Noted outdoor photographer Adam Barker says, "I discovered Singh-Ray filters in the infancy of my serious interest in photography. It would be too generous to call it a career at that point. Let’s just say I was where many of you are at right now -- the point where photography (and the mastering of this wonderful art) was on my mind every second of every day. I breathed photography. My day job was nothing more than an excuse to day dream about the day I would eventually take the leap, and pursue photography as my full-time profession. As this video illustrates, we're making progress.
"For the benefit of any aspiring photographers looking for helpful advice, I will pass along my answers to a few frequently asked and very important questions about filters. Here's why and how I shoot Singh-Ray filters."
Why do you depend so much on Singh-Ray Filters?
"I use Singh Ray filters because they are simply the best in terms of their build, consistency and quality. When used properly, they produce highly consistent and accurate results. I should also mention that Singh-Ray's line-up of filters includes a number of essential filters not offered by other manufacturers. Four prime examples would be the Vari-ND, Reverse ND Grad, Gold-N-Blue and ColorCombo."
"It’s tough to break it down to just one filter! I’d say my most used filters are the 3-stop Reverse ND Grad and the LB Warming Polarizer. The latter rarely leaves my lens!"
Do you use Singh-Ray filters when shooting images other than scenic landscapes?
"I find Singh-Ray filters to be extremely useful for many different genres of photography. While my photographic roots lie with scenic landscape imagery, I make a good part of my living as a commercial, active lifestyle and travel/tourism photographer. Once you understand that ND Grad filters are about moderating the dynamic range in a scene, you really do find opportunities to use them in many different and exciting ways. I feel like my knowledge of how to use ND Grads has really helped me separate my commercial imagery from that of many others out there."
How do you use your Singh-Ray ND Grad filters?
"I prefer to hand hold my ND Grad filters. Much of the time, when using these filters, the light is changing very quickly. I simply don’t have time to change filter holders on different lenses, change orientations, etc. etc. I’ve found that by hand-holding my filters I’m able to a) constantly (and quickly) adapt to the changing conditions in front of my lens and b) manipulate the filter as I deem appropriate and necessary for each scene. It also allows me to shoot with the thin polarizers (with no front threads) to diminish vignetting when shooting at wider angles on full frame cameras. Additionally, mastering this technique allows me to use the filters when shooting in hand held situations -- as is the case with much of the active lifestyle shooting I do."
Why not just shoot HDR and not have to bother with the hassle?
"In all honesty, I don’t have much of a bias against HDR at all -- I just haven’t found it able to produce an image anywhere near as accurate, complete, or representative of the subject as that which I can achieve with my Singh-Ray grads. More than anything else, however, is the fact that I prefer to produce as accurate an image at the time of capture as possible. It gives me peace of mind to see my image on the EVF screen, and to know that I don’t need to deal with considerably more time-consuming post processing on the computer.
"Lastly, and perhaps most importantly -- HDR just isn’t possible with much of what I shoot. Much of what I shoot has a non-stationary element to it. Think skiers, fly fishermen -- even water, wildlife and clouds. While HDR software has made many advances in the past couple of years, it still can’t account for moving subject matter. This is a huge advantage to using Grad ND filters -- one I can’t see ever being replaced by HDR."
Adam is looking forward to another stellar year in 2013. You can keep up with his adventures by visiting his blog or Facebook page for regular updates and tutorials, or follow him on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news. You may also want to check out Adam's instructional DVD, Completing your Outdoor Photography with Landscape Filters, also available on his website.