Friday, April 08, 2011

On Bone Yard Beach in South Carolina, Joe Rossbach uses his Reverse ND Grads to help tell the strange story

Joe Rossbach recently returned from 10 days of photographing in the lowland coastal regions around Charleston, South Carolina. "On the first morning of the trip, I visited an area known as Bone Yard Beach on Edisto Island. This amazing barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean has an area of trees that are literally stranded on the shore of the beach.

"At high tide, the trees are submerged in water and the waves break all around them. In all my years as a nature photographer, I have never witnessed any environment like this before. I was struck by the eerie beauty and strangeness of the location. While waiting for the sun to rise in the gloomy pre-dawn light, I couldn't help but think of the surrealistic paintings of Salvador Dali. It was with this inspiration in mind that I let my eye and imagination wander from the literal into the surreal.

"The image above was captured as the first blush of pre-dawn light emerged, I positioned my camera below this dead tree as the in-coming tide began to surround it. The moon was rising and I was able to position it between the tree limbs after carefully moving my camera position and camera height. The light was soft and there was a faint glow of red in the distance. I decided to use my Singh-Ray LB Color Intensifier to boost the color saturation in the blues and red. The light in the sky was much brighter on the horizon and I needed a way to balance the exposure in the sand and breaking waves while holding back the highlights in the central part of the sky. I choose the Singh-Ray 2-stop Reverse ND Grad which did the trick. Positioning the darker portion of the grad towards the horizon held all of the detail needed while allowing me to balance the exposure along the dimly lit beach. The Reverse ND Grad also maintained a very natural appearance in the upper portion of the sky that was much darker allowing for a perfect graduation from top to center and finally into the beach sand and breaking waves. And it was all achieved in the camera.

"After making the first shot, the sun began to get closer to the horizon and the light show was about to begin! I quickly ran back over to another set of trees I had scouted earlier in the morning set against the exact position of the rising sun. I made sure to frame a composition that allowed separation between the standing trees and the fallen ones to the left. After composing the image, I set my focus and aperture in anticipation of seeing the crimson color in the sky appear. As the light began to peak, I took a quick spot meter reading of the sky at the horizon and then in the upper left hand corner. After that I metered the reflected light in the beach and determined that I needed a 3-stop Reverse ND Grad to balance the highlights in the bright morning sky with the much darker beach and reflections. Once again, the Reverse ND Grad performed its unique light balancing act precisely, holding all of the detail in the brightest portion of the shot (the horizon where the bright sun was rising) while tapering off into the beach and upper portion of the sky to render the scene in my camera as naturally as it appeared to the eye."

Joe plans to share more images and stories from the beaches and plantations of the low-country south in the near future, so stay tuned! Learn more information about Joe's 2011 workshop schedule and eBooks -- as well as see many more images -- by visiting Joe's new website. You can also follow Joe's updates on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Gold-N-Blue's Greatest Hits

After a number of months of limited availability, Singh-Ray is pleased to announce that our Gold-N-Blue filter is available again for online ordering and prompt shipment. In addition, it's now offered in more sizes:

  • Standard Ring Mount: 52, 58, 62, 67, 72 and 77mm
  • Thin Mount (no front threads): 62, 67, 72 and 77mm
  • P-size Sprocket Ring Mount
So if you've been waiting to get yours, now you can get one just in time for spring photo opportunities. To celebrate, today we're presenting a few of the "Gold-N-Blue's Greatest Hits" from a variety of photographers' blog stories. You can click through to read the full version of any of the stories as well.

Adam Barker: "Never has it been so important to create images that are a notch above the rest. There are numerous tools I rely on to help create unique images on a regular basis -- regardless of the conditions Mother Nature throws my way. That's why one of my most trusted filters is the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer...

"Simply put, I have used this filter many times over to create something out of nothing. We have all faced the challenges presented by lackluster gray skies, flat shadowless lighting and/or colorless lakes and streams. You may have a dynamic subject and an engaging composition, but the light just might or might not be there. That's when I turn to my Gold-N-Blue Polarizer.

