Photographing The Moon (Easy Guide!)

I keep seeing people struggling to take photographs of the moon, and long articles going into the setup and execution of successful moon photography, but they’re always over complicated and make it sound like it’s hard work.

Photographing the moon is the easiest thing to do if you understand you’re basically shooting straight into a bright light source on a par with photographing in the daytime.

If you don’t usually use a tripod with the lens you’re going to use for the moon, you won’t need one for shooting the moon. It needs to a focal length of 200mm (300m full frame) minimum to get really great results (you will need to crop your image after), but just experiment with whatever you want.

The simple steps:
1. Set your camera to manual mode
2. Set your aperture to around F/5.6-F/11 (but experiment as all lenses are different).
3. Set your ISO to base level or just above.
4. Set your shutter speed to the minimum length of your lens to stop shake (regardless of if it has image stabilisation or what crop factor it is). I will often a make that speed a bit more. So with a 300mm lens 1/300 minimum, 200mm 1/200 minimum etc.
5. Set your shooting mode to Continuous (low should be fine, around 3-5 shots per shutter press)
6. Take photographs! (If you’re shooting with a mirrorless camera, you’ll see your exposure in camera before you take the photos and can adjust as needed)
7. Look at your screen, sometimes it’s best to just slightly under expose. If you’re over exposed change your aperture of shutter speed to compensate.
8. Get the photos off your camera and crop the image. You may need to add a little structure or sharpening.

Some people get concerned over the focusing. I’ve never had an issue with any lens focusing on the moon, but if you prefer you can use manual focus. Also some people faff around with metering modes, but it really doesn’t matter what you use, the result will be the same.

Now enough reading, and go and take photos of the moon!!!

— As someone who’s been photographing the moon since starting photography, I’ve used lenses ranging from a standard 18-55mm to 1500mm and taken too many images to count. Each time I’ve used the same method and it’s never failed. The main thing to remember is atmospheric conditions on the night can play a huge part in the clarity of the final image.

Photoscape X Pro – The Editing Software You (Probably) Didn’t Know You Need

There are swathes of editing packages to edit your photographs, some of them really simple to use like Luminar 4 and Lightroom and some of them more complicated like ON1 Photo Raw and Photoshop. But there’s one piece of software that I constantly go back for for various reasons, and this affordable piece of software is a great addition for the times you need something that is just that little bit different.

Many years ago when I was discovering software packages, I came across Photoscape X Pro. I was blown away by its simplicity, and used it a lot to do quick edits such as crop and rotate and quick exposure fixes. But because it doesn’t offer non-destructive editing, and it’s raw editing isn’t as good as others, sometimes it’s just left aside while I tackle more advanced programs.

But every time I need a quick edit of a jpeg, de-fisheye a fisheye shot (more on this later) or need to make up a poster or do something creative, I keep coming back to Photoscape X Pro. Now with update version 4.1, the software is even better, and so I thought I’d review the good and the bad points of the software.

Photoscape X Pro: The Good

Being used to editing routinely in Darktable, Photoshop and Gimp lately, it’s really easy to pick up Photoscape X Pro again and discover what it has going for it… And there are many.

The Viewer mode is an excellent mode akin to the Lighttable and cataloguing views of other software, where you can have all your images on screen at once, view them, tank them, choose multiple images for batch editing and so much more. It’s something I must have in my most used packages, and means you can have full control of what you’re editing by comparing directly on-screen after and during each edit.

The Viewer Mode

Editing in Photoscape X Pro gives you all the tools you’ll need, and jpegs are handled amazingly. You’ll have full control like in any other software of your image, and there are masks you can use to target specific areas. There are also dozens of extra things you can do which are all at the touch of a button. There’s full colour control to make monochrome images, full perspective controls, colour filters, effects filters, film simulations, sun flares and endless controls over adding text and extra images to your photo.

The Default Edit Mode (You can close down left and right panels)
The Color module where you can do your main work

Batch edit is simple to use for resizing images, changing the look of images, renaming images, change image formats and so much more. It’s fast, it’s effective, and there’s a lot you can do with it.

