Discovering Singh-Ray ND Grads and the ColorCombo

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Iris Greenwell

I mainly wanted to feature the most well-known springs, lakes and forests — recording their changes in the different seasons. Since I was living in Southern Oklahoma at that time, I did several trips to the park during different times of the day. Finally, the chosen images were published in a twenty-six-page portfolio in the March/April 2013 edition of Oklahoma Today.

In order to follow the specific guidelines from the editor,  I needed to be sure to make all my adjustments in the camera and to use raw files as my file format. In order to get large, high-quality files, I used my Canon EOS 5D Mark II and three Canon lenses — the 17-40 mm lens, the 50 mm lens, 24-105 mm lens — plus a Tamron 200-500 mm lens. Moreover, I knew it would be very important to use my Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo Polarizer to control reflections and the Galen Rowell 2-stop soft-step and 3-stop hard-step ND Grads to get better control of the wide dynamic range that would occur in many of my exposures. I began using Singh-Ray filters after taking an online course with well-known landscape photographer William Neill.

In order to capture the reflection on both the Travertine Creek (image at the top of this story) and Beaver Pond (below), I needed to arrive early in the morning on days when there was little or no wind to have the bright blue sky smoothly reflected in the water. To control the glare on the water,  I used the ColorCombo and rotated the control ring until I got the intensity in colors I wanted while also holding the details on the reflections.

Whenever I photographed the Veterans and Arbuckle lakes, I used the Singh-Ray ND Grads. The ND 2G-SS and 3G-HS were used to control the light between the sky and the water creating a more cohesive scene. For example, before a storm on the Veterans Lake (below), the sky was too bright, and the Galen Rowell ND filters balanced the exposure to retain more details and maintain the texture of the clouds. I used the hard-step graduated filter because I can line it up with the horizon line and get a precise transition.

During the sunrise in the Arbuckle Lake (below), I needed both the ColorCombo and the 2-stop soft-step ND Grad. The ColorCombo intensified the color of the sun and helped to show details in the foreground. The ND Grad was needed because the sky was much brighter than the land. This filter defined details on the clouds, and made good silhouettes on the trees as well.

In addition to operating her own photography business in Ft. Worth, Texas, Iris enjoys freelance work. Among her career achievements, she has received a number of awards in juried art shows and exhibits. She is member of Professional Photographers of America and has been a frequent guest speaker in Oklahoma and Texas.