What the Heck is Looney 11?

Super Moon, April 8th, 2020

If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time you probably know the Sunny 16 Rule but have you heard of Looney 11 ? No, it’s not the line up of Warner Brothers cartoon characters. It’s just like Sunny 16 except it’s for photographing the moon.  I only learned of it recently while preparing to photograph the upcoming Supermoon. I like having Moon shots in my library, I Photoshop them into landscapes or use them to create surreal composites.

Start by setting your aperture at f/11 instead of f/16 because the surface of the moon is half as reflective as Earth’s surface. Next choose an ISO. For the least amount of noise choose a low ISO like 100. Now set your shutter speed to 1/100 and do a test shot. Your camera may not have 1/100 but 1/90 or 1/125 will be close enough. Environmental factors like clouds, fog or pollution may effect exposure so adjust accordingly. If you think you might need a faster shutter to avoid camera shake, choose a higher ISO and set it’s reciprocal shutter speed. 

For images of the most recent Super Moon I used a 300mm lens with a 2x extender. While a 600mm magnifies the Moon  12x  it also multiplies any camera shake by 12x so I used a heavy duty tripod, remote release and mirror lock up.  Even with this set up I still cropped  the final image. Even if 200mm is the longest focal length you have it’s still worth shooting the moon as even a small image can be used in composites or cropped and used online.

Super Moon Interruptus

At only  221,851 miles away April 8th’s Super Moon was the biggest and brightest Moon we’ll see this year but there will be another Thursday May 7th. Even if the weather is bad on the night of the 7th You can still get good shots a few nights before or after. I’d love to see what you come up with so post a link in the comments section.

In honor of the late, great John Prine

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