Thursday, October 04, 2007

This image called for a peak performance

Like most successful outdoor photographers, Tom Bol greets every problem as an instant opportunity. Here's another case of Tom's quick thinking... and even quicker action!

Tom says, "I recently spent a week shooting a story for Canoe & Kayak magazine about paddling the incredibly scenic lakes of Glacier National Park, Montana. One of my favorites is Swiftcurrent Lake which is surrounded by steep mountains and features a grand old lodge on its eastern shore. From the lodge, Grinnell Peak towers across the lake where each morning it can catch the first rays of light at sunrise.

"I had been photographing other paddlers during the week, but this particular morning I couldn't find anyone to photograph. I needed a paddler on the lakeshore at sunrise, so I decided I would photograph myself. To make certain the highlights on the brightly sunlit Grinnell Peak would not blow out, I mounted my 2-stop Singh-Ray Graduated ND on the lens. As the sun started to hit the peak, I hit the self timer button on my camera, ran into the scene, and posed for the shot. After running back to my camera and checking my first shot on the LCD to be sure my position was good, I shot a series of bracketed images as the sun continued to rise. That's when I noticed a fisherman nearby watching me continuously running back and forth from my camera to the kayak, I'm sure he thought I was crazy!"

We're hoping that fisherman gets a chance to see Tom's dramatic image sometime. You can see more of Tom's outdoor landscape, sports and lifestyle images from around the globe by visiting

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Prairie relics tell a story

Darwin Wiggett is well known for his dramatic-light images of the Canadian Rockies but this past spring he turned his lens on the neighboring province of Saskatchewan and its southern prairie landscape. Most Canadians think of Saskatchewan as a flat land filled with wheat fields and not much else. But along with its obvious infinite horizons, agriculture fields and big skies, are the many stories to tell of the struggles of an agricultural society competing with nature. Darwin chose to photograph some of the numerous abandoned farms that litter the Saskatchewan landscape in a way that would show how the forces of nature—the constant wind and the storms—have made it difficult for farmers to make a go in this big open land. To tell that story photographically, Darwin relied heavily on Singh-Ray filters to help him illustrate the essence and effects of the raw forces of nature.

In “Abandoned Farm” (above), Darwin used an LB Warming Polarizer and a 5-stop solid ND filter in the Cokin P-holder of his 45mm TSE lens for a 30-second exposure to bring out the wind-blown grass and dramatic clouds drifiting across the sky.

The same combination of filters (polarizer and ND filter) was used to make long exposures in the images “Zebra truck” (above) and “Lost Homestead ” (at left), except this time the lens used was a 17-40mm Canon lens and the exposures varied from 10 to 30 seconds. When using the 17-40mm lens, Darwin uses a thin-mount LB Warming Polarizer on the lens. The 5-stop ND filter is held onto the Polarizer with small pieces of duct tape so the lens can be used even at 17mm without corner vignetting.

In “Prairie Ghost” (left) Darwin supplemented his warming polarizer and 5-stop ND combo with a 2-stop hard-edge Graduated Neutral Density filter to hold back brightness in the sky. In addition, during the 10-second exposure, Darwin used a 1 million candle power flashlight to paint light onto the old truck and blowing grass for a more ethereal effect. The filters were held in place with small pieces of duct tape.

Finally in “Windblown" (above) Darwin used his LB Warming Polarizer and a 5-stop ND filter on his 17-40mm lens to capture the moving grass, blowing curtains and rich reflections in the face of an abandoned house. The combination of a polarizer and a solid ND filter let Darwin bring to life the nature of the prairie wind in all of his images from southern Saskatchewan. When the wind blows, try this combo yourself for evocative images.

8 Stops of Spiritual Enlightenment

The blog Tao of Photography is the work of Andrew Ilachinski, where he presents his black & white photography along with his musings on topics such as "Transitory Impermanence."

In this recent entry, Andy talks about his new "magic" filter, our Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter. In addition to some beautiful ethereal photos and an excellent discussion of the creation of long-exposure photos using neutral density filters, he shares some of his deeper insights...

What this filter does, in effect, is to transform our normal, every-day perception of temporal flow - in which the world appears to move in localized snippets of time that last roughly 1/30 to 1/60sec - to glimpses of a supranormal, otherwordly, realm in which time moves at a slower, sometimes significantly slower, pace. It thereby also transforms us into temporally transcendent beings, that temporarily exist outside of time, and are able to marvel at time's own inner rhythms. Who is to say what is "real", and what is not? Is the "real" stream of water the one my eyes provide a visual imprint of?" Or is it the ethereal cloud of vapor that my "temporally transformed" eye glimpses, however briefly, with the aid of the Vari-ND? Both are "real", but neither is definitively so, of course. Moreover, I would argue, it is this simple, but profound, realization that we have momentarily stepped "outside the normal flow of perceived time" - along with the even deeper realization that the clearest view of reality can only take place from some vantage point outside of it, on a meta-level - that points the way toward something approaching a "spiritual" enlightenment.

We thank Andy for his enthusiasm for the Vari-ND, and for sharing his perspectives and perceptions. For more insights and inspirations, be sure to visit his blog.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Oldies but Goodies

Recently, we took a look at some articles that have been on our website for a long time, some of which even predate the website. We were expecting them to be largely outdated, but instead, most of the information is fundamental and still relevant to today's Singh-Ray Filter users.

The articles include references to shooting film, but that's a good thing -- especially when your goal is to get the image right in the camera, even if you're shooting digital. So, we decided to dust them off, update some of the references, and present them on the blog. Since most of them are the length of magazine articles, we've "backdated" them so they don't overcrowd the main page, but here are links to the articles we've updated:

We may be adding to the archives as we go, but you'll always be able to find more information by searching for the product you're interested in, or use the "Find by Label" links at the bottom of the right-hand column.