I recently saw this scene while on vacation:

alt text

What I would like is for the moon not to be completely blown out, but to also get reflections on the water. If I expose for the reflections, the moon blows, which is to be expected, since the moon is in daylight. If I try to create a composite shot combining an exposure to just the moon and this shot, I have problems with the halo around the moon; the daylight exposure doesn't have it, but the nighttime one does, and that goes past my meager photoshop/lightroom skillset.

Is there a way to get this shot without postproduction, but entirely in-camera?

  • I wonder if spot metering on the moon and then adding 2 stops + of light to the exposure might work out and show moon and landscape decently balanced... Just a theory...haven't tried it yet...
    – user38236
    Mar 6, 2015 at 16:33

5 Answers 5


Just take two shots. One to get properly exposed reflections (and a blown moon), and another to get a properly exposed moon (and everything else pretty much black). In Photoshop, copy and paste the properly exposed moon on top of the other image.

If you don't want the halo, copy and paste the entire sky in the top right corner of your picture. If you take both your shots from the exact same position, you can create a mask that covers the top right corner of your image until the edge of the hill. If you then paste your moon shot on top, only the top right corner will be replaced.

That said, I think your shot with the overexposed moon is just fine. It balances with the overexposed light in the bottom left corner. The moon's halo makes the hill's edge visible.


Well, the moon is around 16 stops brighter than the landscape, so short answer: no. I think even with very heavy ND filtering it would be tricky. You're better off doing a simple HDR stack, which you can do without getting the "HDR look". You might not even need to muck with any HDR software; just put each exposure in a layer and mess with opacity a bit.

  • Yes, I suspected as much, that it wouldn't be posible in a single shot. At least, not without some huge high-dynamic range camera (18 stops, maybe?)
    – mmr
    Aug 3, 2010 at 17:35

Multiple exposure and good zoom lens will help you. Your D300 supports multiple exposure.

Configure 2-frame multiexposure, zoom in and meter on moon, place the moon where you want it to be in the final image. Avoid anything else in the frame, especially anything bright. Take the first shot.

Zoom out, frame the landscape as you like it, avoid moon getting in the picture, leave the place where the moon was in the first frame dark and empty. Take the second shot. The camera will take care of the rest.

  • this is very interesting, didn't know that! Mar 4, 2011 at 3:35

Dan Heller has some great night, star, and moon photography guides. He generally uses a film camera due to their "double exposure" capabilities, although he has also used digital for capturing the milky way and such. He has a tutorial on photographing the moon here:



You could use a long telephoto lens to get a decent-sized moon, and then shade it using a gradual ND filter.

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