Friday, September 11, 2009

This August was a spectacular time to be photographing Mount Rainier's wildflowers

Having been raised in western Washington state, Doug Dietiker fully appreciates the natural beauty surrounding him, especially Mount Rainier National Park -- named for the large 14,411-foot-high inactive volcano at its center. "Mount Rainier," says Doug, "is part of the mountain range extending north to Canada and south to California that includes several inactive volcanoes and the semi-active Mount St. Helens.

"Mount Rainier is well known for its amazing wildflower displays in mid-to-late-August after the snow has finally melted from the mountain meadows. There are several areas within the park that can be counted on for a spectacular display. Some of the more popular and easier to access areas are Sunrise on the North side of the mountain and Paradise on the south side.

"On the northeastern side at Chinook Pass is Tipsoo Lake with its own impressive views of Mount Rainier and its own spectacular display of wildflowers. Almost annually I trek to one or more of these scenic meadows -- hoping for a magic moment and that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Of course, that may just be my excuse to go there and soak up the scenery. This August was a good one for prolific displays of wildflowers almost everywhere on the mountain.

"In addition to my camera and tripod, my most used tools are my Singh-Ray 2- and 3-stop soft-step Graduated Neutral Density filters. Photographing at the 'magic' hours almost guarantees that I will have a blown-out sky or a too-dark foreground to deal with. These filters give me the ability to hold back the bright sky and snow-covered mountain with a nice transition to the wildflowers. I find myself stacking my 2 and 3-stop ND grads together at sunrise or sunset with no discernible loss in color or image quality. I have combined two images occasionally to handle the dynamic range, but I find I use my Singh-Ray filters far more frequently to ease my post processing efforts and -- in the case with these shots -- there was a slight breeze and combining two images would have been difficult if not impossible.

"This third image also resulted from this year's trip. It was taken at the headwaters of Paradise River using my LB Warming Polarizer. I use the it on the streams to cut the glare off the water and show the color of the rocks below the surface -- as well as stop any distracting bright spots in the wet area of the rocks above the surface. I think if I had to choose only 3 filters to lighten the load, they would be the polarizer and the 2 and 3-stop soft-step ND Grads. That's a very versatile choice."

Doug continues to do most of his shooting with his new D3x Nikon's Live View system. "It really helps when I'm fine tuning my polarizer." To see more of Doug's scenic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, visit his website.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Well-travelled photographer relies on her LB ColorCombo almost everywhere she goes

Eva McDermott lives in Sudbury, MA, with her husband and two sons. "I'm a chemist working for an electronics company," says Eva, "but photography has been my passion for over 35 years." To minimize the time spent post-processing her images, she travels with a variety of Singh-Ray filters. "I must admit that there is an LB ColorCombo Polarizer on my lens about 98% of the time.

"Working with various 35mm, medium-format, and 4x5 cameras -- I've always enjoyed recording the beauty of nature that surrounds us. I love traveling to photogenic places from Nova Scotia to the Desert Southwest. Most recently I visited Bow Lake in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies where these images were captured.

"The day I arrived at Bow Lake, both the mountains and the lake were shrouded in thick clouds. As evening approached, the clouds started to disperse, revealing the outrageously beautiful lake and surrounding mountains. This first image shows Crowfoot Mountain rising some 3700 feet above the surface of the lake. The clouds started to glow a delicate pink. To capture the color of the sky, detail in the mountain, and reveal the colored rock fragments below the surface of the lake, I used my thin-mount 82mm Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo along with a Singh-Ray 2-Stop Soft-Step Graduated ND filter on my Canon 5D MarkII with 16-35mm f/2.8L lens. The ISO was 200 for a 1/10-second exposure at f/8.

"The next morning, I was lucky to find some very atmospheric clouds hugging Crowfoot at sunrise for breathtakingly serene and beautiful mood. To capture the scene as I saw it, I used the same filters and lens used for the first image. With the ISO set at 100, the exposure was 0.7 second at f/16.

"Lake Louise is a well known attraction in Banff, so when I arrived right around sunrise, I was looking for a composition that was not typical of this iconic place. I found this outcropping of boulders complemented by the warm glow on the trees and mountain, and decided to set up for this wide angle image. I used my LB ColorCombo and hand held a 2-stop soft-step Graduated ND Filter to hold back the bright sky, retain detail in the shadows, and reveal the boulders beneath the surface of the lake. This image was captured at ISO 100; 0.7 second at f/16. As a side note, I hand hold my 84x120mm ND grads.

"During my visit to Moraine Lake -- another beautiful deep turquoise lake -- the weather did not cooperate at all and so I had to make the most of a cloudy, rainy day. The colors of the lakes in Banff and Jasper National Parks are definitely very impressive and even more so on a cloudy, rainy day. Moraine Lake was less crowded than Lake Louise and in some ways more stunning. Once again, I used my thin-mount LB ColorCombo and hand held my 2-stop soft-step Graduated ND Filter. While there was no bright sky to hold back, I used the ND grad to accentuate the gray and white clouds. The ColorCombo helped intensify the color details in the mountain, evergreen trees, and the lake. This image was exposed at ISO 100 for 1.5 seconds at f/16.

"While at Moraine Lake, I also enjoyed exploring the intimate details of some of the colorful rock formations. The graphic pattern of cracks and the bright colors of the rock and lichen caught my eye. This image, was taken with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS at 120mm and the LB ColorCombo."

Eva's website gallery reveals a wide variety of waterscapes, landscapes, and macro images in both B&W and Color.