Is the Moon Really That Big?

Moonrise over Trampas Peak in New Mexico.

Full moon rising over the Truchas Peaks, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico.  Real image, not a composite, taken with a 560 mm focal length lens.

Real or Fake?

Photographs with a gigantic moon can look unreal. Do we ever see the moon that large in life?

Are these “monster moon” photographs real or fake?

The short answer is that the moon can look huge in the composition when a long focal length lens is used.

Not all photographs of large moons are real though. Some photographers create the illusion of a large moon by combining two different images. This process, known as creating a “composite photograph,” merges a large moon photo with a landscape photograph. Often the two pictures are taken at different locations and times. 

No worries, as long as the photographer discloses their artwork is a composite.

My preference is to not create composite photographs to portray a scene that did not exist. I love the challenge of photographing nature’s unique beauty. 

However, I also understand the value of creative expression via photography.

My focus here is the science of why the moon can look large in actual photographs. 

To learn more about faked photos, composites, and ethics in photography, I wrote additional some additional content: Read More

Moonrise over the Brazos Cliffs, New Mexico.  Taken with an 840 mm focal length lens.  When looking through a lens this large, the moon really is this big!