One of the many great features is the collage maker. This is really well put together, gives you loads of options and an extremely useful tool. For a lot of people, it’s one of the main reasons they use Photoscape X Pro, and once you’ve used it once, you’ll understand why they use it. The same thought has been put into the combine option, and again gives you a lot of options to combine images in various rows etc.

Borders are carried for well, and there are very many to choose from, in a variety of styles and different implementations. No fussing or faffing, just choose what you want and apply the border, adjust any parameters and you’ll have beautiful borders in no time.

In the area where you can change perspective and do other similar tweaks, you can also add a fisheye effect, but the main bonus of this feature is that if you edit a rectilinear or fisheye photo and use the fisheye setting in negative values, it will perfectly de-fisheye the image. An absolutely amazing feature that is a must for people who use fisheye lenses.

You can also create GIF’s with the GIF module, Print from the print module and much more besides. The software really is remarkable.

Photoscape X Pro: The Not So Good

There’s nothing hugely wrong with Photoscape X Pro, but there are a few things which other programs can do better.

Raw images don’t have as much latitude when you edit them in the editor as they do in other raw editors. You won’t be able to recover the highlights or shadows as much as you can in something like Capture One for example. That’s not too say it’s bad, and it’s more than adequate for most edits.

The masking has great feathering and control, but lacks the intelligence of some programs, so you’ll need a steady hand for precise work should you need to be incredibly accurate.

It’s destructive software, so if you’ve made a mistake, you have to undo step by step until you get to the point you made the mistake. It has limited layer support for certain functions, and they are in no way as functional as on major software releases.

That’s really about it as far as negatives go for this software. It’s around £30 to buy in the Windows and Apple stores, and there’s a couple of updates every year, plus it is on sale every now and again.

Conclusion

Think of Photoscape X Pro as a Swiss army knife. It’s an incredibly useful tool with some amazingly powerful tools. For jpeg shooters, or those who don’t want ultra complicated raw editors, it’s a great piece of software. There are far more positives than there are negatives and it’s a perfect introduction into the world of editing photos.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the software is not capable, it’s more than capable and in some ways it’s far easier to dip into Photoscape X Pro than it is too get the same tasks done in other software.

As I’ve said, I’ve left this software a couple of times, but I always go back to it if I struggle to do something on Photoshop or whatever the program I’m using.

I find if I’ve edited a photograph in another program, sometimes it’s great to put the jpeg in Photoscape X Pro and you can perform some extra tweaks, including looking through the great film filters in real time, which can sometimes make a big difference.

It’s not perfect, but it’s fast and gets the job done. There are some killer features that make it super handy for everyday use. There’s a free version and a paid for version, and you can get most things done with the free version if you want to give that a try.

— The current version of Photoscape X Pro, and the one discussed here is version 4.1, found at their website http://x.photoscape.org/

Perfecting your photography

Over the course of this website, One Camera One Lens has offered a great deal of articles written to help you improve and expand your photography knowledge. They are all within the blog section, but this is a list of quick links that can get you to the article you need quickly.

Maximising Your Histogram Accuracy
Your histogram is not as accurate as you think, unless you take into consideration the points mentioned within this brief article.

The Benefits Of Shooting In Jpeg
Not everyone shoots in the raw format, and in fact, the majority of people shoot in jpeg. And there are some excellent reasons why you would want to shoot in jpeg.

Who Is Artificial Intelligent Software Aimed At?
A look at the new software that uses artificial intelligence, and who it is aimed at.

Edit Photographs For Your Wall
Have you ever wondered why you can’t sell, or where you are going wrong? This article gives you some fascinating tips on getting your images to look right, so that everyone can appreciate them!

The Best Editing Software You’ll Ever Need!
You’ll need editing software, and here is some huge advice!

Storing Film Simulations On Your Fujifilm Camera
If you are a Fujifilm user, this guide is a necessity!

Improve Your Photography With A Prime Lens
It’s a simple trick, but if you really want to get better at photography, take a read and let it sink in!

Never miss a shot with this trick!
It’s simple, it’s effective, but you will always get your shot using this trick!

