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Dark Sky

Learning by doing

Practical tips for camera work

Over the past lockdown period I have attended a lot on on-line events. Occasionally an image or a thought stays with me . One that resonated with me came back in April from Mick Durham FRPS, Distinctions Natural History Panel Chair.

"Know your camera - modern cameras are extremely complicated but it pays to know how to handle it ‘with your eyes closed’."

This resonated with me for a number of reasons. A lot of my photography past and present has been conducted in near or total darkness. Here it is less the fact that you have your eyes closed, it is that there is little or no light to see by.

Product development of high speed camera films meant getting used to working in zero lighting. It is a skill that remains with me to this day but still requires practicing to maintain. Manipulating 50x60cm sheets of photographic glass plates in near darkness is not a trivial exercise.

I still gain the benefit of a background in darkroom work. I now enjoy twilight photography and the ability to use a camera in near darkness is a real benefit. This issue came home to me when my familiar Nikon D70 wore out and I replaced it with a D750. I found myself learning again and on a camping trip to the Wye Valley found myself under a deep dark sky, a real contrast to my home location. The constellation of Cassiopeia beckoned overhead and became a good test of my familiarity with the D750. Know your camera.

Tech bits. Image is a single shot at ISO 1000 through a 60mm Nikkor lens set to f/2.8.  15 second exposure.

The D70 is only resting. It is in a cupboard awaiting a second life, possibly as a cooled infra-red unit.