Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Michael Bielat captured this dreamy image of Allegheny State Park at first light with his Vari-N-Duo

For Buffalo, New York commercial photographer Michael Bielat, Allegheny State Park is a very special place. "I proposed to my wife there and we have been taking our children there every chance we get. Because I am very busy with my photo business, Allegheny Park is our place to wind down and enjoy life. Do I still bring my camera along? Absolutely!

"I make sure to pack light. My travel kit includes a Nikon D700 full-frame D-SLR, 24-70mm f/2.8 and my 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, tripod and my Singh-Ray filters. I use a couple of Graduated Neutral Density filters along with the Vari-N-Duo which incorporates a neutral density filter and LB Warming Polarizer all-in-one filter. For my needs, the Vari-N-Duo is a very magical combination. With these filters, I can finally get images of the caliber they should be. I'm not kidding when I say that I wish I could go back and re-live my first 10 years as a photographer with these filters.

"Last autumn, my family and I were camping at Allegheny Park. I had this nagging feeling that there was an awesome picture over the Red House Lake. I couldn't sleep, so I was up and ready to go as soon as I saw some light peering in through the cabin window. I drove a mile or so to the lake and sure enough, my gut feeling was right. There was a low hanging fog sweeping across the lake and intertwined thorough the trees. The colors of the sky were very pastel and the clouds complemented the fog. I didn't have much time since the sun was starting to pop out behind those trees, so I threw my camera on my tripod along with the 70-200mm zoomed all the way in. Then I reached for my Singh-Ray filters. For this image, I used the 3-Stop Galen Rowell Graduated ND filter with a soft-step graduation. I shot one frame, looked at the image, and was blown away. I took a couple more safety shots and off I went. There was no way that I could top this shot so my job was done.

"I am a firm believer in getting the shot right in-camera. I don't want to be bogged down behind a computer editing every single image for hours on end. My Singh-Ray filters help me achieve things that I cannot do in Photoshop. The Vari-N-Duo is my go-to filter when photographing water and waterfalls. A Graduated Neutral Density filter is an absolute necessity in my book. Having one filter like the versatile Vari-N-Duo is just worth it's weight in gold. There's no way I will ever be able to stitch a couple of photos together that can capture the sky and foreground as well as if I use my filters to do it right in-camera. There is just no uniqueness to it. A timeless photo will always be a timeless photo no matter what trends come and go."

Michael Alan Bielat opened his studio in 2004 specializing in lifestyle wedding and portrait photography. He also enjoys photographing nature and landscapes. He is the founder of The inLIGHTin Workshops. His photos have appeared in Outdoor Photographer and other publications.

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