Friday, January 09, 2009

It's almost never too late in the day to put your LB ColorCombo to work

Baltimore-based photographer Tony Sweet traveled west recently and wandered into areas he'd only seen in the movies. "I was attending a workshop in Bryce National Park as a guest lecturer and, since there was no field instruction required, my wife Sue and I had a chance to get out and make our own images. For me this was a rare occurrence, so every morning and evening we went out to discover Bryce in varying lighting conditions.

"We came upon this particular scene very late in the afternoon. The quality of light was pretty dim and the color was quite flat. I realized I would need to punch up the overall color and darken the sky. As I looked again, I noticed the sun was shining at a 90-degree angle which would be perfect if I used a polarizer, since this angle brings out the maximum impact of the filter. And since the colors in the hoodoos and sky were flat and a bit dull, I chose the Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo -- which includes both the polarizer and color intensifier in one filter -- to help 'beef up' the scene.

"It worked well. By clicking on the photo, you can compare the final photo with a 'no-filter' version. You can see in the no-filter image that the scene is pretty flat and the sky is washed out. You'll also see how the ColorCombo provided more intense color to the hoodoos and to the sky. The ColorCombo image has better color with vibrant reds and even the dark green trees had better color. Even thought the polarizer brought in the sky a bit, it still wasn't detailed enough, so I added my Singh-Ray 3-stop soft-edge Graduated ND filter which darkened the sky sufficiently to reveal greater cloud detail and add extra drama.

"Even in this age of digital photography," says Tony, "I still rely on the Singh-Ray ColorCombo filter and a full set of Graduated Neutral Density filters to achieve the images I see in my imagination." To discover more about Tony's wide range of photographic pursuits and fine art images, you can visit his website and blog at

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Darwin Wiggett wins 2008 honors as Travel Photographer of the Year

When Canadian photographer Darwin Wiggett was recently named overall winner of the 2008 Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) competition, a yearly competition open to photographers across the world. Darwin sent this typically brief note: "I just got this news and thought I would share my good fortune! I am pumped! I'm going to India!" In addition to his upcoming trip down the Ganges River in India, Darwin will receive a Linhof 612 Technorama panoramic camera and several other prizes.

As readers of this blog know, Darwin relies on Singh-Ray filters to help control contrast in his outdoor scenes and more faithfully capture the same image his eye sees. Darwin’s two most used filters are the LB Polarizer which he uses to cut reflective glare and help saturate colors, and his set of 1, 2, and 3-stop hard and soft-step Singh-Ray Graduated ND which are used to balance overly bright skies, among other things. Darwin also uses a 5-stop Solid ND filter to lengthen exposure times so he can "paint with time" and show the movement of light and subjects moving across the land or water.

In the above image made at Bow Lake in Banff National Park, Darwin used a 3-stop soft-step Graduated ND filter over the sky and mountain to reduce its brightness to more closely match that of the backlit foreground. Darwin also used an LB Polarizer to saturate the brilliant fall colors and to reduce reflective sheen from the surface of the lake.

This image of Mount Rundle at Vermilion Lakes was captured by using a 17-40 lens on a Canon EOS-1ds Mark III along with three Singh-Ray filters. Darwin used the LB Polarizer to darken the sky and separate the colorful clouds. In addition, he added a 2-stop hard-edge ND Grad over the sky and mountain to keep these areas rich in tonality. And finally, a 5-stop solid ND filter was used to lengthen exposure times and thereby streak the clouds across the blue sky and build-up extra color in the scene. Darwin used a 24mm TSE lens on his Canon EOS-1ds Mark III with an exposure of 10 seconds at f11 to create this image.

A 2-stop hard-edge ND Grad was all Darwin needed to hold back the bright sky and mountain in this photo. It was made by using the shift feature on his Canon 24mm TSE (tilt-shift) lens where two vertical exposures where made and then stitched together to make a larger square image (Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, 1/8th of a second at F14).

This image of "pancake" ice taken on Abraham Lake in Alberta was also made with a 24mm TSE lens on the Canon EOS-1ds Mark III. To more fully appreciate the shooting situation, check out the photo at the top of this story taken by Samantha Chrysanthou. Here an LB Polarizer was used to remove reflective glare from the ice so that the "pancakes" were better defined. A 2-stop ND Grad filter was used to hold back the bright sky. This photo also received "runner-up" status in Popular Photography’s 15th Annual Reader’s Photo Contest – 2008.

For this "painting with time" exposure of wind-blown grasses in an Aspen forest, Darwin used a combination of an LB Polarizer and a 5-stop solid ND filter to give him a painterly-looking image that has become a favorite with print buyers. The total exposure time was 104 seconds at f18 using a 70-200mm lens on a Canon EOS-1ds Mark III.

As one of Canada's most well known and published landscape, nature and travel photographers, Darwin now has 11 books published including the best sellers Dances with Light - The Canadian Rockies and How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies. His most recent contribution is a chapter in the book "Digital SLR Experts - Landscapes". Darwin is also a columnist and contributor to Outdoor Photography Canada magazine. He also has contributions frequently published in Popular Photography, Outdoor Photographer and other magazines. For more information on Darwin's adventures, visit his website.