Long Nights on Long Island: Wrapping our First Summit

On November 2 to 4, 2018, National Parks at Night hosted our very first Night Photography Summit. It was a remarkable success, and we are delighted.

Thank you to all the eager photographers who attended. Most were from Long Island and New York City. But not all! We had attendees com all the way from California and even Belgium!

We partnered with Rafael Pons, The Bard of PhotoPills. Rafael was on-hand during the entire event to coach people on how to use PhotoPills to plan for their shoots, and also how to use some of the incredibly versatile tools contained within that awesome little yellow app.

We also partnered with the Photographic Federation of Long Island, a federation of camera clubs spanning the region, to promote and host the event. PFLI generously helped us choose a proper venue, work with local authorities to obtain permissions for the night photography mini-workshops, and even shuttle students back and forth from the parking lots in the evenings. Best of all, they were shooting alongside us every night. :-)

Our lovely and generous sponsors were also on hand to support our passion for night photography education.

  • B&H Photo brought all kinds of tempting gear (and some very special promotions during the event). And, of course, they also brought Zaza candies and supercool buttons and stickers. ;-)

  • BenQ brought their line of photographic displays, as well as knowledgeable imaging experts to talk about how seeing your images at their best on a BenQ display is a final step for serious photographers around the world.

  • Bay Photo Lab sent an envelope full of gift certificates for free prints to give away at the end of each day.

And then the education. ... Wow, what a full offering. We did our very best to fill up the attendees’ heads with useful tips and inspiration, and we answered every single question. Here was the conference schedule:

Day 1

One of my favorite moments each day was Gabe’s early- morning group stretching sessions, with “seize the night” chants (below). It really put us in a mindset for success, right down to the last person. (Thanks, Gabe.)


The first day, we talked through some favorite images with Chris, Gabe, Lance and Matt:

One of our cherished (and proven) mantras is that it’s possible to make a good night photograph under any conditions. To that end, Gabe and Lance inspired the crowd with a presentation titled “How to Nail a Night Photo—Anytime, Anywhere.”

Rafael then stepped onto stage, connected his phone to the projector and proved that PhotoPills is not only the right choice for the night photographer, but that there is “a pill for every pain you have.” His presentation, “PhotoPills: A World of Possibilities on your Hand” had something for everyone.

Then Chris and Matt took the stage to present, “10 Steps to Mastering Light Painting,” during which they walked the audience through, step by step, the successful ways you can apply light painting to tell your stories with photography at night.

Rounding out Day 1 was an enthusiastic Q&A session with all four NPAN instructors and Rafael. We had to save some questions for the next day!

That evening our first group of intrepid night photographers braved drizzle, clouds and fog to photograph the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse. Proving our point that bad weather makes for great night photography, Gabe made this image during a demonstration:

Day 2

On Day 2, after our inspiring stretches and chants, Gabe and Matt opened up Lightroom and showed a live demo, “After the Shutter Closes: Processing the Night.” Each spent a good amount of time working through RAW images to bring out the very best in them.

Rafael once again showed us the magic on his phone with “Planning Star Trails and the Milky Way with PhotoPills” (below), which was full of fantastic questions (and answers)—not to mention a whole lot of people using their phones and tablets during the presentation to see that magic happen under their own fingertips.

After lunch, Lance and Chris returned to present “Photographing Lighthouses, the Sentinels of the Seas” (below). Truly germane to the work later that evening, they presented how to go about photographing lighthouses, including many techniques for planning and success.

We had one more group Q&A to cover anything at all. And we did. Love that part. Excellent attendees.

Our second and final night out started with a huddle at the base of the lighthouse.


After a confab about the plan for the evening, we headed to the northern end of the beach to look south for a half-hour glimpse of the galactic core of the Milky Way creeping to the right of the lighthouse.

After this, we broke up into three groups and worked on Low-level Landscape Lighting (LLL), star stacking and long exposures. The night was clear, brisk and a little windy. But everyone walked away with images to be proud of!

Day 3

Our final day began with a deep exploration of some of our favorites places with Chris and Lance, in “A Daydreamer’s Guide to Night in the National Parks.” Covering 32 NPS locations, and rich with photographic examples, we saw many people wildly taking notes about their next dream destinations for night photography. (Hint, we have some spots open for 2019 workshops!)

