Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three recent images produced with a very well-traveled set of Singh-Ray Filters

As a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer and frequent contributor to many leading news, travel and sports publications, Jay Dickman has literally covered the world.

"Most recently," says Jay, "I’ve had the great opportunity to travel with Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions (eight ships in the fleet, traveling year-around, pole-to-pole) as the on-board National Geographic Expert, providing lectures and photographic input to the travelers aboard these amazing journeys. Three trips to the Antarctic, two to Baja, a couple to the Galapagos, the Dalmatian Coast, and -- the cherry on the sundae -- the ultimate trip “Around the World by Private Jet.”

"In this atmosphere, I get to combine my two passions: photography and teaching. Many of the trips are photographically driven; excursions to the shore are set at 'prime-light' time, providing not only the tremendous locations but also positioning the photographers onboard for the best light possible.

Landing recently on Port Lockroy in the Antarctic, we off-loaded our Zodiac rafts in rather inclement weather…mid-20’s and blowing snow and sleet. Making our way through the cabins of this 19th century British outpost, the weather started moving out (if you think your home location fits the old-saw, 'if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,' the Antarctic takes this adage to the 10th power; one minute you are in sun and shirtsleeves, the next the temperature has dropped 25 degrees and you are fighting horizontal blowing snow and fog). On this small rock island, there are colonies of gentoo penguins. Rules of the road here dictate that visitors do NOT approach, touch or impede the progress of these residents. We are guests, and we are to respect the rules.

"The photo above was captured with the Antarctic Peninsula and its mountains as the background and a number of visually enticing gentoos close by. I moved within about 5 meters of the closest bird and sat. Penguins are curious and it didn’t take long for this one to shuffle up towards me, trying to figure out why I was there. The foreground was in the shade of the departing storm, the mountains in the background were basking in the sun…pretty but one of those impossible lighting situations for the photographer, as the dynamic range was too great for the camera to capture.

"I’ve been using Singh-Ray filters for several years, not willing to chance my images to anything less. From the LB Warming Polarizer to the Galen Rowell series of Graduated ND Filters, these filters are permanent residents of my camera bags. Although our eyes can see a tremendous dynamic range, the camera has a much more limited range. Looking at this scene, my eyes could take in the shadows as well as the detail in the sun-lit snow. With this fact in mind, I used a 2-stop, soft-step ND Grad filter that would place the demarcation zone over a broader area so the transition in density would not be noticeable.

"The one foreground penguin shuffled closer, the guy on the top left did a moment of sky pointing, giving the image a little more interest on that next layer, and the above image was made using my Olympus E3, 12-60mm lens @ 23mm, 1/250th of a second at f8 at 100 ISO.

"On another expedition to the Antarctic, we were incredibly fortunate to have visited Neko Harbor, one of the most stunningly beautiful bodies of water on the earth. Calving glaciers, icebergs, mountains, it’s the definition of sensory overload. These expeditions carry kayaks onboard the ship for those desiring a nearer experience to the frigid waters of the Antarctic. I’d gone out solo in one, and several of us were navigating towards a huge iceberg -- but not too close as these can roll quite unexpectedly and quickly. While one boat was passing in front of this behemoth, I used the Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, turned not all the way to full polarization (the sky was intense enough without making it look false). I wanted to bring down the value of the sky while making the reflection a bit more pronounced. A couple of frames, and we paddled back to the ship. This time my camera was the Olympus E30, 12-60mm lens @ 17mm, 1/500th of a second at f4.4.

"Now let’s go about as far away as possible from Antarctica, both literally and figuratively, to the Pyramids of Egypt. Near the end of the Around the World by Private Jet trip, we landed in Cairo, Egypt, home of the famed Pyramids. Our stop here was in midday because we were moving through a number of locations.

"We’d gone to an overlook, where one can see all three of the Pyramids with a clean and unobstructed foreground. I was shooting the typical scenes, our group was scattered about, and our time had come to an end. As I was heading back to our vehicle, I saw this guy in his incredible headdress, offering to pose for photos for a fee. I ran up to him, asked him to just talk to a friend, and composed the image so there was no intrusion of cars or anything else which would detract from the timelessness of this image. Harken back to what time of day I’d mentioned earlier: midday. Not the best light for people photography, especially in the Egyptian desert. I only had a couple of minutes as our drivers were calling for us, so I decided to use my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer -- again on the Olympus E30 and 12-60mm lens -- knowing that it would help provide saturation in the sky (a sand storm had moved through a short time before) as well as reducing the reflections on his skin. I had just enough time to make two frames before a caravan of buses and cars intruded on the road in the background; I was finished... but I was pleased with the results from the first two frames."

In addition to his ventures with Lindblad/National Geographic, Jay currently hosts his own series of FirstLight digital photography workshops in locations around the world. "Just when I think I'm sick of spending so much time away from home, I do my drill -- I pick up that camera and the magic flows through me." To see more of Jay's magic, visit www.jaydickman.net or visit his workshop schedule at www.firstlightworkshop.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice to see a site recognizing Olympus SLRs as a capable platform for great photography, I currently own 7 different Singh-Ray filters and they all complement my Olympus cameras nicely.
Charles S.