Mastering Natural Light
A mastery of shooting natural light is one the most defining characteristics and skills of nature photographers. It’s also one of the most challenging, a skillset that can take many forms and years of refining.
Each photographer’s mastery of light is completely unique to them, informed by the environment and landscapes they choose to explore. Shooting the natural beauty of aurora borealis, for example, will require significantly different expertise to a photographer capturing sun rays across a rural vista or perfecting a shot of a swarm of fireflies.
Experiencing Light with the Nikon Z 7
There’s just 16mm between the mount and the camera’s full-frame image sensor, meaning more light can reach the sensor. This, combined with 45.7 MP of full-frame imaging power, the EXPEED 6 image processor, 493 focus points and 4k video capabilities creates the potential to work magic with light.
This is why photographers can capture light like never before.
And we wanted to demonstrate just what this means…
The Pursuit of Light
To demonstrate the exploration of various forms of light across the natural environment, we reached out to some of the leading photographers across Europe and asked them to show us the ways in which light creates truly breath-taking imagery.
From the villages of rural Japan to the fjords of Western Norway, the photographers’ pursuits spanned the globe. Follow #PursuitOfLight on Instagram over the coming weeks to see the stunning images they’ve produced using the Z 7. Three of the eight participating photographers have shared their experiences with us below.
A Japanese Dream with Daniel Kordan
Renowned photographer Daniel Kordan grew up exploring wild nature in a beautiful lake region close to Moscow. He studied at the Institute of Physics and Technology, gaining experience not only in science but in the natural world; in mountain climbing, guiding tourist groups in winter and summer, and in the beauty and variety of nature’s colours and compositions.
With his work published in everything from National Geographic to Photoworld China, Daniel’s Pursuit of Light took him to rural Japan. Journeying from Fuji-san, where he hiked above Kawaguchiko lake, he went into the deep countryside of the Japanese alps, to Kiso valley, before heading to Shirakawa-go and Ainokura, to capture the ‘blue hour’ in local farmers’ villages.
Commenting on the experience, Daniel noted: “Shooting in deep snow with cold temperatures was a great test for the Z 7. The lightweight combination of this and the NIKKOR Z 24–70mm f/4 S delivered exceptional dynamic range and sharpness – generally I use apertures f/8 – f/9 for landscapes, and the f/4 lens gave me excellent sharpness all across the frame. The dynamic range was such that I could capture the bright village lights and darker ambience in one image. And this was all on one battery charge per day – despite shooting stills and video in temperatures as low as -15c.”
Daniel continues: “During my Pursuit of Light, it became clear how in touch with nature many Japanese communities still are. I photographed a lot inside temples, where tripods are prohibited. For this image, I used the Z 7 and NIKKOR Z 24–70mm f/4 S handheld and, thanks to the wide mount and built-in 5-axis image stabilization, I captured enough light at 1/20s, f/8, ISO 500. I used f/8 to have both the fireplace and light rays/background in depth of field and balancing at ISO 500 gave me a perfect image quality. 1/20s is far beyond the usual limit I shoot handheld but, because of wider mount and stabilization, the Z 7 enabled me to capture this with clarity.”
Natural Wonder with Lina Kayser
Based in Bergen, Norway, Lina’s passion lies in the Arctic and the fragile life within the surrounding geographies. Her photography might revolve around cold, remote locations but it often incorporates a sense of warmth and life.
Regularly shooting in Iceland, Lofoten and Northern Norway, Svalbard and the Faroe Islands, Lina’s Pursuit of Light took her to the fjords of Western Norway.
Surrounded by dramatic landscapes, with towering mountains, raging rivers and powerful waterfalls, Lina felt this was an inspiring location for this shoot. During the winter, there is heavy cloud cover so Lina’s Pursuit saw her track subtle light shadings and textures across the landscape and capture rare moments of sunlight breaking through.
Lina explains: “I often shoot in poor light and in cold, snowy and rainy weather – that means every moment counts. With the Z 7, I was able to adjust my settings fast without putting the camera down. The build and grip of the camera feel very ergonomic and the buttons are easy to navigate; that means I can quickly tune the shutter, aperture and ISO with ease, so I’m able to work at speed when the light is changing.”
Lina continues: “On hikes I like to carry as little weight as possible and prefer not to pack a tripod. The Z 7’s built-in stabiliser made it easier to shoot handheld in low-light. Even at the lowest aperture, the images are sharp from corner to corner and the ISO range, 64-25600 (expandable to 102400), is amazing. What’s more, the electronic viewfinder gives a live preview of the photos with the selected settings – allowing me to better combat the difficult Nordic conditions to get the shots I wanted.”
Lost in Atmosphere with Mikko Lagerstedt
“Capturing emotion of places through photographs.” Mikko Lagerstedt is a self-taught fine art photographer from Finland who captures nightscapes and atmospheric landscape photography.
Mikko’s Pursuit of Light took him to the coast of Southern Finland. Visiting Emäsalo, Loviisa, and Inkoo, he used the light to his advantage, searching for creative ways to use it in his images.
Commenting on the project: “Using the Z 7 mirrorless camera, I was able to capture landscape photographs with real atmosphere. Even in the middle of the night the camera made it easy: the 6400 ISO setting I used worked perfectly, while the manual focus was very effective in the dark – you can trace the stars with ease, via the viewfinder and high ISO settings.”
“And while the NIKKOR Z 24–70mm f/4 S, sitting wide on the Z 7’S mount, is an excellent lens for capturing such photographs, the FTZ adapter meant I was also able to use my other favourite NIKKOR lenses when I wanted.”
Additional photography equipment used
In addition to the Nikon Z 7, each photographer used the NIKKOR Z 24–70mm f/4 S. This compact zoom lens delivers true full-frame images.
A minimum focus distance of just 0.3m throughout the zoom range puts the photographer in control of the frame—from close-up to infinity. The constant f/4 aperture, meanwhile, ensures exceptional low-light performance, and consistent exposure across the entire zoom range.
For more information on the equipment, visit: https://www.nikon.co.uk/en_GB/product/digital-cameras/mirrorless/professional/z-7