Photographer and NiSI filter ambassador Jennifer Khordi’s work has made CNN and ABC news, and for good reason. Her striking images of the city of NY juxtaposed against a giant moon or the elements show a rare side of the big apple, one everyone can relate to. As a working mom, brand ambassador for NiSi and Adoramapix as well as the official photographer for Heli flights in NYC, it’s inspirational that she has the time to take such stunning images.
Jennifer was kind of enough to talk to us a bit about her life and her work and what it takes to capture epic pictures like this:
How did you get into photography? Was it something you always wanted to do or was it something that you found out you were good at by accident?
I actually took film pictures back in college and then gave it up for a long period of time to raise a family. I didn’t take pictures for a good sixteen or seventeen years and only recently got back into it like four years ago.
How did that begin? What kind of camera did you get started with?
Finally, I was at a point where my two boys were old enough where I could have some free time of my own again. I started small and bought a Canon T3i and then moved up to a Canon 60D, and finally a Canon 5D Mark III. Those were my first few years back, then probably one year and seven months ago I switched over to Nikon and now I shoot on the new D850. I started getting into “Moon Shots” and that’s what I’m most famous for now, moon shots over New York City. I have a partial moon eclipse behind the statue of liberty that made CNN and ABC news. I took a half-moon/blood-moon shot from 25 miles away from the city in August of 2016… And Cater’s news agency picked it up and then, it got picked up everywhere in Europe in China.
Do you use single/long exposures or multi-shot composites ala HDR for your night shots?
No HDR, what I teach in my lessons and workshops on shooting the moon is one shot. I don’t like HDR for the moon, if you’re taking a proper moon shot you need to learn how to take the image in one shot. However, When you’re shooting the Milky Way you need at least two exposures. But for the moon, as I’m shooting the moon over lit city buildings I can use it in one exposure. The last time I shot we were at ISO 3200 or 2500, 1/40th of a second, with the aperture open as wide as possible. It kind of depends on the wind when taking a shot like that, you can’t shoot the moon for more than a second. The long lenses needed do move and will blur the image, even when you’re stable. Anybody that’s taking long exposures of the moon is not getting good detail.
I love to feature the sky, I love the moon, I love stars. I like to incorporate stars into my images if possible. When I’m taking the Milky Way pictures you have to do each one as a double exposure. Even then it’s a guessing game. I’m not happy with the Milky Way and Rocky shore picture. I was standing in water and it was windy and I wasn’t happy with it. I think the foreground on that one was five minutes and sky was 15 seconds. Even then I should’ve gone for longer, maybe six or seven minutes, but the boulders are really high and dangerous.
How did you become a Nisi Filter representative, and when is it best to use a filter?
NiSi actually found me through my work and asked me if it was something I’d be interested in. I mostly use the S5 filter holder, you can rotate the polarizer as your using it which is an incredibly useful feature and still have an ND sitting on top of it. When I’m shooting water I use the 14-24 circular polarizer and then ND filters over it. That’s mostly when I use them when I’m shooting over or around water.
What’s it like to take aerial images of NYC in a helicopter, is it the same as taking a regular picture, or is it harder?
With the aerial photography, it’s very hard because you have to shoot it very fast. You’re standing up there leaning into the wind with no doors, hanging out of a helicopter and it’s very hard to get a good exposure. You’re shooting at like 1/320th of a second. Shockingly enough some of the best photographs I’ve taken the helicopter had the doors on. Which no one believes, but I had much better exposure through the glass. If you see the very last aerial image I posted online got a lot of shares on Instagram and an ABC news show. It’s hard to get exposure up there, you need an F2.8 or faster, I’ve been up to ISO 8000 up there shooting wide open.
What’s in your camera bag? What kind of gear do you rely on the most?
Currently, I have a Nikon D850, two Nikon D810a’s, which are the astro version and the Nikon D500, that I love. I only shoot the moon with that one. When I’m shooting the moon I’ll take the D500 and put a Sigma 150-600 sports lens with an extender on it, a really old Gitzo-magnesium tripod that weighs about 25 pounds, and a Bh55 tripod head that’s really sturdy.
For regular photography and aerial, I’ll use the D850 with 14-28 2.8 Nikon lens.
Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to talk a bit and share your work with us. Where can we see more of your work, and how can people get it touch with you or learn about how to take one of your workshops?
You can see my work on my FACEBOOK page or on Instagram @jkhordi and honestly the best way to get in touch with me about my workshops is just to go to my website http://www.khordiphotography.com/ and send me a message, and I can tell you what I’ve got coming up, that’s really the easiest way. But I do workshops on how to shoot the moon, milky way workshops and NYC photo tour workshops. I also do Helicopter aerial photography lessons. I give people a lesson before they go up and then I actually control the cockpit, so I’m directing where we’re going and what we’re going to shoot.
Thanks so much to Jennifer for talking to us and sharing some of her incredible images with us, and if you live in the NYC/NJ area don’t hesitate to take your moon and milky pictures to the next level by taking one of her workshops. Again, you can contact her here.