How to Photograph the Northern Lights

Photographing Northern Lights (4)

I have thoroughly enjoyed the response from my first article here at Photography Life – both the encouragement as well as the advice to follow my photographic instincts than to be led sideways. It is nice to have allowed a wider audience a peek at my work and hear some constructive feedback on my images and thought process. This article is a bit of a throwback post and is intended to be a general starter guide to photographing the Northern lights. The title is perhaps misleading as the “Northern Lights” are not just a phenomenon of the Northern hemisphere but also occur in the Southern Hemisphere. In the North, it’s generally referred to as the Aurora Borealis whereas in the south, it goes by Aurora Australis. However, my experience, though not vast, has generally been shooting the Northern Lights in Norway and Iceland and this is what I will now expand upon.

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Long Exposure Photography Tips

Salt Lake Sunset at Mandurah

Long exposure photography can produce stunning photos. Nighttime shots can bring out unexpected detail and create amazing light effects. Daytime long exposure can create images with haunting moods and ethereal imagery. None of this is actually hard to achieve, but it does take a little thought and preparation. Here are some tips to ease you into long exposure photography.

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Macro Photography Tutorial

Crab at Sunrise

Macro photography is one of the most popular forms of photography, and with good reason. It is easily accessible, and it is a very broad genre of photography. Studio pros can enjoy taking macro shots of leaves, flowers, and sluggish insects, maintaining total control over lighting. Nature lovers can spend hours outside, searching for hidden treasures among flowers and leaves. Plus, in non-photographic locations (like most people’s backyards), macro photography makes it possible to take great images of nature without traveling at all.

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Photographing the Milky Way – A Detailed Guide

Milky Way Vortex

I have been shooting the night sky since my grandfather gave me my first 35mm SLR in junior high. Today’s digital SLRs allow us to shoot amazing things that I could only dream of a couple decades ago! Below are some tips and suggestions that I teach at night photography workshops for shooting the Milky Way.

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Astrophotography Tutorial

Horse Head

Astrophotography is a hobby rapidly gaining popularity thanks to the fast advancing CMOS sensor technology. Over a decade ago, the light recording material employed in astrophotography was primarily chemical emulsion. Its low sensitivity makes it very hard to record the weak signal from deep space. In addition, the lack of real-time feedback is a huge source of frustration for beginners. Operational errors such as out-of-focus can only be realized after several nights of hard work after the film is developed. In the mid 90s, the advent of cooled CCD cameras provided solutions to both the sensitivity and real-time feedback problems. However, their high prices and miserably small sensor areas limited their uses to only a few kinds of astrophotography and to very enthusiastic astrophotographers. While CCDs revolutionized astronomical research, this technology has never really changed the landscape of amateur astrophotography. The true turning point took place in 2002. After Fujifilm announced its FinePix S2Pro DSLR and showcased amazing astronomical pictures taken by this camera, people started to seriously explore DSLRs for astrophotography. DSLRs can provide real-time feedback, which is very important for beginners. They have sensitivities not much worse than CCDs, and DSLRs with large sensors (APS-C) are quite affordable nowadays. Today’s landscape in astrophotography is shaped by a series of CMOS-based DSLRs from Canon, but DSLRs and mirrorless cameras based on Sony sensors are gaining popularity very quickly.

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Recommended Canon 7D Mark II Settings

Canon 7D Mark II

Being a specialized tool for sports and wildlife photography, the recently announced Canon 7D Mark II is a popular choice among many Canon shooters, thanks to its impressive 10 fps continuous shooting speed, a sizable buffer, high-end 65-point AF system and a solid weather-proof build. Along with these pro-level features, the 7D Mark II comes with numerous buttons and a sophisticated menu system that can be pretty overwhelming for even intermediate-level photographers. To help guide our readers through these features and menus, we decided to share the settings our team has been using on the camera during the past 3 months while testing the camera. Please keep in mind that the below information is provided as a guide for those that struggle with the camera. While this particular configuration has been working great for our needs (mostly based on wildlife and landscape photography), it does not mean that it is the only way to properly setup and configure the camera.

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Recommended Nikon D7100 Settings

Nikon D7100 Front Buttons

I am in the process of reviewing the Canon 7D Mark II for which I had to borrow the Nikon D7100 to compare image quality and other camera features, so I thought doing an article on the recommended settings for the D7100 would be useful to our readers. Although the Nikon D7100 is not a direct competitor to the 7D Mark II (many are still waiting for a D300S replacement), it is still a solid camera that is used for a variety of different needs by many photographers. And despite its crippled buffer capacity, the D7100 is often used for both wildlife and sports photography needs. Since the camera is rather sophisticated in terms of its capabilities and features, having many different menu and settings, it can look rather overwhelming for a beginner. In this article, I want to provide some information on what I personally use and shortly explain what some of the important settings do. Please do keep in mind that while these work for me, it does not mean that everyone else should be shooting with exactly the same settings. The below information is provided as a guide for those who just want to get started with a basic understanding of the camera and its many features.

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Exposure Stops in Photography – A Beginner’s Guide

Exposure Stops_Sample 2

There is so much duality in photography. On one hand, it’s the light and the subject, it’s the story we tell and the story the viewer sees, it’s a feeling, an emotion, a state, a symbol, a metaphor. Sounds poetic, doesn’t it? On the other hand, it’s pure science, every single bit of it – from the said light traveling through a complex lens design, all the way to the scene being imprinted whether on a piece of light-sensitive film or, temporarily, on a digital sensor. And that scientific part of photography brings all sorts of terms with it, terms that may not be necessary for the creative process, but as far as skillful execution goes, you can’t do without understanding them for very long. A painter needs to know his brushes at some point, right?

And so we are back to covering basics, something you surely must have noticed. In this article, I will talk about yet another, confusing-at-first-encounter term used in photography, more specifically – exposure stops. I will try to explain what they are and how stops of different exposure parameters – shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity – correlate, as well as give you examples of what are considered to be regular stop values of each parameter, and what are full, half and third-stops.

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Under and Overexposure – A Beginner’s Guide

Under- and Overexposure_Correct Exposure Sample

In our continuous effort to cover all the photography basics, we’ve found ourselves looking for the simplest topics to write about. We already have articles on such subjects as the exposure triangle, what is a DSLR and how is it different to mirrorless cameras. Most recently we covered the ever-popular topic of crop-factors (in an easily comprehensible manner, no less) and a useful guide on using tripods. In this article, I will discuss the topic of under- and overexposure. Now, on one hand, there’s not much to actually discuss – a simple explanation of the terms is what interests most beginner photographers. But here is my slightly-absurd-at-first-glance introduction to the article – there is no such thing as under- and overexposure. Dead serious.

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What is Crop Factor?

Full-Frame vs APS-C Sensor

Whether you are just getting into photography or have been shooting for a while, you have probably heard the term “crop factor”. With so many different cameras and camera systems available today, this particular term comes up very often in product specifications, marketing materials, articles, books and you might even hear it in conversations between photographers. If you do not know what it really means or want to get a better understanding of crop factor, this article will hopefully make it easier for you to understand it better. Please keep in mind that this article was written for beginners, so many of the terms and explanations are over-simplified.

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