Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I see pictures of the moon that looks like it is very close to the earth; I am wondering whether they are real or is there a trick to show the moon that big?

Here is an example: http://www.spaceweather.com/swpod2011/20mar11/Paco-Bellido1.jpg

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If it isn't faked with a moon shot overlay, it will be with a long lens or cropping to get the appearance of a long lens, probably both. –  Olin Lathrop Feb 9 '13 at 22:55
3  
This particular example appears to be real. However, it's also often faked. If you see a spectacular huge moon over a wide-angle view (commonly, a city skyline), be suspicious. –  mattdm Feb 10 '13 at 14:06
    
If you have a really big zoom lens, and the moon is close to the horizon, and you are far enough away from the subject you want to place with the moon, then you can get that kind of shot. –  Timo Huovinen May 21 at 14:56

2 Answers 2

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Those are done using the compression of a telephoto lens. Longer lenses will magnify the subject, so will make the moon look bigger. It will also make buildings and other objects bigger, but by moving yourself further away from those earthbound objects you can reduce them back to a smaller size. But you can't really get further away from the moon, so it will remain the same size no matter where you move locally.

So in your example, that might look like it was taken from a short distance away with a 50mm lens, but in fact it may have been taken much further away with a 500mm lens. Result is the foreground looks about the same as if you'd taken it closer with a 50mm lens, but the moon on the other hand is magnified quite a bit.

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Thank you for your detailed explanation! –  Engin Yapici Feb 9 '13 at 22:40
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If such a shot were made with a normal 50mm lens, you would have a small moon and small buildings because you would be so far from the buildings to get that perspective. Now crop a tiny spot out, and imagine high resolution the normal lens cannot give you. Same thing. –  Skaperen Feb 10 '13 at 7:24
    
I once photographed the moon with a 500mm and still it was much further away compared to the example given. Are there other factors that matter? Or is this a crop? –  Ferdy Feb 12 '13 at 21:09
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For me it really clicked when I saw the pictures in this article. The first image shows a man totally encompassed by the outline of a solar eclipse. The second image shows the setup of the photographer 1.5 miles away, with a huge telephoto lens and extenders on a crop-sensor camera for maximum magnification. –  BioGeek Feb 25 '13 at 19:28

It is worth mentioning the 'moon illusion' as well. The moon will look big to the human eye when close to the horizon but it is an illusion - try a photograph and see it 'shrink' to it's proper size.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_illusion

And as a direct answer to your questions, long lens and careful placement of foreground interest.

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Thank you for the great info and the reference! –  Engin Yapici Feb 9 '13 at 22:39

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