Friday, April 01, 2011

The LB Warming Polarizer makes the scene at Susan and Neil Silverman's workshop

The team of Susan and Neil Silverman are two of the busiest photographers and workshop leaders in the country. "While we were leading a photo workshop on the California coast, we were challenged by the contrast in light that can happen with bright light, water, and deep rich foliage. In previous years we had made a side trip to this special area off the coast -- a small creek and falls hidden deep in the woods, off the beaten path, yet a stone's throw from the open ocean. The natural architecture of the woods lends itself to some wonderful compositions, but the weather and condition of the foliage often isn't inspiring.

"Fortunately, a few days of measurable rain had made the small creek to be flowing and lush. The ferns and greenery were washed clean of their normal ground dust, but of course this means working with the water glare and challenges of wet green leaves. This is a very small nook in the woods and not far from mainstream urban lifestyle.

"We were delighted to see that the creek was running full throttle, with the smaller falls in the distance full and charging down to the ocean. We took a few test shots, but the contrast was strong and the whole area tended to be too cool and blue. A satisfactory image could be composed quite easily; all the elements of layering, graphic lines and colors were there, but the final image just did not "ring true" when we checked the camera's LCD display -- we knew that there was more to the story than our camera was capturing.

"That's when we pulled out our Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and it immediately changed the feeling of the the whole scene, creating an inviting, appealing waterscape. The filter allowed for a slower shutter speed which magically slowed and smoothed the water, and it also warmed up the whole area while still looking natural. Without the filter, or with just a neutral polarizer, we would not have had the ambiance created here, which is just what we had in our mind's eye for this wonderful spot. The image was shot with a Nikon D700 and a 42mm lens at f16 for 15 seconds.

Working with the filter was fast and easy, and once we'd demonstrated the potential for this shot, we allowed our workshop participants to try the filter for themselves. Each person was able to get their own rendition and capture the magic of this spot in the forest. Everyone shot the image without the filter, and then with it. All the objectionable glare of the wet foliage was removed, the water was slowed to an inviting mist, and the whole scene turned out to be a favorite of every student. Hands down, everyone preferred their image using the Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer over their own polarizer or no polarizer at all.

"There are some effects that can be simulated with a photo editing program or plug-in, but there is nothing as satisfying as capturing your vision "in camera," seeing it in the field and knowing that you have captured the moment in a genuine and true style. It is a great feeling to know that you have captured the image while you're on the scene, and not have to worry about trying to 'recreate' the feeling post process. With this filter, you see it, you capture it, and you have it!!"

In addition to their frequent workshops, Susan and Neil spend their time photographing many different scenes and subjects for magazines, their own gallery and stock photo clients. Their work is represented by both national and international stock agencies and has appeared in a variety of publications. Visit their website for complete information.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Singh-Ray Filters help Srividya Narasimhan capture the beauty of the California Coastline

Photographer Srividya Narasimhan (whose friends call her Vidya) loves living in the San Francisco Bay area of California. "Living here gives me ample opportunities to photograph the beautiful northern & central California coastline," says Vidya. "The seasons here are just made for photographing -- spring brings with it beautiful wild flowers, summer provides opportunities to capture the omnipresent fog, while fall & winter provide dramatic skies when the Pacific storms roll into the mainland. While these subjects hold immense photographic potential, their diversity poses a number of technical challenges to translate my artistic intent into photographs.

"Chief among the technical challenges that I often face are (a) how to expose for the difference in the intensity of light while photographing dramatic coastal sunsets, (b) how to use the oncoming waves or receding waters as suitable foreground elements and (c) how to accentuate the subtle colors and eliminate harsh glares in a typical coastal scene. My Singh-Ray filters are the most important tools that I rely on to overcome these challenges during the photo shoots. I particularly use the LB Warming Polarizer and various strengths of the Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density filters to help capture my coastal photographs as I visualize them.

"When I made the photograph at the top of this story, cumulonimbus clouds over sea-side cliffs at Davenport, a severe cold front was developing along the north-central California coast leading to forecasts of snow showers. Closer to home, the presence of puffy clouds from an earlier storm gave me reason enough to venture down the coast in hopes of making some unique photographs. As I approached Davenport, CA, the developing cumulonimbus clouds in the distance were proof enough that the weather forecasts were going to yield exciting photo opportunities. I used the steep sea-side cliffs to connect the clouds to something earthbound.

"My LB Warming Polarizer helped me make this photograph in two ways -- not only did it help the clouds to pop, it also added warmth to the cliffs and the sand. The built-in warming effect eliminates the blueish cast I've experienced with other polarizers. Moreover, the LB Warming Polarizer does not introduce any unnatural looking color casts, thereby helping create an image that was very true to my photographic intent.

"While making this image of pastel sunset hues at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, the setting sun illuminated the clouds overhanging the beach. I wanted to use a slow shutter speed to make the receding lines of water look soft and ethereal.

"I took a meter reading and found a two-stop difference between the sky and the foreground water. Instead of taking two exposures to combine later -- one for the sky and the other for the water, I created this photograph with a single exposure by using my 2-stop hard-step Graduated Neutral Density filter. Once I was able to get the exposure right, it freed me up to concentrate on the composition. I used a slower shutter speed not only to blur the receding water but also to emphasize the movement in the clouds. The ND Grad allowed me to capture the essential elements of the photograph in-camera, thereby saving me considerable time in post processing.

"For this final image of spring wildflowers at Montara State Beach, the leaves had a surface sheen that I wanted to eliminate to improve the saturation, and ensure that the focus of the photograph was solely on the wildflowers.

"I used my LB Warming Polarizer to reduce glare on the foreground leaves and flowers. The 'warming' component of the polarizer reduced the blueish cast and warmed up the scene just enough. I also used a 2-stop soft-step ND Grad to balance the exposure difference between the background cliffs and the foreground flowers. I chose the soft-step filter since the transition between the bright background (ie., skies and cliff) and the foreground (ie., wild flowers & leaves) was not a clearly defined line.

"Using these Singh-Ray filters helps me translate my artistic goals into photographs right in the camera and spend less time in post processing. That way, I can do more of what I love the most -- being outdoors and photographing."

To learn more about Vidya's approach to outdoor photography, and to see more of her work, be sure to pay a visit to her website.