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Nikon Beginner’s Handbook

2 great ways to learn! PLus! read our guides • watch the videos


Advanced Handbook Expert guide to improving your photography

224 pages

12 expert video lessons Get more out of your Nikon DSLR todaY

● Get more from your

Nikon SLR camera

● Step-by-step tutorials ● Learn to master flash

and filters

● Creative projects to

try – indoors and out

● Pro masterclasses


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198 Master wedding shots 46 Use histograms for perfect exposure

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67 Make a splash with high-speed flash

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Nikon Advanced Handbook

148 Try a slow shutter


Outdoor camera skills Broaden your horizons

Master flash 8

Fill faces with flash


Say hi to a bluer sky!


What is Auto FP?


Shoot beautiful spring flowers


Spotlight on snoots


Control bright skies


Go slow with flash


Shoot sunsets successfully


Perfect the strobist look


Get multiple exposures


Make bounce flash easy


Take it slow with seascapes


Ring flowers with light


Get your landscapes sharp


Shoot stunning studio portraits


Fill the frame with flowers


CTO is go!


Shoot movies


Put speed into a shot


Discover the drama of black and white


Freeze action with flash


Automate your ISO


The pop-up way to strobist drama


Use histograms for perfect exposure


Nature photography masterclasses

Indoor photo projects Shine a bright light on things


Spin your own Spirograph effect


Backlight your macro


Copy old prints and slides


Get the blues with UV light


Shoot for the stars!


Make a splash with high-speed flash


Go crazy with colour


Specialist photo masterclasses

Get started with fine art nudes


Fantastic light trails

Magnify your subject


Pedal to the metal

Set the mode for U!


Food glorious food!

Get rich with reds



If you go down to the woods Close encounters of the natural kind Whatever the weather Take it real slow

Shooting steam trains

112 124 136 148

162 174 186 198 210

On your disc Disc contents


174 Shoot motorsport like a pro

Nikon Advanced Handbook



Nikon Advanced Handbook

Broaden your horizons


Say hi to a bluer sky!


Shoot beautiful spring flowers


Control bright skies


Shoot sunsets successfully


Get multiple exposures


Take it slow with seascapes


How to get your landscapes sharp


Fill the frame with flowers!


Shoot movies


Discover the drama of black and white


Automate your ISO


Use histograms for perfect exposure


Nikon Advanced Handbook


Outdoor camera skills

the mission

■ Shoot milky seascapes with long shutter speeds at dusk

time needed ■ 3 hours

Kit needed ■ Nikon D-SLR ■ Tripod ■ ND filter ■ ND grad filter ■ Cable release ■ Lens cloth

Take it slow with seascapes To get classic pictures at the coast, you need to take things slow, with a long shutter speed. Chris George reveals how you can big up the blur Timing is key to shooting great seascapes. You need to be there at the right time of day, but just as important is the timing of the exposure. For a raging, stormy sea, a fast shutter speed can be appropriate, but with calmer waters, the best approach is to take it slow. Very slow. Shutter speeds that are seconds long turn even the gentlest waters into a smooth, silky blur, and the expanse of water takes on a milky white appearance that contrasts with the static rocks. All landscapes will tend to look their best if you get up at first light, or stay out until dusk. But these dimmer parts of the day are particularly appropriate for milky seascapes,

and the low light will give you longer exposures than shooting in the middle of the day. However, a little bit of blur in the water isn’t enough to give you the effect you want, which means you either need to shoot after sunset or just before dawn, when the only light is reflected from the sky. Alternatively, give your camera a helping hand by fitting an ND (neutral density) filter. These dark grey filters (not to be muddled up with graduated neutral density filters, or ND grads) block a percentage of the light

entering the camera and enable you to use shutter speeds that are seconds long, even in the middle of the day. ND filters are available in a variety of strengths. A three-stop ND will increase a shutter speed of 1/4 sec to 2 secs. A 10-stop ND will increase a 1/4 sec exposure to a full four minutes! As these filters make your camera’s viewfinder very dark, they aren’t the easiest accessories to use, but our step-by-step guide will show you how to make sure you always come home with a great seascape.

