Night Sky Photography Tips

Star Trails

jiDue to the Earth’s rotation about its axis, it seems that the light from stars moves in circles around the celestial pole. These movements are detectable after about 5 to 10 minutes, and can be traced by your camera in the form of a streak. To photograph this magical effect, you need a sturdy tripod and lots of patience. Focus the lens to infinity and set the camera’s mode at Manual or Bulb shooting mode. With the use of a cable release you will capture the stars moving across the sky. These exposures can be a few minutes to several hours long. If you keep few things in mind, such as the timing, composition, and power of the battery, you can make photographing star trails simpler for you.

Find the Right Location

The best place to view and photograph the night sky is in the rural countryside because cities have artificial lights which cause a phenomenon known as light pollution. You need to get away from artificial lights in order to see the stars well. A truly dark

Baby Photography Tips

Click Away!

voBabies are unpredictable so therefore tears and tantrums are to be expected. Don’t be afraid to keep the camera shooting rather than waiting for that perfect pose or moment because somewhere in 30 consecutive shots will be one winner. Presuming you have a good amount of natural daylight, choose an ISO of 100-400 and use a wide aperture (f/2.8-f/8) for a shallow DOF (depth of field). Use continuous shooting mode on your camera to capture 2, 3, 4, or 5 photos in a couple of seconds.

Check the Lighting

For the best baby shots, photograph during the daytime when there is plenty of natural daylight. Natural light gives a soft focus look to the baby’s skin. Use window light if possible and avoid the harsh sun because it tends to casts shadows and is also unhealthy for the baby’s skin. A standard lens of 50mm is ideal for this kind of image. Turn the mode dial to AV (Aperture Priority) mode, select a high ISO and a wide aperture. Let the camera choose the correct shutter speed. Use

Nikon vs Canon vs Sony

copsI have been getting a lot of questions from our readers about whether they should pick a particular camera from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax or some other manufacturer. These inquiries are only increasing over time, so I decided to post an article on what I think about different camera systems and why you should go with a particular brand versus others. Many of the questions are something like “should I go for Nikon D5000 or Canon 1000D” or similar, with readers asking me to tell them why I would recommend or pick a certain brand/type of a camera over another. When it comes to the question of Nikon vs Canon vs Sony, there are lots of heated debates over the Internet, so I wanted to share my personal thought on this subject matter as well.

As you know, I have been mainly writing about Nikon – simply because pretty much all of my gear is from Nikon and it is the system of choice for me. Why don’t I shoot Canon or Sony? Is Nikon superior than these brands? No, not

Field Contributor Benefits

When you become a Level 3 subscriber, a Field Contributor, you will also have access to the Nature Photographer Field Contributors’ Web Site. The Field Contributor’s site contains additional articles, information, and images.

1) Your name will be listed in each issue and on the web site as one of our Field Contributors.

2) You will have a pin number so you can access the Field Contributor web site where you will find articles which are only published on the Field Contributor site.

3) Helen and Marty are available by telephone. In fact, we enjoy talking with you a great deal. We will do our best to answer questions and look forward to discussing article ideas with you.

4) You are invited to submit images and/or articles which will be considered for possible publication in the magazine, in the iPad app, in the PDF sold on this web site, or on this web site.

5) When published you will receive payment. The payment schedule is:Spring and Summer issues — payment will be made in late November- mid December.Fall/Winter issue — payment will be made in April.


Great Photo Ops during Spring Migration

The spring migration of birds in North America offers many opportunities for photography. A trip to Point Pelee National Park during the Festival of Birds in early May has become a yearly event for us. Point Pelee is the southernmost point of Canada, reaching into Lake Erie at the same latitude as northern California. This point is along primary bird migration routes and is often described as a critical area for birds migrating northward in the spring. The 50km crossing of Lake Erie can be exhausting and the point offers a place for birds to rest and feed before pursuing their migration. Bird sightings and photography are made easier because leaves are not fully developed at that time of the year and there is a good number of birds moving northward along this narrow point. The warblers are in their breeding (usually more colourful) plumage, making them perfect subjects for photography. While Point Pelee is known as the “Warbler Capital of Canada”, sightings are not limited to warblers. You will also find sparrows, wrens, woodpeckers and thrushes, many of which remain shy and elusive at other times of the year. During the peak of the migration, it is relatively

Photoshop CC2015.1.2 What’s New

Photoshop is a primary tool for many photographers. Some photographers prefer Lightroom because it easier to learn. I think Lightroom has limited use and almost everything in Lightroom can be done with more control in Photoshop. The bottom line is that both programs come for one price about $9.95 US\month as subscription to the cloud. A monthly subscription means you don’t have to shell out $700 plus for Photoshop, but it also means you have to pay as long as you use it. The price can go up anytime, but I think if that happens many photographers will search for an alternative. There are free alternatives to Photoshop like GIMP.