"This first image (above) features a classic western water scene from Lake Powell, UT. It seemed all the elements had lined up: wonderfully textured foreground, simple mid-ground and dramatic clouds serving as my background. As the sun dropped lower in the sky, however, clouds across the horizon sapped any hopes I had of a five-star image (or so I thought). I was able to 'save' the shot by screwing on my Gold-N-Blue Polarizer. I always recommend shooting several images, experimenting with different degrees/hues of polarization in order to ensure you’ve come away with a keeper." (Complete Story)

Bob Krist: "Early in the shoot, I wasn’t having much luck dealing with the haze, but before dawn each morning, I hiked out to the Kona coast hoping to shoot the lava formations. It was gray, so I put on my Gold-N-Blue Polarizer and did some long exposures with the blue pumped up. Then as sunrise approached -- and the sky went from dark gray to medium gray -- I swung to the other end of the filter’s spectrum and put a nice warm glow over the writer’s favorite stretch of lava rocks on the coast. Chalk up another successful rescue for my trusty Gold-N-Blue." (Complete Story)

Steve Kossack: "Photographing in the Mesquite Dunes is a highlight of every workshop. Actually being 'out there' in the dunes is a much different feeling than photographing from a safe roadside vantage point. 'Showtime' is how I describe those moments when first or last light of the day turns the dunes into a magical fantasy land of shapes, textures and colors. As our group set up on this clear spring pre-dawn, we began talking about what was to come at first light and we experimented with a combination of lenses and compositions. As the light became defused by a small cloud on the horizon, I commented on the purple mountains behind the dunes and quickly replaced my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer with the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer. Then I shot this exposure and quickly bracketed two more exposures at 1/3 and 2/3 f-stop under that exposure. Then I exposed three more bracketed exposures after adding a 3-stop soft-step ND Grad to reduce the tone of the mountains. I then forgot all about this image until I saw it again in the raw converter. A nice surprise, indeed!" (Complete Story)

Marcio Cabral: "This image was taken with my Canon 5D II and 17-40 lens early in the morning when the light was perfect and the great force of the waves helped make the scene appear even more dramatic. I used my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue to deliver an almost magical effect. I adjusted the filter to create just a little more blue on the ocean and the most intense gold in the sky. I adjusted the color balance in Adobe Camera Raw to correct for the filter's magenta effect, so I was able to increase the blue tones in the sky to contrast with the very warm clouds. To balance the bright light of the rising sun with the dark foreground, I also used a Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated ND filter to control the brilliant sun and a second 3-stop soft-step ND Grad on the water to help define the waves." (Complete Story)

Darwin Wiggett: "I tried out my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue polarizer on the scene and loved the colors the filter gave me. The only problem was I needed a slower shutter speed to get the silky water effect and the only way to get the shutter speed I wanted was to use an ND filter. So I took out my Vari-ND filter and screwed on the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue to the front of the Vari-ND filter and rotated each individually until I got the Gold-N-Blue effect I liked and the long exposure time I needed." (Complete story)

Joel Addams: "I was intrigued by the unique new challenge of photographing a black lava landscape. I shot for several days, approaching the dark tones of the lava in a very straightforward manner. I simply tried to keep them black. One day as the rain was pouring down, however, I searched for some new approach to the endlessly black and rather drab views. Suddenly, the black shiny lava reminded me of the black pearls I had seen while traveling in other countries. I remembered seeing a hue of blue in the pearls and pulled out my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue filter to see the effects.

"I was fascinated by the brilliant blues and golds that shimmered off the wet lava. To me, the black was actually enhanced by colors, as if they naturally exuded that spectrum of light anyway. A simple twist of the Gold-N-Blue filter, and I could chose not only the hue of the lava, but also the intensity. The filter was so interesting that I decided to shoot a series of images of lava in sort of a study on texture. Everywhere I went over the next few days, I would try the Gold-N-Blue filter, sometimes coupled with an ND Grad filter to hold back the light in the sky." (Complete Story)

Matt Wade: "Speaking of the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer, which I’ve come to trust as a great photographic tool; it's important to adjust the camera's white balance setting to avoid garish or unnatural looking images. The Gold-N-Blue often confuses my camera’s auto white balance setting, so I manually set my white balance to a warmer setting (usually in the 5000-6000K range) than what my camera would normally choose. Doing this helps me avoid neon blues and also preserves the delicate yellows and pinks of early morning light. My pre-dawn image from Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (at left) and my sunrise shot from Rock Cut on Trail Ridge Road (below) confirmed the careful balance between the Gold-N-Blue and my white-balance settings.

"One could say that it’s easier to adjust the white balance of your images by means of the camera's 'custom' white balance setting* or during post processing in the computer with RAW images, but I’ve found that experimenting with manual white balance while using any Singh-Ray filters in the field opens up unexpected creative opportunities." (Complete Story)

The images in this story give you just a taste of the creative potential you can discover with the Gold-N-Blue filter. Click here to read all of our blog entries that discuss the Gold-N-Blue, or to order, just visit our online store.

*Tip: As a starting point when using the Gold-N-Blue, consider setting a "Custom White Balance" in the field with the Gold-N-Blue in place on the lens (in any position) prior to making an image. Doing so will display a "normal" image on the LCD, with gold or blue accents. This step can minimize the need for post processing, although adjusting the white balance settings in RAW processing is also effective. Refer to your camera's manual for specific instructions on setting a Custom White Balance.