This Used to be an Impossible Photograph
Photographer Sergey Dolya had the unique opportunity last month to ride a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker to the North Pole. During his voyage, he captured some incredible images with the help of his professional-level Nikon D3X digital SLR camera and a Nikon FX 12-24mm F/2.8G lens.
The following image, taken by Dolya on October 21, 2013, is spectacular for obvious reasons, but what is not so obvious is that this image would have been impossible to take just a few years ago.
With very little light, Dolya had limited options to capture a sharp and properly-exposed image such as this.
Firstly, the shutter speed needed to be fast enough in order for the camera to be held by hand while shooting from a helicopter. This image was taken at a 15mm focal length while using a 1/100th of a second shutter speed. At that focal length, 1/100 of a second is fast enough for most people to capture a sharp image by hand.
Secondly, Dolya took advantage of his low focal length lens and and shot this image wide open. That is, he took this image at the lowest F-stop available in order to let as much light in as possible, in this case F/2.8.
F/2.8 at 1/100 is not a problem for many cameras, but the third, and most important factor is the ISO level. Dolya shot at ISO 2800, which essentially means that the light sensitivity of digital sensor within the camera was greatly increased in order to absorb as much light as possible within the 1/100th second that the shutter was opened.
In the past, an increase in ISO level meant grainy and noisy images, however a few years ago, companies like Nikon and Canon broke the code so-to-speak on how to eliminate these issues and enable photographers like Dolya to take beautiful images like this one.
See the rest of his spectacular photos here
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