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4.7 Rating
Outside Shots: Go Long

Tony Sweet on revealing the invisible in images

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

Adjusting exposure with Variable ND filters

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4.4 Rating
Shooting Long Exposures:

Deborah Sandidge on shooting long exposure landscapes and cityscapes

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4.2 Rating
When to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters

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

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4.6 Rating
How to Use Aperture and ND Filters to Control the Depth-of-Field in Movies

Depth-of-field for video

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4.5 Rating
Shooting Spectacular Sunrises and Sunsets

Jim Harmer’s tips for photographing at dawn and dusk

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4.4 Rating
How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

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

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4.4 Rating
How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

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

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4.3 Rating
Polarizing Filters Add POW to Pictures

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

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Bright Idea: Adding Star Power
4.4 Rating
Bright Idea: Adding Star Power

Creating a starburst in your photographs

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5.0 Rating
Do a Test Run for Important Portrait Shoots

Dave Black discusses setting up shoots in advance

Beginner

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4.3 Rating
Flash Points: The Control of Light

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

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In the Moment

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

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5.0 Rating
Photographing Commercial Assignments with a Sports Angle

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

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4.7 Rating
High Speed Sync: A Flash Technique To Add a Pro Touch to Your Photographs

Kevin Kubota on auto FP high speed sync flash…

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4.6 Rating
Lighting Techniques: Light Painting

Using the technique of light painting allows you to add depth and dimension to your…

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3.8 Rating
One Shot: Supermoon

Sam Garcia photographs the Supermoon

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3.7 Rating
7 Tips & Tricks to Taking Better Wedding Photographs

Joe McNally on how to take better wedding portraits

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3.7 Rating
Basics of Exposure and Camera Controls

Ideal class for those who want to go beyond point & shoot photography

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4.5 Rating
Joe McNally: Shooting a Portrait with Speedlights

Joe McNally sets up a portrait on location using Speedlights

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4.3 Rating
Exposure Bracketing: The Creative Insurance Policy

Get creative with your photography by using this age-old technique.

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4.1 Rating
Critical Focus: Getting the Most From Your D800

Michael Clark on getting the most out of your D800 HD-SLR

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4.1 Rating
New Directions: The D750 Inspires Creating, and Sharing, New Images

Lindsay Silverman shoots with the D750 DSLR

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4.7 Rating
Ski Photography 101

Tips and tricks for getting great photos of skiers and snowboarders

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4.3 Rating
Understanding Auto ISO

Auto ISO can simplify shooting under changing lighting conditions

Beginner

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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

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3.8 Rating
New Tricks

Time to get moving with Lindsay Silverman

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5.0 Rating
Mentor Trekking in Costa Rica with Bill Durrence

A Mentor Series instructor leads a group of photo trekkers through the…

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

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

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4.6 Rating
Photographing the Night Sky

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

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4.2 Rating
Getting Creative with Photos and Video

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

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4.6 Rating
How-To Take Great Photos at the Aquarium

Tips for photographing the fish and creatures that live under water

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4.6 Rating
Moiré & False Color

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

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3.1 Rating
Photographing People Using Wireless Lighting Techniques

Tom Bol's images inspire new ways of taking a portrait photo.

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4.3 Rating
How to Photograph Lightning

Storm chaser Jim Reed offers valuable tips for making photos of lighning while staying safe.

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4.3 Rating
Understanding ISO Sensitivity

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

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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.

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