Friday, May 27, 2011

Darwin Wiggett: Living the Dream

Today we present this documentary produced by Samantha Chrysanthou, which captures a slice of the epic grandeur that is the life of noted outdoor photographer Darwin Wiggett.

"We made this video because, while being traveling outdoor photographers allows us to visit some of the most magnificently beautiful places on earth, we find there is also a slight tendency for photographers in general to take themselves a bit too seriously sometimes. This is just a fun little reality check," notes Samantha. "Trotting around the globe to exotic destinations, wooing models into sultry poses, using impressive and expensive equipment to capture the iris of a tiger -- all this is heady stuff! Many people think we are 'living the dream.' While we are enormously grateful that we are able to make a living as photographers, it's not all grandeur and glory.

"The reality for most professional photographers is a lot of office work and desk time, especially now that the photo industry has shifted and more of the tasks that were once handled by a stock agency (marketing, selling, inventory etc.) to the photographers themselves. So, in addition to the fun and adventure of making images, we have now have to perform as salespeople, webmasters, marketers, and be our own tech support, too.

But even with all these new duties and the added hours at a desk rather than in the wild, this is still a great way to make a living! Of course, anything that helps us reduce post processing time at our desk and gets us back behind the camera is a real advantage -- that's why we take our Singh-Ray Filters along on any photo excursion, to help us capture the best possible images 'in camera' out in the field."

Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett have authored many instructional eBooks at Visual Wilderness where you can download their helpful eBooks on a variety of topics in mastering the art of photography. To learn more about their workshops and tours, you can also visit Darwin's website and Facebook or Samantha's blog and Facebook.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ivan Cajigas quickly sees the benefits of using filters to achieve the image quality he's shooting for

"A passion for landscape photography flows through my veins," says Puerto Rican neuroscientist and amateur photographer Iván J. Cajigas. "I am currently living in Frankfurt am Main, in Germany, but every time I return home I enjoy the opportunity to capture more of the stunning scenery of Puerto Rico. The island's wealth of beautiful landscapes, seascapes, caves, waterfalls, and flora make it a photographers’ paradise.

“Puerto Rico’s north shore is characterized by having many stunning seascapes. Its rock formations make it perfect for composing mind-blowing shots of both the sunset and sunrise. Successfully capturing beautiful images like the one above is always a thrill for me. However, I have often been limited by the many challenges involved in handling light. That's why I recently decided to really learn to use my various Singh-Ray filters. It didn't take long to discover how much my new filters can do to help solve many lighting challenges and improve my images. During my latest spring break, I had the opportunity to return to Puerto Rico, and I was amazed by the way my filters helped raise the image quality of my photographs to the next level.

"The image above was taken during a lovely sunset on Los Tubos beach located in the town of Manatí. In this shot, I wanted to capture not only the water movement and the texture of the rocks in the foreground, but also the sky and the sunset’s sidelight. Combining these details into a single photograph called for balancing the foreground with the inherently bright light of the sky. A Singh-Ray 3-stop hard-step Graduated ND filter helped me achieve the right balance. For this shot I used a Canon 7D with a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens set at a focal length of 12mm and aperture of f/22. Using this combination produced a shutter speed of 0.6 seconds, which captured the water’s action in the foreground perfectly. In addition to the Graduated ND filter, I used my LB ColorCombo polarizer/intensifier to accentuate the colors in the scene. The filter worked smoothly. When shooting this image I was worried about getting unusual color casts that might be caused by the combination of the color enhancer of the LB ColorCombo with the Graduated Neutral Density filter. When I saw the result in the camera's LCD display, however, I discovered just how neutral the ND Grad filter is.

"My hometown of Camuy is also located on Puerto Rico’s north shore. It's well known for having one of the largest cave systems in the world, but in terms of seascape photography it is a virtually unexplored area. My family has been fortunate to own a property located right on Camuy’s shore. So on the day I received my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue filter I went there to try it. The clouds were stunning! I wanted to find a compositional element to match them, and I remembered seeing the puddles shaped by the rocks and thinking that it was a good opportunity to combine a foreground reflection with the sky. What I never could have imagined was how dramatic the Gold-N-Blue would make the scene. It was amazing how the filter suddenly transformed the reflection into a golden mirror. To balance the bright light from the upper part of the image, I used a Singh-Ray 3-stop hard-step Graduated ND filter on my Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens. A shutter speed of 0.4 seconds was enough to capture the shot with the lens set at 17mm focal length and an f/22 aperture setting.

"In addition to great seascapes, Puerto Rico offers photographers many natural hidden treasures. This image shows a waterfall called Las Delicias which is located right in the center of the island, between the towns of Ciales and Jayuya. The moment I first saw this waterfall I was thrilled. Man’s presence is unnoticeable. It is pristine, quiet, and unreal. It is truly a secret garden and my goal was to capture its charming atmosphere. I did not think twice before jumping into the creek to compose an image that would accentuate the scene's visual depth. For the foreground, I chose the rocks to add texture and the flowing water to add action to the shot. A fallen tree in the midground and the waterfall in the background completed the composition I wanted. The magical vibe of this photograph was achieved using the LB ColorCombo mounted on the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens set at its widest focal length and an f/22 aperture. The filter helped to highlight the green and yellow colors of the leaves as well as the magenta of the impatiens flowers that follow the creek up to the waterfall. At the same time, the built-in warming polarizer of the ColorCombo reduced unwanted highlights and glare from the water and rocks. I did not have to look at the camera display to find that the image was exactly the shot I wanted. Thanks Singh-Ray!

"The last and not least important image of this story was taken far from the Caribbean when I was back in Germany. I had the chance to visit Tegernsee, a very traditional Bavarian spa town in the south of Germany located on the shore of Lake Tegernsee, close to the German Alps. One morning I was hoping to get a picture of the sunrise behind the mountains. All the while I was in Tegernsee, unfortunately, the weather was overcast. Instead of attempting a sunrise shot, I decided to wake up early and head to the lake to try to find a nice scene. While walking along the lake, this Bavarian-style house at the foot of a mountain caught my attention. It was reflected nicely in the water. I did not hesitate to take my long lens -- the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L -- out of my backpack. As I was thinking of how to improve the composition of the image, I noticed a portion of the lake in which the water appeared to be streaming at a faster rate. That is when I decided to attach Singh-Ray’s Vari-N-Duo filter to the lens. My idea was to capture the water’s movement as foreground, the house with its reflection in the midground and the foggy mountain as background. By setting the focal length of the lens to 74mm with an f/22 aperture, stopping down the lens approximately 5 f/stops and rotating the filter's built-in polarizer to get a good reflection, I managed to get an exposure time of 10 seconds. That was more than enough to capture the action I wanted in the foreground. Getting the right atmosphere in this image would definitely have been impossible without my Vari-N-Duo.

“Singh-Ray filters will undoubtedly help improve my photography and allow me to be more creative. What I like most about the filters is that they enable me to get images that require little time or effort in post processing. They are almost ready to brag about straight out of the camera.”

Although Ivan has only had his Singh-Ray filters a short time, he has quite a collection of photos from both his homeland of Puerto Rico and his temporary home in Germany. You can see more of his work on Flickr and Flickriver.