Friday, June 27, 2008

Long-lens shooter finds his LB Polarizer clearly makes a difference

In addition to being a freelance writer and outdoor photographer based in Edmonton, Alberta, Paul Burwell also conducts frequent photo workshops. "When I do my workshops," says Paul, "I don't photograph alongside my students. They get my full personal attention. This means I'm out shooting alot on my own between workshops to keep my stock and gallery files fresh. My 500mm Canon lens is always at my side.

"It was a beautiful spring morning the other week as I was driving the rural roads around Edmonton eager to find some new wildlife subjects. I was really hoping for some nesting bluebirds, but it seems this is the year of the tree swallow around Edmonton. My haphazard wandering eventually took me to a rural gravel road I hadn't travelled before. I soon came across a wonderful marsh, alive with the natural sights, sounds and furious activity common to spring.

"After some quick investigation of the accessible areas of the marsh, I was thrilled to discover a Red-necked Grebe nesting within reach of my camera gear. An added bonus was that the nest faced the east and caught the morning light. I went back to my truck and set up my portable photography blind along the shore of the marsh. Photographing nesting birds can be a tricky proposition as you never want to stress the animals or participate in any sort of behaviour that might lead them to disrupt their incubating activities. A blind is a great way of accomplishing this because I find that -- as soon as I am positioned in my blind -- the creatures in the vicinity completely ignore my presence.

"I set up my gear (Canon 1Ds Mark II with a Canon 500mm F4L IS, 2.0x teleconverter on a Gitzo 3540XLS tripod with a Jobu-Design Black Widow Gimbal head) and started working on my photographs. Although it was still morning, the light had started to become harsh. In the days before I had my Canon drop-in filter modified to hold a Singh-Ray Polarizer, I probably would have abandoned this situation because of the highly reflecting sunlight. But with the Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer in my lens, I knew I still had at least an hour of great light to work with.

"As I focused on the grebes' nest, I noticed the bird currently sitting on the nest would occasionally call and a bird elsewhere on the marsh would answer back. Soon the grebe's partner appeared on the scene, and the birds swapped places. The bird previously incubating the nest swam off to feed around the marsh while the partner took over the incubation activities. Besides carefully rearranging some plant matter around the edge of the nest, the primary responsibility of the incubating bird seems to be sleeping.

"I witnessed a couple of these changing-of-the-guard routines and was working to capture a great image of both birds in the frame. Because of the strong sunlight, I kept on using my Singh-Ray "lighter, brighter" LB Warming Polarizer the whole time. As soon as I began chimping my shots on the camera's LCD screen, I was delighted with the results. When I finally felt I'd captured the image I was looking for, I quickly swapped out the Singh-Ray Polarizer in order to take a 'without polarizer' comparison image to use during the workshops and classes I teach. When I compare these two images -- made just 39 seconds apart -- the reason for using the polarizer is readily apparent. I wonder how many long-lens shooters have tried using slower polarizers and just given up on them? I would encourage any photographer who's serious enough to invest several thousand in a 500 or 600mm telephoto to consider having Singh-Ray install their LB Warming Polarizer in a Canon drop-in polarizer ring. They'll save 2/3 of an f-stop compared to older filters and the results will speak -- and pay -- for themselves."

To learn more about Paul Burwell's work, be sure to stop by his website.

To upgrade your drop-in polarizer, you'll need to ship the drop-in polarizer that fits your lens to Singh-Ray along with payment for the LB Warming Polarizer glass plus $50 custom mounting fee ($260 + shipping). This service is also available for our Gold-N-Blue Polarizer ($240 + shipping). For more information, call Singh-Ray at 863-993-4100.

No comments: