Over Easter weekend, Alec Johnson visited Bandon Beach in Oregon for the first time to shoot some new work for his portfolio. "What an incredible landscape; the sea stacks are of course the highlight, but I had a 7-foot high tide to contend with and... you guessed it... plenty of clouds. Two of the most popular sea stacks on the beach are known as 'Wizard's Hat' and 'Face Rock' seen in the image above.
"Beaches can be beautiful places to sunbathe, but they can also be visually mundane. Bandon's unusual sea stacks provide plenty of visual interest and story for a landscape photographer. The sea stacks are erosional, carved from sandstone and marking former positions of the coastline. The sandstone is part of the Otter Point Formation -- a belt of rock running along the southern Oregon coast formed somewhere offshore and later added to the continent through a number of geologic processes.
"Bandon's high tides provided a constantly changing compositional puzzle. At high tide that day, around 1:30 pm, many of the typical foreground elements disappeared below the water level and the area of surf became quite large. That's when I would use my longer 24-70mm lens fitted with my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer plus 7 additional stops of Singh-Ray ND Filters to slow the shutter speeds down to nearly a minute and create surreal mid-day motion blur.
"When color is an important feature of the subject, I shoot the subject in color. However, when heavy clouds soften the light and create a nearly monochrome landscape like Bandon Beach, then I immediately begin to shoot for black and white. The Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer works much like the color filters that photogtaphers once used with their black and white film. One of the magical results produced by this filter is the additional depth and dimensionality it gives my subject matter. As I view the image above, I can really feel a three-dimensional quality to the twin stacks that I am able to achieve only when using the Gold-N-Blue.
"Bandon Beach offers many compositional choices. I find that I can continue to shoot through soft light and dull skies if I can recognize the potential impact that black and white brings to these scenes. To capture the intricacy and detail of the stacks which has formed over the millennium, I used the Gold-N-Blue to give my raw images a heavy bias toward magenta and red, with a hint of blue for the sky. This enables me to achieve a greater richness in tonality without introducing unwanted noise in the blue color channel.
"The two images above illustrate the raw file I start with -- just as it was shot in-camera -- and the black and white image I was able to produce in monochrome. Notice the rich tonality in the black and white image. I was able to create movement through the image using light and dark quarter-tones which move the eye from front to back of the image.
"As can be seen in most of these images, the landscape opportunities at Bandon Beach involve working with repeated shapes and strong lines. Lines provide movement and rhythm. The repeating shapes provide a way to tie together various spaces in the image, in essence creating visual continuity throughout the frame. Bandon Beach, like so many landscapes, reveals repetition of shape as a result of the geologic forces in play.
"You'll want to get into the surf for more dynamic compositions, so be sure to bring your rubber boots. Two and a half days was not nearly enough time at Bandon Beach, but I was grateful to have that much time and to be able to make the best use of the existing conditions to shoot dynamic, rich black and white photography -- thanks to my Gold-N-Blue Polarizer"
Alec Johnson is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Saint Paul, MN. You can view more of his fine art landscape photography online at these links.
acjohnsonphoto.com | blog | videos | facebook
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Outdoor photographer Iris Greenwell discovered Singh-Ray ND Grads and the ColorCombo early in her career
Born and raised in Panama, Iris Greenwell now operates her own photography business in Ft. Worth, Texas and takes on frequent freelance assignments in Texas and Oklahoma. One of the projects she recently completed for Oklahoma Today Magazine was to help photograph the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in south-central Oklahoma in Sulphur.
"I mainly wanted to feature the most well-known springs, lakes and forests -- recording their changes in the different seasons. Since I was living in Southern Oklahoma at that time, I did several trips to the park during different times of the day. Finally, the chosen images were published in a twenty-six-page portfolio in the March/April 2013 edition of Oklahoma Today.
"In order to follow the specific guidelines from the editor, I needed to be sure to make all my adjustments in the camera and to use raw files as my file format. In order to get large, high-quality files, I used my Canon EOS 5D Mark II and three Canon lenses -- the 17-40 mm lens, the 50 mm lens, 24-105 mm lens -- plus a Tamron 200-500 mm lens. Moreover, I knew it would be very important to use my Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo Polarizer to control reflections and the Galen Rowell 2-stop soft-step and 3-stop hard-step ND Grads to get better control of the wide dynamic range that would occur in many of my exposures. I began using Singh-Ray filters after taking an online course with well-known landscape photographer William Neill.
