We're delighted to extend special offers from our supporters to you. These are unique and only for prior attendees of an NPAN workshop.
Digital Silver Imaging: 15% off your first order of silver prints, pigment prints or other services upon checkout. Use code NPAN16
Required: Medical Release Form
Please download the below medical Release form, complete and send to your workshop leader before arriving at the workshop. You may use Adobe Acrobat Reader to electronically sign it, or print then photograph and email.
We make t-shirts for every attendee! Fill out the form for your workshop below to ensure your shirt is waiting for you!
Suggestions about about travel arrangements
Your workshop experience is time that you invested in learning and experiencing. We want you to get the most out of it, so here is how to show up rested and ready to begin. It's pretty simple - plan to arrive before it starts and after it ends.
Below, we make suggestions for each 2016 workshop to aid you in making proper air and hotel reservations.
Acadia: May 2 - 6, 2016
Workshop begins at 10am on May 2 and ends after the shoot the night of May 6th.
We suggest arriving at your hotel on May 1st and departing on May 7th.
Zion: May 23-27, 2016
Workshop begins at 10am on May 23 and ends after the shoot the night of May 27th.
We suggest arriving at your hotel on May 22nd and departing on May 28th.
Crater Lake: August 4 - 6, 2016
The workshop begins at 10am on August 4 and ends after the shoot the night of August 6th.
We suggest arriving at your hotel on August 3rd and departing on August 7th.
Arches: Nov 15-19, 2016
Workshop begins at 10am on Nov 15 and ends after the shoot the night of Nov 19th.
We suggest arriving at your hotel on November 14th and departing on November 20th.
Death Valley: Nov 15-19, 2016
Workshop begins at noon on Nov 15 and ends after the shoot the night of Nov 19th.
We suggest arriving at your hotel on November 14th and departing on November 20th.
Of course, if you want to arrive or depart any earlier or later before and after the workshop, bonus! We chose some great places to spend extra time ;-) Keep in mind our workshop group rates may not apply for hotels before or after the workshops.
Choosing the right tools for night photography can be overwhelming. If you already have a preferred kit that serves you well, then most likely you can just skim the below info. If you are not a seasoned night photographer, you will find the below resource helpful in identifying essential gear for a successful workshop. Again, always feel free to reach out to either of your workshop's instructors for guidance and personal advice. This is a general guideline.
Most modern DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras from the last 2-3 years are well equipped to handle the longer exposures (6-8 minutes) as well as the higher ISOs (3200 and beyond) that night photography will demand. We do not recommend point and shoot cameras, no matter how advanced they might be as they typically can’t get beyond 30-second exposures without losing significant image quality.
Suggested Nikon Cameras
7200, D500, D610, D750, 800/810, D3(s)/4/5
Suggested Canon Cameras:
Canon: 5D3, 1Dx series, 6d, 7d2, 80d, 70d
If you don't have a Nikon or Canon SLR camera please make sure your camera has these features
• The ability to shoot RAW files
• Manual exposure mode
• Bulb (B) setting for long exposures
• The capability to use a remote shutter releas
Note: Due to the generosity of our sponsor Nikon, we may have extra lenses and bodies to test during the workshop for the curious.
Mirrorless cameras offer a nice size reduction to DSLRs without sacrificing image quality. They Olympus OMD EM1/5m2 offer some groundbreaking technology such as Live Composite and Live Bulb that will show you the image and histogram gradually build on the back of the screen. The Fujifilm XT1, Pro 1, X E-1/2, X100(t) are my personal favorite for ease of use and image quality. The Sony A7 series of cameras (especially the A7s) also perform very well but their lenses can be tricky to focus and find infinity. I’d suggest using an adapter and a manual focus lens from Zeiss or Nikon.
If you have any questions about your camera model, please let us know (contact info at top of page). Digital or Film, if it takes a battery to make it work, we advise bringing at least 2 extra spares!
We recommend your fastest and widest lenses.
Not only does using a lens with an f/2.8 or faster maximum aperture increases viewfinder brightness but it will also let us rely less on the higher ISOs of 6400+.
Focusing at night - Almost all focusing at night is done manually, so your AF lenses must have a manual focus setting. Older Nikon AIS lenses can be an inexpensive solution to manually hyperfocus. Zeiss also makes excellent manual focus lenses for Canon, Nikon, and Sony. One of favorites is the Zeiss 21mm 2.8 or if you can afford (or rent) the superwide 15mm 2.8. With an adapter, you can easily mount any of these Nikon or Zeiss lenses on your Mirrorless cameras.
Make sure your lens has distance markings on the lens barrel. These markings allow you to use Hyperfocal and Zone Focusing at night.
Fixed focal length lenses can be lighter, sharper, and less susceptible to lens-flare. Zoom lenses offer more flexibility by allowing you to work all night without changing lenses. This can help keep your camera’s sensor dust free in dirty conditions.
Whatever lenses you bring, don't forget you lens hood. The moon and light painting can cause lens flare.
If you do not own a wide/fast lens or appropriate camera - consider renting one. But if you do rent - we advise getting the gear a couple days before the workshop so you can get used to it before operating it in the dark. See above for a list of rental agencies.