Shutter speeds that are seconds long turn even the gentlest waters into a smooth, silky blur, and the expanse of water takes on a milky white appearance that contrasts with the rocks

Step by step Tame the seas with a super-long shutter speed Get your settings and location right and you’ll be able to capture stunning long-exposure seascapes Preparation is vital when it comes to shooting seascapes. You need to do your homework (or know the area well) if you’re going to be in the right place at the right time. And as you’re working on difficult terrain in low light, you need to have all your kit ready with the right settings to ensure you don’t waste any exposures. Shaky shots and wonky horizons are a risk for us all, but if you do all the right pre-shot checks, you’ll be able to minimise the chance of these mistakes occurring.


Nikon Advanced Handbook

01 Pick your location

Ideally you need somewhere where you can get down near the water as it breaks over the shore. You also need the sun to be low in the sky so it picks out the rocks. For all this information, try a program or app that lets you work out the best time, date and spot to head to. LightTrac, which costs £2.99 for iPad, iPhone and Android phones, is a good choice.

02 Watch the tide

It’s no good just turning up at dusk or dawn – you need to check the tides. As a rule, these shots look better if the tide is going out because this ensures that the wet rocks glisten, but you also need the water to be high enough to break against your chosen rocks. UK photographers can visit to check the tides online.

Outdoor camera skills

ON YOUR free disc

See page 224 for more information

Nikon Advanced Handbook


Outdoor camera skills

the mission ■ Make the most of monochrome photography

time needed ■ 2 hours

Kit needed

■ Nikon D-SLR ■ Kit lens ■ Tripod (optional)

Discover the drama of black and white Sometimes you need to see the world in black and white! Rod Lawton gets back to basics with his Nikon D-SLR’s Monochrome Picture Control We see the world in colour, we respond to colours and today’s Nikon D-SLRs can reproduce colour with amazing fidelity and depth. So why shoot in black and white? Black-and-white photography can be used to give pictures an ‘antique’ look, but it has creative benefits too. The lack of colour means it’s already one step removed from reality, so that people are more likely to look at the way you’ve made the photograph and less likely to be distracted by the

If you remove colour, it becomes much easier to explore lines and tones

subject matter itself. Also, if you remove colour from the equation, it becomes much easier to explore shapes, lines and tones and turn them into satisfying compositions. This is where your Nikon D-SLR can help you. It has a Monochrome Picture Control which turns your photographs into black and white and can help you visualise the world as shades of grey. We went to Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds to show how this works. The gritty textures and simple shapes made a great subject for black and white, even on a dull and overcast day. Apart from changing the camera’s Picture Control, shooting black and white is technically no different to

shooting colour. What you do have to change, rather than settings, is how you ‘see’ and compose your pictures. Monochrome photography depends on shapes, tones and textures, but most of us are attracted by colour, so it takes a little while to learn how to switch this off – you have to change the mode in your head as well as the one on your camera! The simplest shapes often make the best subjects, and you should make the most of contrasts in both tone and lighting. Finally, don’t expect to get every image perfect in-camera. Even the greatest monochromeshooting photographers needed a little help in the darkroom…

Step by step Setting the tone Your Nikon’s Monochrome mode doesn’t just save time later… Why set the camera to mono mode when you can simply convert a regular colour image into black and white on the computer? It’s because you need a black-andwhite ‘eye’ to shoot good monochromatic shots in the first place, and being able to see the results on the spot is a huge advantage. Shots that work in colour don’t necessarily convert well to black and white, but if you only shoot in colour you won’t find out how they convert until you get home, when it’s too late.


Nikon Advanced Handbook

01 Go Mono

Your Nikon’s Picture Controls don’t change any of the camera’s key exposure or focus settings, but they do alter the way the image is processed. With the Monochrome Picture Control selected, your shots will be displayed in black and white (note that it’s best to shoot in RAW – see the sidebar overleaf).

02 Try a tripod

A tripod is not essential, but putting your camera on one does leave your hands free to experiment with the camera settings and the Picture Control options. If you use the viewfinder to compose your shots, you’ll still see the scene in full colour, but when the picture appears on the LCD on the back of your Nikon it’s in black and white.

