Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter weather brings fresh opportunities to use your Singh-Ray Filters

Outdoor photographer Jon Cornforth knows that winter and cold weather bring special opportunities to capture dramatic -- and sometimes even unique -- images. "Recently I was up in Haines, Alaska," says Jon, "to photograph the spectacle of over 2000 bald eagles gathering along the Chilkat River for the late season salmon run. It was amazing to see so many eagles everywhere. Although I was there mainly to photograph the eagles with a Canon 5D and 500mm lens, I did make a point of getting up 'early' enough to shoot a few landscape scenes with my Pentax 67II medium format camera and Singh-Ray filters. At this time of year the sun comes up at about 8 am and sets by 3 pm, so the time frame for taking photos is short.

"This first photo was taken one terribly cold morning as I drove up to the Eagle Preserve, I noticed this icy channel on one of the mud flats near the mouth of the river and immediately pulled over for a closer look. I could see the wind had blown the water out of the channel and left these unusual ice formations behind. I have never seen anything so interesting and so delicate in all my years of photography. Some of these overlapping 'ice-feathers' were over 6 inches tall and several feet long. I got out my wideangle 55mm lens (equivalent to about 28-mm on a 35-mm format) and used a Singh-Ray 3-stop hard-step Graduated Neutral Density filter to even out the exposure between the delicate ice patterns and the pink clouds in the morning sky.

"The second image was taken while leading a recent workshop in Utah. We had intended to do some backpacking near Escalante, but when the forecast started calling for a heavy winter storm, we changed our plans and went to Bryce Canyon to photograph in the fresh snow. On the first morning, there was a blizzard raging at Sunset Point and we could not see a thing. It was still snowing on the second morning, but we could now see the canyon. It was incredible to be standing at the rim of the canyon looking down onto all of the hoodoos covered in fresh snow. Using the snow-laden tree to frame the canyon below, I chose a 75-mm lens (equivalent to about a 35-mm) along with a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer to remove the glare on the snow and darken the blue sky."

As you prepare to follow Jon's example and plunge into the wintery weather, you might appreciate the following tip. "When you are going to be out shooting in winter, I recommend dressing much warmer than you think you need to, since you'll be standing around most of the time waiting for the light and getting cold in the process. I have a minus-40-degree expedition parka that I can't walk more than 100 feet in without breaking a sweat, but when it is 0 degrees and the wind chill is much worse -- like when I was photographing the ice patterns along the Chilkat River -- I am happy I have it on." For many more photographs and helpful ideas, stop by Jon's website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Score two more dramatic images for the Singh-Ray Gold-Blue Polarizer

Few if any photographers have traveled to more places in the world than Bob Krist, "and my Singh-Ray filters are always with me.

"Here are a couple more samples of my Singh-Ray filter stuff. These two pictures were taken moments apart on a recent assignment in the Baja region of Mexico. It was shaping up as a lackluster sunset, and I had the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer on my long lens and was able to get a nice golden version of a Zodiac exploring the coves on the island of Santa Catalina in the Sea of Cortez.

"But then as the sun set, things improved dramatically with some amazing clouds. Fortunately, I had my other Gold-N-Blue ready to go on my wide-angle lens. But I also pulled out my 3-stop Galen Rowell ND Grad to hold back the sky and get the amazing clouds building over the island.

"In both cases," says Bob, "the Singh-Ray filters saved me from a lot of post-production fussing, and made these dramatic photos right-in-the-camera." Simply click on these images to enjoy them in greater detail.

And don't forget, Bob's 2008 "Spirit of Place" calendar is still available with your donation to the Jonathan D. Krist foundation. Further details here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

In black & white or color, the Vari-ND can make all the difference

Professional photographer Joe Rossbach covers a lot of ground -- and water -- around his home base in Annapolis, Maryland, at the heart of Chesapeake Bay country. He spends about half of each year in the field conducting his photography workshops. Here are two versions of a scene shot using the Singh-Ray Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter.

"I made these images during one of my workshops this fall in Great Falls National Park," says Joe. "This location featuring the waterfalls and cascades along Mather Gorge is a favorite haunt of mine. Because I am shooting there so often, I find it challenging to make new and fresh images. Just recently I got my hands on the Vari-ND and it has really helped me solve that problem. The Vari-ND allows me to dial in exposure times from 30 seconds to several minutes and create stunning effects in both my black & white and color images. For example, while we were out on the river around 10 am, the light began to get a little harsh as the morning fog started to burn off. Even with my lens stopped down to f/16 and with a polarizing filter, I was only able to shoot at about 2 seconds.

"I needed a much longer shutter speed that would emphasize the rushing water and allow the fog lifting in the background to move and create a surreal effect. When I put the Vari-ND filter on my 17-35mm lens and dialed in its maximum density, it allowed me to increase my exposure from 1 second to 1 minute. This allowed the water and fog to create a stunning visual effect. During the exposure, I also used my Singh-Ray 2-stop soft-step Graduated ND Filter to darken the background and sky."

Joe sent us both a color and black & white version of this scene, and we were most impressed with the tonal range, rich texture and mood of the B&W version. Be sure to click on the image to view it at a larger size. The color one is also terrific, and it's presented here for comparison. What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

You can see more of Joe's images in his November 7th post and on his blog.