Friday, July 23, 2010

Whether it's landscapes, sports or any event, he always shoots for the emotion and feeling

Any time California photographer Scott Schilling is shooting special events, action sports, or fine-art landscapes, he's striving to capture the emotion and feeling of the moment. "My landscape photography provides an opportunity to search for the unique light and color created by nature's continually changing weather and time -- especially at the edges of the day.

"When I shoot landscapes, I'm likely using one or more Singh-Ray filters -- Graduated ND filters to balance the dynamic range of my landscape scenes, the Vari-ND filter to stretch out the exposures for the ocean and river scenes, and the LB ColorCombo polarizer/color intensifier to get the greatest color contrast and saturation possible. I am most often shooting with a Nikon D3 fitted with either a 17-35mm 2.8 lens or 70-200mm 2.8 lens.

"I often use these same filters when I shoot special events and sports images so I can create images that will need little or no post-production effort other than a bit of sharpening. I pay particular attention to my lens aperture, often shooting around f2.8 to f5.6 in order to reduce my depth of field and focus attention on a particular individual. Getting the correct exposure and light balance from the start is vitally important!

"Here is an example of an image taken at a recent mountain bike race in June, 2010. The race was conducted in bright sunlight, so I spent some time scouting the race course prior to the start. I chose a location that would provide the best light on the front of the competitors as they came over the crest of a hill. The ColorCombo Polarizer allowed me to reduce the glare and improve the color saturation over the entire image, including the blue sky in the background. By rotating the polarizer, I controlled the polarizing effect and enhanced the colors in the scene. The 'lighter, brighter' filter factor of the ColorCombo allowed ample light to achieve a fast shutter speed and a nice bright image in the viewfinder.

"When shooting landscapes, I pay particular attention to my aperture setting -- often shooting at lens openings of f16 or smaller in order to get greater depth of field. The beam of sunlight seen in the image at the top of this story, captured at Pfeiffer Beach along the Big Sur Coastline of California, is only available a couple of months during the year and the weather has to cooperate! I wanted to maximize the impact of the beams through the image so I opted for a long exposure by going with a low ISO setting. Then I stopped down the aperture to f22 to allow a 10-second exposure. It was critical at this location to maximize the color and details of the crepuscular rays through the arch, and reduce the glare on the water in the foreground. The exposure had to be timed with the waves crashing through the arch and the lowering angle of the sun. The LB ColorCombo provided just the needed effect for this image! The polarizing effect had to be created in-camera. I can't go back and reduce glare or create the effect of the polarizer with any of my post-processing techniques.

"This past winter I was on a photo shoot in Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California's Santa Cruz Mountains. This image shows one of the scenes I captured along the side of the trail one morning just after a winter rainstorm had passed through. This area receives significant amounts of rainfall during such storms and, on the clearing side of the storm, some incredible lighting effects can be seen as the mist rises through the old growth redwoods! The mist will rise as the sun begins to warm the forest floor. For this image, I used the ColorCombo to reduce the glare on the leaves and maximize the color on the vegetation and tree bark. The 'God beams' in this forest can be fleeting with the wind and light changing rapidly. I had to set up quickly when I saw the mist rising from the forest floor. I was fortunate that as we were hiking, I found a redwood grove with some interesting foreground elements at the base of the grove. I was drawn to the light, but also to the fallen redwood that lay at the base. The thick forest beyond provided a soft and serene backdrop.

"I have spent a significant amount of time this past year scouting California's Lake Tahoe Basin and the Mokelumne Wilderness in preparation for an upcoming photo workshop next May. One of my favorite locations is Eagle Falls, which overlooks Emerald Bay, near the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

"In the springtime, Eagle Falls flows full with the snowmelt and provides a dramatic scene when viewed from above the falls. I captured this image with the ColorCombo to control the glare on the water and to provide as much depth and detail as possible in the sky. It can often be difficult to get a clean sunburst with a filter added in the optical path, and I chose to stop down the aperture in order to increase my chances of getting a good diffraction pattern. As you can see in this image, the sunburst came out clean and uniform with the ColorCombo on my wide-angle lens."

