Friday, November 30, 2007

Black and white photography in Iceland's round-the-clock sunlight

Three of the latest contributions we've received are from photographers discussing their successful use of Singh-Ray filters for black and white images. We'll start with this graphic trio of images captured by professional outdoor and travel photographer Pete Chipman while traveling throughout Iceland during the past three summers -- taking full advantage of the country’s 24 hours of daylight during mid-June through early July.

"I find that a good polarizer can really make black and white conversion work well," Pete says. "These images were all taken with a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer.

"The top photo was taken at about midnight using a Nikon 28mm f2.8 lens (adapted to fit my Canon 1Ds Mark II). Often you’ll find “lumpy” grasslands in Iceland where the ground is eroding unevenly. This produced a surreal scene in this particular cemetery, where the iron-cross tombstones were leaning every-which-way. I used the polarizer to darken the iron in the picture for better effect in B&W. The inscription reads 'Sira Einar Gislason, 1787-1866'."

The next image from Pete, called “Ice on the Rocks,” shows the ability of the LB Warming Polarizer to dramatically eliminate all glare from the surface of the lake -- which allowed a clear view of the bottom of Jökulsárlón (the best known and largest of Iceland's glacial lakes).

"The third image," says Pete, "was taken in the interior highlands of Iceland. I used the same LB Polarizer to help draw out the texture of the stream by deepening the grey-greens in the water."

Now, more than 20,000 images later, he is in the process of obtaining a publisher for a large-format photography book featuring his Iceland images and experiences. To see more of Pete’s work -- both color and black & white -- visit his online gallery or his website.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Photographing the beautiful Northwest... Argentina, that is.

To follow up on the November 1st posting about his somewhat misadventurous trip to northwest Argentina, Ethan Meleg sends along these images plus some very encouraging words for anyone considering a trip to that region to photograph the unique and colorful scenery.

"After getting robbed at gunpoint on my second day in Argentina and losing much of my camera system as a result, my photo mojo was rock-bottom," says Ethan. "But I managed to pull together enough gear -- including a new Canon EOS Rebel XTi with 18-55mm 'kit' lens -- to keep me shooting for the remaining 12 days--and thankfully so. My father (who was born in Argentina) and I traveled by rental car throughout the vast northwest region of the country.

"I was in continual awe. Every corner revealed spectacular canyons, deserts, mountains and adobe architecture -- a dream landscape for photography. Three of the areas we visited were particularly stunning:
1) Quebrada de Humahuaca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, en route to the scenic towns of Purmamarca and Humahuaca,
2) Calchaqui Valley, to the town of Cachi, and
3) Quebrada de Cafajate, with its incredible badlands near the town of Cafajate.

"Each of these locations offered world-class scenery, easy access for photography (often from right beside the road) and remarkable solitude. I felt like I was the only photographer who had ever been there. I'd never heard of northwest Argentina before as a destination for photography -- it's not on the radar of most North Americans. But it should be. Travel in the country is a bargain, offering great value on food and accommodations near outstanding natural locations.

"The sun rises quickly at this latitude and the sky is almost always quite clear and bright because of the high altitude (we were in the Andes Mountains), so I used my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and 4x6-inch Graduated ND filters for almost every photo to reduce reflections and bring out the rich blue skies. Due to our trip logistics, I wasn't able to spend much time shooting at daybreak and dusk, so now I have a serious hunger to go back. It won't be long before I do!"

Now you know the story of how Ethan got his mojo back. And we have the photos to prove it. You can follow Ethan's adventures by visiting his website and blog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Photographing both the forest... and the tree

Steve Kossack sends these two images from his recent Great Smoky Mountains fall-color workshop along with an instructive article just posted on his website. We're picking up parts of that article here to provide a glimpse into how thoughtfully and carefully Steve approaches all his landscape photography.

"Blinded by the light? It happens to all of us at times. I'm always looking for light, color and texture to help me tell the story of every landscape and how I feel about the scene. While with our Smoky mountains workshop in October, we entered Cades Cove on a warm but stormy dawn as the light danced across the vast expanse before us. The weather was moving very quickly and the light was fleeting at best. With so much great color, I now became worried about being overwhelmed and not seeing the forest for the trees!

"In a small section of the cove we were presented with both muted light, strong directional light and beautiful color, but not all at once. In the top image, using the muted light, I saw the wide array of color as the focal point and used a telephoto lens to capture detail.

"The second image of the single tree took more time, however. As the storm drifted by in the distance, the cove before us became dark. The tree had lost most of its leaves and color but I saw it as a strong focal point, isolated as it was. One of the first questions I ask myself when setting up a composition is, 'What brought me here?' In this case it was the tree. Without any filtration the image seemed flat and lifeless. However, foreseeing the possibility that the light in the distance might soon bathe the tree as well, I placed the Singh-Ray LB Color Intensifier on my lens and waited. As the light hit the tree the need to darken the sky behind it became apparent, and that was accomplished by using a 4x6-inch Singh-Ray 4-stop, hard-step Graduated ND filter which I moved quickly through the composition during the exposure."

We thank Steve for these two equally fine -- but very different -- color compositions made within minutes of each other in the same thoughtful manner... by seeing and distinguishing the forest from the tree. To read Steve's complete description of this process and explore his Great Smoky gallery, you can visit his website.