Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Some say it's the "unpredictability" that makes the Gold-N-Blue so exciting to use

"I value the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer filter for its versatility and, I confess, its unpredictability," says Geoffrey Agrons. "The three images I've chosen for this post offer a range of visual effects achieved under different climatic conditions. This first image, for example, was captured in the early dawn light over the South Cape May meadows. It illustrates the effect of the Gold-N-Blue as it intersects with fog, sky, and water. The result was a muted palette of soft pastels, which was very appropriate for the quiet mood I hoped to convey. I find exciting things can happen when I use this filter in fog.

"Color correction, exposure adjustment, and sharpening were performed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CS4. I sought an Asian feel to the composition a la Arthur Wesley Dow's woodblock prints, and was especially drawn to the delicacy of the trees and reeds.

"During digital development, images achieved by using the Gold-N-Blue often reveal unexpected pleasures. Sometimes water surfaces assume the hard-edged metallic shine of gold or blue foil, while others glow softly. Solid surfaces are rendered matte or glossy; clouds and sky may contain subtle shades of cobalt, pink, and violet. It is precisely this serendipitous quality that I find most appealing about the Gold-N-Blue. Unlike my approach to other lens filters and post-processing effects, I enjoy surrendering to the peculiarities of the Gold-N-Blue responding to the whims of nature.

"Nevertheless, unprocessed RAW files produced with the Gold-N-Blue inevitably contain untoward color shifts. A number of excellent postings to the Singh-Ray blog already have addressed the challenge of color correction when using the Gold-N-Blue. I usually employ the eyedropper tool in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw to set an anticipated region of neutral gray (by selecting pixels within a medium dark cloud, say, or by incorporating an image of an 18% gray card captured in the field). If I am unsure of the location of neutral gray in the image, I try the following technique. I create a new layer in Adobe Photoshop, fill it with 50% gray, select the “Difference” blending mode, create a threshold adjustment layer, move the slider slowly from the extreme left to the right until black pixels first appear, mark that spot with the color picker tool, and then discard all but the background layer. Under the “Image” menu in Photoshop, I select “Adjustments” and then “Curves” from the pull-down submenus, then touch the middle (gray point) eyedropper to the spot on the image marked by the color picker tool. The results may be gratifying or disappointing. In my experience no single color correction method proves ideal for a given image shot using the Gold-N-Blue. I admit I have not yet tried setting a Custom White Balance* in the camera, but I look forward to trying it soon.

"The image of the Ferris wheel in Wildwood, NJ, was photographed in the off-season on a blustery day punctuated by occasional light breaks through rapidly moving clouds. It was the kind of gray day when my Gold-N-Blue really comes to the rescue. In this image we see how it intensified the effect of a brief moment of late afternoon sun reflected from the structure.

"When I captured this third image with my hand-held Gold-N-Blue, I was delighted to see it transform the muddy brackish waters at Cape May Point State Park into a shimmering pool of molten metal. That's what I mean by 'unpredictability,' And I love it."

Now living and working as a radiologist in Philadelphia, Geoffrey continues to spend his spare time chasing the special beauty and glowing light of his coastal New Jersey homeland and the Delaware Bay. You'll find it all by visiting his website.

*Editor's note: By setting a "Custom White Balance" in the field with the Gold-N-Blue in place on the lens, virtually all digital SLR cameras can compensate for the magenta tint and display a correct image on the LCD. The color temperature and tint settings on the RAW file should require minimal correction. Refer to your camera's manual for specific instructions on setting a Custom White Balance.

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