Other Required Gear
Tripod: For night photographers a good, sturdy tripod is just as important as what camera you choose. So investing in a good quality tripod is a must. When choosing a tripod we have several factors to consider:
- How much does the tripod weigh?
- How much weight it can carry?
- What is the max/minimum height?
A good aluminum tripod typically will cost $150-$300 including a head. They weigh 5 to 7 lbs and can go up to 57". We want to look at maximum height without extending your center column as that is the most stable stance. Aluminum tripods are 2 to 3 lbs heavier and $200-$300 less than carbon fiber (you tend to pay $100 per pound you save!) Aluminum also gets much colder than carbon fiber at night. Carbon fiber tripods weight 2 to 4 lbs–if you have to do much walking around in the dark that can make a big difference. Manfrotto, Mefoto, Induro, and Oben all have a good selection of Aluminum and Carbon Fiber tripods. Gitzo and ReallyRight Stuff are on the higher end and will last a lifetime. Gabe uses a Gitzo 2 series carbon fiber tripod with a Acratech ballhead. Pan tilt heads are very precise but again can be more cumbersome then ball heads. IN addition to a Benro Travel Angel II travel tripod kit with ballhead, Matt owns one of the best 5 way pan/tilt heads, the Induro PHQ1–they also make a PHQ3.
Whatever you choose, make sure both the legs and head are rated to hold the weight of your camera and lens.
Remote shutter release: Usually B&H has a Nikon/Canon model for $135 or $55. The $135 model has a built in timer for setting the exact time to expose as well as offering interval shooting. The $55 model is a simple on/off switch. There are also third party remotes made by Vello that offer these same remotes for a significantly cheaper price and work just as well. We do not recommend wireless remotes, because most times you will have to depress and hold the button down for the entire exposure and no one wants to do that for 6 minutes! Or, you can accidentally wander out of range of the receiver and prematurely end an exposure.
If your remote release is a simple on/off switch, or you use a mechanical cable release with a film camera, you’ll need a digital stopwatch or phone to accurately time your exposures. If your remote release requires a battery make sure to bring a spare. We often bring two remote release shutters just in case anything happens.
LIGHT PAINTING EQUIPMENT
Besides the typical light sources we are recommending below, think of anything that emits light and bring it! The workshop will be full of experimentation with different types of light sources!
Strobe flash: Make sure it has a manual trigger and adjustable power settings. Don’t forget extra batteries.
Flashlights: The two most important considerations when purchasing a flashlight is the lumens (brightness) and what type of bulb it uses (what is the color of the light. I’m a fan of incandescent flashlights that have a yellow/warm light to them. We find this light to complement the blue skies in a very pleasing way. White LEDs are also nice – but watch out for ones that cast a bluish tint.
One of our favorite flashlights is the Coast HP7R. It can be powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or four AA batteries so you'll never be without light! It has a very even and focusable beam of light that really aids in even light painting. It is a white LED light, so bring a couple CTO gels to wrap around it to warm things up from time to time. We recommend, however, bringing 2-3 flashlights at various lumens so that you can have a nice overlap of brightness and intensity that you can choose to paint the scene.
Here is a breakdown:
Low Power: The Gerber Recon is a small AA light that runs on one AA battery, and features a switchable white, blue, green, and red filter set.
Great for looking for looking in your camera bag or at your camera buttons without losing your night vision.
Medium power: The Coast PX20 is our small flashlight of choice that still packs a 155 lumen punch. Our favorite aspect is the one red LED light and separate button for using a red light at night to find buttons on our cameras and gear in our bag.
AA and C cell Maglites, Surefire G2, or multi-bulb LED flashlights - 25 to 80 Lumens. Effective range 2’ to 30’. This will probably be your main, general-purpose flashlight.
High power: Stinger Streamlight or Surefire high candlepower flashlights, 100+ lumens. Effective range 10’ to 100’.
Note: Avoid the million+ candlepower lights found in most box stores. They are typically too bright for most applications and can be very bulky and heavy to hump around all night.
Gels: Use the Honl CTO and Color Effects Gel kits over your flashes or flashlights.
If you want to cover bigger flashes or Lights we recommend the larger Rosco CTO gels. CTO warms the color temperature of your flash and LED flashlights. The Color Effects Gels should be used to add complementary color to the scene.
Other Handy Items
A small piece of gaffer's tape: to hold stuff down. You never know what will happen. We know someone whose remote release broke so he used gaffer’s tape and a small rock to trip his shutter. (Tenacity wins!)
Lens tissues or a soft cloth: Lenses can get dirty in a hurry outside.
A hotshoe bubble level: To make sure you have your camera horizon perfectly level. Some tripods/heads/cameras have built in levels. The Acratech Double Axis Spirit Level is $21.90 at B&H Photo.
The atmosphere on NPAN workshops is casual, so feel free to leave formal wear at home. (Unless, of course, that is your casual.) Because we shoot at night, working temperatures can sometimes vary dramatically, so it's often best to dress in layers. Also, consider wearing dark (even black) clothes at night, to stay "invisible" to the camera should you need to walk into the frame for light-painting, etc.
Proper footwear is important, to prevent slips or tumbles that could damage either you or camera gear (GASP!). We advise wearing quality trail shoes or hiking boots.