Friday, October 01, 2010

When it comes to learning about Singh-Ray filters, Joe Christianson is getting an early start

As a 19-year-old geosciences major at California Polytechnic's campus in San Luis Obispo, Joe Christianson's interest in outdoor photography has been growing steadily. "This central coastal area of the state," says Joe. "is one of the most spectacular locations in the world, both scenically and geologically. A few weeks ago, after nearly a week of 108-degree-plus temperatures, a visit to the beach was sounding better and better. When my classes were over one afternoon, I noticed clouds developing in the west. Realizing a great sunset was in the works, I rushed back to my dorm to get my camera equipment and headed for Shell Beach. I got to the beach with about 90 seconds to spare before the sun sank into the Pacific ocean. It was an absolutely perfect evening, with the temperature hovering around 70 degrees with no wind. The geology of this area, with exposed shale beds stretching into the water, offers many striking photo compositions. After I got all set up a rogue wave splashed my camera, but after a quick cleaning of the lens, I was ready. I used a Singh-Ray 3-stop hard-step Graduated ND filter to hold back the bright horizon and a small aperture to stretch out the exposure time. I was very happy with the result.

"Not far from my school are such well-known photo locations as Big Sur, the Santa Ynez Valley, the Carrizo Plains, and Pismo Beach. They all continue to be great places to find impressive photo opportunities, but it's also easy to find stunning scenery even closer to San Luis Obispo -- much of the area is laced with hiking trails and nature preserves. I discovered this shot on a windy April evening on Yucca Ridge, directly behind the Cal Poly campus. I combined my 2- and 3-stop hard step Graduated ND filters to soften the contrast in the scene. I placed the 2-stop horizontally across the lens and then angled the 3-stop in the corner to prevent the sun from blowing out. Simultaneously, this also kept the sky on the left from getting too dark. The ridgetop wind blurred the grasses in the foreground.

"While I was out with friends one afternoon, we decided to explore a country backroad in California’s coastal mountains. Along the way, we found some of the most spectacular displays of sky lupine I’ve seen anywhere. These lupines were growing on a bluff right next to the road, and the late-afternoon sun was creeping down into the oaks. I used a 3-stop hard-step ND Grad to balance the contrast between the bright sky and the shaded lupines.

"I began taking pictures back in 2007 and have been expanding my range of subjects and techniques ever since. I’ve always been interested in botany, geology, weather, hydrology, and cartography, and I incorporate these topics into my photography. Being able to understand weather patterns and read geologic maps can lead to astounding photographic opportunities, which I continue to seek out. I've been using Singh-Ray filters for over a year now, and continue to use them due to my aversion to Photoshop and/or HDR. I've been highly satisfied with the results! I feel fortunate to have had my work recognized over the past year, with a few of my photographs appearing in books, magazines, and galleries.

To follow Joe's future photographic ventures, visit his website, and follow his photostream on Flickr.

1 comment:

Leit said...

While in Telluride this past week, I learned about what a Singh-Ray filter can do. I watched a live camera view of the dim valley light up with a ND 4 stop filter. The guy next to me said, "that looks better than HDR". And I agreed, despite my love of the infinite tweakability of HDR. I wrote down the filter name, and purchased one that night. Can't wait to try it out.