Friday, September 05, 2008

Arizona landscape photographer is off to a fast start after getting some helpful advice

After looking at these three images from Jarrod Mosier, you might be surprised to learn he's only been into photography for a little more than a year. "My story is a bit non-inspiring," says Jarrod. "Basically I had been busy for a long time with college and medical school in Arizona. I was too busy, in fact, to enjoy all the outdoor wonders around me. During my last year of school, I had some time on my hands and decided photography would be my creative release -- as well as an excuse to get outside and see the beautiful places I was neglecting. So I bought my camera as a graduation present and started going to Lake Tahoe for sunrise shots.

"About that time a picture of Crater Lake at sunrise by Marc Adamus was published in Outdoor Photographer. After about 500 disappointing pictures that looked nothing like his, I took my photos to a local shop and asked the man what I needed. He said I needed three things: photoshop, to shoot in RAW, and graduated neutral density filters. He recommended Singh-Ray as the top of the line. I promptly ordered my first filter, the Galen Rowell 2-stop soft-step Graduated ND filter. The next week I called Singh-Ray with some questions about how to use the filter and was transferred to 'someone who could help me.' Little did I know they transferred me to Bob Singh! He spent about half an hour answering all my questions and -- after that conversation -- I am now a lifelong Singh-Ray customer.

"Landscapes are my favorite subject to shoot, and I'm willing to hike with all my gear to reach the right locations. When I backpacked into Havasu Falls, I had about 50 pounds of camera gear! I go to the nearby Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park all the time. The latter, In fact, is one of the best places for lightning and sunset pictures. The difficult part is getting a shot that is different from the many popular images of a silhouetted saguaro cactus at sunset. I have spent countless hours hiking and driving around looking for the perfect cactus shot. There is a small area down on the Mexican border that has sand dunes and each March there are wildflowers that blanket the sand. I waited all year to go. Finally I had one whole day off between shifts. I drove all the way out there, 65 miles on a 4-wheel-drive-only road and broke the drive shaft on my truck, only to find I was five days late!

"The beauty of Arizona is that you have in one state every kind of landscape from deserts to mountains and lakes. For example, Havasu Falls, seen in the image above, is one of the most photographic icons in the American Southwest. Located in Supai, AZ, on the edge of the Grand Canyon, photographers must travel 10 miles by foot, horse, or helicopter to capture this magical wonder. The water is bright blue due to the calcium deposits lining the creek bed and flows between red-rock banks. The landscape makes it difficult to capture an image of the falls in a new way. Luckily I had my Singh-Ray filters with me on my trip to the falls in March. As the morning sun lit up the falls, the light provided a wonderful contrast of colors that I was able to capture thanks to my filters. This image was captured on a tripod mounted Canon 30D with a Canon 17-40mm f4L lens with a Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo, Galen Rowell 2-Stop ND, and Daryl Benson 3-stop Reverse ND Grad. Shot at a low ISO, the filter combination was perfect. The LB ColorCombo reduced the glare from the pools and allowed the natural color of the water to show with perfect saturation. The ND Grads balanced the exposure between the highlights and shadows, and the combination allowed a longer shutter speed to blur the flow of the water.

"Monsoon season in Southern Arizona is a photographer’s paradise. The afternoon thunderstorms provide incredible light during the golden hour and spectacular sunsets. One day in July, I noticed an afternoon thunderstorm approaching the Catalina Mountains from the northeast. I went to Windy Point Vista, approximately half way up the highway to Mount Lemmon, hoping to find some magical light. A break in the storm late in the afternoon provided the perfect sunset with warm light on the canyons and the hoodoos of the Catalinas. This image was captured with a Canon 30D with a Canon 17-40mm f4L lens with a 2-stop hard-step ND grad.

