Nikon

Five Questions: Meteor Showers, Pano Stitching, and Lots and Lots of Gear

Welcome again to the National Parks at Night Q&A, where we share some of the great questions we’ve received via email. This time around we're featuring Q’s and A’s about post-producing meteor shower photos, advice about five different camera systems, pano vignetting and wide-angle lens choice from the Nikon world.

If you have any questions you would would like to throw our way, contact us anytime! Questions could be about gear, national parks or other photo locations, post-processing techniques, field etiquette, or anything else related to night photography. #SeizeTheNight!

1. Meteor Showers Post-Production

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado. Nikon D750, 15mm Zeiss Distagon f/2.8 lens. 234 images at 22 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 6400, plus a single exposure at 382 seconds, ISO 2000 for the landscape after moonrise. Photo © 2017 Matt Hill.

Q: Regarding your recent blog post “Meteors and Eclipses and Comets, Oh My!—The Celestial Events of 2018,” one of the spectacular photos that has me asking “How did he do that?” the loudest is Matt’s photo of the meteor shower in Great Sand Dunes National Park.

As a novice to post-processing, I can only assume that the 234 photos were somehow aligned so that the stars did not turn into trails, while ignoring the meteor shower streaks that were not in the all of the other frames, and then overlaying or merging in the foreground. Is that an oversimplification? — Rex

A: We are planning an in-depth post about this exact technique that will run this summer. But I’m happy to give you a light preview that should answer your question. The heart of the technique is this:

I used PhotoPills to scout the shot. It was also my fourth visit to Great Sand Dunes, and my second during the Pereid Meteor Shower (the first time I totally botched it!). This time I approached it with better planning (and with better physical conditioning—those dunes are difficult to climb!). From PhotoPills, I knew that astronomical twilight ended at a certain time and the moon rose at a certain time. The latter was important because I knew that the dunes just don’t look right without a little sidelight.

I set up my shot, started the sequence of exposures and waited patiently for moonrise. Others in our group who didn’t wait for the moon to side-light the landscape have radically different foregrounds in their final images, with less detail and muddy shadows. But I understand their hesitance to stay out so late; honestly, I would have light painted the dunes instead if the descent and subsequent ascent wasn’t so difficult. Besides, I was enjoying the show—lots of meteors all over the sky that evening.

When it came to post-processing, I was deeply inspired by David Kingham’s generous video from a few years ago. An even better explanation that you can hold in your hand is available courtesy of my National Parks at Night colleague Lance Keimig, who has a full description of the technique in his book Night Photography and Light Painting—Finding Your Way in the Dark (on pages 114 to 119).

I used a very similar technique to isolate the meteors with layer masking in Photoshop, and rotated those layers to align with the stars in the base image layer. (Another option is to use Starry Landscape Stacker.) I then layered in that moonlit foreground, performed some minor tweaking, and voila!

(You can also see my sequence of images rendered as a time-lapse on our Instagram account.)

So, in short, your guess about the technique is in part not oversimplified, but in part is. Watching the video, reading Lance’s book and waiting for our summer blog post will all help to clarify this in-some-ways simple yet in-some-ways complex technique that is, either way, tremendously rewarding.

Also, we are planning a one-night event during the Perseids this year—to be announced. Stay tuned for details! — Matt

2. Full-frame Camera for Milky Way Photography

Q: In one of your blog posts (by Lance Keimig, I believe), a comment was made about full-frame cameras being best for star and/or Milky Way photos. In the same post it was mentioned that most of the newer full-frame cameras should be able to handle ISOs in the 3200 to 6400 range. My question is: How new?

I am looking to upgrade from a crop-sensor to a full-frame DSLR in the Nikon series. The D810 is way out of my price range, but I am thinking about the D610, or possibly the D750 if I can get a great deal on a used model. Would the D610, which entered the market in 2013, handle the 3200 to 6400 ISO range well, or should I really focus on trying to find a D750 in my price range? — Larry G.

A: I would strongly recommend going for the D750. It is without a doubt the best value in DSLRs for night and astro-landscape photography. If you want a minimal kit, consider adding a Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 lens, and that will be pretty much all you need, provided that you already have a decent tripod. The D610 is OK, but the D750 is stellar! — Lance

3. Pano Vignetting

Milky Way pano over Montana. Seven stitched images shot at 30 seconds, f/4, ISO 6400. Nikon D750 with Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at 14mm. Photo © Gabriel Biderman.

