Friday, May 23, 2008

Photographing on the open water is much smoother sailing with the LB Polarizer

During his 25 years as an avid amateur photographer, Peter Lyons says, "I played with many if not all of the common tools available to serious photographers; different lenses, different films (and more recently, digital adjustments in Photoshop), and different filters.

"Then a year and a half ago, things really got really serious. I finally jumped in with both feet and committed myself to being a full-time professional maritime photographer in San Francisco. Even though I brought along that quarter century of photographic experience into my business, it's taken more than 100,000 more exposures for me to really start nailing down 'the look' I'm after with my nautical subjects.

"I knew from shooting landscapes that a polarizer would help me get bold skies and vivid colors, but at first I didn't bring that look to my moving subjects. Once I did, though, what a difference! Singh-Ray's lighter brighter LB Warming Polarizers make crisp white sails pop against brilliant blue skies. The foam of a boat's wake contrasts with the deep greens and blues of the water. And with reduced reflections on boat hulls, sails and even clothing, colors really glow, even before any post-processing.

"Thanks to the improved light transmission of Singh-Ray's 'Lighter Brighter' glass, I can use these polarizers while hand-holding even long lenses like my current favorite, Canon's 100-400mm. Tripods, after all, are useless on a boat!

"As much as I use my polarizers, I soon heard another maritime photographer asking, 'You use a polarizer? I just do that in Photoshop.' I think his comment reflects a common misconception. Although I, too, use the important digital tools in Photoshop and similar software, I realize the limits. Controlling the glare and flare of polarized light reflecting from a scene -- especially on the open water in bright daylight -- is not simply a matter of tweaking saturation, contrast or some color channel in the computer. If I don't use the polarizer when I'm shooting the image, I've learned I simply can't get the same effect in post-processing. The color and contrast I could have captured in the camera are gone, and I know I'm not going to get them back.

"Even though I'm now using my LB Warming Polarizer most of the time I'm shooting, I've learned I can't just screw mount it onto my lens and forget it's there. I need to 'work' with it -- rotating it for the best effect depending on my changing orientation to the sun and the effect I'm trying to achieve. As I do this, I'm often surprised by the changing effect I'm witnessing in the viewfinder. Sometimes I'll want the full effect, and other times I can choose to dial it out of the picture.

"Some of the most common remarks I hear now are 'I love the colors,' 'the sky looks amazing,' or 'how do you make the water look so good?' I'm happy to share my secret! No, I'm not boosting saturation over the top. The color and contrast are already there in the scene; effective use of the LB Polarizer just allows me to reveal them."

For Peter Lyons and anyone else who's serious about photographing on the open water, the LB Warming Polarizer means business. You'll enjoy seeing many more of Peter's colorful photos on his website -- be sure to hang on to the rail!

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