Friday, August 19, 2011

Darrell Moll and Rod Brown have been preparing for years to lead their next workshop

While Darrell Moll was teaching a workshop last year, one of the students asked him what "one thing can you teach me so my work will look like yours?"

After contemplating the question for a moment, Darrell realized that he had never looked at his role in those terms before. "Then, after thinking a bit longer, it dawned on me that there is no one thing. Although many aspiring photographers start out looking for a quick formula for success, we all find that our ability to actually capture the dramatic landscape images we visualize is the result of learning and applying all the 'little things' that make for success. While my reply was not exactly what the student hoped to hear, I still feel it was the best answer.

"There's no question in my mind, for example, that one of the biggest success factors in my outdoor photography has been the discovery of Singh-Ray filters. Frankly, I could not imagine shooting landscape photographs without them, and I definitely would not want to try. The image at the top of this story, Autumn Serenade was shot on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg. Near the end of this trail, the water seems to get better and better. This image was shot with the Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo Polarizer and was one of the few I made from the road. There are times when this filter will deliver color that other filters are simply not capable of producing and this was one of them. What it does to the greens in some scenes is truly impressive. Not only does the filter produce wonderful color, but the filter's polarizing feature improves color saturation and helps slow shutter speeds to get the look of the water movement that makes landscape images rock!"

On the same trip to the Smoky Mountains, Darrell portrayed the dramatic aerial perspective of the mountains from Clingman's Dome at dusk. "Mountain Majesty would not have happened without the use of my Galen Rowell Graduated Neutral Density filters. He chose his 24-105 4.0 L Canon lens fitted with a pair of 2-stop soft-edge ND Grads. By using the live view function on his Canon 5D Mark II, he was able to line up each filter properly. I taped one filter in place then hand held the other while checking the view on the back of the camera. The 4 stops of density really was the trick here. While darkening the sky and opening up the foreground to show detail in the trees nearest the lens these grads really made all the difference.

"The following day, the same camera and a 70-200 2.8L lens were used to isolate the Little River's flowing waters near Tremont. Conditions were excellent for this kind of shooting but I needed to get the right water flow. I chose a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and adjusted the filter to tone some of the reflections down. After determining the proper ISO, shutter speed and aperture combination, I zoomed in on this formation. Riverdance would not have danced without the use of my polarizer. It did just what it was supposed to do, slowing the shutter speed just enough while improving color balance and density. The image was later converted to black and white in Photoshop."

Rod Brown, Darrell's partner in the workshops, is equally convinced that filters play an important part in any landscape photographer's success. "At least 95% of my landscape images have a Singh-Ray filter in front of the lens. For example, my filters did a great job during my last trip to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

"I photographed this panorama while on a late afternoon scouting mission to find my sunrise shoot the next morning. I knew I needed to be in place well before sunrise to get the best shots of Bryce Canyon just as the sun breaks over the horizon, so such planning is important. While scouting, I noticed really nice evening light was starting to form, so I set up for a panorama shot. As I stood there enjoying the last light of the day, the sky began to turn beautiful shades of pink. I quickly composed the image and dropped my Galen Rowell 2-stop ND filter over the lens to bring back detail into the sky and open up the foreground. Sweet light brought a great ending to the day, for sure.

"The next evening on a similar scouting mission I happened to get lucky again with the light. Once the sun comes up or goes down in Bryce, the light on the hoodoos changes rapidly so I had to be ready. My LB Warming Polarizer did the trick on the hoodoos as the light explosion began, being backlit by the sun. Here I used a 70-200 VR Nikon Lens to isolate the rocks with the warmer light against those in the background.

"My last two days of the trip were spent in one of my favorite places on earth, Zion National Park. To be in such a great place at the peak of Fall is truly a blessing. The light bounces off the canyon walls and serves as a giant fill-light reflector in the afternoon hours. The first day I was scrambling down the trail in Zion Canyon when I was struck by the beauty of the palette of colors before me. It was a feast for my eyes -- the beautiful rock formations and the vibrant color all around. I set up my tripod and attached a Nikon 24-70 2.8 lens with the Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo, which transformed the really good color to really great color. It reminds me of wet paint!

"My last day in Zion was spent making images along the canyon. On this special afternoon I was rewarded with River of Gold. The Virgin River caught all that great color from the surrounding canyon walls, and my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer helped create another memorable image."

"We're two veteran landscape photographers and teachers from Ohio who use different camera systems and different Adobe processing programs, but once we choose our vantage point and get our cameras and lenses out, we're back on the same page," says Darrell. "It's Singh-Ray all the way!"

Rod and Darrell will be traveling to Zion and Bryce for their Next Level Workshop from October 30 to November 3. Complete information on the workshop and registration can be found at their website.

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