Q: In shooting panos of the Milky Way and sunrises, etc., I’m having vignetting issues in Lightroom. When stitching, it creates vertical darker areas at the overlap portions of pano. Do you guys use third-party software to make night panos, or do you use Lightroom and Photoshop? — Steve W.

A: We are big fans of panorama night photography, but it definitely has its challenges.

While I have not noticed a heavy vignette in any of my panos, you might want to make sure you are applying your lens corrections prior to stitching. We generally work on all the individual images and correct them before stitching in Lightroom. Wider lenses definitely vignette more, especially when shooting wide open.

Lightroom and Photoshop do a pretty good job at single-row panos, but they can struggle with double-row and low-contrast scenes. I’ve just started playing with Autoan, which lets you take more manual control over your stitching. We will definitely be bringing this topic to our blog in the next few months as we do more testing and stitching! — Gabe

4. Canon, Phase One, Sony Options for Night Photography

Q: In building a kit for astro-landscape photography, do you know about the results from the Canon 5D as well as the 50-megapixel Canon camera? How about the Phase One IQ3 100-megapixel system? I have also heard the Sony system is great for astro-landscape images. — Jeannine H.

A: For astro-landscape photography, the best Canon cameras would be, in order of preference:

The 5DS and 5DS R are not built for high ISO or high dynamic range imaging, and as such are not well-suited for astro-landscape photography.

In terms of value, the 6D will by far get you the most for your money, but it is also an older camera that should be replaced soon. The next best value would be the 5D Mark IV. The minimal quality gain from the 1D X is not worth the extra money or weight in your bag. If you were stuck on Canon, I’d go for the 5D Mark IV.

As for the Phase One, in general, I have not been impressed by the high ISO performance of any of the medium format cameras, and the return on investment is definitely not there for night photography.

Regarding Sony, the a7S II and a7R II perform very well in low light and at high ISOs, and the live view in low light is great. However, I find the menu navigation is so awkward that it makes the cameras burdensome to use. (But it should be noted that learning menu structures from brand to brand tends to be like learning a language—the first you learn is the easiest, and everything after seems foreign.)

At National Parks at Night, most of us use the Nikon D750 at least part-time, if not full-time. It’s a great all-around camera, and a great value. The D750 and D850 outperform all of the Canons.

Another viable option you didn’t ask about is Pentax. The Pentax K1 combined with the 15-30mm f/2.8 lens is an outstanding value and is excellent for night photography. — Lance

5. Nikon Wides vs. Wide Zoom

Q: What is the advantage of the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 at $1,900 versus, say, their 24mm f/1.4 at about the same price? There’s more flexibility with the zoom, of course, but the f/1.4 is two full f-stops better. In night shooting, I guess that is really significant. But can’t you just increase the exposure time (leaving ISO alone) to compensate for the slower lens and obtain the same result? It seems the 14-24mm would be more useful presuming that f/2.8 will get the shot. Also, is there much difference in f/1.4 (24mm) versus f/1.8 (20mm) besides $1,200? — B.R.

A: Lots to consider here! But first, allow me to point out a misconception in your premise: You can’t just increase the exposure time and get the same results. Why? Because stars move. A 15-second exposure at f/1.4 would become (while leaving ISO alone, as you indicated) a 1-minute exposure at f/2.8; the former would likely produce sharp star points, while the latter would produce short star trails.

Now, on to the crux of your question: Why would we choose the slower 14-24mm over the faster 24mm f/1.4 or 20mm f/1.8?

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Nikon D810 and 14-24mm f/2.8. 15 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 6400. Photo © 2017 Chris Nicholson.

Yes, a wider aperture will allow you to expose with a faster shutter speed, which is important if you want to shoot a sharp Milky Way or star points, rather than longer exposures that create star trails. For example, say we’re shooting at a focal length of 20mm on a standard-size full-frame camera. Using the relatively accurate 400 Rule, we’d know that our maximum shutter speed for keeping the stars as points is 20 seconds. With that shutter speed on a new-moon night, at f/2.8 we’d need to shoot at about ISO 6400 to get a correct exposure. Whereas if you could shoot at f/1.8—an aperture 1 1/3 two stops wider—you could use ISO 2500, resulting in less high ISO noise in the image. Shooting at f/1.4 would be even better, because you could get the same exposure at ISO 1600.

