Sea Blue Lens

Third Thursday Challenge: Shooting the Moon


For several months I’ve intended to try photographing the full moon for the Third Thursday Challenge. Clouds, travel, and various other circumstances have conspired to prevent it until — hurray! — this month.

I have tried to take photos of the moon many times before, of course. The results were always disappointing. So I did some research online for information. I read several articles, but one I found very helpful was this one. I went out on three evenings leading up to the full moon, using my Nikon d5100 and 55-200mm zoom lens, experimenting with various camera settings. I even used a tripod!

3 moons-2If at first you don’t succeed….

I felt I’d achieved my initial goal with the final image above, which I was very pleased with. But then I decided to take it a bit further. What I really wanted to do was to capture the moon as part of a landscape. But there are some difficulties with that.

MoontreeX3-2Now what?

If I focused on the moon, the foreground was blurred. Focusing on the foreground meant the moon was fuzzy. And if I wanted to include a larger foreground subject, the moon was tiny in comparison. I already knew that those gorgeous shots of a huge moon rising over a crystal clear landscape were composites — two images combined — so I thought I’d play with that idea a bit.

I can’t tell you exactly what I did for each image, because each one was different and I didn’t record my steps. I just played around with different things — sometimes copying and pasting the moon into the image, sometimes layering two images the same way you would add a texture to a photo. Here are the results of my creative experiment:

birdmoonThe Birds

adobe moonAdobe Moon

moontreeMoon Tree


I haven’t perfected the technique by any means, but I really enjoyed trying to achieve an effect I’ve always admired.

Thanks to Brenda at How to Feather an Empty Nest for hosting the Third Thursday Challenge each month. It has inspired me to actually try things I’ve only thought about for years, and through the monthly linkup I always discover even more new things to try. Maybe you’d like to join in!

26 thoughts on “Third Thursday Challenge: Shooting the Moon

  1. Leon,

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

    I will put my longer comments down another time…likely during a meal break later this week.

    For now though, I wanted to let you know that in “Embrace”, you have captured a feast for the senses.

    In it, you have created an image that stirs the soul and whispers of eternal things.

    Thank you for sharing this moment of grace with your grateful friends, followers, fans, and family.

    Much love,

    Denise 🙂

  2. The birds and the moon tree are my favorites, Lee. All are wonderful! I’m assuming you used Photoshop for the composites. I’ve got to delve into that and while I consider myself quite geeky, Photoshop intimidates the heck out of me. Great job.

  3. Very cool Lee! I have to say I love all the photos but my favorite is the adobe moon photo!!! Well done kiddo!

  4. Oh, Lee – I have to admit again to being extremely jealous of these wonderful, wonderful shots. What a fabulous experiment with fabulous results. Each of your moon shots are stunning – I like the different sky backgrounds – which show off different personalities of that beautiful disk of light. But if that isn’t enough – you take it one giant step forward with your composites. Each one is so very impressive – the moon blends in seamlessly with each scene. Isn’t it amazing how the addition of the moon can completely change the entire image, giving it a magical quality of light? Thanks so much for your contribution to this month’s Third Thursday Challenge.

  5. Well done, my friend! I admire how you study up on topics and experiment — the results are terrific! Adobe moon is gorgeous, I can see it hanging in a gallery! You picked a good month to photograph the moon, as it was closer to earth — Supermoon!

  6. Wonderful in every way..

  7. Neato! The adobe moon is my favorite too. 🙂

  8. Great job experimenting. I love the last image. Way to stick with this experiment, I might have given up. You were rewarded for your persistence.

  9. Love these, you are clever! I really like all your composites.

  10. I totally Love your experiments with putting that moon in different images! You really have some beautiful images here. I took some moon shots last summer and know it is a challenge to get that clear image. I’m impressed with what you were able to accomplish.

  11. These are amazing, I love them! The last shot, embrace is just breathtaking. Well done for sticking with it and doing the research, I am such a trial and error then give up person – but you’ve really inspired me. Thank you for the link to the article you found most helpful. Fantastic job. 🙂

  12. Lee, these are absolutely FANTASTIC!!
    I especially love “Embrace.”
    Perfect title for such a beautiful image.

  13. Wow! These turned out wonderful! Love the shot of the super moon and your last composition is gorgeous!

  14. You are completely inspirational…gutsy…and have great stick-to-it-ness, combined with a healthy dose of talent and willingness to take a challenge. I am totally impressed with what you have created…you have done a great job of explaining your thought process…if not recording steps. LOL….. there are times when you can’t do it all and for now the end goal was in sight. I am so glad I receive your blogs as you give me the push to try harder. smiles: sharon

  15. Your shots are great! I pasted the moon once. I’ll have to get some not full shots, I really like yours. Thanks for the lil, very helpful.

  16. Wow, Lee…I love this post. I so appreciate seeing your experimentation! I love shots of the moon, and have tried a few myself, but I’ve never experimented as you did here. And, I learned so much and I love, love your last two shots! Beautiful!! (My fav..:) the second to last that you put the moon lower in the shot. Just gorgeous! Happy weekend, Lee!

  17. Good for you! I played with some moon shots last year — trying to shoot through a telescope. I have to try again ‘cuz I’m inspired by yours. I’m over the moon for Adobe moon. It’s beautiful!

  18. I – too – played with photographing the full moon. Your images are stunning!

  19. It looks like you might be the moon’s newest best friend. You moved very quickly from baby steps and initial disappointment to some very stunning images. I especially like Moon Tree. Well done!

  20. They’re all stunning and skillfully done.

  21. Love reading your thoughts about the various images. Wonderful work!

  22. That is an amazing collection of moons. All the pictures are gorgeous, but my favourite is The Birds. Simply beautiful!

  23. Wow! These are stunning. I especially love the birds — that lacey moon and the tree filled with twitters. Love it!!

  24. Wow! Amazing photos Leon! Miss seeing you!

  25. Lea..just checking in to say, hi! I can’t get enough of your gorgeous moon images. Just stunning!

  26. Pingback: Memories, Dreams, & Reflections 2013 | Sea Blue Lens

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