Friday, March 16, 2012

Joel Addams solves different light balancing challenges with the same combination of ND Grads

While shooting both commercially and for his outdoor print business, Utah-based photographer Joel Addams continues to use a variety of Singh-Ray filters to get each shot just right. "Whether I'm shooting indoors or outdoors, I'm well accustomed to pulling out the right set of filters for each situation. Several recent shooting opportunities have convinced me that at least one filter could be used on every image I shoot, whether I'm in the mountains of the American West, on a commercial job in a warehouse district, or in the misty mood of Yosemite National Park. Recently, I noticed that one of my most frequently used filter combinations is a 4-stop Reverse Graduated ND filter along with a 3-stop soft-step ND Grad.

"The image above was captured in Utah's Albion Basin, near Salt Lake City, which attracts huge flocks of skiers every winter. In the summer, however, this gorgeous basin explodes with wildflowers in red, yellow and purple. I was up very early with a client shooting across the basin onto some private property when I noticed the packs of lupine, indian paintbrush, and daisies. With the outline of the Wasatch Mountains in the background, I took a minute to compose several shots of the highly colorful scene. I already had my LB Polarizer on my lens, and the sunrise light on the peaks seemed to balance with the floral foreground very nicely with a combination of a 4-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filter stacked on a 3-stop soft-step Graduated Neutral Density filter. This retained the natural color of the flowers seen in the lower half of the frame.


"A few weeks later I was given a particular challenge on an assignment to photograph several large warehouse-type buildings for a commercial real estate company. Though not as enticing as a mountain scene with wildflowers, I went to work--again at sunrise--with my Singh-Ray filters. This time, I tried various other combinations, but the only combination that seemed to give the 'pop' to the buildings was the one that I would not have chosen first: it was the same combination of a 4-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filter and a 3-stop ND Grad. I thought the hard line on the 4-stop RGND filter would look very unnatural. But while it didn’t look quite real, it did make the building stand out. It almost gave the building a bionic feel. The image in the camera looked like it was already processed for a commercial use, and I hadn’t even brought it into Lightroom or Photoshop yet. I left the images just as I took them, and the client seemed to like their radiant, colorful look.


"Yosemite National Park for me has always produced something special. Even when I wasn’t ready for it. Winter is particularly rewarding in Yosemite as the storms come and go so fast and are so dramatic. I am a sucker for mist, fog, and clouds, so its positioning in the Sierras gives it some lingering clouds when the storm breaks. And when they break around sunset, you are in for a treat. This was the second sunset I had caught in a three-day period, but this is the one that really kicked it in. Can you guess which two Singh-Ray filters I used on this exposure? Yes, my 4-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filter and 3-stop soft-step ND Grad."

Joel continues to use all his Singh-Ray filters in a variety of ways and in many different lighting situations. “They are a staple in my outdoor photography, and I wouldn’t consider shooting outdoors without having them in my bag."

You can keep up with Joel’s travels this year as he photographs and teaches workshops in several areas of the world. Joel conducts various types of workshops for his TravelLight Series. Check out his updated website and social media pages at the links below. | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | YouTube


Octavian-Andrei Brezean said...

very interesting combination !

Eric said...

I was just in Death Valley and I used this same filter combo for a number of shots. They really make a difference!