That makes it sound like we should always use the widest aperture (and thus the fastest lens) possible. The caveat, though, is that not all lenses are created equal. For our purposes, there are two main points to consider:

  • Many lenses are sharpest (in terms of focus) with the aperture closed down a couple of stops.

  • All lenses suffer from some degree of comatic aberration, otherwise known as "coma." This aberration can cause stars—particularly those in the corners of the frame—to appear distorted, looking like tiny comets or flying saucers when viewed at 100 percent.

That brings us back to your question about why we might recommend the Nikon 14-24mm over the 24mm f/1.4 or the 20mm f/1.8. The reason is because from our experience with those latter two lenses, they show very apparent coma when shot wide open; with both, you need to stop down to about f/2.8 to get the coma to a level we believe is acceptable by our image quality standards. However, the 14-24mm produces so little coma that you can shoot it wide open and get the same results.

So, if you’d need to shoot those faster primes at f/2.8 anyway in order to get the same results as shooting the 14-24mm at f/2.8, then to us it makes sense to just use this fantastic wide-angle zoom instead and get the additional benefits of the variable focal lengths. — Chris

Do you have a question the NPAN team might able to answer? Email us today!

Chris Nicholson is a partner and workshop leader with National Parks at Night, and author of Photographing National Parks (Sidelight Books, 2015). Learn more about national parks as photography destinations, subscribe to Chris' free e-newsletter, and more at www.PhotographingNationalParks.com.

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS FROM NATIONAL PARKS AT NIGHT

How We Got the Shot: Wildrose Charcoal Kilns of Death Valley National Park

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, Death Valley National Park. © 2017 Lance Keimig.

The Location

Last month I led a small private workshop to do night photography and light painting in Death Valley National Park. With only five participants in the workshop—all of them advanced—we spent our time differently and chose locations that could not be accessed with larger groups. One place everyone wanted to go was to the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, which are among the most interesting architectural and historical features in the park.

The ten charcoal kilns were built by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company and completed in 1877. They were built to provide fuel for two lead/silver smelters––about 25 miles away. They were used for only a couple of years, which accounts for their remarkably good condition. They are aligned in a row at about 8,000 feet of elevation, which makes for a challenging night photography location in late November!

I had been to the kilns only once before, in 2012, and had been looking forward to another chance to photograph them. Despite my return visit being five years later, the conditions were remarkably similar: cold and windy with an almost full moon. On my first visit, I was there with Scott Martin, Aaron Grimes, and Russell Brown from Adobe. Russell had brought a brand new Wescott Ice Light, the likes of which we had never seen. That’s another story, but it reminds me of just how fast technology is moving, as today there are many similar tools for a wide range of purposes and budgets. Back then, we were mightily impressed, and used it to great effect.

The Setup

Back to the present… After spending a few minutes exploring and talking about how we would tackle this project, we decided to work as a group on the first shot, and then split up and work with individual kilns. From my previous visit, I knew that the only way for a group to photograph the entire set of kilns at once was to do so from a similar location. We chose to work from the downhill end of the row, which meant we were facing almost due east.

We set up in a row, with my camera being furthest out from the kilns, which meant that I had the least oblique angle, and could see more of the most distant kilns in my image. This also meant that I couldn’t include the first kiln without also including the first couple of photographers in the shot. I simply rotated my camera to the right, and completely excluded the first kiln rather than have it partially in the frame.

Figure 1. The basic setup for the shot. I would be doing the final shot at the camera’s native ISO of 64, so the test shot was done at ISO 4000, six stops more than the final. Nikon D850, Nikon 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens at 24 mm. 8 seconds, f/8, ISO 4000.

I had the good fortune to be working with the outstanding new Nikon D850, which Nikon Professional Services had sent me for testing and review. (My next blog post—to run in early January—will be an in-depth review of the camera as a night photography tool.) I set the focal length of the 14-24mm lens to 24mm, which was still just a bit wider than I needed from this camera position. That was fine, as I was tilting the camera upward, and I knew that I would be using the Transform tab in Lightroom’s Develop module to correct the perspective, and would lose a bit from the sides of the composition in the process.

