NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY IN SHARP FOCUS
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One of the most challenging aspects of nature photography is successfully shooting wildflowers. There are many aspects to learn and nothing is more rewarding then when you have a positive outcome. I’ve made many mistakes over the past few years shooting wildflowers and I hope to pass some of this wisdom to other photographers.
The first goal when shooting wildflowers is to capture their vibrancy and color. When we look at images of wildflowers, the first thing that captures our attention is the color that seems to pop off the page. When you shoot wildflowers, you especially want to have a strong impact in the foreground to grab your viewer’s attention.
Producing wildflower images that contain good color rendition and vibrancy are vital to the overall goal. To make sure that you are able to reproduce these colors, you need a filter that can realistically take advantage of the bold colors and allow them to come through in the image. The filter I turn to for all of my wildflower images is the LB ColorCombo Polarizer. This filter offers two successful qualities in an image that boost impact. The first is the color intensifier – images taken with this filter consist of vibrant and bold colors. In many nature scenes this might not be vital but when shooting wildflowers, it’s critical.
The essential component to shooting flowers is color. While improving color saturation, this lens also renders the image with a natural color balance; what you see is what you get. I have tried other filters in the past and found I was getting unusual color casts. Not only did I receive a color cast with other filters, but the colors were often muted. With the Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo, the results are excellent when it comes to reproducing accurate results.
The second huge advantage of the LB ColorCombo filter is that it also contains a warming polarizer. In the past you would have to stack filters to get these same results. When shooting wildflowers, there is always a certain mood you are looking to convey. I always lean towards a warmer tone in the image as this attracts more viewers to your image than do cooler tones. By having a warmer within the polarizer I can take advantage of this as well as gets the best of the warmer tones in the image (such as reds and yellows). Thus, the color is accentuated yet remains natural in its overall tone.
One of the arguments I often hear is that, since I can recapture that color in RAW images, why is it necessary to have this filter. For me, it always comes back to the notion that it’s vital to render the image as close as possible to the original scene. You can add saturation and vibrancy later in post processing but the side effect to that is that you are pulling pixels from the image and thus destroying the image. This is especially prevalent in the shadow areas of an image. The effects become very visible when enlarging an image for larger print. When it comes to reproducing colors through RAW, the images maintain their vibrancy without really having to increase the saturation past higher levels.
Another advantage I have noticed with the LB ColorCombo polarizer is that the image rendered from the filter remains sharp throughout. With other filters, I’ve noticed a dramatic reduction in quality pertaining to sharpness. This is critical when shooting something in the foreground close to the lens. Whenever shooting wildflowers, there is always a fine balance between ISO and shutter speed. In the past I’ve had to shoot without a filter to capture the flowers without movement. The use of other filters has decreased the shutter speed and not allowed me to capture sharpness and detail in the foreground flowers. Successfully shooting wildflowers is much easier now with the newer LB ColorCombo being one stop faster combined with newer cameras having the ability to shoot higher ISO’s with fewer noise pixels.
With the advantages of clarity, color rendition, and color saturation being natural and true to the subject when shooting wildflowers, the use of the LB ColorCombo is a definite asset in your arsenal of photography tools.
Kevin McNeal is a Washington St. photographer focusing on grand colorful landscapes that reflect the most unique places on earth. Capturing moments of magic light and transferring this on print, images behold a combination of perseverance, patience, and dedication to capture the images in ways unseen before. The stories of how these images are rendered come across in the feelings the images convey. Traveling all over North America with his wife by his side, shooting diverse landscapes and finding remote places to bring the message to the public that this Earth is worth saving. His award winning images can be seen in galleries and showings across the United States, and was recently selected to the Art Wolfe Art Gallery for the Environmental Photography Invitational. As well Kevin was the grand winner of the Landscape category for the Natures Best Magazine and was selected for the Smithsonian National Museum of History in Washington D.C..