Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Brian Reub gives his LB Warming Polarizer a good workout on his most recent visit to the American Southwest

The four images with this story clearly reveal how well outdoor photographer and workshop leader, Brian Rueb, knows just how to use his Singh-Ray filters in almost any light.

"One thing that intrigues me constantly about photographing the American Southwest is not only the quality of light, but the glow that the whole region seems to emit from the reddish orange rocks. For as many times as I shoot the southwest, I always leave anticipating my next visit.

"One of the biggest assets I’ve come across for helping me capture that magical desert light is the Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer. The filter has tremendous value outside the desert, but I think the warmth of the filter combined with the hues of the arid landscape create something special.

"While on a recent trip to the southwest, I put the Warming Polarizer through a good workout producing new images. Anytime I photograph, one of my goals is to try and find new takes on popular locations, as well as find new gems that others may have bypassed. I love finding an area that's been shot by the masses, then trying to find something new about it or a different vantage point to shoot from.

"The image above was from the iconic Mesa Arch area of Canyonlands National Park. I was conducting a workshop and my class was lined up civil war attack style along the rim of the canyon, photographing the iconic view of the morning sunrise peeking through the arch. After the sunrise as the class was finishing up their images, I noticed that the light filtering through an area of mesas and stone towers to the left of the scene was quite nice. The pastel layers of the backlit landscape was catching my attention. I don’t normally have many opportunities to shoot while instructing, and had on my 100-400L in order to grab some images of my students in action. When I noticed the scene to my left, I quickly put the Warming Polarizer on, and grabbed a few handheld shots of the scene to show the students how using the compressing effect of the telephoto could produce some nice images.

"This next image was made inside the popular Antelope Canyon. The place just oozes with potential opportunities for the LB Warming Polarizer. Even though I’m guessing more than a zillion people shoot this canyon over the course of a year, I still like to find new angles to shoot it. This perspective required me to crawl down on the ground and wedge underneath an overhang. The Warming Polarizer really helps bring out that glow the canyon is so famous for.

"The third shot was from the famous Balanced Rock area of Arches National Park. Our group had spent a very long day photographing in and around Moab, Utah. Conditions were changing and a storm system was on the way in. While we waited, I found a particularly nice little dead tree to use as a foreground feature and brought the group over to set up camp while we waited to see what the sunset would deliver. With the class all set up on tripods, and their shots all composed, I set my camera on my tripod to the left of them and waited as well.

"A lady passing by our group asked why we were all waiting around. I told her it was part of a class, and that we were set up for sunset. 'Is it going to be a sunset?' she asked looking at the overcast sky, and approaching storm. 'It'll be nice...I promise you.' I replied, 'We wouldn’t be here if it didn’t look good.' While usually not so brazen, I noticed that the storm was approaching from the east, and while the sky above us was largely filled with the upcoming storm clouds, the horizon -- miles to the west -- was largely free of any interference. This told me that while we probably wouldn’t get much in the way of epic color, there was the potential for some nice last minute light, and at the very least, sunset was going to be better than she thought.

"She left, and we stayed. As I had hoped, the last bit of the sun's rays illuminated the iconic structure, and even put some hints of color into the clouds. The LB Warming Polarizer really helped this image. I took a couple frames with it to show my class how the polarizer worked, and then loaned it to a student so he could see for himself how the added warmth helped the shot. In addition to the Warming Polarizer, I used a Singh-Ray 4-stop soft-step ND Grad filter to help balance the very contrasting light between background and foreground. The light didn’t stay long but -- because we had anticipated the possibility, and planned our location correctly, then taken the time to compose and wait -- we were all treated to this opportunity.

"I know what you’re thinking, 'HEY, this isn’t the southwest!' You’re correct! This final shot is not the southwest. It’s Yosemite National Park! I chose to include this image, however, because to me it demonstrates perfectly how awesome the LB Warming Polarizer is.

"For every class I teach, one of my goals is to try and find something new for that class to shoot. Conditions this past winter were bleak for most of the season. The snow was spotty at best, and many of the reasons people head to Yosemite in winter for photography were difficult to find. After an early morning shoot at Lower Yosemite Falls, I was walking toward a few students who were shooting below the bridge that crosses the river. I looked back over my shoulder and noticed that the morning light was hitting one of the nearby granite walls and then bouncing back towards the falls, giving it a soft warm backlit glow.

"During this time of year, people typically flock to Yosemite to try and photograph the Horsetail Falls 'on fire' phenomenon. While this shot is different, the way the light was hitting the falls and providing some backlight gave me a similar feeling as at Horsetail Falls. The mist from the falls was also dancing in the morning sun creating some fiery little rainbows that helped give some more interest to the scene. I had my 100-400L lens on, again taking photos of the students in action, and that turned out to be just the right lens for this shot. I put on the Warming Polarizer to not only help bring out the warmth of the light, but to also help bring out the rainbows created in the mist. I showed the class what I saw, and they spent the next forty five minutes capturing their own versions of this 'mistical' morning.

"In addition to the drama the LB Warming Polarizer can add to a southwestern scene, the filter is perfect for sunrises and sunsets. At those times of day, we're working with warmer tones, not only in the light, but in the clouds as well. The filter accents these colors and gives them more life and more pop. For landscape photography, I spend a majority of my time shooting during those morning and evening hours, and the only time the LB Warming Polarizer leaves my lens is when I’m putting it on another lens. For me, it’s an essential tool for creating fine images."

Brian is an award winning landscape photographer and lead instructor at Aperture Academy in California. He teaches over 35 in-the-field workshops yearly. He's currently finishing Me, Myself and Iceland, a 300-page book chronicling his expedition to Iceland in 2010. Brian lives in Northern California with his patient wife, two boys, and three dogs. Despite being in the field and living the wonderful life of a professional photographer, Brian still takes out the trash, cooks dinner, and mows the yard.

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