Outdoor camera skills

FebruaryNikon 2014 Advanced Handbook 41


Master flash

QUICK TIP! Man y ri ng fl ash un i ts have a bu il tin mode ll in g la mp th a t sh in es an LED on th e su bj ec t an d he lp s you au to focu s ac cu ra te ly, ev en in low li gh t

Ring flowers with light If you want to give a lift to your macro shots, you need a flashgun that’s attached to your camera’s lens. Chris George explains how to choose and use a ring flash

the mission

■ Learn how to use ring flash for close-ups

time needed ■ 20 minutes

Kit needed

■ D-SLR ■ Macro lens ■R ing flash ■ Filter ring adaptor

Even on a sunny day, a flashgun is a useful accessory for the close-up photographer. As you carefully frame flowers and butterflies with your macro lens, it’s all too easy for you and your camera to cast a shadow across the very thing you want to shoot. What’s more, the flash gives you more scope to use the narrow apertures that will ensure you get enough depth of field to keep the whole subject sharp. Unfortunately, pop-up flash or a high-power hotshoe gun is of little help. When you’re up close with an

ordinary flash, the lens itself casts a shadow across the picture. The solution is to use a specialist macro flashgun known as a ring flash, with the flash tubes attaching to the front of the lens. This means there are no problems with shadows created by the camera. The unit also creates even lighting to maximise detail and colour in the subject. Ring flashes aren’t just for keen nature-watchers, though – they’re a must-have for many medical and scientific photographers. You’ll often see them in the hands of

A genuine ring flash uses a circular flash tube to provide even lighting around the subject, and it will create doughnut-shaped catchlights in your subjects’ eyes if you use it for portraits 96

Nikon Advanced Handbook

the forensic stars of TV’s CSI, or in orthodontists’ surgeries. There are two types available. A genuine ring flash uses a circular flash tube to provide even lighting around the subject. The advantage is that it creates doughnut-shaped catchlights in eyes if you use it for portraits. The alternative is a twin-flash design, which uses two small flash tubes on opposite sides of the lens. These usually have large, semi-circular diffusers to mimic the all-round lighting of a genuine ring flash. The advantage is that you can vary each tube’s output independently, so you can create a sidelit effect that can look better than the flat lighting of a genuine ring flash. Now let’s see how ring flashes should be used…

Master flash STEP BY STEP One ring flash to rule them all A specialist macro flash will light up the smallest subjects in an even-handed way

01 Ring flash anatomy

Most ring flashes have four components. The capacitor and control unit fit onto the hotshoe of your camera. Via a lead, they link to the circular unit containing the flash tubes and a diffuser. The flash tube clips onto the front of the lens using a screw-in adaptor.

03 Power up

Ring flashes have a guide number of about 15 (m/ISO100), so are no more powerful than pop-up flashes. However, because they’re used much closer to the subject, this is more than enough power to let you use the small apertures that are needed for many macro pictures.

02 Evenly does it

Typically, macro ring flashes have two tubes – one on each side of the lens, behind semi-circular diffusers. These can be set to provide the same amount of lighting, providing shadowless illumination of the subject that’s just in front of the lens.

04 Vary the ratio

WATCH THE BACKDROp ■ When you’re shooting flowers at an ultra-close range, you have very little depth of field, even if you use a narrow aperture such as f/22. Therefore, choose the spot that you focus on with care! Irritatingly, backgrounds can be distracting even if they’re out of focus, so watch out for these too. Look for an angle that gives you a uniform, uncluttered backdrop to shoot your close-up study against.

As you would expect, you can vary the power of a ring flash automatically or manually. However, you can also alter the strength of the two tubes independently. Using a ratio of 4:1, say, rather than 1:1, will give your images a more three-dimensional lighting effect.

Top tips Pick the perfect ring flash Ring flashes aren’t all the same – here’s what to look out for…

01 Twin flash

04 Wireless flash

Most portable ring flashes use a twin-flash tube arrangement. Examples include the Sigma EM-140 DG and Nissin MF18.

Metz’s Mecablitz 15 MS-1 has the capacitor and controls built into the flash. It’s fired using your pop-up flash in Commander mode.

