Friday, April 22, 2011

When his ND Grads went missing, Joel Addams had to figure out a way to keep on shooting

Two weeks ago, when Joel Addams suddenly realized he was missing two of his Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density filters after a recent commercial shoot, he almost went into shock. “I don’t know what could have happened,” he says. “The two missing filters may have been stolen, or I may have just misplaced them. At any rate, I had suddenly lost some of the most important tools I rely on to craft both outdoor and indoor images.

"The loss occurred just as I was headed out to Moab, Utah, the next day to shoot landscapes in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Then I was returning immediately to shoot another commercial job, an industrial building where I also planned to use my graduated neutral density filters. I decided to sit down and think how I might temporarily work around the problem. I was missing my 2-stop soft-step Graduated Neutral Density filter as well as my 3-stop Reverse ND Grad. I still had a 3-stop soft-step ND Grad and I also had my full lineup of screw-mount filters -- including my LB Warming Polarizer, Gold-N-Blue and the Vari-N-Duo.

"Without two of my mainstay ND Grads, I knew I would have to try some sort of work-around procedures in Canyonlands and Arches country. When the sun came up over Buck Canyon Overlook in Canyonlands last week, I was ready to make some adjustments. I captured the image above by decreasing -- instead of increasing -- the exposure for the foreground. Knowing that I would have only so much density in the 3-stop ND Grad, I decided to take on the strategy of “flooding” the light from the rising sun since I could not hold it back enough to get a properly exposed scene. The classic landscape shot will have to wait, I thought. The result was a grittier, sun-drenched scene with a unique feeling all its own.

"That evening in Arches National Park, I ran into much the same issue as the moon was about to come up fairly close to sunset, a moment that can be a photographer’s dream as the two light levels are more balanced and need less 'tweaking' in camera and virtually no post-processing.

"As the moon came up, I began making adjustments with the filters I had left. I placed an LB Warming Polarizer filter on the lens, even though the sun had set. I wanted a warm feeling from the very bright moon, so it was important to hold back as much moonlight as possible. In addition, I went for my trusty (and only!) Graduated Neutral Density filter again, the 3-stop soft-step, to hold back more light from the moon. I knew that Balanced Rock would still become a silhouette. I am both pleased with the result and very certain I will never forget the challenging experience.

"I will soon replace my missing ND Grads, but I have learned an important lesson. I will now be even more careful to keep track of all my equipment and make sure it's safe and well-protected. In spite of all such precautions, however, I realize the loss of photo gear may occur again sometime. If and when that happens, I'll remember that there are some excellent solutions if I just take a minute and think!"

Joel will conduct several workshops again this year in two formats for his TravelLight Series. The Classics Series will involve well-established, beautiful locations, and will be take place this year in Antelope Canyon, Arizona; the Grand Tetons, and Paris. Joel describes the new Dirtbag Series as a different way to learn photography, based on the assumption that some of the best photography is achieved while exploring. They will also be taught in scenic locations, but the additional hiking and/or extensive travel involved is geared for those who want to pay less and experience the journey a bit more. The first of these trips will visit Nepal. For more information, go to Joel's YouTube Channel, Facebook fan page, blog and website.

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