Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Now in its third year, Doug Dietiker's photo career continues to be "a great way to enjoy the scenery"

Landscape photographer Doug Dietiker lives in western Washington within easy reach of an almost endless array of natural beauty. "I have a passionate love of this wonderful area from very early in life, which helps explain why I recently became interested in landscape photography. I retired from the corporate world about four years ago, and what started out as getting a few pictures for my own walls at home has now become my passion as well as my business. For the past three years, I've put a lot of time and effort into learning to create images that do justice to the original scenes.

I was primarily there to enjoy the scenery, I just happened to bring my camera along. "That," says Doug, "is what I tell folks who ask what it is about outdoor photography that I enjoy so much. Many people can't see getting up at 'dark AM' and not going to sleep until long after the sun disappears. They don't realize how much fun I have just watching the sun rise while others are still in bed. Although I am out there enjoying the scenery, I don't always try to force it into a digital image. If I don't think I can get a good shot, it's enough just to enjoy the view. Once I relax, I may occasionally see something that works. Here are four images captured over the past few months using Singh-Ray filters. Each of them reminds me why I decided to learn photography.

"Near the end of last winter, my friend Kevin McNeal and I took a quick trip to the Southwest. We spent most of this particular day photographing in Zion National Park. We were hoping to capture the Watchman Mountain with the Virgin River in the evening (image above). We arrived at our spot and a few other photographers were also there. The weather didn't look very promising. I put a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer on my lens and rotated it until I had some good contrast in the clouds. I think most people know how a polarizer can reduce glare, but it can also help give clouds a little more dramatic effect. It was getting colder and the other photographers started to leave. I was starting to wonder if anything special was going to happen. Then the sun started to drop below the clouds and light up the side of the mountain. It didn't last very long, but it was long enough.

"Sometimes the reason a scene is beautiful to us doesn't translate well into the two dimensions of a photograph. That's why I rarely get a good photograph if I just go somewhere for sunrise without previously visiting the area. During the hours after sunrise and before sunset I do a lot of hiking and scouting to pick out locations for future shots. The shot above of the Eastern Sierra with the Owens River in the foreground is a good example. I spent most of the previous day hiking along the river looking for a good spot to set up the following morning as I was expecting clouds from an incoming storm. I waited until the light just started to kiss the tops of the Sierra. Conventional wisdom says you don’t use a polarizer on an extreme wide angle lens with a lot of sky in the shot because you will get uneven polarization. Nevertheless, I used my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer for this shot just like I had done previously for the Zion shot -- to get better contrast in the clouds. By using Live View on my Nikon D3x, I was able to see the effect I was getting by turning the polarizer. Live View really helped me see the image and not overdo the effect. Who says you can't use a polarizer on an ultra-wide lens? If you are ever wondering if something will work, try it. With digital photography you get instant feedback.

"I didn't have a lot of time last fall, but I wanted to at least get down to the Columbia River Gorge for a couple days to see if I could get some nice color against some water falls. I used my LB Warming Polarizer the way I traditionally use a polarizer, to hold back the glare on the rocks and the water. It also doesn't hurt that the warming polarizer increases color in the leaves by reducing the light reflecting off them.

"This last shot is of Mount Rainier. It was getting near the end of the short wildflower season up there and I had not made the trip yet. I had been checking the weather hoping for something more than just blue sky. Mt. Rainier can be hard to shoot if you are looking for interesting skies. The mountain is so tall, at 14,410 feet, that many times the weather is below the top of the mountain and you can't see it at all. There aren’t that many opportunities to capture the mountain with some color in the clouds and still be able to see the entire mountain. This particular day looked promising and since I only live a couple hours away, I grabbed my gear and headed up. The flowers on this side of the mountain were pretty sparse this year. I spent several hours hiking the trails looking for a good spot. I set up my camera with a Singh-Ray 3-stop soft-step Graduated ND Filter just as the sun was setting. Right before the sun disappeared, the clouds started to light up and I was rewarded with a rare, but spectacular Mt. Rainier sunset.

"It's difficult for me to describe the fantastic scenery I see every day in the Pacific Northwest. My words never seem to capture all that my eyes see. When I discovered photography, I found the way to put my thoughts into a medium that can more fully express and interpret what I see. I have received some very nice recognition recently. I entered photos in the juried Washington State Photography Exhibition in August 2008 where three of my photos received awards. One of the very first photos I ever took was chosen by the Seattle Times among its 'Years Best' Pix from My Weekend. Outdoor Photographer Magazine has featured two of my photos in its My Favorite Places series. It's all a matter of just getting out and enjoying the scenery."

To see more of Doug's scenic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, visit his website.

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