Nikon Americas USA

121ArticlesRemaining

4.7 Rating
Outside Shots: Go Long

Tony Sweet on revealing the invisible in images

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Using Variable Neutral Density Filters to Adjust Exposure in DSLR Video

Adjusting exposure with Variable ND filters

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Shooting Long Exposures:

Deborah Sandidge on shooting long exposure landscapes and cityscapes

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
When to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters

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

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
How to Use Aperture and ND Filters to Control the Depth-of-Field in Movies

Depth-of-field for video

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Shooting Spectacular Sunrises and Sunsets

Jim Harmer’s tips for photographing at dawn and dusk

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

Learn the techniques needed to shoot solar eclipses from Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

Learn the techniques needed to shoot lunar eclipses from Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Polarizing Filters Add POW to Pictures

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

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
Bright Idea: Adding Star Power
4.4 Rating
Bright Idea: Adding Star Power

Creating a starburst in your photographs

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
5.0 Rating
Do a Test Run for Important Portrait Shoots

Dave Black discusses setting up shoots in advance

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Flash Points: The Control of Light

Color temperature, rear sync, slow sync: Three key elements in flash photography.

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Capturing or Freezing Motion in Photos

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

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
The Challenge of Bird Photography

Moose Peterson tells why photographing birds in the field is well worth the challenge.

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.8 Rating
You’re the Guest: How to Capture Unique Photos at a Wedding

Abby Liga discusses getting great photos when you're a…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
A Basic Look at the Basics of Exposure

The relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO is the basis of every…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Balancing Photo Exposures with Nikon's Active D-Lighting

Bring light to the shadows with Nikon's Active D-Lighting

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Understanding Auto ISO

Auto ISO can simplify shooting under changing lighting conditions

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Versatile Views of the World of Wildlife:

Ron Magill field tests the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Jim Richardson: Why Fast Lenses Make All the Difference

When You’re Constantly on the Move, Fast Glass Makes Tough Shots…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
Photographing the Night Sky

Astrophotography: tips for making great images of the stars, moon and night sky time-lapse

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Getting Creative with Photos and Video

Tell better stories using the myriad of fun and artistic features built into Nikon…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
How-To Take Great Photos at the Aquarium

Tips for photographing the fish and creatures that live under water

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
Moiré & False Color

The role of the optical low pass filter in D-SLRs.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.1 Rating
Shooting the Full Moon with the COOLPIX P900

Using the Moon Scene Mode and 83x zoom of the COOLPIX P900

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
Extra Added Attraction: How to Boost the Reach of Your Nikon 1

Mark Alberhasky on using the FT-1 and NIKKOR lenses on…

NEW
Read
Viewing
0.0 Rating

Be the first to rate

Mothers' Days: Good Timing and Great Locations Result in Memorable Maternity Photographs

Beth Wade discusses tips for…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.0 Rating
Taking Pictures of Fireworks

Learn how to get great fireworks shots this summer.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Bounce Technique

David Tejada uses Speedlights wirelessly for pleasing portrait illumination

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
One Shot: After Image

Jack Dyking on seeing in color and thinking in B&W

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Artificial Sunlight Technique

David Tejada uses Speedlights to add a late afternoon look to a scene

NEW
Read
Viewing
2.8 Rating
Scene Auto Selector

A COOLPIX feature that recognizes the type of scene or setting and automatically selects the…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
One Shot: Are We There Yet?

Gary Crabbe shoots The Subway in Zion National Park

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
A Pro's Tips for the Best Children's Photos

Tamara Lackey on taking great pictures of kids

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Photography Lighting Tutorial Part 1 - Control of Color

Go on location with Joe McNally for a video tutorial on lighting…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.8 Rating
Repeating Flash Lighting Technique

Joe McNally uses the technique of repeating flash to capture the grace of balletic…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing

Outside Shots: Go Long

Revealing the invisible

The cumulative effects of events happening all around us in the outdoor world are invisible to us. The ebb and flow of water and the streaming of clouds are perhaps the most common examples. They take place over time, and the way to capture them in often surprising images is to first become familiar with some basic techniques of long-exposure photography, and then collect some essential gear.

