Friday, March 11, 2011

Glen Parker knows how to pre-plan his extreme long-exposure shots... he just feels better when he doesn't need to

Glen Parker grew up in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, where he still resides. He's enjoyed a keen passion for photography from an early age as he pursued a busy career operating his own business and coaching several successful Australian athletes. Lately, he has had more time to pursue his passion of photography, searching the world for the perfect shot. "In spite of all my traveling," Glen says, "I find that photographing along the east coast of Australia is especially challenging and enjoyable.

"I travel all over the Sydney coastline searching for the perfect coastal sunrise. I have taken thousands of shots over many years of the Aussie coast, yet I'm always searching for that ultimate sunrise photo. Each success stirs me to try to achieve more. The image above was recently captured at one of my favorite locations near Sydney Harbour’s South Head. It has long been at the top of my 'perfect sunrise' wish list. This also may be one of the most planned photos I've ever taken. Every day I've been monitoring the tide carefully, knowing the best time to take the shot would be low tide when the harshness of the surrounding rocks and splashing waves can be captured best and I can place myself out far enough from shore to get a better view of Hornby Lighthouse. I had visited this location several times before when the tide was right and had walked among the shoreline rocks to find the perfect point from which to take the photo. I wanted to ensure there would be an interesting formation of rocks and the perfect combination of foreground interest, colour, and light.

"On the day this shot of the Hornby Lighthouse was captured, I set up my Canon 5D MkII with a 16-35mm lens (usually set to 16mm) mounted on a Manfrotto tripod. To get to the location I had previously scouted, I climbed down a sheer rock face more than an hour before sunrise and set up my camera. I was well aware that the coast can be very unpredictable and big waves can catch you by surprise.

"I set the aperture to f/16 and slid my Singh-Ray 4-stop Reverse ND Grad diagonally into position and started my exposure. The filter darkened the sky above the headland and the light from the lighthouse so that the foreground lighting was balanced perfectly. I used the reverse filter so that that I was able to still have good cloud detail towards the top of the image. I often choose the 4-stop density to neutralise the harshness of the bright Australian sunrise. As it turned out, the 13-minute exposure was perfect and as soon as I saw the histogram display on the back of the camera, I knew I had the shot I wanted. I should add that -- while the shot was 8 minutes into its exposure -- a huge rogue wave hit me and the camera resulting in a total drenching and a dead iPhone. I hadn't planned on that.

"In spite of the planning that went into capturing the Hornby Lighthouse at sunrise, I find that many of my best images come about with very little advanced planning. The only planning I did to shoot this image of Camel Rock was to set my alarm clock and work out how to get there an hour before sunrise. By going to a location with some idea of the image I'm after but having nothing planned, I'm able to take in the light and location as it is at the time and not be distracted by some preconceived idea. I only knew this Camel Rock formation was on the south coast of New South Wales near Bermagui.

"Once I arrived there, I noticed the sun was coming up in the wrong direction for the usual images of the rock that I’d seen before. So I perched on a rock in the middle of the water and waves, and set up for an exposure of 10 minutes at f/16. I used my favourite Singh-Ray 4-stop Reverse ND Grad on my 5D MkII with the 16-35mm lens. The ND grad darkened the bright skies to balance with the dimmer light levels in the foreground -- that much I'd planned on."

Glen's favourite photo destinations include inland Australia, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, and of course the picturesque Australian coastline. You can find impressive images from all those places and more by visiting his website,

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Joe DiMaggio (the photographic slugger) checks in to say Singh-Ray is the only filter for him

"There was a time in my photographic career," says veteran freelancer Joe DiMaggio, "when I had 30 or 40 different filters in various sizes. In those days, there were several types of black-and-white film, and two or three color films that often needed a little more pop.

"With the advent of digital, I found myself asking who needs filters anymore -- especially with Photoshop? Like many other things I've done over the years, if I wait long enough, I'll prove myself wrong. Turns out that my filters are often the difference between success and frustration.

"The reality is that I now actively and exclusively use what I feel are the best filters available: Singh-Ray. My relationship with Singh-Ray goes back to 1974 when I purchased my first filter to correct my underwater housing, and it worked very well. I've found Singh-Ray filters to be expertly crafted, and all their designs are definitely outside-the-box. Each one has a specific application. You may not need them all. For that matter, I may not need them all, but there are several I find absolutely essential. The LB Color Intensifier is number one. Another is the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer. Since the arrival of DSLR video, the Gold-N-Blue is drop-dead great. Anybody who follows my work knows that I like long exposures, very long exposures. So, the next favorite filter in my camera bag is the Vari-ND variable neutral density filter. And I've also got to mention my trusty LB Polarizer.

"This Hobie Catamaran photograph above was done with a Singh-Ray polarizing filter -- and Kodachrome 25 film -- a few years before the 'lighter, brighter' version came out. The polarizer really helped me cut glare to get all the color that Kodachrome was famous for. It was taken from the top mast on a Hobie 16. Living on the sea afforded me a window of Northport Harbor. Watching the boats pass by was like a ballet of color and contrast. I made friends with one of the captains and photographed from one boat to another, but I was soon looking for a different perspective. I tried to talk one of the catamaran captains into modifying his boat for my photo. He was interested in seeing the photograph, but had no interest at all in modifying his boat. So to solve my problem, I went out and bought a brand new Hobie 16, drilled a hole in the top of the mast and mounted my camera to the mast and used a radio control tripping device. To tell the truth, John Zimmerman from Life Magazine did a photograph of a docked sailboat from the Bosen's chair, which I always admired. His image intrigued me but I wanted to add color and motion to my version. In the final analysis, we have to thank all great photographers for the inspiration they provide us to make our own images.

"I used my ColorCombo for this image of my puppy, Ace. He's also a big fan of my filters -- he likes to lick them... although I'm pretty sure that's not the recommended cleaning method."

Although Joe and his partner JoAnne Kalish are based in New York and the Upper Delaware Valley, they travel the globe on various photo projects and assignments as well as operate the DiMaggio/Kalish Learning Center. To learn more about their many workshops and special events, you can visit their website.