Nikon Americas USA

121ArticlesRemaining

5.0 Rating
The Power and Beauty of Bears and Other Animals

When the animal in the viewfinder is a bear, this photographer knows…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.1 Rating
Take Control of Color using Picture Controls

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

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.9 Rating
A New Sharp Shooter

Mike Corrado on shooting with the Nikon D810

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.8 Rating
Ron Magill

Zoologist and wildlife photographer Ron Magill is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
James Balog

Conservation photographer James Balog is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Bambi Cantrell

Wedding and portrait photographer Bambi Cantrell is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about her photography.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Introduction to Three-Point Lighting & Other Video Lighting Techniques

Advanced lighting for video

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
The Inspired Image

Communication is key for Dixie Dixon in creating stunning images

NEW
Read
Viewing
5.0 Rating
Reaction Time

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

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Capturing the Essence of an Athlete in Photographs

Although many photographers look for the perfect moment, what Dave…

NEW
Read
Viewing
5.0 Rating
Bill Coleman: A Long Term Photo Project

Whether shooting the Amish of Pennsylvania or the landscapes of Maine or Italy,…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.0 Rating
Active D-Lighting

Active D-Lighting optimizes high contrast images to restore the shadow and highlight details that are…

NEW
Read
Viewing
1.0 Rating
Capture NX 2: Lesson 2

Master the technique of brightening up a photo with D-Lighting.

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.8 Rating
Landscape and Travel Photography

Ideal for those who want to take their travel & landscape photography to the next level

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
4.3 Rating
Flash Points: The Control of Light

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

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Tool Talk

Mike Corrado on the gear that shapes the light.

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
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
4.9 Rating
Speedlight Tutorial: Day to Night Technique

David Tejada uses Speedlights to create the illusion of a night scene

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.8 Rating
Advanced Wireless Lighting

Advanced wireless lighting is the use of multiple Speedlights set up for wireless remote…

NEW
Read
Viewing
0.0 Rating

Be the first to rate

Benefits of Using Fast Lenses in Low Light

A tip from Nikon Ambassador Lucas Gilman

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Joe McNally: Shooting a Portrait with Speedlights

Joe McNally sets up a portrait on location using Speedlights

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
Joe McNally and the new SB-910 AF Speedlight

Behind the Scenes of a Marketing Campaign Shoot

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
Using the Highlight-Weighted Metering Mode

When to use the D810 and D750's highlight-weighted metering

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Flash Photography on Location

Ami Vitale on using a single Speedlight for illumination

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
Using Auto FP High-Speed Sync to Illuminate Fast Sports Action

Dave Black on using high-speed flash sync for sports…

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
4.0 Rating
ISO Control

For digital photography, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera's sensor. The ISO setting is one of…

Advanced

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
4.6 Rating
Cliff Mautner: King of Hearts

Cliff Mautner's unique style has made him a successful and in-demand wedding photographer.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Shooting Abstract Photos that Make the Viewer Guess

Sometimes showing just a hint of your subject can be more compelling…

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
3.9 Rating
Getting Creative with White Balance

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

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
One Shot: City Lights

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

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Shooting Family Interview Movies with a DSLR

Adding interviews to family movies and videos

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
Cliff Mautner

Wedding and portrait photographer Cliff Mautner is a Nikon Ambassador. Learn more about his photography.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Exposure Bracketing: The Creative Insurance Policy

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

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.6 Rating
Learning How to Use Your Camera's Histogram

The histogram is a useful tool that analyzes tonal range and helps in…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Live Image Control

Live Image Control lets you preview how certain settings will affect your final image

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
Bright Ideas: Tips and Techniques for Photographing Jewelry

Jody Dole on photographing jewelry

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Shooting a Rock Concert

Whether you're taking photos at a major rock concert or at your child's school performance, these…

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.8 Rating
Cat Photography: Capturing Cats in Pictures

With a little patience you too can make great pictures of your pet cat or…

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.7 Rating
7 Tips & Tricks to Taking Better Wedding Photographs

Joe McNally on how to take better wedding portraits

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.3 Rating
Rich Clarkson: The Right Place at the Right Time to Get the Shots

Rich Clarkson, an acclaimed photojournalist, who…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Moose Peterson: How to Photograph Winter Landscapes

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

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Zoom Lens Maximum Aperture: Fixed and Variable Apertures

Zoom lenses can have either a fixed maximum aperture or a…

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.8 Rating
One Shot: Spin Doctor

Mark Alberhasky on why images may work in multiple ways

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing

The Anatomy of a Powerful Image

Photography is all about light. The word “photography” is derivative of two Greek words that when literally translated means “writing with light” or “painting with light.”

You need to understand light, both natural and ambient. How it shines. How it reflects. Anticipating it. Subtracting it. Sculpting your subjects with it. Lighting should be your first passion when it comes to the study of photography.

Unfortunately most inexperienced photographers will choose the beauty of a location before choosing a scene that is beautifully lit. If you cannot envisage the best light, place your hand in front of you and do a full circle. As you turn around you will notice that your skin tones change according to the light. Look beyond your hand and you’ll see how that light is falling onto the environment.

