Friday, December 07, 2007

Light Diary shows how outdoor
photography can go to work

Be sure to tune in to Craig Tanner's ambitious Light Diary blog -- besides great images, the text is interesting and informative on several levels. "Four years ago I switched most of my shooting to digital" says Craig, "and I have never looked back." The image above is one of many digital images Craig has made using Singh-Ray Filters, in this case a 4-stop, soft-step Graduated ND Filter. It's part of a series of photos for a real estate development client that he posted on Light Diary in response to questions about the "commercial value" of his landscape and architectural shots. He also posted a link to the client's website -- providing a real-world example of how such images are used on the developer's website to promote the natural beauty of the available properties.

"Teaching -- both in my workshops and on the internet -- is a big part of my life as an artist. The main reason I started Light Diary is that I wanted a place to share an increasingly large body of both personal and assignment work," says Craig. "I also wanted to combine the diary of images with a series of podcasts that would let me tell the stories behind the images and also talk about why as well as how the images were made. So I hope visitors find the photographs and the stories in the Light Diary and our podcasts entertaining... and 'in a perfect world' I hope you find occasional inspiration, too!"

Monday, December 03, 2007

What do these strikingly different black & white images have in common?

For starters, both of these images were taken by Cole Thompson -- a long-time black & white photographer based in Laport, Colorado. Although Cole was heavily influenced by the work of Ansel Adams and Cole Weston, he now works with digital RAW images -- frequently captured with his Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter. As he explains, "These two images -- despite their completely different looks -- are closely associated in my mind because they were taken from the exact same spot, just a few minutes apart, and both involved long time exposures made possible by the Vari-ND filter.

"While traveling to Tokyo in 2006, I took a short day trip to the Village of Chuzenji-ko, home of Kegon Falls (the tall waterfall widely known as a traditional place for lovers with no prospect of marriage to commit suicide). When I got off of the bus, I walked up to the edge of Chuzenji-ko Lake and surveyed the scene. It was a very sunny day and somewhere in the distance a fire produced large amounts of smoke, creating a blinding haze.

"I wanted to take a 30-second exposure, transforming the vacationers moving on the water in paddle boats as mere blurs against the rigidity of the pilings. A 30-second exposure is very difficult to achieve in bright sunlight and I had to use my Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter as well as my two other fixed ND Filters to reduce the amount of light by 13 f-stops! (I see Singh-Ray now has the Mor-Slo 5-stop ND filter, that would have been nice!) The bright, almost white image with the contrast of the black pilings and the grey blur of the boaters turned out exactly as I had envisioned it.

"When I turned to my left, I saw floats on the lake just yards from the waterfalls. Here I envisioned a very dark image, again with a long exposure that betrayed the flow of the water. Using my Vari-ND to achieve an 8-second exposure, I found the 'string of pearls' look that I was seeking.

"Even though they convey two completely different moods, I captured both of these images while standing in the same spot, in the same light and only minutes apart, And both were made quickly and easily. I find the convenience of the Vari-ND invaluable."

We might add that Cole has step-up rings on all his lenses to allow him to conveniently add the Vari-ND at any time. You'll find more about Cole and his classic black-and-white images at

Reflecting how the ColorCombo does "double duty" as Polarizer and Color Intensifier

Always-on-the-go outdoor photographer and workshop leader Tom Bol just got in from Panama and took the time to send us this recent image made in Arizona. By now he's chilling out somewhere in Antarctica.

"I was teaching a workshop recently in Sedona," says Tom, "which is always a fabulous place for landscape photography. Red sandstone formations, interesting cactus and Oak Creek all come together to create a unique location for photographers.

"One evening we were photographing Cathedral Rocks near Oak Creek, and I was working with my various Singh-Ray filters. As I was composing a wide landscape shot and dialing my Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo -- which is both a polarizer and color intensifier -- I spotted this interesting image in a reflection pool down in the lower part of my frame. When I reframed the image, I was astounded at how the ColorCombo simultaneously popped the colors out, and reduced the bright glare on the water. I had become so focused on the big scene in front of me, I'd almost forgot to look at my feet. My photography session quickly transformed into a reflection hunt. We discovered numerous small pools nearby that offered interesting and unique perspectives on Cathedral Rocks."

Tom adds that, "This image shows how dramatically the ColorCombo not only reduced the glare from the water and polarized the light in the sky, but how it really added the color saturation I was looking for. While I'm shooting in Antarctica, you can bet I will be using my ColorCombo and looking for reflection pools along the shore!"

When Tom returns, he's promised to share his Antarctica experience. In the meantime, stop by Tom's website for more information.