I have been teaching Photoshop at local colleges for almost two decades. One of the good things is that now each college classroom will have the latest version of the software. Some colleges would only upgrade the software every few years or use free 30 day download and that made it frustrating when I taught advanced courses.

Photoshop is a primary tool for many photographers. Some photographers prefer Lightroom because it easier to learn. I think Lightroom has limited use and almost everything in Lightroom can be done with more

What is Nature Photography

What is nature photography?

Among those who practice the craft, there is certainly a great deal of debate over what constitutes “true” nature photography. A few of the most hotly contested aspects of the definition include whether an animal is “captive” or is found “in the wild,” whether a species is native to a region or was introduced by man, or whether a floral subject is cultivated or

naturally occurring. Put ten photographers in a room and ask each of them to define “nature photography” and there’s a good chance you will be given ten different interpretations. If that doesn’t make the task of nailing down a single definition difficult enough, some of those ten may be quite passionate about their own point of view on the subject.

So what is nature photography? Why is it so difficult for a group of photographers to come up with a single, well-defined answer?

Perhaps the primary stumbling block in our quest for a universal definition is our individual interpretation of mans’ place in the natural world. Some see the human race as separate from the rest of God’s creation, where the world was created for mans’ benefit and all other species are subservient. For others, the

The 10 best digital cameras in 2016

OK, we admit it, it’s an impossible question. The best camera for a pro photographer is a million miles from the best camera for an adventure sports nut. So what we’ve done is pick out what we think are the standout cameras in their fields. This may be because they have the most amazing features and specifications, because they’re amazing value for what they offer or because they are just brilliant at the job they’ve been designed for.

Along the way we’ll explain some of the jargon and the differences between cameras, though if you need a bit more help deciding what kind of camera you need, you can get a lot more information from our special step-by-step guide: What camera should I buy?

On the other hand, you may already have a clear idea of the kind of camera you want, in which case you could go straight to one of our more specific camera buying guides

  • Best bridge camera
  • Best travel camera
  • Best high-end compact
  • Best DSLR
  • Best DSLR for beginners
  • Best full frame DSLR
  • Best CSC/mirrorless camera
  • Best CSC for beginners

New and exciting cameras are coming out all the time, of course, and

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a New Camera

So you’re about to embark on a thrilling journey—buying a shiny new camera!! Exciting! If you haven’t purchased one of these magical devices before you might be a bit intimidated. What are all the different types? What accessories do you actually need? What do all those crazy letters and numbers mean?

There are so many options available it can be difficult to know where to start.Worry not, brave explorer. This guide is designed to teach you everything you need to know about buying a camera, so you can feel confident when you make that delightful purchase.

Psst! This guide is chock full of general information about cameras, lenses, and more. But if you’re looking for specific photography equipment recommendations, you’ll want to mosey on over to our incredibly thorough Recommended Photography Equipment page! Enjoy!
Table O’ Contents

This is an absolutely epic guide. If you’re brand new to cameras and photography, we recommend reading it start to finish, for the ultimate learning experience.

But if you’re just interested in a certain topic, feel free to make use of the magical Table O’ Contents below. Simply clicky click where you want to jump!

(Pro Tip: After clicking on one of the links in the Table O’

Freezing Water

Contributing editor Jim Richardson is a photojournalist recognized for his explorations of small-town life. His photos appear frequently in National Geographic magazine.

Perhaps unlocking one creative door opens another.

Somehow that’s how I felt dashing back to the Zodiacs to leave Thistle Fjord in Iceland, flush with confidence from my photographic encounter with the bird wing. If I could break through that creative barrier, what other challenges would succumb to me?

Then I remembered the cascading waterfall near our landing site. Nothing huge, just crystal clear waters sweeping past the ancient farm and dancing down over the rocks to the sea. With a couple of minutes to spare, perhaps I could pull off one more image.