The Exposure

After the composition and focus was set, the next step was to figure out the ambient exposure. Since we were working with an almost full moon, we decided that star trails would be a better option than star points, as the dimmer stars would be obscured by the moonlight anyway. This also gave us the added advantage of being able to do all of the lighting in one long exposure, something that never could have been accomplished in a single 20-second shot.

Due to the wide-angle lens and the camera distance from the subject, I could have shot wide open, but that would have left me with a 1-minute exposure at ISO 64–– not enough time to light the scene. I closed down the aperture three stops to f/8, and came up with a final exposure of 8 minutes, f/8, ISO 64.

Figure 2. The first attempt to light the kilns. Klaus (under)lit the interiors of each kiln, and I (under)lit the back sides of each. We stopped the exposure as soon as the lighting was finished, which was after 7 minutes and 4 seconds. We were both using a Coast HP7R flashlight with a full CTO and 1/4 Minus Green gels.

The Shoot

That first attempt at lighting was underwhelming. The moon washed out most of the light painting, and workshop participant Klaus—who was lighting the doorways from inside the kilns—realized that he needed to take a couple of steps to his right, and aim the light slightly uphill to light the camera-facing part of the opening.

I initially lit the back of each kiln from a position near the back and up against the downhill neighbor of the structure I was lighting. This worked well for the first couple of kilns, but by the time I got to the third one, my lighting was barely visible. For the next attempt, I moved progressively further around toward the front of each kiln, but made sure that I was still out of sight of the cameras, and I also increased the time I was lighting each structure. This resulted in a longer exposure time, so we stopped down one-third of a stop to f/9 to compensate for the additional exposure.

We pretty much nailed it on the second attempt, but went ahead and made a third exposure just to have a little extra piece of mind–– an insurance policy, if you will. The third exposure was almost identical to the second one, so we wrapped the shot and went off to work on our own images.

Figure 3. The second and third attempts to light the kilns yielded almost identical images, and the third is the final version. Each kiln was lit from the left rear for about 15 seconds, and from the interior, with the light facing outward, for about 10 seconds. I made minimal adjustments in Lightroom to the single RAW file, including vertical perspective correction. 8 minutes and 38 seconds, f/9, ISO 64.

Figure 4. I made another image using similar lighting, but featuring a smaller grouping of the kilns. This image has less ambient exposure for a more dramatic look. 30 seconds, f/7.1, ISO 400.

Figure 5. Klaus and I worked together to make this one, from the inside looking out. This shot would be better at a high ISO with star points, or if the clouds did not take up most of the sky. 30 seconds, f/7.1, ISO 1250.

Final Thoughts

The D850 is a joy to use, and Nikon users will find the menus, button layout and features familiar yet improved from previous models. I am duly impressed with the image quality of the pictures I made at the charcoal kilns, and think you will be too. Cold weather under moonlit skies are conditions that most modern DSLRs will handle with aplomb, so the real test will be when I present images made in high-contrast scenes or at high ISOs under dark starry skies.

I had the opportunity to use a D850 at our recent Eastern Sierra workshop as well as at this Death Valley workshop, both times around the full moon. I did manage to do a few shots under dark skies in my front yard before returning the camera to Nikon, and will share those with you in an extensive review soon. You’ll see images shot with the D850, D810, D750 and D5 all side by side so you can decide which is the right camera for you.

Note: See our January 2018 post Nikon Night Photography Showdown for our full rundown on the Nikon D850 and its efficacy in night photography.

Lance Keimig is a partner and workshop leader with National Parks at Night. He has been photographing at night for 30 years, and is the author of Night Photography and Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark (Focal Press, 2015). Learn more about his images and workshops at www.thenightskye.com.

Recapping Our 1st Three Workshops: Acadia, Zion & Crater Lake

It’s hard to believe we are only 60 percent through our first year of National Parks at Night workshops. We’ve experienced some dramatic weather and forest fires, as well as gorgeous landscapes and plenty of starry night skies.

Our first year’s itinerary is about to wrap up in a few weeks when we complete our simultaneous workshops in Arches and Death Valley national parks. As we nail down our final preparations for those, we’d like to share a brief rundown of how our first three workshop went. Below you’ll find a summary of our experiences in Acadia, Zion and Crater Lake.

We appreciate the first round of students who let us guide them to some pretty amazing locations as well as sharpen their night visions. And we look forward to working with you all again, along with new participants, on our 2017 workshops and beyond!

