Friday, December 16, 2011

When Adam Barker talks about filters in his workshops, he knows he'll soon hear the word... "FINALLY!"

"Finally!" That's the word outdoor photographer Adam Barker likes to hear when he's conducting his workshops. "I've run out of fingers and toes to count how many times I heard this exclamation at my recent workshop at the Telluride Photo Festival. Those students expressing such joy and satisfaction have 'finally' seen their first successful landscape image -- successful because it looks just the way they saw the scene with their own eyes.

"I have been shooting with Graduated ND filters now for more than ten years, and I can recall the exact moment I realized the great potential of such a useful filter. It hit me like a ton of bricks -- this was the secret weapon I'd been searching for. Raise your hand if you've been intensely frustrated at times, unable to accurately capture that five-star, once in a lifetime landscape image. Raise your hand if you've ever forlornly had to write out the statement 'this doesn’t quite do the place justice' in reference to one of your images from a particularly magical place and moment, and finally, raise your hand if you've just about given up on photographing landscapes because you raised your hand for the above two statements! OK -- put that hand down, and pick up your saving grace -- the Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density filter.

"From my experience, there is no better way to get accurate, bold, vivid and complete images at the time of capture than with a properly used ND Grad filter. What's the secret? It's simply this: even our most modern cameras simply cannot 'see' the same way our eyes see. Our camera's sensor does not record anything close to the full 'dynamic range' of the human eye, meaning it can only capture so much difference between the darkest and brightest parts of an image. This means we must control or moderate the light entering the camera into a more narrow range of tones which the camera will be able to 'see' as it should.

"The colorful view of Dallas Divide, CO we see above was captured with my 3-stop hard step Graduated ND filter and the LB Warming Polarizer -- a combination that I use regularly for landscapes. The Polarizer saturates the color in the sky and the ND Grad balances the high exposure levels of the bright sky in the background with the important -- but less brightly lit -- areas in the foreground.

"This photo of Bavarian Bovines was taken recently near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany using my 3-stop Reverse ND Grad to balance the very bright, dramatic skies. It also helped me balance the image composition as well.

"Every aspiring photographer knows there are 'modern' alternatives to Graduated ND filters like HDR and digital blending, but I’ve had countless students at my workshops remark on how much more natural and representative an image looks when they capture it with the ND Grad filter. To boot, they can now leave each shoot knowing that, with one frame, they nailed it. They're not wondering if multiple frames will align, and when they get home, they will have no creative questions as to how the scene actually appeared at the time of capture.

"Much of my success across numerous genres of photography can be accredited to an understanding of how and when to use these important filters. This farmer's shed in the Bavarian Alps in Germany was captured with a 4-stop Reverse ND Grad and my LB Warming Polarizer. The latter was used to accentuate the colorful sunset clouds and remove sheen from the shed and colorful shingles. The ND Grad allowed me to slightly overexpose the foreground and give some extra pop to the green grass.

"From scenic landscape classics, to 'active lifestyle' keepers, to commercial destination work, I trust these filters to help me capture more natural, complete, and visually satisfying images. This mountain bike sunrise was captured in Deer Valley, Utah using my 4-stop Reverse ND Grad to balance the intense sunlight bursting forth from the horizon. The filtration of the sunlight was absolutely essential to the success and natural look of this image -- not to mention the dramatic backlight in the foreground. Without the ND Grad, this image simply could not have happened, but by using the right filter I was able to add another success to my stock file."

Adam suggests those new to using filters explore the many stories about ND Grads instantly available on this Singh-Ray blog. You may also want to check out Adam's instructional DVD, Completing your Outdoor Photography with Landscape Filters, or visit his blog or Facebook page for regular updates and tutorials, or follow him on Twitter.

1 comment:

Stock fotos said...

Nice photography blog,thanks for sharing this blog.When a photographer creates a photograph that matches the original illustration of the artist, successfully telling the story the artist wanted to put in the picture, the photograph is considered fine art. Fine art doesn’t have to follow the rules-it has to be enjoyed by the viewers. I believe it should reflect the emotions, feeling and the beauty of that moment.
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