Friday, August 13, 2010

Must be some reason Jay Goodrich returns so often to photograph in the Grand Tetons... maybe it's love

"On a recent trip to one of my favorite locations in the world, Grand Teton National Park, I was again greeted with the open arms of amazing light," says Jay Goodrich. "I have traveled to the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem close to 50 times in the last 17 years. It is a home away from home for me. I have yet to figure out why I love it so much, I just know that when I am there I feel like I have found a home like nowhere else. When my wife and I were returning to Washington after a 5-week-long trip that spanned 2 countries, 5 homes, 1 truck, 1 hotel room, 2 mountain bikes and 11 western states, we had to make a stop in Jackson, WY. It was only supposed to be a single night, but we added a few just because we couldn’t leave.

"Grand Teton National Park is one of the amazing locations in the United States that outdoor photographers of all skill levels flock to for the huge variety of subjects. There is everything from the sweeping landscape to the up-close macro to the multitude of wildlife that will keep any photographer busy for more than a lifetime. On this trip, I decided to photograph some locations that I typically avoid due to their great popularity.

"On the first morning I visited the Schwabacher Landing pullout. There were no clouds in the sky, so I was prepared to shoot images that would likely be deleted during the review process. To my delight the alpenglow on the peaks that morning served up some serious orange saturation. I was able to add to the effect using my LB Warming Polarizer and various ND Grads -- ranging from a 2-stop hard-step to a 3-stop soft-step. I have also found that the 3-stop, soft-step filter works best when shooting a strong foreground element coupled with a great reflected image of a subject like the Tetons. To illustrate the effect of these filters, I have included an image taken with the LB Warming Polarizer and 3-stop soft-step ND Grad and one taken without any filter. See any difference?

"Then one evening soon after, I encountered a more problematic image. I was out on Antelope Flats Road with an amazing sunset about to materialize. I was planning to blur the foreground grasses that were just slowly dancing in a light breeze before realizing I had too much light. Even with an ND Grad over the sky, my ISO turned down to “L” and my f-stop maxed at f/22, I still couldn’t pull off the shot. I knew I should have purchased that Vari-ND filter that Singh-Ray makes prior to leaving on this trip. What else to do? I needed less light so I placed my LB Warming Polarizer on the lens to subtract an additional stop or so of light and then I made the exposure at the exact moment the breeze was strongest. Yes, it worked! This experience was enough to make me order the Vari-ND upon returning. Stay tuned for images created with that filter in coming posts.

"Time and time again, I've been amazed at what can be achieved with Singh-Ray filters in the world of digital photography. As I look forward to my upcoming journeys, I reflect back often to the images I have been able to capture with a little creative thinking and being in the right place at the right time. I miss the Tetons, but I already know that in August I will get to return to teach a workshop there showing 12 other people why I love this place so much. And, not that I am notching my bedpost or anything, but that will be visit number 48. I am going to need to do something really special for 50, don’t you think?"

Jay Goodrich is a writer and photographer living in La Conner, Washington. He has recently become one of only nine contributors to the Outdoor Photographer Magazine blog. He will be leading a workshop in Grand Teton National Park at the end of August with fellow photographers Art Wolfe, Gavriel Jecan and Rich Reid. | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Flickr | Vimeo | LinkedIn

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kelly Funk is thriving on a diverse menu of photographic opportunities and challenges

As a full-time professional photographer based in western Canada, Kelly Funk spends much of his time outdoors carrying out an assortment of tourism, commercial, and architectural assignments and shooting nature and wildlife for stock and Outdoor Photography Canada magazine, as well as conducting half a dozen workshops each year. "For me," he says, "this wide range of photographic work adds up to more fun and more business opportunities. Here are a few recent examples of how diversity works out for me.

"Every spring I take a number of extremely enthusiastic photographers to a grizzly bear paradise known as the Khutzeymateen Valley, in northern British Columbia, for an intense 4-day workshop. This year provided some fantastic encounters, but one in particular left me literally speechless. Photographing from our Zodiac raft enabled us to witness some bear behavior that is hardly ever seen. This kind of shooting calls for a two-camera system, and I used two Nikon D300s bodies fitted with a Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 to be ready for any situation that presents itself. On this particular morning we had been enjoying the antics of a large male for about half an hour when he decided to go for a dip.

