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How to Read Your NIKKOR Lens Barrel

Understanding what all of those markings and designations on your lens really mean.

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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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Shooting Spectacular Sunrises and Sunsets

Jim Harmer’s tips for photographing at dawn and dusk

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Reaction Time

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

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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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One Shot: City Lights

Mark Alberhasky's silhouette of people against bright Times Square signage

Beginner

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Just Say Mo. Slow-Mo that is.

Steve Heiner shoots slow-motion video

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First Look: The All-Seeing, 360° Nikon Action Cam

Corey Rich describes his experience shooting with the KeyMission 360

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Miles of Aisles

Kevin Kubota establishes his clients' comfort level before the wedding, so that on the big day they will…

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Moose Peterson: How to Photograph Winter Landscapes

Exposing so the Snow’s White and Six Other Tips for Great Winter…

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Think About Your Subject Before You Begin Shooting

Find out why thinking about your photos can be as important as taking…

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The Stories that Can be Told Through Photography

Commercial photographer Arthur Meyerson likes his photos to say the most…

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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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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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Capturing or Freezing Motion in Photos

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

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A Light in the Forest

Rod Planck on photographing critters in the field with a Speedlight

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One Shot: Are We There Yet?

Gary Crabbe shoots The Subway in Zion National Park

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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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Bright Ideas: Tips and Techniques for Photographing Jewelry

Jody Dole on photographing jewelry

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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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Shooting Family Interview Movies with a DSLR

Adding interviews to family movies and videos

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A Basic Look at the Basics of Exposure

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

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Group Effort: Growing Your Skills in a Camera Club

Benefits of joining a camera club

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One Shot: No Exit

How a simple change can alter a photo’s feeling

What makes a photo particularly memorable?

Perhaps it has relevance to your personal history; or it's the precise capture of a subject's personality; or there's a nostalgic connection to a place and time.

Or maybe the reason is something totally unexpected.

As a writer for the Learn & Explore section of the Nikon website I see a lot of photos I consider memorable, but this one, taken during the Northeast's snowstorm season by Nikon School instructor Bill Durrence, comes with its own memorable story.

When he's traveling, Bill likes to send an image and a short e-mail message each day to a list of friends and colleagues. He calls these communications "post cards," and when this one arrives I call Diane Berkenfeld, editor of L&E.

"Did you get an e-mail from Bill?" I ask. "The shadows on the snow photo?"

"Great shot," she says.

"He's a terrific photographer," I say. "What about doing a story with him?"    

Fast forward a few months and Diane and I are back on the phone, looking at contact sheets of Bill's photos on our monitors, choosing images for the story. We're editing down from initial selects when Diane says, "We can't forget the snow shadows picture."

So we go back through the contacts, looking for it among a group of similars. We know it's there—we specifically asked Bill to send it—but we're not immediately finding it. Then Diane says, "There it is, number ‘0021 Final’." And she's right, it's there...but why isn't it jumping out at me the way it did when I saw the post card? "Why am I not as excited about it?" I ask. "It's the same shot we saw."

But as I look at it, I realize it isn't exactly the same, and just as I start to say, "Could it be...?" Diane says, "It's the border."    

"Yeah, you're right," I say, "but how can a border make such a difference?"    

"Find out what Bill has to say," Diane says. "See if there's a 'One Shot' story here."

What Bill has to say is this: "It's a practical issue. Anytime you have bright tones next to the edge of the frame, those tones become an escape route out of the picture. Your eye is drawn to brightness, and in a photograph like this, with so much snow along the edges, it's easy to kind of drift in and out of the picture, especially with the shadow and snow lines moving your eye back and forth. The border locks you in; it contains you in the picture. Your reaction to the picture illustrates that practical point—without the border, you weren't locked in; it didn't grab you the same way."  

While Bill first put borders around photos with light tones at the edges, adding them has become a stylistic touch, one that he applies to all his presentation images.    

"And there's another reason for the border," Bill adds. "It's more philosophical, and it may sound weird, but the nature of a still photograph is that it's a frozen moment. There's time before and after that moment, and there's all the stuff that's outside the frame. When I teach, I talk a lot about how the photographer is responsible for everything in the picture, and the frame is where you manage that information. You get to decide what people know and what they don't know; it's how you limit or expand the information that's in the scene. Putting on that black border is my way of stating that although there is more, this is what I want you to see."

Bill took the photo on the campus of Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. "I live in Savannah," he says, "where we never see snow. In my travels for the Nikon School I'll be in places where there's snow on the ground, but most of the time when I get there it's slushy, dirty or full of footprints, but not photographic possibilities." So as soon as he'd finished the first section of that day's school, he bundled up and went out to shoot.

In this frame he captured all that appealed to him: the shape of the pristine snow, the flow of the terrain, the presence of both light and dark shadows. "It's in the soft highlight and shadow pattern of the snow that you get a sense of dimensionality," he says.

All of which makes the photo memorable...while a thin black line makes it even more so.

The specs: D5300, AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, 1/640 second, f/8, ISO 100, aperture-priority, Matrix metering.

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