Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Two filters are often better than one -- unless it's the LB ColorCombo

Following up on Rick Walker's recent post about using Graduated ND filters, he also has good things to say about combining the Singh-Ray LB Color Intensifier Filter with a polarizer to get the most color along with minimum reflective glare. "The two filters work very well together," says Rick. "Polarizers are usually the key factor in getting colorful photographs of waterfalls as we see in this first image. To help bring out the colors, I 'backed up' my polarizer with the LB Color Intensifier. When I rotate the polarizer, I can see how nicely it removes various reflections and glare from the water and rocks. At the same time, the intensifier is increasing color depth in the image. Scenes that include red foliage and or rock are an excellent application for the LB Color Intensifier, since it retains the rich warm colors seen by the human eye that are sometimes difficult to capture in a photograph.

"This next photo taken on the Blue Ridge parkway near Smoky Mountains National Park illustrates again the benefits of using the LB Color Intensifier coupled with a separate polarizer. The reds and oranges are subtly accentuated, while glare from the tree leaves is reduced to increase the saturation overall. It's worth noting that I purchased an LB ColorCombo polarizer/intensifier soon after this shoot because I liked the combination so well." (Nikon D2X with 70-200mm VR lens.)

You can learn more about Rick Walker's techniques through his podcast programs at Nikonians.org and see more of his work on his website.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The fine art of camera-in-motion calls for an open shutter plus an open mind

The newest issue of Outdoor Photographer features an eight-page story on William Neill and his remarkable series, "Impressions of Light" -- including three impressive double-page images of dancing colors and shapes in visual motion. "All of my Impressions images," says Bill, "are made with a single exposure using camera motion only. No overlays or multiple exposures are done post-exposure. I prefer to paint with what I see in front of me, from what existed not from what wasn't there. I find the results to be more 'organic' than other methods I've seen done."

Many of Bill's "Impressions" images are created by using the Singh-Ray Vari-ND to slow down his shutter speed as the camera is moved intuitively across the scene. As the story explains, "I try all kinds of movement, up and down or sideways, starting and stopping and changing direction in the middle of the exposure. It's a learning process, a sort of feedback loop... the process continues until I feel I've created something good."

The dogwood blossoms above were photographed in Yosemite National Park one evening last spring. "I immersed myself intensely for two hours, creating 648 images," says Bill. He used a Canon 1Ds Mark II with a 70-200mm 2.8L lens plus a 2X extender and Vari-ND filter for an exposure of 1/5 second at f/5.6. The same camera and lens and Vari-ND were used for the photo below of giant Sequoias in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite with an exposure of 1.3 seconds at f/13, at 100 ISO. Bill feels that prints from this body of work look best when printed at least 21x32 with pigment-based inks on watercolor paper to accent the painterly feel of his images.

As for the Vari-ND, Bill adds that "This tool has greatly increased both my options in bright lighting conditions and in controlling the balance of aperture and shutter speed. For example, with my flower close-ups, I can still use a slow shutter speed even when using the widest apertures."

In addition to writing his monthly column "On Landscape" for Outdoor Photographer, Bill teaches online courses for BetterPhoto.com and maintains a very instructive and interesting blog, Light on the Landscape.