Friday, October 08, 2010

LB Color Intensifier is a natural choice in Daniel Stainer's photographic workflow

Pennsylvania landscape and environmental portrait photographer Daniel Stainer got his start back in the 80s as photo editor for his high school yearbook and newspaper. "Of course back then," he says, "I was more interested in having fun than in nurturing my artistic side. I think Mom is still angry at me for trading my trusted Canon AE-1 to the kid next door for his shiny red moped. I was in my thirties when I finally realized that photography was my destiny.

“For me, photography is about living in the moment and connecting with my subject. I’m always looking to evoke the emotional essence and spirit of my subjects. And, while post processing can help reinforce my artistic goals, I prefer the natural and organic look I get when my vision is realized at the time of capture. In a perfect world, my camera would translate exactly what I’m thinking all the time, but often this is not the case. That's when my Singh-Ray filters prove so useful, by helping me express different moods that match my creative goals.

“One of my favorite Singh-Ray filters is the LB Color Intensifier filter, which I used to take the above image in the Lower Antelope Slot Canyon, near Page, Arizona. Taken in early morning light, it dramatically conveys the different lines, textures, colors and tones of the Navajo Sandstone in a completely natural way. I was amazed at how accurately this filter portrayed the subtle color differences in each layer of rock depending on where the light was hitting. Without the Color Intensifier, this shot would have been more monochrome and neutral in appearance. The morning I made this shot, I immediately made a mad dash from the entrance to the very end of the canyon and meticulously began shooting and working my way back toward the front. This allowed me much more working time before I was interrupted by a sea of clashing tripods and all those well-intentioned folk who seem to be very fond of throwing sand up in the air to capture a fleeting light beam.

“Here's another example of how naturally the Color Intensifier works its magic -- this time on a rainy day at Babcock State Park near Clifftop West Virginia. It was exciting to see how the filter intensified the greens and the warmer autumn colors surrounding the iconic Glade Creek Grist Mill. The rain helped tone down the foliage reflections while boosting contrast and color saturation. And the LB Color Intensifier made the colors pop even more (including the interior mill light which was only turned on because of the rain). Other than some very minor editing to adjust contrast, saturation and sharpening, this image renders true to what came directly out of my Nikon D300 DSLR. Surprisingly, this was my test shot -- as I was planning to come back the next day when it wasn’t raining. Once again, I was reminded of the fact that bad weather often produces the most striking results, even if my body and brain sometimes disagree.

“Although I appreciate iconic 'wide open vista' images, I often find myself leaning more towards intimate landscapes or extractions. In this shot taken at the same state park in West Virginia, my LB Color Intensifier did a great job of highlighting the green lichen and orange leaves on this vibrant tree -- imparting a unique yet entirely natural look that was further enhanced by the morning fog. All three of these images were taken with my Nikon D300 DSLR. In addition to my LB Color Intensifier, I also make frequent use of my various Galen Rowell Graduated Neutral Density filters, a Reverse ND Grad, Tony Sweet’s dream-like Soft-Ray filter and the indispensable Vari-ND. Each of these filters helps me fulfill my artistic vision in the camera as my images are captured.”

Dan’s award-winning work has been featured in media as diverse as CNN Money/Fortune, Robb Report, and in a recent online version of Popular Mechanics magazine. One of Dan’s Pacific Northwest images taken at Sol Doc in the Olympic Peninsula will be featured in Darrell Young’s soon to be released paperback Mastering the Nikon D300/D300s. Active in the Nikonians.org on-line community, Dan also publishes his own photo blog, Illuminations. More about Dan’s ventures can be found at: www.danielstainer.com or on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Chris Moore enjoys photographing the beauty of our natural world any time and anywhere he can

In addition to raising a family in Orange Park, Florida, Chris Moore is also an active freelance photographer who seizes every opportunity to visit other parts of the U.S. and the world. "After a very productive year in 2009, both in terms of travels and improving my photographic skills, I began 2010 by completely rebranding and republishing my website. This resulted in several licensing agreements and gallery displays, as well as several thousand unique visitors to the new site each month. Inspired by its success, I am making an effort to post new images frequently throughout the year.

"While home in Florida, I regularly visit my favorite spot along the Atlantic Coast (at left) whenever the weather and lighting conditions are right. Photographing along the coast can be tricky, and I prefer to come here on the heels of a storm, when there's a high tide and strong winds. For that reason I try to expose properly in my camera, as opposed to blending multiple HDR exposures of the crashing waves. For these shots I typically use my Singh-Ray Warming LB Polarizer to cut the glare of the water and preserve the contrast. I typically hand hold my 3-stop soft-step ND grad, since the rising sun can create a huge tonal range from the darker rocks that I try to minimize. I usually take spot readings off the water and adjust the exposure by -1/2 or -1 EV to prevent blowing out the sky and white water. The combination of those two filters worked well for this image which captures a calm moment after a stormy night, with the rising sun giving a warm glow to the rocks on this unique section of the Atlantic coast.

"I spent a productive week this Spring photographing in Oregon’s Columbia Gorge and along its Pacific coastline. My LB warming polarizer did not leave my camera the entire trip! The following three images were all the result of that trip. The first two were captured within the Columbia Gorge. It was a rainy few days there, which made for some challenging conditions, but the soft light really gave a deeper color to the lush Spring foliage. My polarizer not only cut the glare in the water, but really made the greens pop! Capturing the images properly in the camera meant I only had to make a few minor contrast adjustments -- dodging and burning -- in post production. Using a one-second exposure for water motion and stopping down to f/22 enabled me to use the LB Warming Polarizer to capture these saturated color images of the water cascading through the Gorge, accentuated by the soft light glowing from the foliage beyond.

"This next image was shot during the peak of wildflower season in Oregon's Tom McCall Nature Preserve. I wanted to capture the sun backlighting the wild lupines, and the sky was several stops brighter than the foreground. It was a windy day and I needed to use as fast a shutter speed as possible to minimize the flower motion, while preserving the exposure of the sky. Using a 3-stop soft-step ND Grad with the aperture stopped down allowed me to capture the bright background and sunburst with the backlit wild lupines. This was truly a fantastic sunset to witness and photograph.

"The final image from the last day of my Oregon trip was taken at Hug Point on the Oregon coast. At the ideal tide, the waterfall from the cliff collides with the incoming Pacific Ocean surf. Standing waist deep in the ocean, I waited until the light peeked through the clouds behind me to give a warm glow to the rocks. I stacked my LB Warming Polarizer and Vari-ND for a 1.5-second exposure that accentuated the surf as it streaked toward me during the intense wave action. The light was very dramatic for only a few seconds, and this shot was one of the last of over a hundred frames I took that evening."

The next photo trip for Chris will be to Utah's Zion National Park this November to hike the Narrows and Subway and hopefully capture some nice fall colors in the canyons. If you're interested in keeping up with Chris and his travels, you'll want to visit his website, Exploring Light Photography, and his blog.