Having just retired this month from a career in law enforcement, Emmett Quaine is now launching his own business as a portrait and landscape photographer. "I'll be based in the Detroit area, but I realize the importance of traveling wherever the opportunities arise. Last October, I took what was the first of many trips I'll be taking to build my gallery and stock image files and explore potential workshop destinations. This image, taken at Zion National Park, was one result of that trip. Just a few days earlier, Zion received a ton of rain and the Narrows had been closed briefly due to flooding. Even though it had reopened, I knew that the water temperature of 40 degrees was cold enough to keep me from wading through the Narrows. However, as I approached this entrance to the Narrows, I came upon these pleasant cascades flowing, and I was able to maneuver my way out onto some boulders to a better composition. The sun was almost directly overhead, painting the steep canyon walls with bright color.
"As I set up for this shot, I knew I would want to slow my shutter speed down and blur the motion of the water. I tried to use an aperture of f/22 to slow the shutter, but I still couldn’t achieve my desired effect. Fortunately, I had my Vari-N-Duo thin-mount with me. I quickly placed it on the 24-70mm lens on my Nikon D700 and opened the lens to f/18 while adding enough density to achieve a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds. The LB Warming Polarizer built into the Vari-N-Duo effectively cut the glare off the boulders while adding warmth to the overall scene. For scenes in regular daylight, requiring longer exposures, and/or reduced reflections, the Vari-N-Duo is an essential tool for my landscape photography.
"This next image was taken on another leg of our ten-day trip, as we were headed to Bryce Canyon National Park. We had left Zion the same afternoon with just enough time to make it here for sunset, and we did. I made it out to Sunrise Point, and it was packed with photographers all waiting for that magical light, the colors were lovely, but nothing that blew me away. It wasn’t until the next morning that I received my first real display of Bryce. I had to make a decision on where I wanted to shoot in the morning since we were leaving later that day. With so little time to spend at Bryce, I decided to return to Bryce Point for sunrise. I made it out there early, setting up on the edge of the point and then waiting. I liked how the canyon floor was covered in pines, we see the typical hoodoos there, and I was hoping for something a bit different.
"The sun began to show itself as it approached the horizon, I could tell I would need to balance the differences of light in the bright sky and in the canyon below. I wanted to capture the scene in a single exposure, I like knowing that when I walk away from a scene, I have my shot. This particular morning was cold and windy up there. I wanted to capture the moving sky, vibrant colors all the while maintaining a well balanced exposure. I already had my LB ColorCombo fitted on the 24-70, and I knew that the horizon would be tough to handle, I used my 3-Stop Reverse ND Grad to hold back the strong light as the sun approached. I could see on my histogram that this was the right choice. I was able to achieve an exposure setting of f/18 for 30 seconds. The LB ColorCombo took away any reflections the pines below may have cast and added a fantastic warming effect to the sky and hoodoos.
"In addition to the successful ten-day trip in October, I also made it down to Charleston, SC, twice between August and late December. These trips were more personal, but there is always time for shooting landscapes. For example, Angel Oak is an iconic southern Live Oak tree in a park owned by the city of Charleston. It's estimated to being close to 1500 years old and it has survived everything Mother Nature and man have thrown its way. I knew that this park gets very busy with visitors, so I made it a point to be there before it opened and ready to go. This was mid-August, meaning hot and humid.
"I was allowed to enter the park a few minutes early, and found myself looking for the best vantage point to capture this mammoth tree. The branches so large that they need supports so they don’t break off. After spending some time looking where to set up, I set up my tripod with my D700 and a 24-70 f/2.8 lens. The humidity on the foliage of this giant posed a problem. I reached for my LB ColorCombo, the warming polarizer cut down the reflecting light of the wet foliage and the color intensifier added a welcomed increase in saturation -- my LB ColorCombo performed flawlessly.
"On my most recent trip to Charleston, it was during the Christmas break. I wanted the chance to go back to Folly Beach to shoot the fishing pier. On my first visit there, the weather wasn’t at all cooperative. As I headed back to Folly Beach this time, I had the feeling that it was going to be a relatively boring sunrise. I could see there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, however as I crossed over a creek and saw a low lying fog, I was wondering what lay ahead another few minutes down the road.
Emmett will soon finish his new website. He is also making initial plans for more exciting trips this year, including an early-spring skiing/photo trip to Big Sky, Montana that includes a visit down into West Yellowstone. You can also follow his ventures on Facebook and Twitter and check his "366" project on his blog.
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