Friday, September 28, 2007

Never a dull day with the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer

Professional naturalist and freelance photographer Ethan Meleg is quick to point out, "The Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer's reputation as a sunrise and sunset filter is well earned. Most bright-sun conditions can be great times to choose this unique polarizer, but I also love using it under dull, overcast and rainy-day conditions to punch the color saturation in the image. That's exactly why I used it for this photo of an autumn scene along the Oxtongue River near Canada's Algonquin Provincial Park. The light was dead flat, and without the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer I would have struggled to make a publishable photo.

"As I've learned from my workshops, some photographers become frustrated using filters with their digital cameras, but it's actually very easy to get images to be proud of. Getting predictable results when using filters with my EOS 1DS Mark II, simply requires that I shoot RAW/jpeg images and keep the white balance set to 'daylight,' regardless of what the weather and lighting conditions are. Then, when I convert my raw images in Adobe Camera Raw, I am able to totally control the color balance of each image to match what I saw with my eyes. Darwin Wiggett shared his technique for raw conversion of Gold-N-Blue images earlier in this blog - that's the best procedure I've seen yet!"

To capture this image, Ethan mounted his trusty Gold-N-Blue Polarizer on his EF 17-40mm/4 lens and exposed for 1/5-second at f16. In addition to his website, Ethan is also managing his own nature photography blog that you'll enjoy visiting.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

High flying LB ColorCombo turns in heroic aerial performance

"I wish every photo shoot took me into a painted desert, fall-colored forest or dramatic mountain range with the sole purpose of capturing the beauty of nature. But if the truth be told," says Toronto photographer Kevin Spreekmeester, "some of the most profitable things I shoot are the least glamorous.

"For example, I was recently asked to do some shooting for a mining operation in New Brunswick, Canada. Following a very unnerving shoot down in the mine--roughly 1.7kms underground--it was high time for a much more pleasant aerial shoot. The helicopter was only available to us in the mid-afternoon and the sun was still relatively high. I've shot from the sky a few times before, and I was prepared with two cameras and two lenses. One was a Canon 1ds Mark II with a 100-400mm lens, the other was a 5D with a 24-70mm lens.

"I knew I needed to set my shutter speed as fast as I could to compensate for vibration and movement of the helicopter. I also knew I needed at least a modest depth of field. And I was really concerned about highlights in the mid-afternoon sun. I have to admit that I barely used the longer lens and spent most of my time with my 5D and the 24-70mm f/2.8.

The extra "bonus" coming out of this shoot was seeing the heroic way my Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo performed. Not only did it polarize, saturate and enhance the depth of colors in my images, but it did so without sucking shutter speed out of my hands. I tried to use a high-quality, but non-Singh-Ray circular polarizer (sorry Singh-Ray) on the 100-400mm lens and ripped it off within minutes of lift-off. Not only did it reduce my shutter speed, but it did so without providing any of the color intensifying benefits I get with the ColorCombo. I ended up switching the Singh-Ray filter back and forth between the two cameras."

"The top photo was shot with the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 zoomed to 24mm. The lower photo was taken with the Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm. My Singh-Ray ColorCombo was used for both." You can see more of Kevin's colorful work at his website.

Monday, September 24, 2007

ND Grads help preserve that heavenly light

His profession is aerospace design engineering, but Californian Doug Dolde is also an enthusiastic landscape photographer--and has been since high school. "These days," says Doug, "I use an Arca Swiss 4x5-inch view camera with three Schneider lenses that produce amazing detail on Provia 100F film. Whenever I find the scene's light contrast exceeding the capability of my film, I rely on Singh-Ray Graduated ND Filters to bring the brightly lit sky under control."

For example, Doug made this first image "at sunset on a stormy January day at the end of Westward Beach on Point Dume in Malibu, California. I used a Singh Ray 3-stop hard-step ND Grad to hold down the bright sun. Without the ND grad, I never could have retained the foreground detail for this 1-second exposure at f/22 on 4x5 Provia F 100 film.

"For this second image, I shot from the bridge in Zion National Park in Utah. The scene was actually much darker than the image would indicate. This isn't the usual iconic compositon from this location but it was the one workable perspective I could use with an ND Grad. The 3-stop hard-step ND Grad let me hold back the brightly lit sky and capture the very dark foreground. This was one of those shots I didn't think would work at the time—but I was there and decided to try it anyway. The grad performed beautifully. One of the things I like best about Singh-Ray hard step grads is that their gradient transition is very smooth—not at all abrupt.

"Finding the right images within a landscape can be time consuming, and I often visit the same location several times in search of the perfect combination of light and sky. It's an enjoyable way to explore the natural world."

Be sure to visit Doug's impressive website, Painted With Light, for more dramatic landscapes.