Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Having fun with Singh-Ray filters can often become a very serious matter...

California landscape photographer Wendell DeLano sends these examples of the fun he's having with his Singh-Ray filters in a variety of outdoor lighting situations. "On shoots when I have carried my Graduated Neutral Density filters in my shirt pocket all day," says Wendell, "I know it's been a good day. For my landscape and wide-angle photography, I've found my ND Grads to be invaluable. I especially like the variety of graduated filters that Singh Ray offers -- both soft-step and hard-step transitions, regular and reverse graduation patterns, and all of them available in various densities rated in f-stops -- and every one of them serves its specific purpose so well.

"My one most-used and favorite filter, by far, is the LB Warming Polarizer. My favorite ND Grad is Singh-Ray's 'Galen Rowell' 2-stop hard-step. I find the hard-step gradient transition is generally more effective for balancing difficult lighting situations in a landscape. Whenever the light gets extreme -- like shooting directly into a sunrise or sunset or for high-contrast scenics -- the hard-step filters are not enough. That's when the 'Daryl Benson' 3-stop Reverse Graduated ND filter can often do the trick. I have caught myself saying, 'Daryl, you are the Man,' at those exciting moments when the Reverse ND Grad comes to my rescue.

"The Graduated Neutral Density filter can give me a better balanced exposure by holding back some of the overly bright light falling from the sky in a landscape. I can also use my graduated neutral density filters to produce less expected results, like making clouds look more threatening than they actually are, or by making additional shadows in a cloudy environment. Because I love the transitional light that occurs between storms and clearing weather, I often have fun using my ND Grads to add my own dramatic touch.

"I also get creative by stacking filters. Frequently I will simply combine the Warming Polarizer with a 2-stop hard-step Graduated ND Filter. This combination is used in a scene where I want to improve the color saturation in the foreground while I am also balancing the light from a bright sky. When I stack an ND Grad with a polarizer, I often find that the ND Grad will not need to be as strong as if I were using the ND Grad by itself.

"A favorite interest of mine is wide-angle photography because of the excellent depth of field it provides the viewer. To have an effective wide-angle image you need at least two elements: first, you need a close and interesting foreground subject, and second you need an interesting 'middle-ground' environment and or interaction. For this reason, I consider wide-angle images to be interactive images, often associated with journalistic type subjects and presentations. My approach with wide-angle landscape photography is to use the foreground image to draw the viewer into the image and then complement the scene with a wonderful environment. The foreground makes viewers feel as if they where on location and it often provides comforting elements that provide scale and perspective. Invariably when I add an environment to a wide-angle image, I need to use filters to manage the range of light from all parts of the scene. When it is done right, it is well worth it.

"I also believe the wider the lens the more effective the filter will be. When I mount a graduated neutral density filter to a lens with a 12mm focal length and compare the image to that of a 100mm lens, I find the effect of the filter appears stronger when used with the wider lens. This might explain why I find it's so much fun to use my ND Grads for all my wide-angle photography."

To get a more complete idea of just how much fun Wendell is having with his photography, visit his website at www.explorerphoto.com

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