Photography

Mike Takes On The Moose

Mike Takes On The Moose
  • If you’ve been following our reviews, you know we really like backpacks from MindShift Gear (a division of Think Tank Photo) because they work great for the adventures we like to do. I've been reviewing their packs for a few years now and the latest model I chose was the Moose Peterson MP-3 V2.0. There is a bigger version (than the MP-3 and a smaller version as well) but this model felt like the perfect size for my needs.

  • I'll be honest in saying that I did not buy this backpack. I had the opportunity to review it for MindShift Gear / Think Tank Photo and I was happy to do so. That said, I'm including my honest opinions on it without restraint. If there are areas where it did poorly, I will not hesitate to say so.

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Night Photography 2.0

Night Photography 2.0

For most people, night photography started with a digital camera…  following in the footsteps of others who inspired us to get out and shoot in the dark.  Our images were a little noisy and that reminded us that the higher ISO settings can give us more noise.  With that, we accepted that nightscape images are generally more noisy (than daytime landscape images) because of the limits of the cameras we have available.

Introducing Stacking To The World

Astronomers have had some ability to "stack" multiple exposures to reduce noise for years.  This is where we take advantage of the fact that the location of the noise dots on each exposure is different and this allows us to sort of "average" them together to get the noise dots to disappear where the points of light just reinforce each other.  The result is significant noise reduction - although the software that does this is generally very expensive and overly complicated.

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How Do I Get New Photo Gear?

How Do I Get New Photo Gear?

The answer to this question may seem obvious to some but it comes up a lot.  And over the years, we've found a few approaches that you may find helpful to hear.  This article is not about how to identify which gear you should buy but more about how to find it once you know what gear you want.  And for anyone looking for free gear, sorry…  that's not what this article's about either.  :-)

New To Me

When we're talking about new photo gear, let's make sure to include gear that's new to you and that includes pre-owned (aka used) equipment.  In this direction, I like working with KEH.com but I've also been known to buy directly from other photographers through craigslist - knowing the latter approach has a lot more risk.

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MindShift Firstlight 40L Big Backpack Review

MindShift Firstlight 40L Big Backpack Review

Introduction

  • MindShift Gear (founded by the creators of Think Tank Photo) makes a great line of backpacks that work well for the adventures I like to do with my night photography.  I've been reviewing their packs for a little while now and the latest model I chose was the Firstlight 40L.  I chose the big 40L model so it would hold all my gear including a bigger telephoto lens.  I had high expectations for the bag and I was able to quickly see if it was going to measure up.
  • I'll be honest in saying that I did not buy this backpack.  I had the opportunity to review it for MindShift Gear and I was happy to do so.  That said, I'm including my honest opinions on it without restraint.  If there are areas where it did poorly, I'm not afraid to say so.
  • To test the backpack, I took it out numerous times - during in-field training sessions in Arches & Canyonlands National Parks and Monument Valley with Night Photography Workshop and shooting on my own in the Bisti Badlands.

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Recommended Techniques For Noise Reduction

Recommended Techniques For Noise Reduction

Why Is Noise Reduction Such a Big Deal?

Noise is a big consideration in shooting pictures at night.  We push our cameras to capture the best details possible in dark conditions and the result can often be a little noisy.  What can you do about it?  Well, part of the answer lies in the shooting techniques but there's more on the post-processing side as well.  In the end, photographers have some good options available to them.

One of the challenges in using noise reduction is that there are so many options available to us.  In-fact, with all the different approaches available for reducing noise in nightscape images, it can be a downright confusing to know what to use when.  Darren and Mike got together and tested some of the most common methods available to determine what would be best to recommend and when.

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MindShift Backlight 26L Backpack Review

MindShift Backlight 26L Backpack Review

MindShift Gear (founded by the creators of Think Tank Photo) makes a great line of backpacks that appear to work well for the hikes I like to do with my night photography.  I've always thought highly of their reputation for quality gear, so with one of their premier backpacks on-hand (the Backlight 26L), I was able to put it through its paces to see just how well it would do out in the field...

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Mike's Super Long-Exposure Cheat Sheet

Mike's Super Long-Exposure Cheat Sheet

There are lots of different ways to shoot night photography.  We have the relatively short duration exposure (usually 30 seconds or less) where we get to see details in the night sky as points of light.  Then we have the star trail images where we shoot for a little longer and we stack multiple exposures so we get the stars to appear as trails in a way that's effective at reducing noise.  Both of these approaches open the shutter for a period of time that doesn't usually exceed 2 to 3 minutes - often less.  Part of the theory behind this is that multiple exposures are more effective at reducing noise than a single super long-exposure - even with long-exposure noise reduction enabled.

The Super Long-Exposure
In this article, I'm not letting the issue of sensor heat stop me from trying a really long exposure.  I'll make use of some long-exposure noise reduction to help address that issue.  I want to see what it looks like when I expose my shutter to light for 16 minutes or even 32 minutes.  The human eye is limited to ultra-short exposure times so we can't see much color at night.  But when the shutter is opened for half an hour, the results can be very interesting...

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How To Focus In The Dark

How To Focus In The Dark

Focusing in the dark can be a tricky task... and it can certainly be frustrating to go to all the effort of shooting at night only to get home and find that the scene wasn't quite in-focus. When it comes to focusing at night, there are a few options that work better than others.

Option #1 - Hard Stop At Infinity
I really like it when I'm using a lens that has a hard stop on the focus ring at infinity. This allows me to more easily set the focus on infinity which works really well in most cases.  In-fact, this approach is so easy that I use it whenever I'm using a lens that allows it.  Some of my lenses however, have the ability to focus past infinity which complicates the process. Back to the simple approach, I just make sure I know which way to turn the focus ring before I get out into the dark and then use just turn the ring all the way in the correct direction. I've heard of some people taping the focus ring (with gaffers tape) but I don't typically do that...

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