Printing Your Photos, And Why It Is Important
Probably the most important this you will read in this list of articles!

Why 35mm Is The Perfect Focal Length
No serious photographer should be without this focal length, and I discuss why that is!

20 Tips For Better Photography
An essential list of common sense tips!

The Importance Of Presents & LUTs
They are important, you should have a few ready to hand… And the article tells you why.

The Importance Of Backing Up Your Photographs
It should be second nature, but so many people don’t do it. This article should help you!

Hopefully you will find something you need in this list of articles. You can delve deeper into the blog section for much more information, and don’t forget to come back on a regular basis for more updates to the website.

Maximising Your Onscreen Histogram Accuracy

It’s a little understood fact that when relying on your histogram to take photographs, or using your blinkies for highlight warnings (among other on screen information based on your exposure), the histogram is based on the jpeg profile that you are currently taking photographs in, and not in the raw image produced by the camera. This article will take a brief look at ways in that you can maximize the accuracy of your histogram in a few easy steps.

How to maximise your histogram

There are four primary things you need to understand and be careful with when maximising your histogram. I will touch on each one, and a simple Google search will bring up much more in depth explanations that I can give you.

The first thing you should do is choose a colour profile from your camera that is as flat and low contrast as possible. Stay away from Vivid and saturated colour profiles. The flatter the profile the better. This was the histogram isn’t confused by the bright colours when looking for highlighted areas.

The second thing you should do is avoid using any dynamic range enhancements such as the Dynamic Range or D-Lighting settings that can be found on most cameras. Again, this will force inaccurate measurements of the light as the camera exaggerates the light areas in your image.

Thirdly, and one that so many forget about is your white balance. Make sure that you use manual white balance as with auto white balance, your histogram can really be fooled when it reads a scene wrongly (which it can do a lot of the time in certain conditions).

Finally, your choice of AdobeRGB Vs sRGB will also have an effect on your histogram, as AdobeRGB had a larger colour gamut compared to sRGB, meaning there’ll be a discrepancy in you histogram once again.

Other things to consider

Of course, while these measures above will help get your histogram accurate, there’s still one more setting that will have an affect, and that is your ISO setting. But realistically you need this option more than the others mentioned, and in most cases you will be trying to keep the ISO setting as low as possible in your composition.

All of the above is relevant if you are shooting in raw. If you are a jpeg shooter, you may have to compromise the colour profile setting, or tweak your image later in post processing.

Conclusion

Every situation is different, and solely relying on your histogram is obviously a huge mistake. However, getting the histogram as accurate as possible is important. Be sensible, use your histogram, highlight warnings and any other tools you may have on your camera, Most importantly though is use you eyes!

The Benefits Of Photographing In Jpeg

Since owning a Fujifilm X series camera I’ve spoken and written about shooting in jpeg more than ever. It’s not a photographing routine I was used to when I was using Nikon cameras, and the change has come about for a number of reasons. There are of course times when I will still use raw, and for most of the time I actually photograph in both raw and jpeg, mostly just out of habit these days.

Why the thought of shooting jpeg?

Over the decades of photographing digital cameras, I’ve always taken the photos in raw and processed the images later in software. Occasionally I would use the jpeg files, but I was never happy with the colours of Nikon jpeg images, and ended up spending a long time editing those images!

I’ve never been a fan of wasting time editing photographs, and always tried to get things as close to my vision as I can in camera. During the 35mm film era I wasted time developing film for a while, but in the end I just found the experience of sending them off to be processed more rewarding, as the majority of the time they were exactly as I had wanted them to be, because I chose the film stock to match the subject I was photographing.

Anyway, after an age searching for another digital camera system that offered superior jpeg images, I decided to go with Fujifilm. I had loved using thier film, and had previously owned a number of non-X series digital cameras from them, which always produced stunning jpeg images out of the cameras.

I won’t be able to edit a jpeg though will I?