"In order to capture the reflection on both the Travertine Creek (image at the top of this story) and Beaver Pond (below), I needed to arrive early in the morning on days when there was little or no wind to have the bright blue sky smoothly reflected in the water. To control the glare on the water, I used the ColorCombo and rotated the control ring until I got the intensity in colors I wanted while also holding the details on the reflections.
"Whenever I photographed the Veterans and Arbuckle lakes, I used the Singh-Ray ND Grads. The ND 2G-SS and 3G-HS were used to control the light between the sky and the water creating a more cohesive scene. For example, before a storm on the Veterans Lake (below), the sky was too bright, and the Galen Rowell ND filters balanced the exposure to retain more details and maintain the texture of the clouds. I used the hard-step graduated filter because I can line it up with the horizon line and get a precise transition.
In addition to operating her own photography business in Ft. Worth, Texas, Iris enjoys freelance work. Among her career achievements, she has received a number of awards in juried art shows and exhibits. She is member of Professional Photographers of America and has been a frequent guest speaker in Oklahoma and Texas.
Website | FineArtAmerica
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
There's a good reason North Carolina landscape photographer Peyton Hale makes sure his Singh-Ray filters are always in his bag. “I just can’t work without my LB Warming Polarizer,” says Hale. "For example, during my January photo trip to the ‘Boneyard Beach’ area in South Carolina'a Lowcountry, my filters were essential to capturing the fantastic light.
“Most of my photo trips involve extensive planning and several days to adequately document the area, but this was a more spontaneous adventure. I just decided to take a gamble based on an optimistic weather report and favorable tide information. I drove about 5 hours through the night to the unique coastal area known as Edisto Island. I arrive about an hour before I could access the area, so I took a nap in the front seat of my Jeep Wrangler. I awoke on my third iPhone alarm realizing the gate was already open and the sky was beginning to show an intense orange glow at the horizon. I quickly took off down the access road to the parking area, grabbed my photo gear, and hoofed it down to the beach. The cloud cover was textbook, I couldn’t have asked for the variables to come together more perfectly. I had the entire place to myself and 20 minutes before sunrise everything was developing nicely.”
"OK folks, here's a little natural history for you. The trees lining this portion of the Atlantic coastline are derelict live oaks that have been battered by high tides and hurricanes for decades, yet they’re still holding strong against nature’s wrath. Unfortunately these trees are succumbing to beach erosion and will eventually be reclaimed by the sea. Looking at images from the area over the past few years reveals a grim story of root exposure along with the impact of storms significantly shifting trees that have recently fallen into the water. As amazing as this location is, time is running out for us to enjoy it.
"As I made my way down to the beach, the area opened up to reveal many tree silhouettes and the color began to intensify over the water. I quickly grabbed my gear and started setting up, trying to spy some solid compositions.
"This location works exceptionally well to use these trees as silhouettes against a dramatic sky. First and foremost, I wanted my LB Warming Polarizer to cut the glare off the wet surfaces and aid in slowing down the exposure for a smoother look to the water. With the intensity of the color and the light coming from the horizon, I knew I was going to need to use one of my ND Grads. After spot metering with the camera, I selected my 3-stop Reverse ND Grad to balance the brightest light from the sky which ran right along the horizon.”
"I ran between the individual trees, changing my compositions frequently while fearing that this amazing light would fizzle off too quickly. Fortunately the conditions lasted for about 30 minutes, letting me feature various trees along the beach silhouetted against such remarkable light. Once the color began to fade and the adrenaline of the moment began to settle, I had a few minutes to reflect on my time spent in this unique location and just how lucky I had been to have everything come together to create such great shooting conditions. I also realized I would have not been able to capture these moments without using my Singh-Ray filters.”
Peyton is picking up from the east coast and heading to his new home in the Pacific Northwest this summer and will be embarking on a new adventure to capture the scenery that region has to offer. You can follow Peyton’s photography on his website or through social media including Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Canadian outdoor photographer Dave Hutchison is now based in Sidney on the southern end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. About 5 years ago he became quite interested in outdoor photography "when I realized I'm living in one of the world's most scenic areas. I am now striving to promote nature conservation through my outdoor photography, and I am also discovering the benefits of using Singh-Ray filters for optimum results when shooting landscapes.