Acadia National Park

May 2-6, 2016,
by Chris Nicholson

I don’t remember the first time I ever saw Acadia’s coastline, but I’ll never forget watching our workshop students descend upon that rocky shore. For many of them, it was their first glimpse of the finest shores in not only the entire national park system, but in the entire United States. I could see in their eyes that maybe they needed a few minutes to enjoy the view before we jumped into scouting for our night photos.

Co-leading this workshop with me was Gabe Biderman. We all spent the first morning and afternoon in our meeting space at the local branch of Machias Savings Bank, which hosted us in their beautiful and spacious meeting room on the second floor all week. Being right in downtown Bar Harbor gave us easy access to coffee, supplies, and breakfast and lunch. (Blueberry pancakes at Jordan’s, anyone?!) We handed out some goodies, including gift flashlights from Coast, complimentary artisan coffee from our friends at Brooklyn-based Oslo Coffee Roasters, and some great gear that Nikon sent the students to try out, including D810’s, and fisheye, 14mm and 20mm lenses!

Clouds had been creeping in that first day, and they lingered for most of the workshop. In fact, four of the five nights were overcast. That kept us from seeing and shooting the stars most nights, but gave us opportunities for creative workarounds. We did a light-painting primer at Stanley Brook Bridge, one of the 17 unique stone bridges that serve as overpasses on Acadia’s 57-mile system of carriage roads. Everyone got some great photos, many participants helped with the light painting, and then we got the Pixel Stick and other toys out to create some interesting light patterns beneath the bridge.

On the second night we used the rain as an opportunity to do street photography in Bar Harbor, with the wet roads providing reflections for neon signs, fountains and boat houses. Subsequent night shoots found us atop Cadillac Mountain and at Eagle Lake, among other spots, and daytime jaunts brought us to Jordan Pond, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and the birch groves of Sieur de Monts. We also spent a couple of hours at the park Visitor Center, where we received a private screening of the fabulous informational film, which included stunning footage of Acadia scenery.

For the last day of the workshop, we headed out to Schoodic Point, first scouting locations, then sharing a dinner at the local pub in rural Birch Harbor, then photographing under the finally clear, pristine night skies of Acadia National Park. We had glorious views of the Milky Way as it moved through the southern heavens. We didn’t see a lot of stars that week, but the show at the end sure made up for it.

Zion National Park

May 23-27, 2016
by Tim Cooper

Zion was one of the first parks that I came to know intimately back in the early 1990s. I still remember my first visit like it was yesterday. Living in Montana I was accustomed to the mountainous topography of both Yellowstone and Glacier, but nothing in my experience prepared me for the sheer diversity and unique land forms of the Desert Southwest. When we were deciding which parks we should visit during our inaugural year, I leaped at the chance to return to Zion.

This of course was not the first time I had done night photography in Zion, but it was the first time I was able to fully focus an entire week on the venture. I was not only getting to revisit one of my favorite parks, but I was looking forward to working with my colleague Lance Keimig for the first time. It was going to be a great week!

And it was. The weather in May is typically very nice, but this week it was perfect. A welcome mix of clear skies, clouds and moonlight. Lance and I had planned out a variety of different locations matching the moonrise times with appropriate subject matter. Due to the sheer beauty of Zion under the moon, Lance and I were eager to balance the workshop with a nice mix of dark sky nights for star trails and moonlit landscapes to highlight Zion’s natural beauty. Starting the workshop just after the full moon provided just the right combination.

The first night we struck out to the Checkerboard Mesa area on the east side of the park. The group was in great spirits as we navigated the sandy hillside to get to our location. We had scouted a great spot that provided a view of the moonlit scene while our foreground remained in the shade of a nearby mountain. A perfect combination for light painting! Everyone came away with great imagery as they became accustomed to working in the dark and illuminating their subjects with flashlights.

Over the next several nights we continued to explore the areas in and around the park. Lone pine trees, petroglyphs, sandstone walls, canyons, ghost towns and desert flora all provided a wealth of subject matter. Moonlit sandstone, starry skies and streaking clouds supplied a variety of aesthetic conditions. Camaraderie, enthusiasm and a sense of adventure among the group was the icing on the cake.

