Friday, January 01, 2010

After a very wet welcome to his new home in the Pacific Northwest -- he's learned to like it

"Before my wife and I packed up everything we owned and moved to Washington State," says freelance photographer Jay Goodrich, "They all warned me -- and I did listen, even though my mind really didn’t want to believe them. We made the move, anyway. It’s a little different here in La Conner compared to where we moved from in Colorado. We lived in the high alpine desert where wet weather, for the most part, was pretty scarce.

"Sure enough, the Pacific Northwest welcomed us in a way only a mother duck could love. It rained for 6 straight weeks. The meteorologists said moisture levels were 68% above normal. I felt like I was swimming whenever I left the house. Normally, so much moisture at this time of year would be awesome because I live to ski, and the skiing was awesome -- until even the snow up high turned to rain.

"When I finally realized the rain was not going to stop, I began to accept the idea that I would have to change my perspective. In fact I had no other choice, because I had a private workshop to teach. When a client is paying, you don’t complain -- you tell yourself it's going to be great -- even though I really wanted to remain in my nice warm bed dreaming about warm sunny beaches. As soon as my student and I got in the car, I headed toward the Mount Baker Ski Area in search of rain forest locations -- a fitting choice since it was pouring out. This is when the real lesson finally began to 'soak in.' When it's raining in the rain forest, the photography is actually really, really good, if not awesome.

"I soon spotted a tree-and-river scene on the side of the road so I immediately found a pullout and grabbed my gear. I set up a composition (above) and had my student take a look. A beautiful big leaf maple with the Nooksack River directly behind it. The rain does two very amazing things for photography, it saturates colors and creates very even lighting conditions that make forest images just sing. The key to creating an image like this is to polarize the light. For this image I used my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, which hid all the water that was collecting and reflecting on the foliage and warmed up the scene to make the greens really jump out.

"After working on several more compositions at the first location, we moved on down the road where I spotted this creek which presented an array of potential shots. There was a stand of alder and moss covered boulders lining one side, and the creek split down the middle and then rejoined itself. Without putting a ton of thought into the composition and without putting the LB Polarizer on the lens, I quickly took this first shot as we walked up to the scene. Notice all the glare on of the wet rocks.

"Following some additional thought, I placed my LB Warming Polarizer on the lens and recomposed this next image to help guide the viewer’s eye to follow the creek, boulders, and alders right to the top of the scene. This created a much stronger composition. It was at this point in the workshop that I realized the teacher was learning, too. I had discovered that going out in the rain to photograph is not such a bad idea after all -- especially, when it allows me to capture images like these on a regular basis. Whenever the next system comes in and stalls for another six weeks, you can bet that I will be back out there to put my LB Warming Polarizer 'rain filter' to the test once again.

"Last week, the rain we have been engulfed in for over six weeks just decided to give up and clear out. I was so shocked that I almost forgot to grab my camera and head out the door. This time I decided to head out to Deception Pass State Park in Anacortes, Washington, about 13 miles from my house.

"When I reached Deception Pass, I decided to search for a nice sunset image and I was ultimately greeted by this spectacular view. There are two bridges that travel between the water passages and you can walk across both of them -- and underneath them for that matter. I hit it just right, the tide was on its way out and I was able to capture these spiraling whirlpools that were being created by the moving water. The fact that the sunset was amazing didn’t hurt either. This image was created with a 16-35mm f2.8 II lens on a Canon 1D Mark III, using a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and 3-stop Reverse Graduated ND Filter."

