Friday, December 11, 2009

His "never-leave-home-without-it" filter helped capture this real Mexican beauty

Jay Goodrich recently traveled to Mexico with his entire extended family -- and one Singh-Ray filter. This trip was primarily for a much-needed break after an extremely busy winter of shooting for clients. "Even professional photographers," says Jay, "need a true vacation from shooting from time to time. Because I wasn’t planning on working a lot, I chose not to bring a huge amount of equipment. I grabbed one camera body, two lenses, a cable release, a tripod, and one of my Singh-Ray 3-stop hard-step Graduated Neutral Density filters. This one filter is my 'never leave home without it' filter.

"One evening on our walk home after exploring Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the heavy cloud cover we were experiencing all day began to break up. I knew the sky was going to have the potential to become a spectacular sunset. I decided to run back to the house ahead of my family members to grab my camera. Our house was only a block from a prime beach location I had been looking at every day as we ventured out to the main avenue of town. I decided to see if mother nature was going to cooperate.

"As the sun began to dip near the horizon, I set up my camera and tripod. I mounted my Canon 5D with 16-35mm f2.8 lens onto a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod, with a Kirk BH-1 ballhead, and my Singh-Ray 3-stop hard-step ND Grad. My camera was set to AV (or aperture value) at f/22. I needed the help of my wife and her brother to get the image just right. My brother-in-law stood in the water just out of frame to create the swirling effect in the wave. I hand-held the filter in the location I predetermined by holding down my depth-of-field preview button. My wife released the shutter with my cable release.

"I captured a total of about a 1,000 images during this ten-day trip. To put that number in perspective, if this trip were for work, I would have arrived home with close to 10,000 images."

Jay's image has since been selected for publication in the upcoming issue of Nature’s Best Magazine. Awarding him the honor of "highly commended photographer" in this year’s Windland Smith Rice International Awards. For more information about his work head to his website and blog.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Photographer saves time by shooting higher quality JPEG images with his LB ColorCombo

As one of today's leading travel photographers, Bob Krist has also become an efficiency expert when it comes to his photography. Saving time whenever possible is a high priority. Here are several shots he made with the LB ColorCombo on a recent assignment in Slovenia. "It’s a nice set of pictures," says Bob, "but the best thing about them (for me) is that they’re JPEG images straight out of the camera! In fact, I’m now able to output JPEGs so handsome that I only resort to the RAW files about 20-30% of the time. This whole strategy is designed to keep me out in the field shooting, where I’m happiest, instead of in front of the computer tweaking, which not only annoys me but consumes time I need for other pursuits.

"Have I given up shooting RAW files? Not a chance. But I have now taken up shooting in RAW + JPEG Fine mode, thanks to two things:

"First, the parameters for processing JPEGs in the newer Nikon -- and I assume Canon* -- DSLR cameras provide a color palette that I can 'customize' pretty much like choosing the different types and brands of color film did in the old days. For instance, for scenics, I now use the Vivid setting on my D90 and/or D300, which gives me images with the look of my beloved Velvia color film. When I’m in a terribly contrasty situation, I go right to Portrait for a nice soft gradation I find reminiscent of Astia.

"But the second thing that allows me to use prints from JPEG files straight from the camera is my frequent use of Singh-Ray filters. For instance, when I combined that Vivid setting with the LB ColorCombo polarizer, I was able to emphasize those amazing red tile roofs in several of the accompanying shots... It also works its magic on the blue water and red bridge in the skyline shot. The LB ColorCombo helps those files really pop, most of the time with little or no work from me.

"In the shot of the dragon bridge, the Vivid/ColorCombo duo helped squeeze what little color there was out of the hazy bright sky. In the backlit harbor scene, it did the same thing, cutting the relfections off the water to increase the color saturation.

"I’m finding that I now go back to the RAW files only about 30% of the time when I'm shooting this way. I’ll never stop shooting the RAW, of course, because it is very nice to know that all that information is there in the file should I ever need it.

"This whole shooting strategy arose when I noticed that I was having trouble, occasionally, making JPEGs that looked as good as the embedded preview JPEGs in the RAW file. It got me paying closer attention to those processing parameters that can be set in the camera, and once I started tweaking those to fit what I was shooting, I was hooked."

In addition to writing a regular column in Outdoor Photographer, Bob teaches photo workshops for the Maine and Santa Fe Photo workshops, National Geographic Expeditions, and Linblad Expeditions. His highly informative website and blog feature many great images and informative notes on his frequent travels and technical ventures.

*Note: Canon "Picture Style" settings are applied to JPEG images, but in order to apply them to RAW files, images must be processed with Canon's proprietary software, Digital Photo Professional.