Friday, June 05, 2009

Create your own "fine art" images with a little help from the Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo

If you've been to Adam Barker's website and blog, you know he does much more than take excellent photographs, he thinks them... intensely. Here's his personal take on "fine art" images.

"Fine art... just saying the words evokes mental images of over-stuffed leather chairs, dark wood ceilings, wafting pipe tobacco and snobby looks from those 'more fortunate' than you and I. Well, I’d say it’s time to put those mental images to rest, and start creating your own fine art.

"Although 'fine art' is an extremely subjective concept, I find that a common denominator for many of the fine art images I see is the presence of something that required fresh creativity. It may mean everything to you and nothing to the next guy or gal at the same time, and that’s the true beauty of it.

"In pushing my own creative envelope lately, the Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo has helped me 'see' more keenly things I may have only glanced at before. With the Vari-N-Duo, I can reduce the transmission of light through the lens by as much as 8 f-stops, thus allowing me to make very long exposures at times and in places previously impossible. Truly a tool for the digital age, this filter allows me to surpass the reality of a single moment in time, and portray a number of continuous 'moments' all in one image. By using my digital camera's histogram, I can nail exposures that were at best an educated guess when shooting with film.

"As an outdoor photographer, I am always on the hunt for vivid contrast. Whether that be contrast in color, texture, or shape depends on the location and time of day. In particular, I really enjoy the visual tension offered up by the juxtaposition of hard and soft objects. Such contrast is often found where there's moving water. For me, all it takes is a fresh combination of flowing water alongside a sturdy rock, an abandoned fence post or the graceful roots of an old tree.

"The images seen here would not have been possible without the Vari-N-Duo filter. The first two were shot in Big Cottonwood Creek, UT. They differ quite a bit from the typical grand vistas I look for. That, however, is precisely what fascinated me as I tried to convey a sense of motion and simplicity with longer shutter speeds and minimalist composition. A shutter speed of 8 seconds was used for each image to lend a soft, silky appearance to the water. The polarizing capability of the Vari-N-Duo allowed me to bring out the small pebbles on the riverbed in the tree stump image and to remove the reflection from the granite boulder -- thus revealing more of its surface detail.

"This third image was created near Strawberry Reservoir, UT. For me, it poses the ideal visual setting in which to use the Vari-N-Duo. Leading lines, an element of water, contrast in both subject matter and lighting and not a breath of wind all combined for this perfect opportunity. An exposure of four seconds, combined with a 3-stop Reverse ND grad placed across the horizon, allowed me to highlight the path carved through the field by this meandering spring creek. The polarizer allowed me to reveal the swaying grasses beneath the water’s surface, adding yet another element of flow and continuity to this image.

"One thing I've learned when shooting these types of images -- I must pay attention to the entire frame. Even the slightest distraction near the edges of the frame can detract from an otherwise soothing and simple image. I always use a tripod and study the composition on my LCD screen. We really are fortunate to have these tools at our disposal in our constant quest for inspiring images.

"If you’re battling a creative slump, or simply want to open the floodgates to a different type of imagery, try the new Vari-N-Duo filter! Your inner fine art junkie awaits!"

You'll discover many more examples of Adam's photography -- ranging from scenic landscapes to outdoor action -- by visiting his impressive blog and website. You can also check out his workshop schedule for the summer and fall.

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