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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Be A Digital Ansel Adams


Essential gear to help you adopt an Ansel Adams-type workflow with today’s latest photography tools and technology

Labels: Gear
This Article Features Photo Zoom

B+W Kaesemann Circular Polarizing MRC
Tethered Shooting
For landscapes, it's frequently best to work in Live View mode. The image on the LCD is bigger than the one in the eye-level finder, and can be zoomed for careful examination and manual focusing. Some newer cameras feature focus peaking, which is analogous to how large-format photographers use a loupe on their ground glass as they stop down to evaluate sharp focus.

There are also accessories like the CamRanger, which gives you a much larger view of your composition on the screen of a smartphone or a tablet. On a tablet, it's about the same size as Adams would see on the ground glass of his 8x10 camera! Besides the larger image and remote-control capability, tethered shooting offers the advantage of no camera shake when you make the exposure because you don't physically press the shutter button.

Many higher-end (and some other) DSLRs can be used tethered to a computer—you can operate the camera from the computer and examine the image on the big computer monitor. Some camera manufacturers build this capability into their cameras or offer accessories that provide it.


Hoya PROND Filters
Filters
Adams used color filters with his black-and-white film to overcome color-sensitivity deficiencies in the film and make the images look "natural," as well as to create emphasis in certain elements in a scene. This usually meant using a yellow filter to darken the blue sky and help clouds stand out, but it could also mean using a red filter to lighten red flowers and darken green leaves, which would otherwise photograph as about the same shade of gray. (A color filter lightens its own and similar colors, and darkens its complementary and similar colors, in a black-and-white photo.) Many DSLRs provide built-in color filter effects when you're shooting in monochrome mode to simulate these effects.

Heliopan Variable ND Filter
Two actual physical filters that you should have are the circular polarizer and graduated neutral-density filter. The polarizer can deepen blue skies (you can't use a yellow or red filter to do that in color work or the image will take on that color cast), reduce or eliminate reflections from nonmetallic surfaces, and intensify colors and contrast that polarized reflections tend to reduce). The graduated ND filter can reduce sky brightness so you get good detail in both bright sky and dark foreground. If you want to do long-exposure effects in bright light, you also should acquire a strong or variable-strength standard ND filter to reduce the light entering the lens without otherwise altering it.

Software
The camera is only part of a digital imaging system. The software you use to process your images is also important.

Adams would have loved digital because of the control it provides—nothing in the physical darkroom gives the control over the image that a good RAW converter and image-editing program can deliver. But there are also specialized programs, such as Nik Silver Efex Pro, that provide a tremendous range of control over black-and-white images.

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