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.
Most landscape photographers, myself included, love to photograph gigantic, thunderous, raging waterfalls, quiet little babbling brooks, and just about everything in between. Successfully photographing them is not always easy, though. Here are some tips that I am constantly reminding both myself and tour participants alike while in the field:
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.
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. In this article, I will provide some tips and ideas to help you take your macro photography to the next level.
This content sharing contest came at a fortuitous time; for a while, I had posted essays on books. I let that lapse because I decided to spend more time on photography. Like many others, I have opinions and have wanted to jump back into writing. Great thing for Photography Life to ask for guest posts!
Recently, I have come realize that Mike Johnston’s phrasing of photography as its own thing, is a profound statement of an approach and appreciation of the craft. He has a whole recent series on it at The Online Photographer. At the very least, it is something that appealed greatly to me.
In my dream life, I would be a fashion and documentary photographer, but until that happens, I’m a barista. Every day I show up to work, serve the same customers, make the same drinks, hit the same cash button on the register, wipe the same tables and bake the same pastries. It can get a little mundane after two years. Everyone has to work, pay the bills, put in your due time so you can play later, right? This was my thought process for years. I always thought I would need to work a full-time job in order to support my true passion, creating images. But in reality, why can’t the two go hand-in-hand?
Zoom lenses are convenient, as everyone knows. I’d imagine that the vast majority of us started our photography with a simple 18-55 kit lens – I know I did, and I used it to take some of my favorite photos. However, it never seemed like a good fit for my style of photography. My first prime lens was the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR macro, a truly fantastic lens. At the time, I had never attempted macro photography. It is no exaggeration to say that the 105mm macro opened new worlds for me, and its sharpness was unbelievable. I had discovered the magical world of prime lenses.
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.
Without question there is a skill component in photography. Understanding our gear, lighting, composition and post processing are all important ingredients when creating images. Photography captures specific moments in time and on occasion it can be extremely helpful when Lady Luck is on our side. Most of us can remember particular instances when we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to capture an image. Maybe it was the expression on a child’s face. A rainbow. Or perhaps one of those sunsets that can simply take our breath away. On occasion Lady Luck has ridden shotgun with me, sometimes when capturing nature images.
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of stories popping up about a lucky break from a friend, a relative, a previous connection, and those lucky breaks launching a career. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (I am kind of jealous!), but I also notice how people keep asking for a story of how work and perseverance paid off instead. As a shy introvert with cheap gear, I thought my story might be something worth sharing with other Photography Life readers – I’ve relied entirely on my work to get where I am today.