02 Adaptors

Ring flashes come with a limited range of adaptors. Make sure you get one that fits on the filter ring of your macro lens.

03 Circular flash

The Sunpak Auto 16R Pro and budget Marumi DRF14 have circular flash tubes. These give nice catchlights when used for portraits.

05 Pure luxury

Nikon doesn’t make a ring flash, but has a wireless twin-flash system – the R1C1. With the commander, this costs £599 ($750).

Nikon Advanced Handbook


Master flash

the mission ■ Learn the basics of studio lighting

time needed

■ 2 hours (30 minutes for each lighting setup)

Kit needed

■ Nikon D-SLR ■ Home studio flash kit ■ Reflector

Shoot stunning studio portraits Want to shoot professional-looking portraits? Ben Brain shows you how to get to grips with a basic home studio kit Studio lighting can seem daunting if you’ve never tried it before. However, it’s not nearly as scary as most people think. By using a simple home studio kit with just a couple of flash heads and a few basic accessories, you can get great results in no time at all. In fact, it’s arguably easier to use a studio lighting setup than a Nikon Speedlight. We’re using a two-head Elinchrom D-Lite it 2 Studio 2 Go studio flash kit here,

but there are plenty of other options to choose from that will suit any budget. We’ll take you through some of the standard kit you need, and show you four great lighting setups for shooting studio portraits, with the help of our beautiful model, Jade. While these are a great starting point, it’s best to experiment, so if you’re working in you’re own home studio don’t be afraid to tweak these setups. Now let’s get started and see how it’s done!

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN Four amazing lighting setup techniques

1: Rembrandt 98

Nikon Advanced Handbook

2: Clamshell

3: Backlight

4: Rim lighting

Master flash

Nikon Advanced Handbook


If you go down to the woods


There is more than one approach to taking stunning shots of the Scottish scenery, as our pro Niall Benvie reveals when he takes an apprentice to Gannochy Gorge to learn fresh new ways of shooting landscapes

Close encounters of the natural kind


Discover macro magician Ross Hoddinott’s secrets for shooting super-sharp close-ups of wild flowers, lichen and butterflies as he reveals them to his apprentice for the day on a nature shoot in Cornwall

Whatever the weather


If you are serious about photographing landscapes, rain need never stop play! Pro John Gravett of Lakeland Photographic Holidays in Cumbria shows his apprentice how to get great shots despite the wet weather

Take it real slow


There’s an art to taking long exposure monochrome landscape photos. Fine art photographer Jonathan Chritchley explains the compositional skills and technical tricks involved to his apprentice for the day in Biarritz


Nikon Advanced Handbook

Nikon Advanced Handbook


Nature photography masterclasses

hot shot #01 EXPOSURE 5 secs, f/11, ISO400 LENS Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR + 10-stop ND filter

the pro’s Killer Kit #01 NIKON MC-36 Jonathan says…

Although I use high shutter speeds for my sailing work, my landscape shots are almost always taken with exposures that are seconds, if not minutes, long. To do this you need to use your camera’s B (or Bulb) setting, which enables you to lock the shutter open for as long as you want. You can time these intervals with your wristwatch, or with the stopwatch on your phone, but this multifunction remote release has a built-in timer that does it all for you.


Nikon Advanced Handbook

OUR APPRENTICE says… Jonathan and I had met the afternoon before at Biarritz airport, so we had plenty of chance to talk photography. But now it was time for action, and an early morning start. Jonathan has lived in Les Landes on the French Atlantic coast for 14 years, so knew plenty of great spots… but with so many lakes and miles of sandy beaches, good sites for photography didn’t look too hard to find. Our first stop was a lake that looked like it was used for pedalos during the day – and Jonathan explained that the first challenge was to avoid getting swan-shaped boats in your shots! The pontoon made a great subject for my first longshutter speed seascape, as I got to grips with the different steps you had to get through to get a successful shot with the virtually-opaque neutral density filter that Jonathan had lent me. I was amazed at how much calmer the water appeared with the long exposure, and how much more distinct the shadows of the pier had become.

Now you see it…

Jonathan showed Maria one of the virtually-opaque ND filters he uses for his photographs. This slot-in Lee Filters Big Stopper cuts light reaching the sensor by a full ten stops.

