May Photo Walk : Moonrise over SF

Two-Tone Moonrise Photo by Michael Maloney

Join Michael as he leads a photo walk to beautiful Kirby Cove Beach in Marin County where we will photograph the rising full moon over the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.

This photo walk is open to photographers of all abilities. Only requirement is a camera and a tripod. Michael will be on hand to help you to set up your camera and give you guidance to come up with a beautiful photo you’ll be proud of.

On Friday, May 24th at sunset, the full moon will rise directly over the city and the Golden Gate Bridge allowing you to get detail in the moon and the landscape.

Peek-A-Boo Moon, Kirby Cove Beach Photo by Michael Maloney

Sign up early for this photo walk as it will fill up quickly.

05/07/13 – Photo walk has filled however you can get on a wait list as there may be some openings as we get closer to the event.

Friday, May 24th

7:00 PM

Cost : $25.00

Call or email Michael at Camera West in Walnut Creek for more info or to sign up.


Rat Rock Island Moonrise

Canon 1DX, 200mm, ISO 200, .3 sec @ f11. Metering mode on aperture priority with a -1 EV

Yesterday was one of those rare days when the moon rose at the exact same time as the sun set. And on a small, sandy, strip of beach in Marin County, about a dozen Camera West friends joined me to document the full moon.

I’ve always wanted to get a photo of Rat Rock Island, situated a hundred yards off the shore of China Camp State Park near San Rafael. I’ve seen some beautiful photos other shooters have made of this island with a strange name and I wanted my own.

As part of a full moon project I started last year to get me out shooting again, I checked The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) to see how the moonrise was shaping up for this month and to my surprise I saw that the moonrise & sunset times matched. (What makes this so special for you the photographer is that for a few minutes, it is possible to get detail in both the moon and the landscape.) Rat Rock Island came immediately to mind and when I checked the map within TPE, I saw that it was going to work. The moon would rise directly over the island!

The Photographer's Ephemeris showed that the moon would rise directly above Rat Rock Island at 5:26pm. The blue line indicates the direction of the rising moon, the other lines show sunrise, sunset and moonset.

Prior to sunset, we all got our cameras set up, including David Cheung in the foreground.

As the sun sets behind us, we all wait patiently for the moon to make its appearance behind Rat Rock Island seen in the distance.

As the moon appeared right on time, we all clicked away.

We all had a great time until an unseen park ranger spoiled our fun. Turns out the park closes at sunset and with an annoying bull horn from the road above, he announced our cars would all be ticketed if we did not leave immediately. But no worries, we all escaped with no fines and some great pictures of Rat Rock Island.

If you are interested in attending similar photo outings like this one, be sure to check the events link on the left of this page. Once a month I lead inexpensive photo walks and we are always offering some great workshops throughout the year. Be sure to check them all out!

Want to shoot the next moonrise? Check out this previous blog post I wrote on how to shoot a moonrise photo, and this link for the landscape photographer’s best friend : The Photographers Ephemeris.

Camera West Moon Walk

Photos by Michael Maloney

A big thank you to everyone who participated in last night’s Camera West Photo Walk along the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco. We had an enthusiastic group of shooters and the weather cooperated with no fog, no wind and mild temperatures.

We wait patiently for the sun to set and the moon to rise over the Oakland Hills and the Bay Bridge.

We met near the Ferry Building (seen in background) at 5pm giving us plenty of time to get our cameras set up and socialize before the 6:20 moonrise.

After the sun set, we continued shooting well into the night, concentrating this time on the lights of the Bay Bridge and the reflections on the water.

If you missed this photo walk there will be others. Check out the Events link on the Camera West website for the latest photo walks and workshops. Be sure to sign up early as they fill up quickly.

Shooting a Moonrise

Photos by Michael Maloney

Once a month, there is one day where the full moon rises at close to the same time as the sun sets. What this means for you the photographer is that you can get a detailed shot of the moon and still have detail in your landscape. You need to shoot quickly however because as the moon rises and we go into twilight, our perfect shooting conditions change at which point we need to decide if we want detail in the moon which is lit by the sun, or detail in the landscape which is now plunged into darkness. Choose to expose for the moon, and your landscape becomes pitch black. Expose for the landscape, the moon will lose all detail and look like a white dot.