In 2010, Scott has five art shows scheduled in the San Francisco Bay Area including the Los Gatos Festival de Artes August 7-8th. For more information about these shows and future workshops, visit Scott's website, daily blog and podcast.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Now that your images are ready to publish, here are a few more things to think about

"There is something very special about seeing your first photograph on the cover of a magazine or brochure." Adam Barker speaks from his own experience as a professional photographer in Utah. "Actually holding and caressing the publication in your hands, feeling the slick paper—blinking once or twice to make sure you’re not dreaming. I confess that's how I recall the first time I saw one of my images featured full-page in a national magazine... I was ecstatic.

"While that initial level of excitement has dimmed ever so slightly, I still get a proud feeling every time I see an image of mine published. It's a proud moment for any photographer, but one that is growing more rare as print media face stiff competition from the internet and photo editors have instant access to a deluge of images from eager photographers the world over. How then, do we photographers separate ourselves -- and our images -- from the pack and find success in print media? Read on for several tips that might help you create more saleable images and establish the business practices that can lead to more editorial success.

"My first rule is to always deliver complete, ready-to-print images. This means that even low-res files should be rich in detail, color and engaging subject matter. I am very particular -- maybe even to a fault at times -- about having detail in all parts of my images. Singh-Ray filters, particularly my full set of ND Grads, are crucial in my efforts to make images with dramatic skies and controlled highlights. Each of the images in this story was taken with a Singh-Ray filter.

"I always try to shoot each scene in both vertical and horizontal format. When answering an editor’s imagery needs, the tricky part is not just about finding the best image -- it’s often about finding the image that best fits in the space that's been allotted in the publication. Many times, an editor will be interested in an image, but will ask if you have a similar version shot in the opposite orientation. Make it a habit to shoot the scene in front of you in both orientations!

"Include open areas in the photo for copy. If you've developed the habit of shooting or cropping your fine-art images to 'fill the frame,' you'll need to make an exception when shooting photos for potential front cover, editorial or advertising use. It’s imperative that there be ample open space to include mastheads, headlines and other copy pertinent to the particular place in the publication where your image is used. Notice how many of the examples included here have blocks of copy placed over the image. On occasion, your images might be the perfect fit for a table of contents, story opener or maybe even a cover. At the time of capture, this may feel awkward and less than perfect. I often will shoot an editorial version, as well as a wall hanger version. The wall hanger may be visually better, but it likely will leave little room for the art director at the publication to work with -- hence the need to shoot two or more versions.

"Only submit your best candidates. Editors lay eyes on hundreds of images every day. They receive countless submissions from photographers every bit as determined to be published as we are. Editors have neither the time nor the patience to review work that is not relevant to their publication or not up to the quality standards they expect. This is certainly a grey area, but do yourself a favor and err on the side of more quality and less quantity. If the editor wants to see more of a particular subject or location, they will certainly let you know.

"Establish a good working relationship with the editors. There is a fine line between persistence and annoyance here, but it is wise to keep editors aware of your latest imagery and projects every so often. Soon enough, they will know they can come to you for a certain type of image or for a particular assignment. Don’t expect a return email every time, but it’s certainly worth refreshing their memory every now and again.

"Keep submitting. Don’t take offense when your five-star submission gets nary an image published. It’s nothing personal -- editors have only limited page space and an unlimited flow of images being submitted from every corner of the globe. We can’t win if we don’t play the game! I'm convinced the consistent, qualified photographer is sure to succeed in due time.

"Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re out shooting, and prepare to savor that first published image -- it’s special!"

Adam's images have been published in magazines the world over, and he's well known among editorial and commercial clients for his ability to shoot unique outdoor images with impact. In October, he'll be leading a photo tour through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. To see more of Adam's work, visit his website or Facebook page.

Image Notes

Story opener for Volkswagen’s Das Auto magazine was shot in Saguaro National Park, AZ, with an LB Warming Polarizer and a 3-stop hard-step ND Grad.

Outdoor Photographer cover photo for July 2010: Photographed in Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT with an LB Warming Polarizer and a 3-stop Reverse ND Grad

Back cover for Black Diamond Equipment catalog was shot in Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness Area, UT. Captured with an LB Warming Polarizer.

Table of contents photo for American Angler magazine on Big Hole River, MT. Shot with 2-stop hard-step ND Grad.

Sking Magazine cover photo, shot at Alta, UT. with LB Warming Polarizer.

Delta Sky Magazine opening spread for story on Salt Lake City, UT. Shot with LB Warming Polarizer and 4-stop soft-step ND Grad.