"I first discovered the importance of using Singh-Ray Graduated ND filters (ND Grads) to produce landscape images with just the right balance between nature's bright skies and shadowy foregrounds. More recently, I've discovered that my Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo is equally important to almost all of my outdoor photography. Whether I'm shooting in a soggy wet forest, near a waterfall, or anywhere in the wide-open spaces, the polarizer built into my ColorCombo blocks harsh reflections and improves color saturation. At the same time, the LB Color Intensifier in the ColorCombo gently strengthens the green and earth tones in the image just enough to keep everything looking 'naturally natural.'
"The LB ColorCombo provides the lighter, brighter color and contrast that my customers want as a souvenir from the West Coast. Now 'permanently' fixed on my Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 lens, I set my LB ColorCombo for the look and feel I would like to see in the sky and water. With consistently bright skies (even at sunset or sunrise), I use my Singh-Ray ND Grads to 'hold back' the sky -- enabling me to add 'light' to an often dark foreground. When the ND grads are used with the LB color combo, the results can be stunning. Depending on the image (ie. fast moving water) I can often have a single image in the camera that needs little post processing. The photo above was taken at Torrweep, Grand Canyon NP and the image below is from North Saanich on Vancouver Island.
"Now that I'm using both an ND Grad and the ColorCombo to capture my landscape images, I really feel in control of my imaging process. I've gained more confidence to help other serious photographers discover the importance of filters in their work. I am offering a series of three-day workshops in Tofino and Bute Inlet throughout 2013. I have a studio/gallery in Sidney where people can come to view my finished work."
Dave has several photo tours lined up for this spring and summer, including:
May 24-26 Landscapes of Tofina Ucluelet BC
June 14-16 and Sept 20-22 Wildlife & Landscapes thru Bute Inlet, BC
He is also available for private tours and instruction. You can find more images and information at
www.DaveHutchison.ca or visit his Facebook page.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
In the twenty-plus years Russ Bishop has been making images of high and wild places, he's seen a lot of changes, both in the natural world and in the photographic world. "During that time I've gone through more than a few cameras and lenses, transitioned from film to digital, and mastered the digital darkroom. Through it all my vision has been the common thread driven by my passion for the natural landscape -- and during that time, Singh-Ray Filters have played a significant role in helping me translate and preserve my unique view of the outdoor world.
"For example, the image above, which was made in Dusy Basin, Kings Canyon National Park, California, is a perfect example of the Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density (ND Grad) filter in action. The beautiful warm evening light needed no enhancement, but the dynamic exposure range between the direct light on the peaks and the much softer reflected light on the water was much too wide. A 3-stop hard ND Grad nicely balanced the scene and retained the subtleties of the light in the clouds, while revealing the details in the alpine tarn.
"Whenever I'm shooting mountain scenes, there are two filters that are indispensable in achieving my vision -- the Singh-Ray Graduated ND and the LB ColorCombo. The ND Grads are available in several densities with both hard and soft transitions that can be selected to perfectly balance the range of exposures in each scene.
"In landscape photography the range of exposures is often quite wide, which creates as much of a challenge for today's digital sensors as it was in the days of film. The dynamic exposure range particularly in the mountains can be off the charts when the foreground is in deep shadow and the background peaks are bathed in direct light. This can work to your advantage when utilizing strong graphics and silhouettes during mid-day shooting, but in the magic hours at sunrise and sunset the strongest images often include important foreground subjects that can be lost without the ability to balance the background light.
"In this image from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, California, I knew the sunset could be spectacular and I wanted to emphasize the meadows as a focal point. The silhouette of the domes -- which draw rock climbers from around the world -- was a nice element yet I wanted something stronger than just meadow grass in the foreground. While scouting earlier in the day, I discovered this ideal bend in Budd Creek and knew that it would add the finishing touch if the sunset materialized. Water is always a nice element in any mountain scene and leading lines are a sure-fire way to add drama to a composition. When magic hour arrived later that evening, the dynamic range was too strong without resorting to exposure balancing with my ND Grads or waiting to use some other post-processing techniques. As usual, I went to my ND Grads to help me capture the perfect exposure in the camera -- before I ever saw this scene on my computer screen.
