How To Focus Your Lens on Infinity for Night Photography

Photography workshop out at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photography workshop at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

The most important and difficult step in night photography is to focus on infinity. If you have tried to focus on the stars at night you have already learned that it is an impossible task for the autofocus system and just about impossible for you. You just can’t see clearly enough through the viewfinder in the dark of night to manually focus on the stars. Fortunately, there are some ways to get the job done.

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How To Work With A Model When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio

You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.

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Testing Your Camera’s Snow Exposure Latitude

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers, Prince William Sound, Alaska

Exposure compensation is one of the most important keys to good exposures, great images, and the best colors your digital camera is capable of producing. Knowing your camera’s snow exposure latitude is one of the keys to using exposure compensation in a winter scene. It is different for every camera model. You won’t find it in your camera’s manual but it is easy to determine with a simple test.

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Get Sharper Images By Using The Best Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

A lot of photographers have discovered their almost sharp lens was actually a very sharp lens once they tweaked the micro-adjustment settings. You will get sharper images if you adjust the settings for your specific camera and lens combinations. You do this using the micro-adjustment settings in the camera menu along with a lens calibration tool which you can buy or make yourself.

Article posted Dec. 28, 2016.

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Eliminating Sun Flare

Aspen Grove, Rocky Mountain National Park

Aspen Grove, Rocky Mountain National Park. (No sun flare.)

There are times when you shoot in the direction of the sun that direct rays from the sun enter your lens even though the sun isn’t in the photo. Whenever this happens you have the possibility of sun flare. The sunlight bouncing around inside your lens can create ghost shapes, add a light haze to the image, and rob the photo of color.

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How To Get Critical Focus in “Live View” Mode with a Magnified Image

Tripod mpounted camera in live view mode.

Tripod mounted camera in live view mode. The image is visible on the LCD along with the RGB histogram.

“Live View” mode is a huge boon to digital photographers and magnified focus is one of the reasons why. Focusing this way is more accurate than the camera’s autofocus modes, at least with non-moving subjects, and you will have sharper images. Landscape photography is the usual time to use this technique but sometimes it works for wildlife.

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First Night: Testing an iOptron Sky Tracker, Part Two

Orion Nebula and Nebula NGC 1977

Orion Nebula and Nebula NGC 1977. Three minute exposure with a 300mm lens and camera mounted on an iOptron Sky Tracker. This is cropped from a larger image.

After a one minute exposure using the iOptron Sky Tracker (see the photo in part one), I tried a 3 minute exposure with the same 300mm lens to create the image above (which is cropped from a larger image which you can see below). The Orion Nebula (M42 and M43) shows up quite well and you can even see some of the nebulosity of NGC 1977 just above the Orion Nebula around the 5th magnitude stars Orionis 42 and 45. The iOptron Star Tracker is an impressive piece of equipment.

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“How To” Series: Using GPS

Temple Image with GPS coordinates. Click for a larger version.

Temple Image with GPS coordinates. Click for a larger version.

The GPS system is increasingly important to photography. It will help you figure out where you took some of your more obscure photos, and more and more photo editors want GPS information for the photos they publish. The GPS system inside your smart phone can put your family at risk. A GPS communicator could save your life. This series will help you learn the ins and outs of GPS, plus keep you and your family safe.

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How To Work With A Model When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio

You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.

Continue reading

Testing Your Camera’s Snow Exposure Latitude

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers, Prince William Sound, Alaska

Exposure compensation is one of the most important keys to good exposures, great images, and the best colors your digital camera is capable of producing. Knowing your camera’s snow exposure latitude is one of the keys to using exposure compensation in a winter scene. It is different for every camera model. You won’t find it in your camera’s manual but it is easy to determine with a simple test.

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Photo Shoot: Using a Halo Softbox with a Yongnuo Radio Controlled Flash System

Kristina

Kristina. Sunlight coming from the right. Halo softbox with Yongnuo speedlite providing light from the left.

After testing a Bob Davis 45 inch Halo Softbox and Yongnuo YN600EX-RT radio flash on my most available model (my dog), I needed to test it out on a real model. Opportunity called in the form of a message from Kristina, a professional model based in Los Angeles (and an absolute delight to work with). She would be in Ohio for Thanksgiving and she wanted to schedule a shoot. I was leaving town for Thanksgiving, but fortunately for us we had one day to shoot after she arrived and before I left.

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Using the Histogram to Check Studio Flash Exposures

Sarah, Professional Fitness Trainer

Sarah, Professional Fitness Trainer

When using studio flash units, usually the best way to check your exposures is to use an incident light meter which is capable of metering flash exposures. But what if you don’t have an incident flash meter? Or what if you have a subject that absorbs a lot of light? Or a subject that reflects a lot more light than your typical photographic subject? You can double check your exposure settings by using the histogram on your camera. FYI: Do not trust the LCD image on the back of your camera to judge your exposures.

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How to Photograph the Milky Way

The Milky Way from Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

The Milky Way from Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park. The golden glow is from Denver city lights 70 miles away. The blue hues of late twilight are fading in the west. Click for a larger image.

On all of my weekend nature photography workshops, weather permitting I take everyone out once or twice to photograph the night sky. For those who haven’t tried it before, it kicks down the door to a whole new realm of photographic possibilities, and not just for night photography. Once a photographer tries one thing that is totally new and different and ends up with beautiful images they are proud of, they are ready to try all kinds of new things.

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In a Photo Rich Environment: Be Prepared

Front seat camera gear.

Front seat camera gear. Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 lens. Canon 7D Mark II with Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens.

You probably recognize the scout motto: “Be Prepared!” It also applies to photography. When I am in a photo rich environment, especially if there is a possibility of seeing wildlife, I usually have two cameras and lenses on the front seat next to me, all ready to go.

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POTD: Stars Trails Over El Capitan

Stars over El Capitan with climbers on the granite cliffs. Yosemite Valley.

Stars over El Capitan with climbers on the granite cliffs. Yosemite Valley. This is a stacked image combing 8 separate exposures. Click to see a larger version.

El Capitan is a splendid sight in Yosemite Valley. Small wonder that for decades photographers have been showing up in droves to photographic the iconic granite cliffs. It is the largest block of exposed granite on our planet.

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How to Create a Stacked Image of the Night Sky

Night sky with airplane lights, Fremont, California

Venus, Jupiter, stars, and airplane lights. Fremont, California. 27 separate images stacked together. Click to see a larger version.

It is a handy thing to know how to stack multiple night sky images into one photo. It allows you to create one stacked image covering a long period of time (using multiple photos) when it is not possible to make one long exposure of the night sky. What is a stacked image? Several images taken over a period of time which are combined to create one image fro the whole time period. This tutorial will show you how to create one.

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Panorama: Yosemite Valley in the Moonlight

Yosemite Valley at Night. Eagle Peak, Yosemite Point, and North

Yosemite Valley at Night with Eagle Peak, Yosemite Point, and North Dome. The vertical light near the center is one of two planes that ended up in this image. Click to see a larger version.

Night photography has its own unique charms, whether it is a dark night with no moon and thousands of crystal clear stars, or with plenty of moonlight which (if you choose) you can turn night into day. And it isn’t all that complicated to do. With the addition of the right gear, you can turn your night time vista into a panoramic photo.

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