be necessary to vary the exposure time. However, you should avoid aperture openings lasting more than 1 second. The moon is known to move continuously in the night sky, in one second it travels about one kilometre on its orbit. Measured against the average distance of 385,000 kilometres to Earth, this distance seems relatively insignificant at first glance, but can nevertheless have a negative effect on image sharpness and cause a wiping effect with longer exposure times. Very consciously used certainly an interesting variation of the already millionfold photographed motive - unintentionally unfortunately a real "picture killer".

If the supermoon shines into your lens on 19.02.2019 but in full glory in a completely cloudless sky, on the other hand, the situation could also arise that you have to work with a darkening filter. You are on the safe side if you carry either a suitable circular photo filter or a square filter with you. These are not only excellent for astro and post-photography, but are also suitable for reducing excessive sunlight or for creative long-term exposures. Another very useful equipment component, especially for longer exposure times, is a cable or radio remote control - especially if you want to realize exposure times that are no longer supported by the camera electronics.

Perfect photography of the Supermoon - concrete tips for 19.02.2019

You have now put together the necessary equipment and familiarised yourself with the individual components of your photographic equipment in such a way that you can make all adjustments quickly and without thinking, even in complete darkness. To avoid unpleasant surprises during the shooting, we recommend that you set all controls to "Manual".

An unwanted flash release will not brighten the Super Full Moon more than 350,000 km away, but will unnecessarily dazzle your surroundings. You should only use the autofocus in Live View mode at the very beginning to focus on the ground satellite, but then deactivate it immediately so that a surprising (and actually completely unnecessary) refocusing does not ruin the entire shot at the decisive moment.

Try different apertures to find the perfect brightness for you. ISO values of 100 to 200 have proven their worth in lunar photography, but you should not have to go higher, especially with the supermoon, in order to keep the image noise as low as possible. Even the otherwise very useful image stabilization does not help you in this special case, since you are working with a stable tripod and a remote control.

To be on the safe side, experienced night and astro photographers recommend working with exposure series, perhaps you shoot more series the day before than are actually necessary and then analyze the results. On February 19, you can then put your findings directly into practice. If your camera offers the mirror lock-up function, you should definitely use it to eliminate all vibration sources in and on the housing.

The next supermoon

Otherwise, you will have until April 8, 2020 to prepare for the next supermoon, which will be slightly smaller, but closer than on February 19, 2026, the Earth's satellite will not arrive until December 24, 2026 - actually a nice Christmas present, if the date would not be in the middle of the night (2:28 a.m.).

We wish you therefore already on 19.02.2019 much success!