Nature photography masterclasses

10 tips for using a 10-stop ND filter


Because you can’t see through a strong ND filter, they are not the easiest accessory to use. Here’s Jonathan’s system for ensuring sharp shots:

01 02

Set your ISO to 100 (or the lowest that your model of camera allows).

Set your exposure mode to Manual (M), and set the shutter speed to the B (or Bulb) setting.



Set the aperture to f/11. Depth of field is rarely an issue in super-slow shots, as only the main focus of the picture needs to be sharp. The rest will be blurred anyway because of the long exposure.

04 05

EXPERT INSIGHT ■ The secret to getting strong abstract monochrome scenes is to be punctilious with the composition before you get out the ND filter. Jonathan recommends a minimalist approach, with just the one key element shown, and then to frame this with plenty of space around it. Vary camera height and position simplify the composition; in the first shot here, the pier merges messily into the horizon. By extending the tripod to get a higher vantage point, the pier appears surrounded by the water.


Composition is also critical when you’re taking a monochrome landscape shot, and Maria got advice from Jonathan on positioning her D7000 so the water and jetty would look their best when shot in black and white.

Frame up the image using a solid tripod; check composition carefully.

Focus on the focal point of the picture using autofocus. I keep the AF beep on, to reassure myself the lens has focused. If dark, I use a torch to light up the spot I want the lens to focus on.


Turn the switch on the camera body from AF to MF. This means that the focus is now locked (but be careful not to touch the focusing ring on the lens!).


Take a test picture and check the histogram to ensure parts of the image are not blown out. Note the shutter speed that gives you the ideal exposure.


Put the neutral density filter on the front of the lens. An 8-stop or 10-stop filter is ideal (an ND2.4 or ND3).


Use tables or an iPhone app (see p14) to convert the shutter speed in step 7 to the one you’ll need with the picture.


Fire the shutter with a cable release. Time the exposure using a watch or smartphone app, then close the shutter with the remote.

the pro’s kit bag Tripod required

With such long exposures a tripod is essential, but in addition to its stability it allows you to fine-tune the composition in successive shots until you are completely happy.

Jonathan’s backpack is stuffed full of high-quality glass for getting his beautiful imagery. He uses the these lenses with his D3x and D3: ■ Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR ■ Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ■ Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR ■ Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8

Nikon Advanced Handbook


Pedal to the metal Shooting fast-paced motorsport is a challenge, but with the right kit and by following the expert advice from pro Adam Duckworth, you can get great shots just like his apprentice did‌


Nikon Advanced Handbook

Name David Warren Camera Nikon D200 ■ David comes from Molesey in Surrey. He’s a big VW fan and has already taken shots at meets and the Santa Pod Raceway, Northamptonshire. He was looking forward to perfecting his motorsport skills at Brands Hatch, with help from our pro. We also brought along a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 for him to try!

Name Adam Duckworth Camera Nikon D4 ■ Adam’s an award-winning sports photographer and photojournalist who’s worked for many newspapers and magazines. He’s a motorsport specialist, and started his career covering motocross. He’s ridden more than a few laps around Brands Hatch himself, as it turns out! Find out more about Adam and his work at

Nikon Advanced Handbook


Weddings If you’re ready to make money from your images, wedding photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith reveals how to take natural portraits for couples to treasure (and even to pay for!)


Nikon Advanced Handbook

Name Kate Hopewell-Smith Camera Nikon D3s & D800 ■ Kate’s love of photography started when she gave up her job in marketing to start a family. She turned pro following instruction by the world-renowned Aspire Photography Training. She is now one of the UK’s top wedding and portrait photographers, and is back at Aspire as one of their regular tutors. For her portfolio and for details of her one-to-one tutoring services, see her website:

Name Viv King Camera Nikon D300 ■ Viv got into photography in 2005 while living in the Netherlands – she bought a D70s for her husband, but ended up using it herself. Now based in the Wirral and with a young son, she has already shot six weddings for friends with her own D300. She turned to us for help with the view of turning her pastime into a part-time profession that she can combine with being a full-time mum.

Nikon Advanced Handbook


Photography Handbook 06 (Sampler)  

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