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Zooming in to Catch the Smoke

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Using a tripod is essential, because you're going to need both hands to operate camera controls and because once you begin the exposure, the reflex mirror of your DSLR will be locked up, blocking your view of the subject. It's also simpler to compose the picture if you zoom from the longest focal-length setting (telephoto) to the widest (wide-angle); that way you know for sure what will be in the center of your frame. Using shutter zoom is a fun technique to try or any composition where you want to enthuse dram or action. For this to work you’ll need a DSLR or hybrid camera with a zoom lens. First of all set your ISO as low as possible and dial in a small aperture of around f22 for a longer exposure. Isolate a subject – for example a willing model, a beautiful blooming flower, an insect, etc and focus on and meter from this. Next compose so the subject is positioned in the centre of your frame. We human beings are basically unable to know the depth of an object until we get up close to it. When you use a telephoto lens, you aren’t actually getting close to your subject. You’re just magnifying the horizon. Some photographers use the telephoto effect for creative purposes. Cityscapes, when taken with a telephoto lens, have an added element of spookiness and conformity. There are plenty of ways to use this flattening effect for your new idea.

After I got hooked to smoke photography, the one question that has been constantly running through my mind these past few months has been ‘What else can I do with smoke?’. Smoke, otherwise an unwanted by-product of combustion, is actually a great subject for photography.

At the most general level photographing light trails involves finding a spot where you’ll see the light trails created by cars, securing your digital camera, setting a long exposure setting on your camera and shooting at a time when cars will be going by to create the trail of light. Of course it’s a little more complicated than this – but the general factor behind it is longer exposures that will enable the cars that create the trails to move through your image.

Knowing how to properly utilize your zoom features on your Nikon D400 or Nikon d7100 camera is essential--especially if you plan on taking any smoke or light trail photos. Be sure you have the full details necessary for your success in photography.

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