Photography Tips

Have you ever tried to focus your camera at night? It's actually pretty hard, even focusing the camera manually is frustrating.  The secret I use to do this is actually a very simple trick that takes about 20 seconds, but you need a semi clear sky to do this is.  When I show up to lets say the Blue Ridge Parkway at night, I look for the brightest star that I can find above my subject matter.  Once I have found the brightest star in the sky, I then auto focus my camera on it.  The camera will now be focused at the right distance because the star you focused on is right above it, you also need to switch off the auto focus because if you leave it on, it will try to re-adjust and then you will loose what you have focused on.

Have you ever been out at night and wondered why can't I capture all of these stars?  It's pretty simple actually.  The amount of light that is being let in is not enough.  How do you let more light in?  Well you need to set your f-stop as low as possible, anything below f3 is great.  I use an f-stop of f1.8.  You also have to increase your light sensitivity or ISO as it is called.  Most people use an ISO of 1600, but you can go up to an ISO of 3200 or 6400.  If you do go up that high, know that the image will be more grainy.  Give it a try, go out in your yard and practice and don't forget to use a shutter release and tripod to help keep your image as sharp as possible.

Photographing sunsets can be tricky, if the settings are not just right your image can come out almost completely black.  The problem I find that most people have is in there ISO settings.  Most people have there ISO settings to high, which causes you to loose your deep, bright and beautiful colors.  The colors get washed out, so to get the color that everyone wants to see, I would put the ISO as low as possible.  Most people can only go as low as an ISO of 100, but some do go down as low as an ISO of 50.  The image to the left of the City of Lynchburg, VA has an ISO of 100.  My f-stop is usually set to f9 but I have gone as low as f5 depending on how much light is present.  While you are scouting a good place you want to capture, practice outside at your house, play with these settings and get a good feel for it.

One of the most logical tips anyone can give to anyone looking to photograph nature is to be prepared when you go out into wild..  Make sure you have everything you may need when you go out to shoot some photographs.  You may run into many different animals and obstacles you might not of expected to see, so when you go to shoot out in the wild you need to make sure you have some of the basics, like these:

1.) Camera & Camera Lenses

2.) Tripod
3.) Shutter Release
4.) Filters (At least a UV Filter and a Polarized Filter.)
5.) First Aide Kit (If you are like me, you will need this)
6.) Bear Mace (In case  you are going deep into the woods)
7.) Bowie Knife (I carry this for many different reasons, but most commonly for cutting brush out of the way)
8.) Water and a Snack (Obviously a snack, I mean who goes out to take pics without a snack)
9.) Good Hiking Shoes
10.) Bug Spray (The spray that takes care of ticks as well)
11.) A good bag with a lot of pockets
12.) Finally, try to take someone with you when you can (You never know what might happen, so it always good to have someone there just in case)

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