Remote Shutter

What Are The Prerequisites To Capture Long Exposure Shots?

Tin (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) asked: Your gallery has some really amazing long exposure night shots. I am also interested in taking such photos. How should I prepare myself for the long exposure shots?

If you want to take long exposure shots, there are few requirements in terms of accessories you might need and the camera settings you need to setup. And if you are just starting, you can start with a minimal setup and as you grow more with your experience, you would find out what else you might need to improve your skill. This is what I would suggest to anyone who is starting into any genre of photography; start with the basics, you would make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and keep practicing. This is coming from my personal experience.

Now, to answer your question about the requirements for the long exposure shots, let's talk about the accessories you might need in the first section and then I will go through the camera settings in the following section.

1. Accessories you would need for the Long Exposure shots

- Tripod

Tripod is a must have device when you are taking long exposure shots. The general rule of thumb is: if you are shooting with a shutter speed that is slower than the focal length value, you would need a tripod to get the sharper image. Let’s say you are shooting at the focal length of 80mm, any shutter speed that is less than 1/80th of a second requires a tripod to produce a crisp image. I think it pays to invest in a good tripod (carbon fiber if you can afford) so that you won't have to keep replacing the tripod with every new camera you would buy in the future. I suggest you to get the one that can support heaviest camera-lens combo in the market and have extra features like panning support and easy movement of the camera in all possible directions. I think finding the best tripod requires a little bit of research of your own based on your budget and future plannings.

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Choosing A Release Mode On Nikon D7000

Release mode allows you to choose how you want to release the shutter of your camera. D7000 lets you choose from Single frame, Continuous mode, Self-timer mode, Remote control mode, Quiet mode and the vibration-damping Mirror Up mode. D7000 also comes with the release mode dial lock which prevents from changing modes accidentally. When you want to change the release mode, all you have to do is press the release mode dial lock release button on the left side of release mode dial (at the top-left edge of the camera) and rotate the release mode where you want to set to. Let’s get into the release modes that are available in Nikon D7000 and talk about them briefly.

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An Experiment With Splash Photography

I got a request from one of the readers to write something about splash photography which I have never tried before. As soon as I got the request, I thought why not I try myself and share my experience with my readers. And today, I setup everything I can think of for splash photography and took several shots. Today's experiment gave me an idea of splash photography being more about precision, practice and patience. I shot five or six photos before splashing a cube of ice into a glass just to make sure that I have a good light condition. I have attached one of the photographs I took today. Let me explain what I did to get this shot. It is not a great shot but since it is my first time, I am happy with it.

Splash Photography

Splash Photography

Equipment Setup

First I thought of putting three white cards around the glass to bounce the light. I tried that setup but it didn't give me a natural looking feeling. I wanted to do something natural and yet look exciting. Then I removed those cards and placed a glass on the table in a natural light environment and adjusted my exposure settings accordingly. I shot this picture in a Shutter priority mode because my main concern was to freeze the motion of water or liquid that will splash out when something is dropped into it. I tested different shutter speed and settled with 1/2500th of seconds. I used an external flash SB-600 to compensate the exposure with the high shutter speed. Keep in mind that you have to enable Auto FP feature in your DSLR camera to work with higher shutter speed than camera's sync speed. I used Nikon's wired shutter release cable and set my camera on a tripod to make it stable. I dropped a cube of ice myself and press the shutter release button with the other hand. Having two hands work together side by side confused me little bit for few shots. If possible, I recommend having an assistant to drop the ice on the water and you concentrate on getting a shot.

Taking a shot

When everything is setup, I dropped the ice from one hand and click the shutter button using other hand. I had already framed my shot and since everything is fixed, I don't have to see through the viewfinder to take my shot. That made my job little bit easy to synchronize the timing between dropping the ice on the glass and take a shot. I failed multiple times and finally got this shot which is something closer to what I like.

Summary

  1. Setup your DSLR camera on a tripod.

  2. I recommend shooting in a shutter priority mode and use the camera shutter speed fast enough to freeze the motion of splash. I used 1/2500th of sec.

  3. Frame your photograph in advance and don’t bother to look through viewfinder while taking a shot.

  4. Use wired or wireless shutter release button for a smooth operation.

  5. Use White or gray card to balance the flash if you like and you may want to use one of the external flash unit to give enough light for handling faster shutter speed.

  6. Count the dropping of your ice and click the button exactly when ice falls into ice. You may want to experiment little bit on timing to get a proper shot.

Like I already said, splash photography is more of practice, patience and precision between two actions. You will have to practice a lot to get a perfect shot. This is my first time and I didn't expect to get a great shot but what I got above is something to assure myself that I am going into the right direction.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control

Remote shutter release method will come handy when you want to capture a fireworks, do night photography or any other kind of long exposure shooting where the movement of the camera will be the reason to get blurred image. If you want to trigger the camera shutter remotely, you have two options; one is to use a wired remote shutter release cord and the other one is to use a wireless remote control device. Few months ago, I wrote a blog about Nikon MC-DC2 wired remote shutter release cord and today I want to write about my experience with the wireless remote control device, Nikon ML-L3, to remotely control the shutter release. There are a lot of rumors and speculations about using the wireless remote control but I will express my opinion based on my own experience about the accessory and get your feedback as well.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control

In the past few weeks, I read some reviews about the ML-L3 where reviewers mentioned that it has to have a proper line of sight with the camera IR sensor to trigger the camera shutter remotely otherwise the device won’t work. If you are buying it without knowing this limitation of the IR technology, you might be disappointed with your decision. I think it is a limitation of using any system that works in a Infrared technology that the line of sight is a must for it to work. If the remote is completely out of sight with the camera, it might not work at all but in my experience, I have worked it out by trying from different angle pointing towards the camera. And the other feature that many people are concerned about is it's Autofocus feature. There is no doubt that this remote is able to autofocus the lens before triggering the shutter but it will not re-focus if the shutter release button has already been pressed halfway down to focus the subject. To focus using a wireless remote control, it would be better to compose your shot but do not press the camera's shutter release button half way down to focus it but instead, use the wireless remote control unit.

When you purchase the device, it might not come with the instruction to properly setup and connect the device with the camera. Here is a brief instruction on how to sync your wireless remote control with your DSLR camera.

How to use ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control?

Nikon D90 Top View

Nikon D90 Top View

To setup a wireless remote shutter with the camera, most of the Nikon DSLRs come with the menu option. If you go to the Custom Settings Menu (CSM) with the pencil icon, you will see the Release mode. This is where you can specify which method you want to use to release the shutter button. With the Nikon D90, its even easier than that. D90 and many other new DSLRs come with the release mode button just to the right side of the LCD panel. This button has a set timer icon and a wireless remote icon nearby. While pressing that button, you have to rotate the main command dial to change your release mode option. Nikon D90 gives you four different options when you rotate the command dial. You can choose for a single shot, continuous shooting, shoot in a timer mode or wireless remote mode. Once you change your release mode option to the wireless remote (it will display a wireless remote icon on the LCD), you are ready to use the wireless remote control to trigger the shutter remotely.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control supports Nikon P7000, D3000, D40, D40x, D50, D5000, D60, D70, D7000, D70s, D80 & D90 Digital SLR Cameras.