Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at Singh-Ray!

While we are always thankful for the many customers and friends we work with every day, this is an excellent opportunity to offer a few words of appreciation and do some "Thanks Giving."

It is truly a gift to be able to help our customers improve their photography, and to work with so many creative people from around the world. It's always gratifying to see your beautiful results!

We also would like to thank all the outstanding photographers who contribute articles to this blog. We truly enjoy sharing so many remarkable images and ideas with all of you. If you have some spare time this holiday weekend, we remind you that there are hundreds of stories in our blog archive, and they still offer valuable ideas and information -- so go ahead and look through our back pages.

In order to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend with our families, our offices will be closed Thursday and Friday of this week. We will be back in the office Monday morning, and of course, our online store is always open!

Also, our offices will be closed December 24 and re-open January 2nd, so be sure to plan ahead if you have travel plans that week, or if you need to make any purchases during this calendar year for tax purposes. Please allow a few days to prepare and ship your order in advance of the holiday break.

We have lots of things in store for the new year, so be sure to stay tuned to this blog, and check the website now and again for all the latest news.

Wishing you and yours a happy, safe, and joyful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Despite all the rain, Dale Wilson and his Singh-Ray filters managed to bring home the images he wanted

Veteran landscape photographer Dale Wilson has photographed his Canadian homeland from coast to coast, but he's always ready to see and learn more. "Last winter I was watching a television documentary by Canadian environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki. It was a riveting film with some incredible images of the granite geology of the eastern Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. During the first commercial break I grabbed the telephone and called my friend Ethan Meleg -- who lives and photographs on the shores of Lake Huron -- to get him tuned in; not surprisingly he already was.

"Although Ethan was not familiar with the location, he did some exploring in the area as reported on the Singh-Ray blog back in January. It took more phone calls between us before the stars eventually aligned and Ethan and I were able to take his boat, the Viewfinder, to the eastern Georgian Bay in June 2011. There are over 30,000 islands in this region of Lake Huron and it is a natural haven for boaters. On the 'inside' waterways, the size and variety of granite up-cropping provide the opportunity to kayak or canoe in relative safety with countless take-out points and shelter should the weather come up. On the 'outside' open water, however, the skipper, boat, and equipment had better be well seasoned and in good working order.

"Photographing on these islands was very similar to the Atlantic coastline I'm more familiar with. The image above was captured with my Singh-Ray thin-mount LB Warming Polarizer and 3 stops of Reverse ND Grad. I find that I shoot using the Daylight white balance preset at least 90% of the time, and then adjust to taste using a combination of filters and exposures. The warming polarizer obviously reduces the reflection from water and, at the same time, counters 'the blues' inherent with long exposures in low light.

"I've also found that a Daryl Benson Reverse ND Grad often provides the most pleasing balance with water horizons at sunset. Depending on the amount of sky I am including in the picture, I may also on occasion stack a Galen Rowell 1-stop soft-step ND Grad, positioned upside-down to feather a pleasing tonal balance leading down into the water line itself. Obviously there is no true filter recipe for all situations, as the geographical surroundings and light conditions will dictate what filters should be used. That's why I like to have a variety of ND grads in my filter pouch to be ready for anything.

"When we got to the eastern Georgian Bay, Ethan and I only had two days of exploring the islands. Then it was back to the mainland to wait out the impending weather front that was moving in some foul weather that decided to linger on the Bruce Peninsula area for a solid week. We had a few moments where the sun did shine, and we shot around Bruce Peninsula National Park before I decided to call it quits and head back to my home base on the Atlantic coastline.

"I did have one detour I wanted to make before heading east, however, and that was to supplement my stock files with some shots of wind turbines. There are few places in Canada that have more wind turbines in a concentrated geographical area than south-western Ontario.

"I arrived at a relatively long line of turbines along the Lake Huron shoreline at about 11:00 o’clock in the morning. It was raining lightly and the sky was a dull grey. I decided to concentrate on doing some industrial type of stock shooting by driving some country roads seeking a good vantage point to compress the hydro lines and towers into a really tight scene. I first started using a blue and yellow polarizing filter about 20 years ago, and knew from this experience that given cloudy skies, the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue would add some blue cast to the grey sky, depending upon how I rotated the filter. By adjusting the exposure and watching the histogram, I zeroed in on the duotone look I was seeking.

"Then, miracle of miracles, the sun broke through as I was driving and a blue sky opened for about 15 minutes. Yes, I missed the incredible rainbow because I was in unfamiliar landscape and just didn’t find a suitable foreground in the three to five minutes of the impressive light show. So it was back to the wind turbines.

"After considering the sunny 16 rule (Exposure = 1/ISO), I translated my exposure to f22 at 1/60 of a second at ISO100. Realizing that I would have to dramatically slow that shutter speed to create the motion blur I wanted, I started rummaging around my filter case. Based on the speed the turbines were turning I guessed I needed a shutter speed of around ¼-second to achieve the desired effect. I stacked a 2-stop ND and a polarizing combination – but it still didn’t slow the shutter sufficiently. I was starting to think how I could stack some split-grads -- one upside down -- to create even more ND in front of the lens to slow the shutter speed another 2-stops.

"This is when it dawned on me... tucked away in a secondary filter case where I keep some 'specialized' filters was the Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo. This was a filter with which I had done some previous experimenting but hadn’t used in about six months. Voila, it was the perfect ticket; I now had one filter threaded on the front of the lens that provided the opportunity to decrease the exposure to the desired shutter speed with a simple turn of the ring. I got my shot, packed up and headed toward Toronto and points east but not before seriously considering the point that a photographer’s road kit has to include a full arsenal of filters. I have little doubt the Vari-N-Duo afforded me the opportunity to shoot right through high noon and still get the desired motion blur I was looking for. By the time I reached Toronto three hours later the heavens broke again and I drove through thunder and lightning storms for the next twenty hours. Now, if Singh-Ray could just develop a filter that would allow us to 'dial in' the desired weather conditions..."

In addition to his many freelance assignments, veteran outdoor photographer Dale Wilson writes a regular column for Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine. The book project he recently edited, Canada's National Parks: A Celebration, sold out almost immediately, but is now back in print. It features more than 200 color images by Canada's leading landscape photographers. To see more of Dale's photos visit his website and his Naturally Natural blog.