Friday, August 05, 2011

Although He Knows 'the Rule,' Juan Chamorro Prefers to Shoot Reflections with Centered Horizons

Although he has had some photos published, Juan Chamorro's photography is mostly a hobby to be enjoyed while he's on his frequent nature walks. Most of his images are made near his home in Galicia, in the northwestern corner of Spain. "Galicia is a magical land of contrasts," says Juan, "which always makes for beautiful scenery and interesting photography.

"When I began studying photography, one of the first rules I learned about composing landscape images was to not focus on the horizon and not place it in the center of the image. However, I have found many times when I think a centered horizon works well for me and enables me to fill my foreground with a beautiful reflection of the sky -- either in a quiet pond or lake or on the wave-soaked shore of a beach. The photo above was taken in Playa America with my girlfriend looking into the sunset to balance the composition. To balance the strong sunlight on the horizon with the foreground, I used my Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse ND Grad. An LB Warming Polarizer helped me control the glare from the wet sand. Until shortly before I captured this image, the evening light didn't look at all promising.

"This sunrise image is one of several I've taken at a nearby reservoir I pass almost every morning. On this special morning, the reflection of the sky in the water revealed every color that was in the heavens. Here again I used my 3-stop Reverse ND Grad placed with the darkest part of the gradient on the brightest area in the water and the trees.

"The estuary of Foz on the north coast of Galicia is a residential area and wildlife habitat where many migratory birds flock despite being surrounded by pretty houses. At low tide, most of what we see here is earth and mud where the birds feed. Luckily the seas gives us these beautiful reflections. For this image I used my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer to capture the wonderful golden highlights this filter is known for. In all three of these photos, I used a Nikon D80 with the same Sigma 10-20mm lens."

You can view many more of Juan's images on his gallery page and keep up with his projects by visiting his Spanish-language blog or Google translated into English here. OR visit his Facebook page, also in Spanish.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Whenever Greg Miller gets the chance to go near the water, he always takes his Singh-Ray Polarizer

Based in the Hudson Valley of New York, Greg Miller photographs a wide range of outdoor scenes in the Hudson River Valley and far beyond. "One of my favorite subjects is water," says Greg, "in any and every form. It moves, it shimmers, it reflects light, and it refracts (bends) light. And water comes in so many convenient and photogenic forms –- such as ice, mist, fog, mirror-smooth ponds, large lakes, and rushing cascades. The filter that I consider to be the most essential tool for photographing water is the Singh-Ray Polarizer. Any time I photograph water, I find the polarizer is able to expand my vision and create exciting possibilities. I've included images with this story to illustrate some of those added possibilities whenever I'm photographing rainbows and reflections.

"Rainbows can occur anytime there's the combination of water droplets suspended in the air and direct light from the sun (or occasionally the moon) shining on those droplets. Look for rainbows to occur when you're facing in the opposite direction to the the sun when it's low in the sky. When these conditions exist, lots of light is also being reflected and refracted, causing scattered and sometimes hazy light. A polarizing filter is the ideal way to eliminate this scattered light and let the colors of the rainbow become fully saturated. That's when the rainbow will really pop in the image. When I am looking at a rainbow through the polarizer, I rotate it and watch the rainbow’s colors alternately become enhanced or almost disappear. I can rotate the polarizing ring to dial in just the right amount -- remember, however, that since most cameras see the world with more color contrast than our eyes can. So some experience may be required to get just the right amount of polarization. By the way, this is the rare exception to basic rule that polarizers have their greatest effect when pointing at a 90-degree angle to the sun.

"The image at the top of this story was captured in the Hudson Valley of New York. It shows a typically arched rainbow, but this one happens to be a double rainbow with the colors of the 2nd rainbow reversed from the dominant rainbow. Using my Singh-Ray Polarizing filter allowed the fainter 2nd rainbow to be visible in the image, and also allowed the dominant rainbow to pop against the darker sky behind it.

"These next two photos were taken when only a portion of the rainbow's full arch is visible. This image, which is also from the Hudson Valley, shows the left portion of the rainbow's arch. My Singh-Ray Polarizer filter really helped pop the colors of the rainbow while also emphasizing the diagonal bands of light that are perpendicular to the rainbow and highlighting the lighter steaks of rain falling from the clouds.

"This photo was made when I was Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park last year. It was nearing sunset and I was despairing over the absence of any clouds for a dramatic sunset photo. This one rogue storm cloud saved the day by blowing in unexpectedly and producing this small partial rainbow out over Frenchman Bay. The rainbow only covers a small portion of the image, but the dramatic colors draw the eye and provide balance against the much larger cloud looming on the right.

Reflections are an important topic because sometimes they can greatly enhance a scene, and at other times they detract. In both cases, a polarizing filter is the perfect tool to dial in just the right amount of reflection.

"This photo was taken on a bright but overcast day in Harriman State Park -– only a 1-hour drive from New York City. This was perfect lighting for a white water scene, but these conditions also created unsightly white reflections of the gray sky on wet rocks and leaves that greatly reduced the color saturation. I used my Singh-Ray Polarizing filter to eliminate most of these reflections, leaving only enough to keep the feel of the rushing water.

"On an evening where a light fog hung over these wetlands in the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area in New York, I was especially attracted by the gorgeous painterly clouds hanging in the sky overhead. I wanted to keep some reflection in the open water, but using too much polarization would have eliminated the subtle fog layer. Judicial control of the polarizing effect allowed me to capture just the right amount of fog, reflection, and cloud detail.

"This image is also from the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. It demonstrates how dialing the full effect of the polarizer emphasizes details in the clouds and achieves maximum reflection in the water. Capturing a razor sharp mirror reflection is always rewarding, but windy days can be fun too.

"Here's one more reflection image from the Adirondacks that illustrates how a very long exposure can make for a compelling photo by letting let the movement of the clouds streak and the waves blur. A polarizing filter was used to darken the storm clouds and keep the colors rich and vibrant.

"So next time you are out shooting around water -- or on all those days when rain is in the forecast -- be sure to keep your Singh-Ray polarizing filter close at hand. The odds are good that you'll find exciting opportunities to turn a good photo into an excellent one."

Greg's commercial assignments include projects ranging from the Catskills to Chilean Patagonia. His first photo book, The Hudson River, A Great Amercian Treasure (Rizzoli, 2008) was included in The Bloomsbury Review’s Favorite Books of 2008. He leads photography workshops and tours for organizations such as the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Adirondack Photography Institute, and the New Britain Museum of American Art. More examples of Greg's panoramic views and other gallery images are presented on his website, or keep up to date with his Facebook page.