Friday, September 14, 2007

When our photography reflects our environmental concerns. . .

33-year-old Californian Josh Andrews began photographing at an early age, "hoping to create both an artistic and environmentally conscious perspective of the world that highlights our need to preserve it." In his pursuit, Josh has photographed in Alaska, Greenland and Svalbard near the Arctic Circle, as well as the American Southwest.

"This first image of Lake Clark Pass in Alaska was taken on a hot, cloudy day in mid-August. The sky was extremely bright. I realized it would be necessary to balance sky and the water by using one of my Singh-Ray Graduated ND filters. To help anchor the foreground, I set my tripod low to the ground and partially in the lake which gave more emphasis to the driftwood. Using both a polarizer to cut through some of the haze and a 2-stop soft-step ND grad to hold back the sky and the mountains, I shot the scene with a 24-70mm lens at f/16 and a shutter speed of 1/25th of a second."

Josh captured the next image while traveling along the eastern coast of Greenland. "Our group headed through Kong Oscar Fjord and stopped in Drommebugt Bay, also known aptly as the 'Bay of Dreams.' It was approaching sunset. The sidelight hitting the mountains brought out their detail and the unique cloud formations made for a beautiful scene. I framed the ice to anchor the foreground--and repeat the sloping line of the mountain--by lowering my tripod and and setting the focal length of my 24-70mm zoom lens at 30mm. To hold the detail in the sky and the low-hanging mist at the edge of the scene, I tilted my 2-stop soft-step ND Grad diagonally to follow the slanting horizon line. I then closed down my aperture and exposed for 1/160th of a second.

In addition to his various Graduated ND Filters, Josh also uses the Singh-Ray Vari-ND and LB Color Intensifier. He's now planning trips to Hawaii and Death Valley in the months ahead. You can follow his trail by visiting his website,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gabriel's gift to everyone. . .

Even at an early age living in Rochester, NY, Cole Thompson knew he would be a photographer. Drawn to the black and white images of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, his impressive fine art images reflect that time when television, movies, and the news were all black and white. Now, at age 51, Cole lives in Laporte, CO, and continues to shoot black and white, but now it's digital RAW imaging--often aided by his Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter.

"I love the Vari-ND," says Cole, "and I tell everyone it really has changed my photography. I use it to take long exposures during the daytime"--like his photo of Gabriel.

Cole writes, "this is the Angel Gabriel. I met him on the Newport Beach pier as he was eating french fries out of a trash can. He was homeless and hungry. I asked him if he would help me with a photograph and, in return, I would buy him lunch.

"The pier was very crowded and I wanted to take a 30-second exposure so that everyone would disappear except Gabriel. We tried a few shots and then Gabriel wanted to mess up his hair and hold his bible. This was the best image and the only people you can see besides Gabriel are those 'ghosts' who lingered long enough to register for the camera.

"Gabriel and I then went into a restaurant to share a meal; he ordered steak with mushrooms and onions and when it came he ate it with his hands. I discovered he was Romanian and so am I, so we talked about Romania. He was simple, kind and a pleasure to talk with.

"I asked Gabriel how I might contact him, in case I sold some of the photographs and wanted to share the money with him. He said I should give the money to someone who could really use it; that he had everything that he needed.

"Then the Angel Gabriel walked away, content and carrying his only two possessions: a Bible and a bed roll."

Cole says that before the Vari-ND, working quickly was not possible. "The ND filters were so dark I had to remove them to compose and focus. I could never get a dynamic shot with people in it because the preparation took too long, there was no chance to be spontaneous. Even when I am not photographing people, the convenience of the Vari-ND is invaluable. I have outfitted all of my lenses with step up rings so that I can use my Vari-ND at any time.

For more of Cole Thompson's classic style black & white photography, visit

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Capturing coastal New Jersey
in a beautiful light

His middle name is Ansel, which could be one reason he knows about light. Geoffrey Agrons says, "I'm a radiologist-slash-photographer dreaming of a world suffused with natural light." He loves the "peculiar beauty and haunting glow" of his coastal southern New Jersey homeland and the Delaware Bay, and he has the dramatic photos to prove it.

"About a year ago, soon after I bought my first professional camera, I began using Singh-Ray filters, which promptly opened up a whole new photography experience for me. Most recently, I bought the Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo and I now find I rarely remove it. I used it for this first image--along with a 3-stop Daryl Benson Reverse Graduated ND filter--to fully capture the warm light and long shadows in the dune grass against the backdrop of the quickly changing sky. The exposure was 4 seconds at f22 with my tripod-mounted Canon 1Ds Mark II and 24mm f2.8 lens.

"I made this second image at a wildlife refuge on a very foggy morning," says Geoffrey. "By using the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer with my 3-stop Reverse ND Grad. I was able to transform the diffused milky light into a surprisingly phantasmagorical landscape. The swans, which usually have their own agenda, somehow decided to cooperate and held still for a 1-second exposure at f22 that resulted in a silky golden pond surface yet preserved good detail in the swan's feathers."

To get a more complete picture of Geoff's southern coastal New Jersey lightbox, be sure to visit his website.