Tuesday, May 06, 2008

When you explore new imaging techniques, keep your Singh-Ray filters handy

As east-coast photographer and workshop leader Joe Rossbach will tell you, "Playing around is one of the most important ways to learn new photographic techniques. To demonstrate this point, I'm sending these four images taken recently during various experimental sessions.

"I made this first image last fall while shooting autumn foliage in Northern Pennsylvania. It was a very cold and dreary day with high wind gusts and occasional downpours. Instead of packing in the equipment and retiring to the comfort of a hotel room, I became excited to be outside in such adverse weather. With the wind whipping the foliage all around, it was impossible to create a sharp image of the autumn color. I decided to 'go with the blow' and use the wind to my advantage. I slipped on my LB Warming Polarizer to first remove any of the glare from the wet foliage and thus increase the contrast and color saturation. I wanted to create a ghostly image of the autumn woods, so I stopped down my 70-200 lens to f16 for an exposure of 1 second. This allowed the wind to toss the leaves about and create a painterly look in the first image. With my camera set for multiple exposure, I then opened up to f2.8 and defocused the lens until everything was slightly out of focus. This capture was stacked on top of the first image and created the blotches of color in the image.

"This next image of Tiger Lilies was made inside an arboretum at Brookside Gardens. I was shooting at midday, and even though the light was soft and diffused, it was still very bright. I couldn't achieve a long enough exposure to achieve the abstract effect I was after. Fitting the Vari-ND filter on my lens took care of the problem and allowed my to dial in just the right amount of density for this image. This is a 8-exposure in-camera multiple exposure. Each shot was made at f5.6 at 1/4 of a second. I rotated my camera in a clockwise rotation for each image. Making sure to stop the rotation before beginning the next exposure. This created the stacking effect in the image with sharp detail instead of a complete swirl and wash of color.

"I created a similar swirl effect for these Blackeyed Susans by again using the Vari-ND filter on my 70-200mm zoom mounted on a tripod. Even with my aperture set to maximum f22 and my ISO all the way down to 100, I could only get to 1/2-second in open shade. I knew I would need at least a 1- to 2-second exposure to be able to twist the camera around to create the maximum effect. The Vari-ND allowed me to dial in 2 additional stops of density which increased my exposure from 1/2 second to 2 seconds.

"This final example of creative play is an image of autumn foliage in Virginia. I wanted to add a painterly effect to this beautiful autumn foliage. To create this type of image, I like to apply an up-and-down panning technique during the course of a long exposure. The longest exposure I was able to get without any filtration was 1 second at f22. This is a pretty long exposure and I tried it out but I couldn't get the really blurred effect I was looking for. Once again the Singh-Ray Vari-ND came to my rescue -- when I added it and dialed in around 3 stops of density, I was able to slow my shutter speed to 4 seconds which proved to be the perfect amount of time to create this effect."

Joe informs us that he'll be joining Mountain Trail Photography Workshops in 2009. His remaining 2008 workshops will also be hosted by Mountain Trail. Check out his April newsletter at his website for more information.

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