Friday, September 07, 2007

Now he's really hooked on the Vari-ND

Outdoor photographer Tom Bol reports: "I was driving home after a recent photo shoot along the Cache La Poudre River near my home in Colorado. The river is low and clear this time of year, and you can almost wade across it. As I was driving I spotted a foot bridge that crossed over the river, and I had an instant revelation. This would be the perfect location to get above a fly fisherman in the river for a unique shot.

"I really became excited," Tom recalls, "when I thought about how the image would look using a very slow shutter speed—a 10- or 20-second exposure in the mid-day sunlight that would only be possible using my Vari-ND. I returned the next day ready to go.

"There was only one problem—I couldn't find any models to fly fish for me, so I decided to photograph myself using a wireless transmitter to trigger my camera. I set up the camera on the bridge overlooking the river, prefocused on the spot I would fish from, and waded into the river with fly rod in hand. I hit the transmitter hidden in my fishing vest and did my best not to move for 20 seconds—not easy to do in a swift river current. The final exposure was 20 seconds at f-22.

"So far," says Tom, "I have only used the Vari-ND on landscapes. After creating this image, however, I have a whole new set of ideas for using the Vari-ND for future adventure sports images."

You can see more examples of Tom's work on his website,

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Outstanding in his (wheat) field

Unlike some young photographers, part-time pro landscape shooter Ben Chase believes he's found a niche. He's focusing his large format film camera on the the diverse photographic potential of the Palouse -- the vast wheat-farming region around his home near Spokane, WA.

"This wheat field image taken near Tekoa, Washington, was probably my first really successful photograph," says Ben. "I made it in August of 2002, when I was still shooting 35mm and had just purchased my first set of Graduated Neutral Density Filters from Singh-Ray. It was one of my first opportunities to use these filters, and I was amazed at how effectively they balanced the bright parts of the sky with the rest of the image. I used a 2-stop, hard-step ND Grad positioned near the top along the horizon line.

"More recently, I was driving along a remote farm road during an incredibly stormy day in the Palouse. Within minutes, I came upon some very dark clouds surrounding a very ripe wheat field. I unpacked my Mamiya RZ-67 II and set up along the edge of the field. I realized that, while the clouds were a dark gray color, they weren't quite dark enough to be "ominous" -- and that was the look I wanted. By using a 2-stop, hard-step ND Grad, however, I was able to achieve the look I wanted. I've sold several prints of this image to those who live in the area."

Ben is now shooting mostly 4x5 film. "I think it's fair to say that at least 70% of my landscape photographs involve the use of Singh-Ray filters -- either the warming polarizer or graduated neutral density filters, or a combination of the two."

You can see a wider variety of his images, including many from the Banff/Jasper region of Canada and the American Northwest, if you visit Ben's website