"Sedona’s Red rocks at sunset provide unparalleled warm light and amazing images if the exposure is balanced with Singh-Ray ND Grad filters. This image was taken on Schnebly Hill Road in Sedona at sunset while on a trip for fall colors in October. The sunset was tracking perfectly to provide a nicely lit canyon, however the sky was much brighter than the canyon. The exposure was balanced with a Daryl Benson 3-stop Reverse ND filter with a Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo. The camera used was a tripod mounted Canon 30D with a Canon 17-40mm f4L lens."

Jarrod has recently returned from a two-week photo trip to Oregon and Washington, so you may soon be able to share more of recent efforts by visiting his web gallery.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gold-N-Blue Polarizer puts the City of Philadelphia in a much better light

As three-time "Travel Photographer of the Year," globe-trotting Bob Krist is as skilled in shooting impressive cityscapes as he is landscapes. Here's his account of a very recent assignment just a few miles from his hometown of New Hope, PA. when, as he says, "my trusty Gold-N-Blue Polarizer saved me again.

"As soon as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, which is the tourist board of Philadelphia, heard that cable giant Comcast was building the newest and tallest building in their city, they knew they’d need some new skyline pictures for their files and advertising.

Photo A (above): with Gold-N-Blue, Photo B (below): regular polarizer
"The new building was to be finished in January, 2008. And I was contracted to do aerials and skylines, which I was expecting to do in the clear, crisp, low humidity days of late winter and early spring, when I could get the greatest clarity and color saturation.

"Of course, the building wasn’t actually finished until a few weeks ago in late July... right in the heart of the city's hot, hazy, days of mid-Atlantic summer. And of course, my client couldn’t wait another second for the updated shots. Normally, I’d like to wait for ideal conditions, such as when a cold front moves through with a big storm that clears the air. The day after such storms is the ideal time for shooting aerials and skylines.

"I still had to wait a bit for a relatively low-humidity clear day to shoot these images, but I couldn’t really wait for a major cold front. So there was still a bit of haze in the air when I began shooting. So I knew it was time to use my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer to minimize the haze and make the most of the less-than-ideal conditions.

Photo C (above): with Gold-N-Blue, Photo D (below): no filter
"My job was to shoot images both from the ground and from the air, and you can see in these “before and after” shots how nicely the Gold-N-Blue helped me punch up the color.

"In order get some strong sunlight, I had to shoot later in morning and earlier in the afternoon than I ordinarily would because the sun would “haze out” as it neared the horizon. But the Gold-N-Blue put back some of the warmth in the scenes -- without compromising the blues -- and made the overall light look 'sweeter.' The polarization also helped cut through the haze.

"Shooting with two camera bodies in a helicopter for some of the aerials, I had the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer mounted on one body (Photo A) while, on the other body, I had the same focal length lens fitted with a regular polarizer (Photo B). You can see in Photo A how the Gold-N-Blue made the city look sweeter and punchier.

"You can also see the same difference between these two twilight shots taken from a rooftop a few days earlier. In Photo C, I used my Gold-N-Blue Polarizer and for Photo D I used my 16-85mm DX Nikkor AF VR without any filter. It's clear that the colors in Photo C produced an image that was warmer and popped nicely. And it all happened without me doing a lot of post processing.

"Finally, for this shot taken of the 'new' Philadelphia skyline from the waterfront of nearby Camden, New Jersey, the Gold-N-Blue made the reds in the sunset sky really pop. For many who are 'in the business' of photography, the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer is an essential tool when we can't afford to wait for the ideal light. It seems like the busier I am, the more I appreciate having my Gold-N-Blue close at hand. On any assignment, it adds a lot more possibilities."

Continually on the move, Bob's new book is for the Lark Publications "Digital Masters" series. The book is called Digital Travel Photography: Documenting the World's People and Places and will be out this fall, and is available for pre-order now.

Bob will also be doing a series of seminars this fall and early winter for Outdoor Photographer and National Geographic Traveler magazines. Visit his website, and look under the heading "Teach and Talk" to get all the details.