Friday, October 29, 2010

On the move in Alaska, Jim Caffrey's LB Polarizer opened real windows of opportunity

From his home in Dayton, Ohio, veteran landscape photographer Jim Caffrey has traveled as far as Ireland and much of the western United States to diversify his portfolio. "On previous trips, I usually had the luxury of choosing my locations and having time to set up the shots. But on my trip to Alaska this summer, I discovered that even when conditions aren’t so ideal, it’s still possible to capture images worthy of display. Since it was our first trip to the Last Frontier, my wife Ann and I chose to join an organized two-week tour, which combined overland bus and train travel with a small-ship cruise. Traveling with a group allowed us to gain a broad perspective of the state, but when it came to photographing, we didn’t have the freedom I was used to. But whether I was shooting from a moving train car, a bumpy bus or a bobbing boat, I resolved not to give up.

"I did find that I had one important advantage. My Singh-Ray Warming LB Polarizer was with me all the way, enabling me to capture a number of images such as the one at the top of this story. This image of inland Alaska was taken through the dome car's glass window as our train was moving along at more than 50 mph. I positioned myself in the aisle of the train, shooting over the heads of the other passengers, and used the Warming LB Polarizer to block out internal reflections from the train's windows. Without the polarizer, all my window photos would have contained distracting reflections of the other passengers and objects inside our train car. I used this through-the-window technique successfully over many miles of our trip.

“Even on days when the sun wasn’t shining and the weather was overcast and misty, I kept the LB Warming Polarizer mounted on my lens to knock down the many reflections from the foliage and water. For this iceberg image, the polarizer was the perfect filter because of its low filter factor of 1-1/3 f-stops. This allowed me to keep my shutter speed high enough to eliminate any blur caused by our moving boat.

“One morning, as we were sailing along Alaska's immense Inside Passage, this wilderness scene seemed impressive but somewhat colorless. I thought this would be a good time to work with my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer. The weather was heavily overcast with some small open patches. The upper image was exposed without using any filter shortly before 7:00 am and the lower image was taken seconds later using the Gold-N-Blue. These two images demonstrate just how versatile the Gold-N-Blue filter can be when it comes to getting an acceptable image when the 'right' light isn't with you.

“Most of the images on this trip were captured while on the move by bus, train or boat, but the above image was taken during a brief stop in Denali National Park. I had just a few minutes to set up this shot of Mount McKinley. Faced with the challenge of balancing the bright sky and snow with the darker foreground, I decided to use the LB Warming Polarizer coupled with a hand-held Singh-Ray 3-stop soft-step ND Grad. This combination had the effect of creating a deeper blue sky and maintaining detail in the snowcapped mountain with a properly exposed foreground.

“I became interested in photography as a high school student in rural Kansas. From those days with my first 120mm black-and-white roll film camera to the Nikon DSLR I use today, I have always enjoyed participating in the progress of photographic technology as much as I have enjoyed traveling and taking photos of breathtaking scenery. I started using Singh-Ray filters two years ago and have especially appreciated the way they have enhanced the quality of my final images and my ability to 'get it right' in the camera.”

Next spring, Jim will pursue the migratory birds passing through Florida's Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

1 comment:

William Beem said...

Just a word of caution, Jim. Those birds at Ding Darling down on Sanibel Island have a strong smelling funk about them, especially the Spoonbills.