Once you’ve found the right light, then choose a location or background; allowing the background to help steer the action for the photograph.

 

Making magic in a photograph

I design the shot in my head. I don’t believe in waiting for the moment, I believe in making it happen. By all means, if magic is happening before my eyes, I will be the first to let it happen. But if it isn’t, I’ll make magic happen.

For example, if I see beautiful light shining on an interesting looking wall, I ask myself, “What could the couple be doing in this shot?” Perhaps they‘re walking past the wall and sharing a laugh. I then simply direct them to walk past it and proceed to make them laugh. Once I believe I’ve nailed the shot and satisfied a spread in an album, I move on to the next story.

My style is all about beauty and glamour. It is about capturing couples looking their best. When I started in photography, I was very conscious of photographing in a popular and marketable style. I started to think about what the most important factor in a photograph of oneself was. Many photographers will tell you that it is emotion, expression, storytelling or romance. I believe that all those things are very important, but come second to a person’s appearance. The first thing a person notices when they look at a photograph of themselves is how they look; scrutinizing every flaw they may or may not have. Once a person believes they look good in a photograph, they take note of the secondary elements in the image.

The same bride who wants to look great, doesn’t like the thought of appearing too posed. “Pose” is a dirty word in a bride’s vocabulary. She wants to look as natural as possible. So therein lines the problem. How do you make a bride look beautiful and natural at the same time? Simply put, I prompt and direct her in a way that appears natural. I like my viewers to believe that I was in the right place at the right time, all day.

Many would argue that creating spontaneity on a wedding day is contrived and unconvincing. However, I believe in creating pictures, not just taking them. I will wait for opportunities, look for them, anticipate, create and pursue them relentlessly to not just meet my client’s and my own expectations, but to exceed them every time. I am a proactive photographer.

After searching for the best light, finding the best location and creating a concept for the bride and groom, I roughly set them up in a position I want them to be in. If I want my couples to look natural, I give them a reason to be there such as whispering in each other’s ear or perhaps sharing a romantic kiss. I also use word association.  For example, a red wall might remind me of passion, emotion and celebration so I picture the bride throwing her hands up in the air in jubilation as she is laughing and peering out to the side of the frame.

Getting the exposure right, in the camera

My next priority is to ascertain my exposure. There is only one exposure and that’s the right one. I believe that the true craft of photography is often lost to lazy digital capture and is compensated by overzealous retouching techniques. If you haven’t gathered already, I photograph on the “manual” setting. Many photographers shoot on “aperture priority” or on the “program” mode and wonder why their bridal images are underexposed and their groom’s images are overexposed. If you are relying on the “program” or “aperture” mode for your exposure and you were photographing a pale bride in a white dress, leaning on a white wall, your exposure will be underexposed and your subject will appear grey. Just as you would overexpose an African American man in a black suit, leaning on a dark wall, the image will also appear grey. Your camera can’t think for itself.

When I am faced with a different scene, I will always follow the same routine to determine my exposure:

I will adjust my ISO to the lowest setting that the lighting condition allows me to use, then select my white balance and no, I will not always use the “auto” setting. For example, a church may be tungsten-lit but if I set the camera to the “tungsten” white balance setting, the light may overcorrect the beautiful warmth of the church. I would instead set the white balance to the “daylight” setting. This would add blue tones to the scene and make the lighting appear less yellow but not enough to kill the ambience of the church.

I then select my aperture, adjusting the shutter speed for exposure. Once I believe I have the correct exposure, I take a quick shot and view the image on the back of the camera. I let the detail in the skin tones and the highlights act as my guide. Trust your instinct. If you think you’ve over- or under-exposed an image, you have probably have. Experience will be your best teacher.  

Now that I have a correct exposure, all I need is an action or reaction. Don’t forget, I’ve placed my couple in the best light, I roughly positioned them in the scene, I know what I want from the couple because I’ve conceptualized the image but at the same time I also allow for spontaneity.

My camera is set. I then communicate to the couple clearly and effectively what I want from them. My prompts and directions add style and finesse and make the image appear believable to the viewer. Photography is 99% personality and 1% technique. If you’re not enthusiastic or fun, how can you expect your couple to be?  

Don’t lose faith, trust your instincts and extract as much love and emotion out of the couple as possible. I believe that too many photographers overshoot, believing that it costs them nothing to do so. Before I even look through the viewfinder, I ask myself, “Is this working?” If it isn’t and I’m not feeling it, I simply don’t shoot.

Jerry Ghionis is a Nikon Ambassador.

Check out his Ambassador page.

Welcome to the NEW
Nikon Learn & Explore

We've redesigned the site to make it easier to find
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

Along with the new look of Learn & Explore, we've added polls. 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.

Check out a Digitutor

Learn more about the Nikon DSLR or Nikon 1 camera you own by watching an interactive product tutorial!
image of a Nikon DSLR and Digitutor screenshot illustration

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