The best way to determine when this one day occurs is to use The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE). This app is all you need to determine exactly when and where the sun or moon will rise or set on any day, past, present, or future, from any place in the world. I even use TPE to plan vacations! It is absolutely an essential app for landscape shooters.


  • Camera with an assortment of lenses. Longer lenses will show more detail in the moon.
  • A sturdy tripod
  • A remote shutter release or you can use the shutter delay function on your camera.

Camera Settings

  • I recommend shooting in the RAW mode. You can get much more out of your image in RAW – rather than JPEG.
  • Set your white balance to 3200 – 3800 K or Tungsten if you want a blue, colder tone…otherwise use Daylight balance. (If you are shooting in the RAW mode, it doesn’t matter where you set your white balance as it can easily be tweaked in post production)
  • Turn off your image stabilization (IS/VR). This is recommended whenever your camera is locked to a tripod
  • Set your ISO to 100 – 400. Do not use AUTO ISO. Since we are on tripods, and the moon is lit by the sun, we can get by using a lower ISO which will give us a better quality image.
  • Use single point auto focus. Recommended because with single point focus, we will know precisely where our focus will be. Once focus is set, turn auto focus off. Now you can arrange your composition and not worry about focus shift. You need to be very careful however not to move your focus ring. I often use tape to lock the focus ring in place.
  • If you are not comfortable shooting in the manual exposure mode, then use aperture priority (AV on Canon, A on Nikon). Aperture priority is recommended because we want control over our aperture. We want a small aperture (f8, f11, f16) for deep depth of field, especially if you are using a long lens. For those of you comfortable shooting in manual mode, bracket your exposures. (changing your settings for at least 1 stop over and 1 stop under). By bracketing, you are sure to get the perfect exposure.
  • Keep in mind that you will be changing your exposure settings as the moon rises and your scene gets darker. You don’t want exposures that are too long however, because the moon will appear as an elongated blur. You can get away with a 5 second or so exposure with a wide-angle lens, but with a telephoto you need to keep exposure times to no slower than 1 second.
  • Choose a small aperture if using a long lens (200mm +). The depth of field the smaller aperture gives you should allow both your landscape and the moon to be tack sharp. If shooting with a wide angle lens, you can get by with a wider open aperture.
  • A graduated neutral density filter (2-3 stops) will extend your shooting time as twilight turns your foreground dark.
  • Last but not least, to assure tack sharp photos, lock your mirror up if you are using shutter speeds slower than 1/30th of a second, or better yet, use Live View mode.

Tripod Tips

  • Make sure your tripod is set up properly – on sturdy footing, all leg sections firmly tightened, camera secured tightly.
  • Try not to raise the middle column. You will get better stability just extending the legs.
  • Always have one leg of your tripod aimed at your subject. Forget doing this with a long heavy lens in the wind can be a costly mistake!
  • Secure your camera strap so that it is not flapping in the wind. Better yet, take it off your camera.
  • If windy, use your body to protect the camera from the wind.
  • If using long lenses with big lens hoods in the wind, take the hood off. The hood can catch the wind, causing slight vibrations that will ruin your shots.

October Photo Walk : Full Moon over the Bay

Photo by Michael Maloney

Join us as Michael leads another full moonrise photo walk, this time from the Embarcadero in SF where we will shoot the moon as it rises over the bay bridge and the eastbay hills.

On Monday, October 29, conditions should be perfect as the moonrise is close to the same time as the sunset. This gives us the ability to capture detail in both the full moon and the landscape. And after the sun sets, we’ll keep shooting, capturing the lights of the bay bridge reflecting off the SF Bay waters. Michael will be on hand to help with proper exposure and offer his tips on using a tripod effectively.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to get a beautiful full moon photo rising above the SF Bay and learn more about shooting after the sun goes down.

Monday, October 29
Cost : $25.00

Call or email Michael at Camera West in Walnut Creek for more info or to sign up.


Photo by Michael Maloney