"The Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo is the other filter that spends more time in front of my lenses than any other. This 'combo' polarizer and color intensifier does a wonderful job of blocking reflections, increasing color saturation, and giving the greens and earth tones found in nature a subtle boost. I find it does a great job of simulating Fuji Velvia, which was my favorite color film in years past. With the ColorCombo, however, there's no need for extensive adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop.
"The image above was made one magical evening at Canyon de Chelly National Monument on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Though not so much an alpine scene, it is a great example of the ColorCombo and ND Grad in use. The day had been overcast and, which is fine for capturing the classic cliff dwellings that line the canyon walls; but it didn't look promising for a sunset view from the rim. Still, as I drove to the Spider Rock overlook, I had a hunch that if the sky opened up just a bit on the horizon great things could happen. Amazed to be sharing this popular spot with only two other tourists, I set up my shot and waited.
"The sunset arrived just a few minutes after I set up, and lasted for only a few more minutes. In that brief moment, I witnessed one of the most incredible sunsets I've ever seen. With my ColorCombo polarizer mounted on my 17mm and hand-holding a 3-stop ND Grad, I was able to emphasize the intense colors in the clouds and bring out the detail in the canyon below to perfectly capture what I saw and experienced that evening. Singh-Ray offers many excellent filters, but these two are indispensible. They help me create more dynamic images and save considerable time at the computer.
"Mount Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States and the most popular destination in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I made this image (which also appears cropped on the April 2013 cover of Outdoor Photographer) in the Alabama Hills just outside the town of Lone Pine.
"On this particular morning all the elements came together. A clearing storm had just left a fresh dusting of snow on the peak, and the dawn light illuminated the warm desert rocks of the Alabama Hills to add a nice framing to this classic alpine scene. The LB ColorCombo on my 70-200mm lens gave me just the contrast boost and color saturation I needed to preserve the moment as the shadows from the clouds to the east danced across the face of the peak.
"These days with Lightroom presets and exposure blending or HDR, it's 'easy' to use a shotgun approach to capturing images in the field with the intent of pulling them together later in post-production. For me, the preferred method is to get it right in camera and minimize the time spent in front of the computer. Filters always have been an integral part of my technique because they allow me to balance the light and control the dynamic range at the time of capture. This not only saves me hours at the computer later, but more importantly it allows me to see the results in the field when I'm still connected with the scene. I prefer to know that what I've created truly expresses my vision."
You can see more of Russ's work and adventures via his various websites, portfolios, and social media presences. Check them out at the links below.
RussBishop.com | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | 500px | Twitter | Linked In | Photoshelter
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Veteran outdoor photographer Cole Thompson tells us that, "since my last post, I have been on a number of trips and thought I'd share some images from them. Each of these long exposure images has something in common, the Singh-Ray Vari-ND and the Mor-Slo 5-Stop ND Filter.
John Holland Memorial - Convict Lake, California
"I was in the Sierras to attend the memorial of an old friend and mentor when I created this image.
"John was on my mind as I spent several days reminiscing about our times together and missing him. He loved the Sierras and this is where he wanted his earthly ashes to spend eternity. I loved him and wanted to create an image to honor him and to remind me of him for the rest of my life. This is that image.
"When I create an image, I do not plan it, but rather 'see' it in my mind through my vision, and from there my challenge is to recreate that vision on paper. I envisioned this scene as very dark with movement in the skies.
"There are certain things I cannot control when creating an image, and clouds are one of them. I took a number of exposures here because the clouds just didn’t look right at exposures of 30 and 60 seconds. Because the clouds were moving so slowly, I needed a 4-minute exposure to create the feel I wanted. And to obtain such a long exposure in bright sunlight, I used a Vari-ND and ten stops of fixed ND filters.
"While creating this image, two girls played in the water in front of the rocks. But because the exposure was so long, their appearance never registered and it was as though they were never there.
Monolith No. 52 - Bandon, Oregon
"Each autumn I photograph the 'Monoliths' at Bandon Beach on the Oregon coast. I've been working on this series for several years now and have photographed these Monoliths in every season, weather, light, angle and time of day, and yet I always come home with something new.
"That's the beauty of the creative process, there is always something new, even at a location I've photographed many times. There are so many variables, and I never know how one will change and trigger a new vision of a familiar subject.
"I used a 30-second exposure to highlight and isolate this Monolith, and it also simplified the image by smoothing out the details in the water and sky. In this image the effect of the long exposure is very subtle. In the majority of the situations I encounter, a 30-second exposure is sufficient to provide the look I'm after.
Resting - Kahaualea, Hawaii
"Sometimes the effect of the long exposure is not even noticeable as in this image. A fast exposure captured the ripples in the water and I found this distracting. I fixed this by using an 8-second exposure which smoothed out the water and simplified the image.
"The photographer does not always need to create an obvious long exposure look in order to improve and strengthen the image.
Pigeon Point Light House - California Coast
"When I came across this light house I almost dismissed it because it was such a very traditional black and white scene that had probably been photographed by every photographer who had ever passed this way. But it was such a beautiful scene that I wanted to try to put my touch on it and make it just a little unique.
"The wispy clouds in the sky were what caught my attention. I envisioned the final image with the water and sky tied together by a similar look. I tried dozens of different exposures from a few seconds to several minutes, with each exposure creating a very different look. Because the water and sky were constantly changing, I could sometimes get the sky just right but not the water, and vise versa.
"Finally I got the look I was after with this 100-second exposure.
Dunes of Nude No. 58 - Death Valley, CA
"This image is from my series 'The Dunes of Nude' which is my interpretation of sand dunes. Normally I get very close to the dunes and photograph them in a very intimate and almost abstract way, but in this image I took a much wider view. Like the Pigeon Point image above, I wanted to tie the sky to the foreground by making the clouds look like sand dunes in the sky.
Ancient Stones No. 12 - Joshua Tree, California
"This new addition to my 'Ancient Stones' portfolio was created in Joshua Tree. I want to emphasize the permanence of these stones and the movement in the clouds is a subtle way of doing that.
"A key to my work is being able to move quickly; to be able to compose quickly and to adjust my exposures quickly. If I cannot do that, conditions change and I miss the shot.
"That is the primary advantage of the Vari-ND filter over fixed filters. I can open up the filter to quickly change my composition and can quickly adjust from a 30-second to a 120-second exposure. The Vari-ND is one of my most important tools."
In May, Cole will be presenting an exhibition of his 'The Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau' portfolio in Split, Croatia at FotoKlub Split. You can check his website, blog, and social media for more news and information.
ColeThompsonPhotography.com | Blog | Facebook | Google+
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Each time Kevin McNeal teaches a photography workshop, he knows one of the most-asked questions he'll get is when and where to use Singh-Ray polarizers. "For the most part, the students don't exactly know what a polarizer does so they're not at all sure when to use it. I start by explaining that Singh-Ray offers four different polarizers; two 'standard' types, the LB Warming Polarizer and LB Neutral, as well as the Gold-N-Blue and ColorCombo Polarizers. (Each of these filters is fully described on the Singh-Ray website.) Since my personal choice for about 85% of my images is the ColorCombo, that's the filter I demonstrate and talk about most in my workshops.
"Singh-Ray created the ColorCombo by combining the LB Warming Polarizer with its LB Color Intensifier to make one very versatile filter. It allows me to control reflecting light and improve the color contrast in each image while maintaining an entirely natural look. No other company makes anything like it.
"Here's an interesting quote from a booklet published back in 1945 by the Polaroid Corporation introducing its invention of the first commercially available polarizing film; 'For outdoor photography, a polarizing filter over the camera lens can suppress or reduce the brilliance of a prominent highlight in a scene, provided the axis of the filter is set at the proper angle.'
"At this point, I like to use actual images to help explain how the ColorCombo works for me. Although I must always remember that the polarizer in the ColorCombo requires my continuing attention as I set up and fine tune each shot, I don't need to concern myself with the Color Intensifier component. It is always on and working for me. So we'll discuss mostly how I used the polarizer to improve each of the following images.
"The scene at the top of this story didn't look at all like this final image when I first found it. The reason was that there were so many surfaces bouncing light back at me and the most dominant reflection was coming from the broad expanse of water in the foreground that would have completely hidden the array of stones resting below the surface. But as soon as I saw the scene through the ColorCombo, I knew I had a winner. The glare was eliminated and I could see through the shallow water to the stones on the bottom.
"Here's another example of how the ColorCombo enabled me to photograph below the surface of the water. This time I wanted to show the textures of the coral rock in this colorful tide pool. By positioning the camera down close to the water at a 45-degree angle, I was able to really bring out the depth of the rock and submerge the viewer into the image.