Before we go any further, this question always comes up, and it’s usually by people who rarely shoot in jpeg, or don’t have much experience in photography. Of course you can edit jpegs, and with Fuji jpegs there is a lot of play with the image file. However, if you are going to get your settings in camera so very wrong, without exposing correctly and getting your white balance as it should be, then perhaps jpegs are not for you. There are plenty of settings available to get great photographs straight from your camera, including settings that affect your dynamic range and allow you to have great shadows and highlights (which some people seem to insist need recovering in every photo – get it right in camera and no need to keep recovering!)

Anyway, the difference between editing a jpeg and a raw file isn’t as huge as some would have you believe, especially if you are set up correctly before you press your shutter button. There are conditions though when using the raw file is handy, so this cannot be dismissed for situations such as low light photography or event photography where there is ever changing light situations.

What are the benefits of photographing in jpeg?

For a lot of people like myself who have come full circle, starting in jpeg, having years of raw experience and now back to mostly jpeg, the benefits of jpeg are easy to see, and once they are understood, it’s hard to imagine why we bothered shooting in raw all the time.

The most important benefit is seeing a beautiful image coming straight from your camera. An image you can use straight away without a second thought of post processing. In modern cameras such as The Fujifilm X series, you can create recipes (or colour profiles) that can not only emulate old film stock, but also have the capacity to get the colour science that you want, straight from camera, along with control over dynamic range, noise, added grain and mug more.

Because of this control, the next benefit could be the one that most enjoy. There’ll be no need for long editing sessions, and you can spend the extra time taking photographs instead of “developing” each one. Sadly, “raw” is an antiquated throwback to film photography days in order to satisfy the needs of those who want to separate the final image from the image that was taken in camera. Ideally, a format should be invented that has all the benefits of jpeg (file size, finalised vision of the processing and versatility of use, meaning it can be viewed on any device without issue) with the manipulation capabilities of raw. A jpeg from your camera can be an excellent starting point so that you won’t need to do much editing with at a later date.

Mentioning file size above, that’s another benefit of photographing in jpeg. You can save between 4 and 8 jpeg files for every raw file you saved, based on raw files being between 25mb and 50mb, as they are on Fuji cameras. A lot of people say storage is cheap these days, which it is, but when you’re shooting thousands of photos, it all adds up! A number of services, including Google Photos, allow free storage of your jpeg images, which is another win situation!

Shooting in jpeg allows your camera to be more efficient too, giving you faster or more sustained photographing rates of fire. You’ll never miss that shot again because your buffer fills up so quickly! This can be most important in photographing sport, wildlife, birds and most importantly your family at play (have you tried taking photos of children? This is the ideal trick for capturing great photographs of them!)

Printing from your camera images is more important now than ever before. Not just your artistic landscape shots, but your snapshots of your family and friends. Shooting in jpeg will allow you to get to your printer straight from, or during an event, load up the 6×4 or 5×7 paper (or any size you want really) and just print from the file. This is something we’ve lost the art of lately, and one you can help bring back!

Conclusion

You can still shoot in full manual, you can still have the same control, you can still shoot with raw files as well and most importantly, you can be a better photographer by using your camera to its fullest capabilities. You’ll learn to get it right, you’ll learn to expose correctly, get your horizons straight and more importantly, you’ll learn to just enjoy the art of taking a photo and being happy with your vision when you see the cameras output.

Camera manufacturers spend a huge chunk of their research and development on colour science, getting the image colours to that perfect sweet spot. They give you the ability to adjust any of their multitude of presets to your heart’s content to make the image suit your taste. It’s there to give you the best results, and usually it’s pretty accurate at what it achieves.

It’s a time where I can now, after many years, be happy taking photographs using the jpeg image as my main source for the vast majority of the time. Taking photographs in jpeg is freedom to do more, freeing up time to do other, more important things.

I shoot jpeg… And I’m a better photographer for it. I wrote a great article on how I setup my Fujifilm camera which can be found here, so it gives you an idea of what I do when I go out with the camera.

— There is a lot of debate on raw vs jpeg, with some photographers saying you should only ever shoot in raw. There was a time I thought this, but with the right tools, the right attitude and in thanks to hindsight, we know it’s a load of rubbish. The majority of my prints that I’ve sold have come from jpeg photographs, and no one ever asked or cared on how they were taken or processed.