Lastly, we spent a few hours on image review. We dipped into Lightroom and gave feedback and instruction to attending students on images shot during the conference and at other times. Always a good way to wrap up, with clear ideas on how to grow and improve.

With gladness in our hearts, and stars in our eyes, we called the Summit to a close. It was three days (and two nights) of sharing, learning and growing.

We’re so delighted that you like what we do. Thank you for supporting us as we share what we love with you. Our success is your success.

We can’t wait to do this all over again with the crew of photographers on Long Island and PFLI. #gratitude

Note: Want to see us come to your area? We’re considering taking this show on the road. Do you run a regional camera club federation, or even a really strong, passionate group that wants to collaborate and host an experience like this near you? Drop us a line and let us know.

Matt Hill is a partner and workshop leader with National Parks at Night. See more about his photography, art, workshops and writing at MattHillArt.com. Follow Matt on Twitter Instagram Facebook.


Our Students' Work, From the Redwood Forests to the Gulf Stream Waters

Happy Anniversary Biscayne and Redwood national parks! We were so very thrilled and honored to be part of your 50th-year celebrations.

We obviously love going to all the parks, but when we can work closely with the rangers and officials that help run these amazing places, it makes the experience even more worthwhile.  In 2018 we formed a very strong relationship with both the aforementioned parks. We were so excited to take our students there for workshops earlier in the year as well as keep the communications building to create a cross-country “From the Redwood Forests to the Gulf Stream Waters” celebration. It was absolutely wonderful to see the friends we made this year, in addition to meeting more creative lovers of the parks during the festivities.

A very big thank you goes out to Bay Photo Lab, which believed in our students’ work and printed a combined show of 42 night photographs, twice, so we that we could have the focal point of the celebrations be a gallery show at both parks.


Our opening weekend at Biscayne had a ton of activities. We kicked things off Friday night, when 30 people joined us for a scenic boat ride to Boca Chita. We disembarked and had time to scout and explore the many vantage points on the island. At the end of civil twilight we gathered our group, plus two law enforcement park rangers joined us and were excited to see what we were creating.

I had prepared a special “Birthday Wish” (below) on the Fotorgear Magilite, which is an LED light stick that you can program with an endless amount of colors, shapes and art and then “walk the image” into the scene.

That is always a perfect example of how we can write anything with light. From there we broke into smaller groups and did night portraits and light painting—all in all, seizing the night!

Saturday was a full day at the park. We were very excited to see our dear friend, National Park Patch Lady (below), who led a sunrise photo shoot, scavenger hunt and Biscayne quiz. Lots of fun Biscayne and national park stickers were finding their way to knowledgeable park goers. There was also a variety of ranger talks spearheaded by Ranger Gary Bremen.

That kept most people busy until we kicked off the gallery opening and official party. We had live music (below) and over 100 people came to enjoy our images and share stories about Biscayne as we sipped wine and (of course) gobbled up birthday cake. We were also honored to have in attendance Lloyd Miller, who was instrumental in saving and creating Biscayne National Park half a century ago.

That night we led another walk around Convoy Point (below) and the visitor center, and we were thrilled to be joined by a student from each of the Biscayne and Redwood workshops, in a truly wonderful weekend of celebration!


by Lance Keimig

That very same weekend we made a return visit to Redwood National and State Parks to help celebrate their 50th anniversary with an exhibit of student and instructor photographs from our June workshop, which will be on display at the Hiouchi Visitor Center in the park until January 2019.

The “From the Redwood Forests to the Gulf Stream Waters” exhibit opened on Friday, October 19, and was attended by the park staff, as well as members of the Save the Redwoods League, Redwood Parks Conservancy and the local community. About 50 people attended the opening during the course of the too-short evening. A highlight of the reception was ranger Michael Glore leading a singalong of Woodie Guthrie’s, “This Land is Your Land” (below), which alone was worth the trip to California.

In addition to the exhibit reception, and a gallery talk led by Chris and I the following day, we also taught a one-night mini-workshop for the local community on Saturday, October 20. We had a small group of eager students and a great night in the redwoods at Jedediah State Park, photographing along the banks of the Smith River.