"When composing a waterfall image it is always good to find a strong foreground. I look for textured features like rocks and moss. To really pull detail and textures out of the rocks it was important to use the polarizer. Without the polarizer on my lens, reflections from the countless specks of water and wet rocks would have combined to create a hazy glare that would greatly reduce the color saturation in the foreground.
"In each of these first three images, you can see how the ColorCombo's built-in Color Intensifier gently and naturally brings out the greens and earth tones in each image. Using the ColorCombo allows me to really get the viewer's attention with the saturated greens and the earth tones. This helps me create a visual tension that gives the image more visual impact. Without the vibrancy of the greens it is hard to really get the viewer connected to the image.
"This image reminds me to always use a ColorCombo to cut through the haze that exist in almost every outdoor scene. Reducing the glare of distant subjects like canyon walls or mountain ranges is important even under the sunniest conditions because it reduces the haze and allows more detail and depth in the image. If the landscape can be seen in full detail, a viewer can more quickly relate to the image.
"There is no other nature scene that relies as heavily on capturing strong autumn landscapes. The power of the fall image is in the color and the way it is harmonized. By using the ColorCombo, I will capture as much vibrant color in the image as I can. The addition of the polarizer and especially a warmer polarizer can really add a higher level of visual impact. Ideally the best lighting occurs soon after there has been some precipitation.
"The ColorCombo really adds impact to almost all my outdoor images. That's why it's become my favorite filter to use in the field. I never hesitate to use it any time and in any situation. Through years of personal experience, I have gained complete confidence in its unique advantages. It's never let me down."
Kevin continues keep busy as a photographer, author, and teacher, while still frequently updating his website, portfolios, and social media with new images and valuable information. Be sure to bookmark the links below!
KevinMcNealPhotography.com | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Flickr | 500px
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
On his continual quest to visit as many of the U.S. National Parks as possible, Marco Crupi decided to head for Seattle this past December to visit Olympic National Park in the state of Washington. "The next day, I met up with Dustin, a photographer buddy of mine from the Sacramento area. We jumped on the Bainbridge Ferry and headed to the Port Angeles and Olympic National Park area.
"Driving from the ferry to Second Beach in a heavy downpour, I wasn't at all confident that I could capture any images. From the parking lot, we hiked about a mile through mud, rain and flimsy wooden bridges to reach Second Beach. What a sight! As soon as we got there, the skies started to open, displaying beautiful reds, oranges and purples. Walking along the beach, we saw a collection of starfish within tide pools. My tripod was completely retracted and within a tide pool to capture this shot. My camera settings were f/22 at ISO 150. I achieved an 8 second exposure by setting my Singh-Ray Vari-ND to a lighter density because the light was already fading. It was a magical experience and a great way to start our trip. We decided to call it a night.
"The following day we headed to the Seven Lakes Basin Loop and planned on taking the short trail. The rain was very heavy so that rain gear was essential for us and our beloved camera equipment. On this trail, my first surprise was the beauty of this falls I titled “Surprise Falls.” With my camera on the tripod, I used the Vari-ND to reduce the light intake and achieve the beautiful water movement with a 4 second exposure.
"The following day began with a visit to the Hoh Rain Forest of the Olympic National Park. The day's weather as should be expected was not cooperating too well. No matter how hard we tried, our lens would be splattered with rain drops. The day was a partial wash out.
"The next day, Rialto Beach was on our radar again. From the parking lot, you can head to the famous Split Rock and Hole in the Wall. It was a bit of a hike, about 2 miles each way. Because of the high tide, we had to tackle the terrain by balancing our way over the logs. It truly felt like an obstacle course. When we reached Split Rock, we waited for the sunset which was quickly approaching. The colors were magical. My camera settings were f/11 at ISO 100, with a .5 second exposure.
"Along our final stop in the southern edge of Olympic National Park, we captured shots of Lake Quinault Valley. From the road, we saw a quaint bridge. We hiked down about 5 feet and came across rushing water. I stood in the water and captured a wide angle of these water shots. With the Vari-ND, I was able to achieve the slow motion feel of the water. This shot was captured with the following settings: f/16 at ISO 100, with a 16 second exposure.
"For the second shot of this valley, we pulled off the road to capture this massive waterfall. This was a difficult shot because my lens needed to be wiped dry constantly. Settings used were: f/16 at ISO 100, with a 5 second exposure.