For the participants, Lance and myself, Zion at night was a wonderful first NPAN adventure. I am now just counting the days until the next one!

Crater Lake National Park

August 4-6, 2016,
by Gabriel Biderman

On the day that Matt Hill and I were about to drive from Portland, Oregon, to Crater Lake, we received word that a fire—a big forest fire—had just started at the southwest rim of the park. We kept monitoring the situation and kept in constant communication with the rangers as well as the students. Things seemed to be somewhat under control, thanks to the quick action of the firefighters, but the possibility remained that a big wind could change it all very quickly.

When Matt and I arrived, the rim road leading to the south was closed and would remain so for the next week. But there was a bright side: The smoke from the fire was staying clear of the caldera and actually added a nice complementary warm light when shooting from the north. The weather was absolutely perfect for the workshop; we enjoyed warm 80-degree temperatures during the late-summer days. And the temperatures quickly dipped each evening to a sensor-cooling mid-40’s, with incredibly clear skies—every night!

Each day began with a hearty and late breakfast at the Diamond Lake Resort followed with lecture and image reviews. We made sure to visit and experience the park during the day, as well as the night. Scouting is such an essential part of night photography and is best done while the sun is up. So we spent a couple of afternoons leading the participants as we scouted the rim, filled the theater at the visitor center, and ran briefly from the twilight mosquitoes.

When we asked the students what they were looking forward to doing at the workshop, each replied, “Capture the Milky Way!” About 75 percent of the class had never even seen our galaxy in all its glory. We ecstatically checked that off our list half way through the first night.

Over the next three nights we explored the Crater Lake caldera to the fullest. We nailed focusing in the dark, star points, star trails, light painting, and capturing and processing night-sky panoramas. The Milky Way greeted us each evening and stood high with the galactic core gliding along the horizon.

It was a real joy to share this experience with everyone—I’ve never seen so many people so excited to be under the Milky Way as well as go home with a wonderful portfolio of images of Crater Lake at night.


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS FROM NATIONAL PARKS AT NIGHT

NPAN + Nikon + B&H + Brooklyn Bridge = Epic Day of Night Photography!

Last Wednesday, National Parks at Night ran our first-ever major event, an epic day in New York City that included five lectures, a panel discussion and a two-hour night-photography walk in one of NYC’s hottest and most intriguing spots for photography.

B&H Photo was an awesome host, providing their great Event Space and handling all the logistics. Nikon sponsored the whole day and night and provided some of their best new gear for participants to use. And Manfrotto was there at night too, providing additional support (figuratively and literally!).

The B&H Event Space full of people interested in seizing the night!

The B&H Event Space full of people interested in seizing the night!

The B&H Event Space hosted the afternoon session, which comprised all of the talking. The house was packed with over 80 people filling the seats and a few dedicated stragglers standing in the back for four hours. We couldn’t have been more happy with the turnout—we greatly appreciate how many people came to B&H to hear us talk about this topic we love so much, and we were thrilled that so many photographers are interested in this dynamic niche of our industry and artform.

We presented five back-to-back lectures that covered:

  • Essential gear for night photography (Gabriel Biderman)
  • Scouting national park locations for photo shoots (Chris Nicholson)
  • Creating visual distinction in your work (Lance Keimig)
  • Best practices and creative effects of light-painting (Tim Cooper)
  • How to get the most out of a workshop experience (Matt Hill)

Afterward, Deborah Gilbert of the Event Space moderated a half-hour panel discussion about night photography. Both she and the audience had some great questions. We particularly liked getting into the philosophy of why the night-photography niche is so intriguing and so creatively inspiring.

Also, the front of the Event Space was decorated with 20x30 prints of our night images provided by Digital Silver Imaging. We couldn’t have been more happy with how it all looked—they do fantastic work!

Tim talks light painting with the Event Space crowd.

Tim talks light painting with the Event Space crowd.

Videos of the lectures will be posted on the B&H YouTube channel in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on our website and social media, as well as the Event Space Twitter feed—we’ll be sure to announce as soon as they’re published.

From there, everyone headed to the photo walk in Brooklyn, where we emerged from the subway in a rainfall. Despite the precipitation, more than 60 photographers attended. And their patience paid off. The weather cleared only ten minutes into the program, leaving behind a wet sheen to all the foreground elements of Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Dumbo neighborhood’s waterfront.