We're certain you'll hear more from Jay about photographing in the Pacific Northwest. You'll also find his new website and blog frequently feature images created with Singh-Ray filters as well as news on his future workshops and various special projects.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

After dreaming of far-off places, he finds the forest is just as green in his own backyard

Chad De Rosa has evolved from racing BMX and motocross for more than a decade to producing motocross films that have been distributed worldwide. "More recently," says Chad, "still photography has become my true passion. Each time I visit the Singh-Ray Filters blog and see all the impressive photographs taken by so many talented outdoor photographers around the world, I feel the urge to pack my gear and travel. However, since I have a full-time job other than photography, it’s not yet possible to travel to any far-off parts of the world. Then, not so long ago, I realized I was spending so much time dreaming about the far-off places, that I was dreaming right past my own backyard. It has finally dawned on me that I should focus on all the scenic opportunities I have right around home here in Bellingham, Washington. I am surrounded by thick woods, wild rivers, alpine meadows, beaches, sunsets and the ever-changing weather and seasons.

"Less than an hour’s drive from my home, for example, is Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in the Cascade Mountains, where I can find everything from lush green forests full of huge old growth timber to rivers fed by glaciers that meander through deep canyons. The day I found this scenic pool in the Nooksack River (above), the sky was filled with clouds. Such overcast weather really works best for me for long exposures because it produces very even light. I also pack a set of chest waders so I can go after shots such as this one. Anyone can stand on the shore or on the bridge and take a snapshot. I like to get in where the action is and not be limited by the water. After I waded through this waist deep pool, I turned and set my Canon 1D MkIII on my tripod just below a small waterfall that was falling from behind the camera. I mounted my Vari-ND on my 17-40mm f/4L lens and quickly dialed in an 8-second shutter speed at f/13 and ISO at 100. For shots like this, I shoot in aperture priority mode with the camera automatically selecting the proper shutter speed for the aperture I choose. I then use my Vari-ND to achieve my desired shutter speed by going brighter or darker with the filter.

"At this next point in the Nooksack River, the water was moving relatively fast, which made for a bit of choppy white water. To maximize the smoothness of the water in the final image, I chose to go for a longer shutter speed. With the aperture set at f/14 and ISO at 100, I dialed my Vari-ND filter darker until my shutter speed was at 25 seconds. At this exposure, the sky in my frame was over-exposed so I used my Singh-Ray 3-stop, hard-step ND Grad filter to hold back this extra light at the top left of the frame and balance out the photo. The long exposure smoothed the water as planned and the frothing on the surface gave it a sense of motion and speed.

"After playing in the water for a few hours, I took off the chest waders and headed higher into the mountains. At the end of Washington SR 542, I found this shot of Mount Shuksan with Picture Lake in the foreground. Although it's a very typical view of this mountain, I chose it because of the lighting on the clouds. Also, I was confident I could use my 3-stop, hard-step ND Grad to correctly expose the foreground while holding back the brightly lit mountain and clouds. Resting firmly atop the tripod was my 1D with the 17-40mm f/4L glass. I dialed in f/13 at 2 seconds with the ISO at 100 to properly expose the trees on the far side of the lake. At this exposure the detail in the sky, clouds and mountain were blown out. That is where the ND Grad came to the rescue. During the 2-second exposure, I 'danced' the filter in front of the lens to ease the edge of the hard-step into the foreground.

"The image at the top of this story was captured at a spot along the East Bank Trail of Baker Lake that I hadn’t visited since I was a young boy nearly 20 years ago. I had a memory of huge old growth trees growing along the banks of this mountainous lake with carpets of lush green moss. After a one-hour drive and a short hike, I found myself right where I wanted to be. I set up my 1D with the 17-40mm f/4L. lens. At this time of day the sunlight was coming in hard through the forest canopy in the upper portion of my frame. After a few test shots, I realized I was getting really strong hotspots where the sun was coming through the leaves. I figured that a 1-stop ND Grad filter would have been perfect to hold back just enough light and balance out the frame. However, since I only had a Singh-Ray 2-stop, hard-step ND Gradient filter to work with, I placed my Vari-ND filter on the lens and dialed in a longer shutter speed of about 8 seconds. This allowed me to dance the 2-stop ND Grad filter over the hotspot for only half of the 8-second exposure to achieve the same effect a 1-stop filter would have had. This method really worked well."

Chad's website offers a special gallery of images captured with Singh-Ray filters as well as other galleries plus his blog -- all at www.derosaphotography.com.