"If you decide to visit this area in the winter months, my small piece of advice is to not go at it alone. It pays off to be in the company of others, particularly because of the dangerous terrain. With phone service ranging from limited to no service at all, it is important you research the trail maps. Or, you can always take a nice handy snap shot of the trail map with your smartphone before you head off. These are good pixels to fall back on if you get lost. Happy trails everyone."
Marco's passion for landscape photography has led to awards with Photography Master’s Cup, Photographer's Forum and Nature's Best Photography. Pictures from his portfolio have appeared in National Geographic's Intelligent Travel Magazine, National Geographic's "Your National Parks" and Outdoor Photographer.
marcocrupi.com | facebook | zenfolio | twitter | 500px
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Because intrepid nature photographer Jon Cornforth travels some 6 months of every year, it's not surprising that last October he joined a sailboat expedition to Salisbury Plain on the north coast of a huge block of frigid ice in Antarctica known as South Georgia. Each year the plain is the breeding site for over 200,000 king penguins.
"I can not adequately describe how mind-blowing my visit was with these adorable king penguins. After spending a week sailing in horrendous seas with terrible weather, I finally arrived at my dream photography destination. Upon landing, most of the king penguins were somewhat skittish, but these guys walked right up to greet me! Oh, boy. It was cold, too. The fresh snow on the normally rocky beach, however, helped make this already dramatic scene even more photogenic.
"In order to photograph this spectacle, I got down on my knees and used a wide-angle lens as these curious penguins inspected me. I created this image above using my Canon 5DmkIII, Canon 17-40mm f4 lens, with a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and 2-stop hard-step Graduated Neutral Density filter.
"This next photo shows the king penguin chicks, which are also called 'Oakum boys.' My senses were completely over-loaded by the smells, sounds, and size of the king penguin colony containing more than a hundred thousand penguins. The grandeur of the landscape makes this one of the most spectacular settings on Earth.
"These juveniles were very curious about me, mostly because they were getting hungry and must have thought I looked enough like mom or dad that maybe I would offer them a free meal. I was focused on getting 'the shot,' but it was hard while doubled-over laughing at the hilarious antics of the penguins hopping around, flapping their wings, and running into each other. This image and the one below were captured using my LB Warming polarizer and 2-stop hard-step ND Grad.
"I was very fortunate to spend as much time as I did photographing these residents of Salisbury Plains. Keep in mind that in order to visit South Georgia Island, I chose to sail on a small sailboat and suffered for almost a week each way. It was much more difficult than what your average cruise ship visitor experiences. However, I did not join the trip for the misery of the sailing. I paid to be able to spend more time photographing wildlife up close and personal. I hope that everyone who admires my photography can appreciate the special risks and challenges that serious nature photographers must undertake in order to create images that are truly unique. I also hope they appreciate the drama and humor that I strive to integrate into my work.
"Here's another cute baby animal! One of the first locations I visited during my South Georgia Island ordeal expedition was Prion Island, which is home to a declining population of wandering albatross. The reason the population is in trouble is due to long-line commercial fishing. The albatross are attracted to the baited hooks that the long-liners use. Once they bite a hook, they get pulled underwater and drown. It is very sad. There were not many albatross around during my visit, so I was fortunate to be able to spend the better part of an afternoon with this beautiful, photogenic creature. I created this image with my LB Warming polarizer and 4-stop soft-step ND Grad filter.
"After surviving this grueling expedition, I can now reflect back upon it with some fondness, but it is not easy. I am working on forgetting the physical discomfort and personality disputes that I endured, and trying to appreciate the amazing images that I was able to create. Was the effort and expense worth the 6 days of photography that I accomplished while being away from home for a total of 32 days? Would I do it again? Would you? Ask me in a few more years. Until then, I hope that people viewing my images will be inspired to someday visit South Georgia Island on their own. Just don't go on a sailboat!"
Jon frequently publishes images and articles with Outdoor Photographer and Popular Photography magazines, as well as offering fine art prints and images for other editorial. You'll find him active on social media where he regularly shares his most recent adventures as well as provides photography tips. Jon has photography tours in the works, so consider joining one of his future expeditions!