We set up five shooting and education stations:

  • Gabe and Chris were positioned at spots looking over the East River at the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, respectively, advising on composition and focusing
  • Lance worked with participants on exposure at a calm, rocky shore at the edge of the park
  • Tim helped people with composition and camera settings on a point of land right under the Manhattan Bridge
  • Matt led participants through working with a Pixelstick, a great and fun light tool for night photography
One of the fabulous images we saw created during the evening, showing the shores of the East River with the Manhattan Bridge stretching toward the bright lights of the big city. © 2016 Marco Catini,  www.catini.net .

One of the fabulous images we saw created during the evening, showing the shores of the East River with the Manhattan Bridge stretching toward the bright lights of the big city. © 2016 Marco Catini, www.catini.net.

Nikon’s JC Carey also attended the walk, bringing a caseload of Nikon lenses and bodies for people to borrow and use during the evening, including the amazing Nikon D750. JC was great working with everyone. He's always high-energy, charismatic and knows anything you want to ask him about Nikon gear.

Manfrotto came to the walk too, bringing tripods for participants to use. We’re very grateful to both companies, as they made the experience for everyone even better by providing access to some of the best new gear by two of the industry’s elite brands. So a huge thank you to Nikon and Manfrotto, and of course to B&H. We couldn't have pulled this off without the topnotch support and collaboration from all of you.

Flagged from behind by Matt's Pixelstick is the portion of the photo walk crowd who stayed until the end of the night. Photo © 2016 JC Carey.

Flagged from behind by Matt's Pixelstick is the portion of the photo walk crowd who stayed until the end of the night. Photo © 2016 JC Carey.

All in all, it was a great day. So many people came up to us to say how much they learned, or how much fun they had. Both of those sentiments are exactly what we were hoping to provide: We want people to learn more about night photography so they have the same great experience we do when we head into the dark with our cameras.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made our event so special. If you couldn’t make it to this one, stayed tuned—we will definitely do this again!

Chris Nicholson is the author of Photographing National Parks (Sidelight Books, 2015). Learn more about national parks as photography destinations, subscribe to Chris' free e-newsletter, and more at www.PhotographingNationalParks.com.

Upcoming workshops from National Parks at Night

National Parks at Night’s First Official Event is Going to be EPIC!

We are very excited to be hosting our first gathering of all five NPAN instructors on March 16 at the B&H Event Space from 1-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.: "Night Photography Panel and Night Walk With National Parks at Night Sponsored by Nikon."

Chris, Lance, Matt, Tim and I have been building the foundation of NPAN for nearly a year, and this is one of the events that we wanted to share with you from the beginning!

This will not be your typical seminar. Each one of us will spend about 30 minutes discussing a specific topic about night photography, and then we will open the floor for an hour to answer your questions in a no-holds-barred panel discussion.

It would be crazy to get us all together and not do any hands-on instruction, so after we’ve filled you full of words and visions we will take it to the streets … or at least to Brooklyn Bridge Park!

That’s right, starting at 7 p.m. we will set up five shooting stations for you to try out different night photography techniques at one of the most scenic spots to photograph in New York City.

We’d like to give a big shout out to Nikon for sponsoring this event. We are all big fans of their cameras and glass, and Nikon will join us at Brooklyn Bridge Park where you’ll be able to try out a selection of their gear.

Need a better tripod to steady those long exposures? Manfrotto will be there too, and they’ll have loaner tripods for you to use during our night walk.

This lectures and discussion panel booked to capacity in just a few days, but that doesn't mean you can't be part of it! You can still get on the wait list by arriving at the Event Space 15-30 minutes beforehand. And if you can’t attend, you can still watch laterB&H will be recording the “classroom” aspect of the day and publishing it to their YouTube channel later.

As for the night portion, as of last night the Event Space is taking registrations for that separately, and as of right now there are still slots available. Check out "Night Photography Photo Walk With National Parks at Night" for more information and to register. I recommend signing up immediately, because this will book up fast too!

Seize the Night!

Gabriel Biderman is a Brooklyn-based fine art and travel photographer, and author of Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots (Peachpit, 2014). During the daytime hours you'll often find Gabe at one of many photo events around the world working for B&H Photo’s road marketing team. See his portfolio and workshop lineup at www.ruinism.com.

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS FROM NATIONAL PARKS AT NIGHT