We’d like to offer our thanks and congratulations to Michael, Chief Interpretive Ranger Candace Tinkler and Biscayne’s Ranger Gary for all of their hard work in putting together the events around the anniversary. It was a dream come true for National Parks at Night to collaborate with the parks in this way, and we hope to do more of these types of projects in the future.

Prints for Parks

Bay Photo was more than just a sponsor—they made the events possible. The prints for both the Redwood exhibit and the concurrent one at Biscayne were made with Bay’s patented Xpozer system, our new favorite way to display our work.

All of the images from the exhibits are available for purchase at our online gallery, with all profits going to benefit both Redwood and Biscayne.

Bay is a great partner to work with and they have stepped up in a big way to support both the parks and National Parks at Night.

One final note is that under Candace’s leadership, Redwood National and State Parks is pursuing dark sky certification from the International Dark Sky Association, and plans to hold more dark sky events in the future. We look forward to seizing the night with them more in the years to come.

Reminder: The exhibits are up in both parks until January 13; check visitors hours to see when you can view the prints. Or, you can support the parks by purchasing one of the prints at our online gallery.

Gabriel Biderman is a partner and workshop leader with National Parks at Night. He 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.


Conferences, Clubs and Excursions, Oh My! Come Join Us for an Event This Fall

One of our favorite parts of doing what we do is getting out into the photography community to meet and talk with like-minded photographers. It gives us a chance to share what we know, to learn from the experiences of others, and to swap stories about working in the dark and working in the parks.

We do this all year round, but autumn seems to be the time when some of the biggest opportunities fall into a line of quick succession. It’s kind of like the “Conference District” of our collective schedule.

With that in mind, we wanted to share some of the events we’ll be participating in this fall. We hope you can join us at some of these amazing gatherings!

Out of Acadia Photography Conference

Bar Harbor, Maine

This one actually just ended, and was the first landscape photography conference organized by the Out of Chicago group. They’ve been running tours, workshops and walks in their home city since 2011, and conferences since 2016. Gabe and I were honored to speak and lead walks at their Out of New York Photography Conference last year, and last week I did the same at their conference in Maine’s Acadia National Park.

I taught a class on photographing the night sky, and delivered the conference’s closing session, “From Acadia to Zion: 59 Parks to Inspire Your Photography.” In addition to the myriad classes and presentations by the instructors and leaders, the conference had a very shooting-friendly format. Each morning, afternoon and night featured scores of photo walks and excursions, to places like Monument Cove, Boulder Beach, Cadillac Mountain, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Schoodic Peninsula and many, many more.

Me, during an Out of Acadia photo excursion up to North Bubble. Great photo courtesy of conference attendee and new friend Ron Johnson.

Me, during an Out of Acadia photo excursion up to North Bubble. Great photo courtesy of conference attendee and new friend Ron Johnson.

Out of Acadia was a dynamic event that left the attendees, instructors and organization exhausted (in a good way) and creatively fulfilled. If you were there, you’re probably still sorting through images. If you weren’t there, you can look into attending their next landscape event: the Out of Moab Photography Conference, to be held in October 2018. I’ll be there too!

PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo

New York City, New York

It’s one of the kings of the photo-conference world, held in New York City at the famous Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. And we’ll be speaking there on the final morning, for the third successive year. This time, we’re sponsored by one of the biggest supporters of the National Parks at Night workshop program: NIKON.

On Saturday, October 28, from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Matt, Gabe and I will deliver a two-hour presentation titled “Seize the Night—Taking your Night Photography to the Next Level.” From the session description:

“The National Parks at Night Team is excited to share their expertise and nocturnal visions with you. Go behind the scenes of some of their most challenging shots and see how they prevailed or failed. Take a look at the many aspects of night photography: astro-landscape, light painting, urban and Milky Way. Have your work reviewed and get valuable feedback on how you can elevate your night photography. You'll learn about essential gear, post-production tips, light painting, star trails, star points and urban night photography.”

If you’re not yet registered for PhotoPlus and would like to do so at 15 percent off, feel free to use our speakers’ link.

Lance Keimig will also be at PhotoPlus, delivering two presentations at the Irix booth during the day (at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), and leading a night photo walk on the famed High Line (from 6 to 8 p.m.). For more information, see the event page on Facebook.

The Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit

Townsend, Tennessee

From November 1-5, I’ll be on the road again, this time to Tennessee and North Carolina, where I’ll be speaking at this singular event held at one of the jewels of the park system, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Clouds in the valleys of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. © 2013 Chris Nicholson.

Clouds in the valleys of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. © 2013 Chris Nicholson.

I’ll be one of 12 instructors delivering presentations, offering image critiques and leading field sessions in the park. I’ll be talking about light painting and national park photography, and others will be discussing topics as diverse as metering, creativity, master field techniques and more. There’s also a print competition, with a grand prize of a Fuji X-E3 kit.

If you’ve never been to or photographed the Smoky Mountains, this is an excellent opportunity. See the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit website for more information about how to register.

Camera Clubs, etc.

After mid-fall, things slow down for us a bit in terms of speaking at conferences. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be out and talking about photography whenever we get the chance. We’re currently booked to speak at camera clubs in four states between now and mid-winter, including the Churchville Photography Club in Pennsylvania, the New Haven Camera Club in Connecticut, the Englewood Camera Club in Florida and the Greater Lynn Photographic Association in Massachusetts.

Last year we partnered with the New York Adventure Club, sponsored by by  B&H photo  and  Hudson Mercantile , to host a light painting class on a secret rooftop in Manhattan.

Last year we partnered with the New York Adventure Club, sponsored by by B&H photo and Hudson Mercantile, to host a light painting class on a secret rooftop in Manhattan.

And we’ll happily add more to the schedule! If you belong to a club that might like to hear about night photography and/or national parks, etc., feel free to contact us. There are numerous topics we’re prepared to talk about. We’re also eager to speak and/or lead photo walks for podcasts, trade shows, outdoors groups, night sky festivals, arts councils, museums, educational institutions and … well, probably for anyone interested in participating in engaging discussion about the topics we are crazy-passionate about! :-)

To keep updated about where and when we’ll be presenting at any given time, reference our Speaking Engagements webpage, or sign up for our event notification emails.

We look forward to meeting you all out in the photography community at some point soon. Until then, seize the night!

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.


Talks & Walks: Visit us at two great NYC conferences this October!

In October, we have two events in NYC where you can come meet us in person, chat and see some lectures:

Out of New York 2016

When: Friday, October 14, 2016 - Sunday, October 16, 2016

We're very excited to be a part of this conference that has been operating in Chicago for a few very successful years, and is now offering a weekend of spectacular educational opportunities in New York City.

National Parks at Night will have a booth on the vendor floor, where you can come chat with us in-person about all the adventures we're planning for 2017 and beyond. It's also an opportunity to pick up any or all of the several books published by our team, on topics such as night photography, HDR and photographing the national parks.

Additionally, our instructors Gabriel Biderman and Chris Nicholson will be presenting talks ("Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots" and "Photographing National Parks," respectively) and offering two night-photography walks in New York City.

More information: ny.outofchicago.com.

Photo Plus Expo 2016

When: Saturday October 22 from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

We are also very excited to be back at PhotoPlus, where we officially went public with the National Parks at Night program last year. (1st birthday! Yay!) Four of the five of us will be present and on stage for "Night Photography—Master the Night," a panel presentation about our favorite subject!

Gabe, Chris, Lance Keimig and I will share a ton of tips on shooting under the stars in beautiful places. We'd love to see you there, at one of the industry's premier events! 

Bring a friend—or two!

Register: www.photoplusexpo.com

More info / add to your expo planner: n2b.goexposoftware.com/events/ppe16/goExpo/user/listSeminars.php?ci=91

See more about Matt's photography, art, workshops and writing at MattHillArt.com. Follow Matt on Twitter Instagram Facebook.


VIDEO: Night Visions of National Parks at OPTIC 2016 Imaging Conference

We're delighted to share this recording of our live presentation at the OPTIC 2016 Imaging Conference, hosted and put together by B&H Photo and Lindblad Expeditions. Join all five instructors—Matt, Chris, Lance, Tim and Gabe—as we share successes and challenges achieving our own night visions in national parks.

See more about Matt's photography, art, workshops and writing at MattHillArt.com. Follow Matt on Twitter Instagram Facebook.

Upcoming workshops from National Parks at Night