First, a bit of photographic background. Waterfall pictures are moving perilously close to being clichés. I say “close” because I doubt we humans will ever lose our fascination with the delights of cascading water plunging dramatically from on high. But … the techniques used to capture waterfall pictures have become standard fare. The most common current rage is to use a long, very slow shutter speed to turn the water into silky, silvery curtains of liquid smoothness. And

White Balance

Color Temperature

To understand the concept of White Balance, you need to first understand the concept of color temperature. Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light. It provides a method of describing these characteristics and is measured in Kelvin (K). A light having higher color temperature will have more blue light or larger Kelvin value as compared to lower light, which has a smaller Kelvin value. The following table shows the color temperature of various sources of light.

How does the Light Affect the Color

You must have noticed some photos turn out with an orange/yellow cast if shot under tungsten lighting or a bluish cast if shot under fluorescent lights. This occurs because each source of light possesses a different color temperature. A digital camera can measure the colors in the red, green, and blue light of the spectrum, as reflected to its sensors. In a photo taken under the midday sun there is the whole spectrum of light (which makes up “white” sunlight). Under these conditions, the colors in an image appear nearest to the “true” colors. An image taken under tungsten

Cityscape Photography Tips

Capturing Night Signs

When photographing signs at night, one of the most important factors is light metering. The combination of a bright sign and a dark background can confuse the camera, leaving you with an under or over exposed image. You need an accurate metering mode that you can control, so choose spot metering and choose a mid toned area for a balanced shot (in this case the red lettering). Place your camera on a sturdy tripod to avoid camera shake and turn off the flash if you are too close to the sign.

Stunning Cityscapes

To take a photograph of a cityscape once the evening has come, find a spot that shows off all the buildings and office lights that are lit. Place the camera on a tripod, and turn the mode dial to AV (aperture priority) mode; we want f/8 and upwards for a greater depth of field. Use your camera’s self-timer or a cable release to take the photo with absolutely no blurring. The best time for this kind of shot is during the two “golden hours” which are the first hour after sunrise and

Top 10 Digital Photography Mistakes

Blurry Pictures

One of the top complaints from amateur photographers is that their images have come out blurry. The simple answer to this problem usually is that there isn’t enough light reaching the sensor, so the camera struggles to take a sharp image. Various ways to solve this issue include using a tripod or a monopod (a must in low light conditions!), choosing a higher ISO setting for faster shutter speeds or using flash to freeze any movement.

Too Much Contrast

A photograph with too much contrast has a strong difference between light (highlight) and darker (shadow) areas of the image. This is very apparent in photographs taken on a sunny day. Use flash to fill in the dark shadowy areas of the image and try underexposing the image by one or two stops to see the difference it makes.


Although red-eye can easily be corrected with an image editing software, it’s a great idea to know how to prevent it from occurring. Red-eye appears commonly in light-eyed people when the camera flash reflects off the retinas in their eyes. You can prevent

Top 10 Digital Photography Tips

Compose in Thirds

To use the rule of thirds, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Some images will look best with the focal point in the center square, but placing the subject off center will often create a more aesthetically composed photograph. When a photograph is composed using the rule of thirds the eyes will wander the frame. A picture composed by the rule of thirds is more interesting and pleasing to the eye.

Camera shake or blur is something that can plague any photographer and here are some ways to avoid it. First, you need to learn how to hold your camera properly; use both hands, one around the body and one around the lens and hold the camera close to your body for support. Also make sure you are using a shutter speed that matches the lens focal length. So if you’re using a 100mm lens, then your shutter speed should be no lower than 1/100th of a second. Use a tripod or monopod whenever possible. In lieu of this, use a tree or a wall to stabilize the camera.

Why You Should Only Buy from Authorized Dealers

There is a lesson here for all, especially when purchasing expensive gear. Expensive is a relative term with a value that varies per individual and can’t be generalized, the stuff being said here applies to all values of items. It comes down to how much value the item has to you and whether you are willing to risk that value versus the warranty programs being offered. Obviously the bigger the expense, the higher the risk.

I usually always buy my all of my camera gear right here in the US of A, because that is where I live and I like to go buy the expensive stuff in person at a Hunts Photo and Video store to make sure it arrives safely.