I define the long exposures needed for these images as lasting over one minute, and for exposures that long the first essential is a tripod. Next comes neutral density (ND) filters—uniformly dark filters which, when placed onto a lens, hold back light. For very long exposures the one thing you don’t want, after camera movement, is too much light reaching the sensor. I use 5 ND and 10 ND Singh-Ray Mor-Slo filters, which hold back five and ten stops of light, respectively. I can also stack them—that is, use them together on my lens—for 15 stops of neutral density. Holding back that much light means a very long exposure—one minute, two minutes and more—which is exactly what I want.

On a very bright day I know from experience that my 5 ND filter won’t do the job, so the 10 ND is my starting point. And the look I want—lots of cloud movement, for example—gives me the clue to exposure time. With the trial and error that’s almost always involved comes sharper judgments and quicker decisions.

I start with my camera on a solid tripod and my MC-30 cable release attached so I can lock the shutter open for the length of the exposure. (I once forgot my cable release and tried to hold the shutter release down with my finger. It didn’t work and it never will. Cable release required!) Then I take a single, properly exposed image, note the shutter speed and enter that speed in the LongTime Exposure Calculator app on my iPhone, along with the amount of neutral density I’m going to use. With exposure time and ND factor entered, the app automatically calculates and displays the exposure time.

Next I add the chosen ND filter or filter stack to the lens, lock and press the cable release and set my iPhone’s clock timer to count down the exposure length. When the timer sounds, I close the shutter. I check the result on the LCD, then either make adjustments or move on to the next scene.

Most of the time I have noise reduction turned off for these images, as my multi-minute exposures are generally shot in bright light. If you decide to use noise reduction, remember that it can double the write time of the image to the memory card.

Here are some short notes on the long-exposure photos you see here.

Sunset Beach. I’d estimated a two-minute exposure with my 5 ND filter for the late afternoon light. The rocks were properly exposed, but the clouds were blown out, so I shot a second frame and hand held in front of the lens a Singh-Ray three-stop “hard step” ND filter for the entire exposure to darken the clouds. In postproduction I used Nik Software’s Viveza 2 to darken and add structure to the rocks.

59th Street Pier. The soft cloud bank slowly moving across the sky creates a stark contrast to the structure, and the moving ocean takes on a smooth, mirror-like look in this four-minute exposure. I used a 10 ND filter because of the late morning’s very bright sky. In post I used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert the image to black-and-white.

Badlands. The moving cloud bank was apparent, and using the 10 ND and an eight-minute exposure allowed the clouds to create surreal streaks as they moved out of the frame. This is another post conversion to black-and-white.

Poverty Beach. A four-minute exposure using the 10 ND and the three-stop “hard step” filter gave the image the surreal look I was after. The morning was overcast and the inherent slight warm cast of the 10 ND created the warm tone.

If you’d like to capture the intriguing effect of time, I suggest starting with a 10 ND filter and adding the 5 ND to your camera bag if you find yourself needing more exposure minutes.

Speaking of adding, an added attraction here is that prime time for extreme long exposures begins in late morning, so here, at last, is an outdoor photography technique that permits a little extra sleep.

Welcome to
Nikon Learn & Explore

We've made it easy to find all the videos, tutorials &
stories you care about, get tips and advice from pros,
learn new shooting techniques, discover classes and
workshops—in short, help you find new inspiration
every time you visit. (And we hope you visit often.)

Get the Learn & Explore iPhone App

Access all the photography techniques, advice and inspiration of Nikon's Learn & Explore anytime, anywhere with the free app for iPhone®, iPod touch® and iPad®.
photo of two iPhones with the Nikon L&E app on the screens

Take Today's Poll

Make your opinion count and check back often to participate in new polls.

Attend Nikon School

Take your photographic knowledge to the next level; get a working understanding of your camera's features; learn how to create DSLR videos; discover how to edit your images using Capture NX2 software and more.

Nikon School logo and Brian Skerry underwater photo of fish on a reef

Subscribe to the
L&E e-Newsletter

And get great tips and techniques to try next time you go shooting!

L&E e-newsletter examples graphic

Learn photo & video terms!

Learn & Explore features an expansive glossary of over 800 photographic terms. Visit the L&E glossary to learn about specific Nikon camera features or more general photographic or video terms and definitions. Browse the glossary by letter, number or icon.
glossary graphic