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
In August of 2012, Fabrizio Tessaro set forth from his Canadian home on his annual foray into the rainforests of Costa Rica with his good friends Greg and Chris Basco. "What would be different about this particular trip," says Fabrizio, "was that -- despite the incredible photographic opportunities presented by Costa Rica's vast biodiversity of wildlife -- my focus would be on capturing landscapes of the rain and cloud forests of Monteverde. Our journey would also include a brief jaunt into the northern tropical dry forest area of Guanacaste and Santa Rosa National Park.
"Finding strong compositions within the tropical rain and cloud forests is challenging. Simply put, these forests are busy. There is so much going on that it can be difficult 'seeing' through all the confusion. The image above shows Greg amid this so called visual confusion attempting to sort through all that's going on in this section of a cloud forest.
"One on the most beneficial tools when photographing in the rain and cloud forests is a polarizer. Rain and cloud forests are often extremely damp and wet. Using a polarizer can control the strong glare reflected off damp and wet vegetation. Along with brightening clouds and darkening blue skies, the polarizer will also saturate colors and tone down highlights to really make an image pop. My circular polarizer of choice is the Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer -- the LB stands for 'lighter brighter.' meaning that the light transmitted through this filter is brighter by about 2/3 of an f-stop compared to manyd conventional polarizers. This gives me more light allowing faster shutter speeds plus improved auto focusing and metering in challenging lighting situations. The warming tone of the filter adds just a touch of warmth to an image, which suits my shooting style. The LB Polarizer helped give a warm tone and a little extra pop to the rainforest canopy in the above image. This filter is by far my favorite polarizer on the market, and I will say without prejudice that it is awesome!
"Light is almost always at a premium in the cloud forest and as the mid-day sunlight filters down through the heavy canopy of tree-top leaves, it begins to illuminate more of the cloud forest. That's when fresh compositions and specific natural elements begin to jump out at you. In the image below, I liked how the shaft of light illuminated the tree fern leaves so I began to work with that concept. I used my polarizer to control reflections off the rainforest leaves and to add a little overall pop to the final image. In retrospect, I would have liked to capture a slightly wider angle, however, I am pleased with the final image as it portrays the mysterious mood of this particular cloud forest.
"The little cascade below was a much simpler composition. The raised viewing platform I was on offered few framing angles and moving off of this platform was not possible. I decided on a simple wide angle view of this calming and peaceful cascade. Once again my LB Warming Polarizer was used to enhance color saturation and reduce reflections on the cloud forest vegetation and the water.
"Unlike Costa Rica’s cloud and rainforests, the tropical dry forest areas of Costa Rica tend to contain less vegetation with fewer tree species and an underbrush of shrubs with thorns and spines that can be a rather unpleasant experience! We discovered this problem on our hike to a viewpoint in Costa Rica’s Santa Rosa National park. Hiking through heat, mud and the prickly shrubs, we reached the final leg of our goal. A steep climb faced us as we began the challenging ascent approximately 900 meters up to the viewpoint. With sweat pouring and our hearts racing, we reached the summit and all of our efforts were rewarded with an incredible view and one of my favorite images from the trip.
"As the storm clouds began to form in the image below, we had to work quickly. I used my trusty polarizer for better color saturation and added my Singh-Ray 2-stop hard-edge ND Grad filter to balance the exposure differential between the sky and foreground. Our hike back down to our vehicle was greeted by gentle warm rains and while protecting my gear was my priority, I was perfectly happy to get completely soaked, cooled and refreshed by the rains.
"Throughout our trip, we were constantly looking for great sunset locations. Just off the roadway in the Guanacaste province area, we spotted an area overlooking rolling hills with a beautiful ocean view. We set up and patiently waited as the sun made its way toward the horizon. The sun was setting just to camera right -- and let me tell you, it was intense! So intense, that along with my polarizer, I used a combination of both my Singh-Ray 3-stop soft-edge and 3-stop hard-edge Graduated ND filters to balance this incredible exposure differential. The soft-edge ND Grad was positioned with the filter area dropping down to the bottom third of the image and the hard-edge ND Grad was placed with the edge filter area just below the horizon.
"While my time spent in Costa Rica’s cloud, rain and tropical dry forests was awesome, I look forward to heading out to meet the challenges of photographing the nation's south Caribbean coastal landscapes in the summer of 2013!"
Fabrizio invites you to check out more of his work, or consider taking part in one of his workshops. Just click the links below for more information.
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