Well, 4 years and 9 months ago I broke that personal rule to buy a Nikkor 600mm F4 VR lens from Canada. The reason I did so was because the lens had been unavailable in the USA for over six months and I was tired of waiting. So one week when we were on vacation we drove up to Montreal Canada and purchased the 600mm there. We made sure it was an ‘Authorized Nikon’ dealer before purchasing and once all the paperwork was

10 Quick Tips to Fix Your Bad Photos

Digital photography has democratized the medium. More people are taking more photos than ever before, and they’re sharing them online with friends and family in record numbers. It’s easy to place the blame on the camera (or your smartphone) if your images aren’t as nice as some others you see online, but by following a few guidelines you can improve the quality of your photos—without having to shell out big bucks for a new camera. Keep these 10 easy tips in mind next time you head out to capture the world around you. And if you have any tips that have helped you take better pictures, please share them in the comments section.

1. Get Basic Composition Down. The heart of a photograph is its composition—the position of different elements in a frame. The easiest rule of thumb to learn and remember is the Rule of Thirds. Basically, you’ll want to break your frame into nine squares of roughly equal size. Try and align the subject of your photo along these lines and intersections and imagine the main image divided over these nine boxes. This gives you a more dramatic, visually interesting shot than one where

Which Nikon DSLR to Buy First

Even though quite a few of our readers are beginner photographers, we often talk about things that, while simple to us, are much more difficult to understand for those with less experience and knowledge. That is why we strive to share our experience as someone shared theirs with us when we were just starting. The most difficult part for us is not the writing itself, however – mind you, we aren’t holding anything back. The most difficult part is becoming the beginner again so as to remember all the questions we had when we started. Make no mistake, we’ve had plenty of those. I, too, didn’t know what aperture and shutter speed was. I, too, had a hard time getting to know my gear in such a way I would be able to get quality results from it. I remember the painful transition from being a photography theoretician, an arm-chair expert, to one who uses his technical knowledge without thinking about it for the sake of photography, not comparisons and pixel-peeping. Thank goodness that part of my life didn’t last more than a few days. But before any of these questions came to my mind, I, too, had

Mirrorless vs DSLR

DSLR cameras by design have some inherent flaws and limitations. Part of it has to do with the fact that SLR cameras were initially developed for film. When digital evolved, it was treated just like film and was housed in the same mechanical body. Aside from the circuitry required for a digital sensor and other electronics, new digital film media and the back LCD, the rest of the SLR components did not change. Same mechanical mirror, same pentaprism / optical viewfinder, same phase detection system for autofocus operation. While new technological advances eventually led to extending of features of these cameras (In-camera editing, HDR, GPS, WiFi, etc), DSLRs continued to stay bulky for a couple of reasons. First, the mirror inside DSLR cameras had to be the same in size as the digital sensor, taking up plenty of space. Second, the pentaprism that converts vertical rays to horizontal in the viewfinder also had to match the size of the mirror, making the top portion of DSLRs bulky.

Lastly, manufacturers wanted to keep existing lenses compatible with digital cameras, so that the transition from film to digital was not too costly or too limiting for the consumer. This

How to Choose and Buy a Tripod for a DSLR Camera

Choosing a tripod can be an overwhelming experience, given how many different types and choices we are presented with. On one hand, a tripod is a very simple tool to keep our cameras steady when we use them in challenging light conditions. On the other hand, there are so many different variables that come into play when choosing a tripod: How tall should it be? How light should it be? How stable should it be? What kind of weight can it support? How much should I spend on a tripod? These are just some of the questions that might come up as you look into buying a new tripod.

Before getting into the intricate details about tripods, I would like to go over the advantages and disadvantages of tripods and why you might need one for your DSLR.

) Why do you need a tripod?

So, what is the purpose of a tripod? You might need a tripod for some or all of the following reasons:

  1. To increase sharpness and depth of field in your images by keeping the camera still in low-light environments when using slow shutter speeds.
  2. To rest heavy camera gear such

DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera

Why would you pick DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera or vice-versa? As DSLRs are becoming more and more affordable, a lot of people are wondering if it is time for them to switch to a DSLR and toss their point and shoot cameras. Nowadays, point and shoot cameras have a long list of features and capabilities, compared to even slightly older versions. GPS, face-detection, smile detection and many other new technologies are making their way into the point and shoot market, over-saturating it with new cameras and making it more difficult for people to choose the right camera for their needs. A similar thing is also happening in the DSLR world, where manufacturers are dividing the market into multiple segments, trying to capture a range of potential customers: from entry-level to advanced professional. But one thing for sure – there are many people, who are stuck in the middle, trying to decide whether they want to stay with their point and shoots, or bite the bullet and switch to a DSLR.

In this article, I will go through the advantages and disadvantages of both DSLRs and point and shoots, so that you can evaluate what’s best

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