Friday, January 13, 2012

Matthew Eisman got to experience Iceland as a volunteer for its Environment Agency

New Yorker Matthew Eisman's photographic career is currently thriving on live music concerts and portrait work, which has appeared in publications such as The New York Times and SPIN. "Last summer, I decided to volunteer with the conservation trail teams in Iceland’s national parks through the Environment Agency of Iceland (Umhverfisstofnun). One of my photographic goals was to try capturing the grandeur of the Iceland landscape with the help of my Singh-Ray filters.

"For this venture, I challenged myself to compose all of my images in-camera with one exposure and minimal post-processing. My f-stop Tilopa BC backpack contained my Nikon D700 camera, Nikkor lenses and a set of Singh-Ray Filters. My filter kit included Singh-Ray’s LB Warming Polarizer, Gold-N-Blue, Vari-ND, plus three types of P-size ND filters: the 3-stop Solid ND filter, the 3-stop soft-step and hard-step ND Grad filters and the 3-stop Reverse ND Grad.

"The waterfall images above were made in the vast Þórsmörk area in the Stakkholtsgjá canyon. Þórsmörk is only accessible by specially equipped all-terrain vehicles and the region is very popular among hikers. Mountains, glaciers and fast-moving waters encircle it in all directions. Singh-Ray’s Gold-N-Blue brought this waterfall to life. The only difference between the two exposures was a slight turn of the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer, and I was able to produce two vastly different, but equally dramatic results.

"These next three images were made at the famous Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon in the southeast near Skaftafell National Park. Jökulsárlón is an abstract photographer’s dreamscape. No two frames are ever the same. It’s one of the most rewarding and challenging locations that I’ve ever photographed. I spent one week near the lagoon waiting for the ideal shooting conditions. My first three days were washed out by rain, but weather finally cleared on the fourth evening and I made this image.

"These next two images were both made the next night at the iceberg lagoon. My goal was to simulate impressionistic brushstrokes with the ebb and flow of the waves. The Gold-N-Blue Polarizer plus the 3-stop Solid ND Filter was the perfect combination.

"The final image below was made at the majestic Dynjandi waterfall in Iceland’s West Fjords. It’s a great example of an image that would not have been possible without help from my Singh-Ray Filters. Using Singh-Ray’s Vari-ND plus the 3-stop Solid ND Filter, I dialed in a six-second exposure in bright afternoon sunlight!

"I gained a lot of valuable photography experience during my adventures in Iceland. The two most important lessons -- familiarizing myself with using filters and learning to be patient when composing my shots. I’d strongly recommend volunteering if you’d like to spend quality time in some of Iceland’s most beautiful areas and experience it in way that most tourists never will."

You can view more of Matthew's photographic work at his website, or check out his music photography website. You'll also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wherever Andrew McLachlan and his camera travel in Canada's Ontario Province, he's on the job

When Canadian nature photographer Andrew McLachlan recently published his first e-book, A Photographer’s Guide to the Ontario Landscape, he was quick to point out "the success of many of my images is based on using Singh-Ray filters. As I have traveled extensively throughout the province, I find my thin-mount LB Warming Polarizer to be indispensable. The same can be said for my Graduated and Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filters.

"When I am not on the road photographing, I can usually be found relaxing at our family’s cottage on Horseshoe Lake near the town of Parry Sound. There is no better way to end the day than sitting on the cottage dock, with a cup of tea in one hand, and a Singh-Ray 2-stop, soft-step ND Grad in the other, and that’s exactly how I captured the dramatic sunrise image above that became the cover shot for my ebook.

"I began my career as freelance photographer/writer back in the days of film and my years of traveling throughout Ontario have now resulted in a diverse collection of landscapes, wildlife and agricultural images which have allowed me to service a variety of clients with a large selection of quality images. I've included five more images with this story that are representative of my landscape work -- and my reliance on Singh-Ray Filters -- but visitors to my website can also find many more photos, ranging from macro to telephoto, artistic to abstract, and documentary.

"I can still recall this visit to my beloved Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area near the town of Elmvale. I often arrive at Tiny Marsh to shoot sunrise imagery over the wetlands. On one particular morning, many years ago, when I was shooting film, a wonderful cloud formation was hanging above the marsh. I knew as soon as the sun began to illuminate the cloud it was going to be an impressive sunrise. I immediately reached for my Singh-Ray 2-stop, soft-step Graduated ND filter to accurately record this wonderful wetland sunrise.

"On another trip to Ontario’s boreal forest near Englehart, my thin-mount, Warming Polarizer provided the final piece of the puzzle for capturing this vision of Kap-Kig-Iwan, aboriginal for ‘the high falls.' The rocks below the falls at this location are thought to be some of the oldest rocks on Earth. Using the Warming Polarizer created lush greens and warmed the exposed bedrock wonderfully, while cutting down the glare that was present on this overcast day.

"While co-leading a winter workshop in Ontario’s Muskoka region, I discussed how essential Graduated Neutral Density filters are to landscape photography. And since some of the participants did not own such filters, I demonstrated how much they could improve their images by allowing the participant to try them and see for themselves, on their LCD screens, the results of shooting with and without the ND Grads in place. In the accompanying photograph of the Black River in winter, captured during this workshop, the bright, over-cast sky was balanced with a 2-stop, soft-step ND Grad.

"Although I have traveled throughout much of Ontario’s vast and varied terrain, I find Algonquin and Lake Superior Provincial Parks to be my favored locations. The scenery in these parks is some of the best in the province. On one such excursion to Algonquin Provincial Park, I found my thin-mount, LB Warming Polarizer and 2-stop, soft-step ND Grad to be critical in capturing an impressive sunset at Grand Lake. I was using my Nikon 12-24mm lens, and thanks to my thin-mount LB Warming Polarizer, I was able to use these two filters without encountering any vignetting.

"During my recent trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park, I awoke on the first morning to a bitter cold wind and a sky full of rather nasty storm clouds. I was hoping for  conditions that were a little more favorable, but I always make a habit of getting up and getting out there regardless of the current weather, especially on windy days when things can change in a hurry. One of my favorite spots in the park is at Old Woman Bay. The sandy beach at this location has many sun-bleached logs strewn about, presumably by extremely rough conditions on the lake during stormy weather, something that Lake Superior is noted for. I found an old tree stump at the water’s edge that I knew would make a nice foreground element, so I sat down on the beach with my 12-24mm lens and framed this scene. Why did I sit down? I wanted a low perspective that would let me keep the tree stump from rising above the horizon line and merge with the sky, Secondly, it was incredibly windy and it is much easier to keep everything steady (camera and tripod) when you assume a lower profile. I used my LB Warming Polarizer to reduce some of the glare from the water and make the clouds a touch more dramatic. I also used my 2-stop soft-step Singh-Ray ND Grad to darken the sky. As I was playing around with various shutter speeds to get the desired amount of blur on the incoming waves, the sun began rising behind me and lit up a section of the clouds adding the final ingredient to this scene."

To learn more about Andrew's new ebook, A Photographer’s Guide to the Ontario Landscape and see more of his images, visit his website, and take a look at his blog.