"We held our collective breath and photographed while he frolicked and played like a ten-year-old kid in a neighbor's pool for about 15 minutes. Luckily I had Singh-Ray’s LB Neutral Polarizer already attached to my 70-200 f/2.8 to reduce the glare and still give me fast enough shutter speeds to capture the action with enough depth of field. Then, as if he hadn’t performed enough for us already, it was time for the highlight of his performance as he turned and headed directly toward us to check out more closely the paparazzi who seemed so interested in him. As he approached our boat, I was intent on capturing the moment, and the camera’s autofocus performed flawlessly even with the polarizer on. Unbelievably, I never missed one shot in the sequence. Then, after seeming to realize we were not looking for autographs, he steered off course and swam away. We were left in shock, wearing dumbfounded smiles at what we had just experienced.

"I recently completed a commercial assignment for a client in my hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia, that was extremely challenging yet, at the same time, intoxicating. It involved two of my main photographic interests -- the environment and leisure/lifestyle imagery -- with a very talented dancer. The primary focus was on my lovely model, and yet I had to involve the landscape in a way that it too played an important role. It was getting late as the last of the sun’s rays were left gently painting the desert landscape and I was focused on artificially lighting the model before the sun left completely. I knew with proper light balance I’d be able to come close to achieving my goal, but I had a trick up my sleeve in the form of Singh-Ray’s LB Color Intensifier. I knew from experience that the intensifier played upon the reds in a scene and for that reason I had my model wear a red top. By using this particular filter and two remote flashes triggered by a radio signal, I was able to make her pop off the page without losing skin tone balance and achieving an environmental image that commands an emotional response -- something I strive for in my work. The exposure was made with my Nikon D300s and 12-24mm f/4 lens, along with two Nikon SB-800 speed lights triggered with Pocket Wizards.

"A week ago I arrived home from an assignment with Outdoor Photography Canada. As a contributing editor, I converse quite often with our editor-in-chief about possible locales and angles to cover. So when an opportunity arose to travel to Canada's newest national wilderness park, the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in northwestern British Columbia, I jumped at the chance. The variety of wildlife and natural landscapes was so astounding my head was constantly turning. I felt that familiar pressure to obtain enough material for a feature story. I had three main imaging objectives: an opening two-page spread, a full-page front cover, and several excellent fill-in images.

"When the location for the two-page spread was chosen, I got dropped off in a Zodiac and went to work well before sunrise. By using the Galen Rowell 3-stop hard-step ND Grad filter on my Nikkor 12-24mm f/4 lens, I was able to achieve the balance in my exposure that I wanted. The unique feature of the ND Grad filters I really appreciate, however, is the lack of flare from the sun’s rays. It was after the sun crested the hill that I felt the magic and essence of the landscape had been captured. I’m always impressed that my grad filters allow me to keep shooting after the sun rises and still get clean results.

The days were passing quickly and I was getting nervous about a potential cover image. Then, on the second to last day, we were blessed with a beautiful morning and I went to work on a group of islands that I thought would convey the locale beautifully on the cover. The main issue I was facing, however, was the choppy seas in the bay. I immediately decided that capturing this image at anything less than two seconds would lead to a cold feeling that would contradict the amazing sky. By combining the George Lepp 4-stop Solid ND filter with Singh-Ray’s 3-stop hard-step ND Grad on my 12-24mm lens, I was able to control the exposure to my liking and literally smooth the water with a five-second exposure. Another photographer with me that morning was astounded to see the different effect that a long exposure had on the mood of the scene compared to one shot without the solid grad.

"By using the LB Neutral Polarizer on the trip I was able to enhance color saturation by reducing the glare from the kelp. This helped accentuate the black oystercatcher, starfish and sea urchins. Color saturation is vitally important in an environment so rich and dense in both flora and fauna. I returned from the trip feeling very satisfied with my images and confident I had captured the essence of this unique National park. I attribute much of that success to my Singh-Ray filters."

Here's a recent quote from Kelly's blog that ties closely with this story; "Not everyone cares to move from discipline to discipline, however for those who do, most will experience an enlightened gathering of knowledge and experience that can lead to a unique style and ease at which sessions can be carried out, whether they be self driven or client oriented." Kelly is currently the author of the Turning Pro column in Outdoor Photography Canada. To learn more about the ways Kelly plies his diversity of skills, you'll want to visit his website and blog.