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What is your KeyMission?

Marine Biologist Dr. Greg Skomal on the KeyMission 360

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Understanding ISO Sensitivity

Photography is built on the three pillars of exposure: shutter speed, aperture and…

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4.6 Rating
Underwater Photography

Tips for getting started shooting underwater with David Doubilet

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3.8 Rating
Tips and Techniques For High Flying Photos

Tom Bol discusses taking photos from hot air balloons, planes and helicopters

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In the Moment

Commerical photographer John Huet love to make it up as he goes along.

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Photographing Commercial Assignments with a Sports Angle

Find out how quick veteran photographer John Huet needed to be…

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How to Create a Behind the Scenes Video for your Photography Business

Creating a BTS video with Dixie Dixon

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4.5 Rating
The DX and FX Formats

Understand the differences between the formats to determine which is the one for you.

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Sandro

Commercial photographer and filmmaker Sandro is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

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Setting up the D4S/D4 and WT-5 for Networking: HTTP Mode or FTP Server

Video tutorial on setting up the D4S/D4 and WT-5…

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3.1 Rating
Wired and Wireless File Transfer

Wired or wireless options lets you transfer image files from the camera to computer when…

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Thomas D. Mangelsen Understands the Behavior of the Animals he Photographs

Photography is about much more than taking…

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4.3 Rating
Video Composition Rules: Establishing, Medium and Close-up Shots

Composition tips for video

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4.5 Rating
The Inspired Image

Communication is key for Dixie Dixon in creating stunning images

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4.1 Rating
Take Control of Color using Picture Controls

Diana Robinson gets the color she wants with Picture Controls in-camera and…

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Getting Creative with White Balance

Try getting creative with your camera's white balance for some interesting results.

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Bill Frakes

Photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and educator Bill Frakes is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his…

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3.3 Rating
How to Film Using Autofocus, Rack Focus and Manual Focus Techniques

Focusing tips for HDSLR video shooting

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Jody Dole Photographs Objects that Catch His Eye

See how commercial shooter Jody Dole uses anything and everything to…

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Using Teleconverters

Teleconverters let you extend your photographic reach

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John Shaw: A Photographer's Vision Simplified

See how one of the foremost nature, outdoor and natural history…

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Picture Controls Step-by-Step

Utilize Picture Controls in-camera or during post-processing to change the look of your…

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Capturing or Freezing Motion in Photos

Learn how to freeze the motion in an action scene or capture a blur to show…

Beginner

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Popular Nikon Lenses for Shooting Video

Primer on popular NIKKOR lenses for HD video shooting

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When to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters

How to use a graduated neutral density filter to decrease extreme light to…

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3.8 Rating
Summit Series of Photography Workshops

Come to the Summit for the ultimate workshop experience in all areas of…

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Top Tip: If You Want to Shoot Video, Start by Thinking Video

Photographer Nick Didlick on transitioning from sill to…

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7 Tips & Tricks to Taking Better Wedding Photographs

Joe McNally on how to take better wedding portraits

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Polarizing Filters Add POW to Pictures

An Easy to Use Accessory, Polarizing Filters Bring out the Color and Definition in…

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Setting Up Your D4S or D4 DSLR for Networking with the WT-5

Video tutorial on setting up the D4S and WT-5A for wireless…

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4.4 Rating
Different Types of Microphones: Audio Recording Tutorial

Using accessory microphones when shooting video

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3.9 Rating
No Limits: For Better Photos, Think Like a Photojournalist

David Handschuh on thinking like a photojournalist

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4.2 Rating
Composing Photographs

Tips for making better compositions when photographing in the field

Beginner

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The Importance of Composition When Shooting Nature

Pat O'Hara had to go far from home to really appreciate the…

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3.3 Rating
Preserve and Protect: Got a Backup Plan for Your Photos?

Don't lose those precious photos. Make sure you've got a backup…

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Reaction Time

John Solano says that for him, photographing weddings is a lot like photographing sports.

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Master Class: Just Watch and Learn

Steve Heiner discusses moviemaking inspiration

I have no way of knowing what kind of movie you want to make. Maybe it's a scripted short film; maybe just a relatively simple capture of an upcoming event or occasion. But the one thing I'm pretty certain of is that you really do know how that movie is going to look. You know that because you're walking around with an incredible resource: memorable scenes and techniques from your favorite movies.

Three of my favorites are Kurtz, isolated and speaking from surrounding darkness in Apocalypse Now; the artfully composed opening scenes of Once Upon a Time in the West; and the low-angle, wide-angle views throughout the Coen brothers' Raising Arizona.

Such scenes and techniques are practically master classes in filmmaking.

When I first saw Once Upon a Time in the West when it was released in 1968, it was the story and the characters that impressed me. Today I see much more. The film's first 15 minutes have no dialogue—the visuals tell the story with no doubt about what's going on. I marvel at the composition of every single scene in the film. The director and the director of photography plotted exactly how the camera was going to move and how the move would affect the viewer's perception. The placement of characters, objects and story elements within each frame is so flawless it's mind boggling. No, I'm not going to make a movie on that scale, and I'm not going to imitate those techniques, but Sergio Leone's brilliant filmmaking has given me a lot of ideas.

That's what movies have always given us: ideas, and awareness of methods and techniques. Not the fine points, the deep knowledge of filmmaking, but we know what a cut is, a pan, a reveal. We have the clues to what makes a movie work, and now, with the filmmaking capability of Nikon D-SLRs and the help of key accessories, we have some pretty sophisticated tools.    

No matter how you choose to tell your story, what you've seen, appreciated and thought was so cool in movies can be applied. It might be lighting, maybe a camera move or a cut from one scene to the next that you can adapt to help tell your story.

Not long ago my fascination with the Coen brothers' use of low angles and wide angles in Raising Arizona prompted me to see what I could do with that technique. Could I get, as the Coens did, the look and feel of a world where things were out of kilter? I made a short film called A Walk in the Park in My Favorite Red Shoes.

It was a solo production—I was filming my own feet as I walked along with my D7000 and 10-24mm NIKKOR zoom—so I needed a way to put the camera down close to the ground and have it move with me as I walked. I modified a flag arm—it's normally used to hold a sunshade over a camera—by adding a handle and a platform. I left the top hinge of the arm loose, so that as I walked it swung like a pendulum. The device also allowed me to move the camera around my body so it didn't look like I was the one in control of the camera. You can see the result of my experiment in this article.

What ideas would you like to try from movies that inspire you, that you remember vividly or that make you smile every time you see them? A reaction shot, the use of light and shadow, someone silhouetted in a doorway, a sudden shock cut, a slow reveal?

And how will those scenes work together as you edit the film?

Earlier this year I edited the behind-the-scenes short film that Mike Corrado and Lindsay Silverman made as Sandro Miller filmed Joy Ride with D800 cameras. From watching movies I'd absorbed editing ideas, and I'd taught myself the techniques to express those ideas. I know to mix fast-paced cutting and still images to grab people's attention; to use reverse angles for interest and pacing; when to use a reaction shot and a detail shot. The next time you view a favorite film, concentrate only on how it's edited. You'll be amazed at what you'll learn—and what you already know.

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