Assignments: August 2014

The Best Of The Assignments Submissions From
This Article Features Photo Zoom

1) PHOTOGRAPHER: Kris Walkowski
Equipment: Nikon D600, AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm ƒ/4G ED VR, LEE Big Stopper filter

I usually travel far and long distances, trying to capture a moment of some exceptional places, but I took this image five minutes away from where I live, in West Sacramento, Calif., just a few minutes before sunrise in December 2013. Since I know the area, I’m familiar with the weather conditions, and I knew this cloud formation was perfect for a long exposure. True beauty surrounds us and is waiting to be discovered at the right time. I processed this image in Lightroom 5 and CS6.

Leading up to this special Black & White issue, we ran an Assignment inviting you to send in your best black-and-white landscapes. We received about 600 submissions of photos taken around the world. There’s a particular craft to making a great black-and-white image. Ansel Adams famously referred to the negative as the score and the print as the performance. In the digital era, the raw capture can be thought of the same way that Adams thought of the negative. We take that original capture and work with the relationships of highlight and shadow to bring out the subtle tones, forms, shapes and textures, and what emerges is the ultimate performance.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor

Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm ƒ/4L USM, Induro CT-213 tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead

In July 2013, a friend and I went to shoot at a particularly favorite location on the Rondout Creek in the heart of the Catskill Mountains in New York State. Upon arrival, we were greeted with perfect conditions consisting of light rain, overcast skies and optimal flows of the river. The constantly changing water levels could have either provided too much water and you wouldn’t get the beautiful gentle pour-offs, or too little water and there would have been just a mere trickle. However, that day the water flow was ideal. The river temperatures were warm enough to stand in, which provided access to an ideal position for the composition I had envisioned. The way the water had been running, it was easy to see potential flow lines that would be created by a long exposure, highlighting the magnificent pour-offs. By using a wide-angle lens and a very low point of view, I was able to capture the intersection of those features. This served as a visual lead and primary focus for the foreground. The light rain had kept all the leaves and background rocks wet, which added additional contrast to the scene. With all the elements of varying textures and flow, this shot had great potential as a black-and-white image.

3) PHOTOGRAPHER: Rafael Montalvo
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II USM, Induro tripod and head, Hoya circular polarizer

My photo “Raindrops” came about in the right place at the right time. Leaving Grand Canyon National Park on April 19, 2014, and heading with my mother to Moab, I decided to stop at Lipan Point, located just before Navajo Point and Desert View. Suddenly, I felt raindrops and saw a rainstorm brewing in the distance toward the west side of the canyon. I used a small pine tree as a foreground, the canyon walls as leading lines and the Rule of Thirds to lead the viewer into the storm. This image is one of my favorites—the constant changing, power, beauty and drama weather creates. From the beauty of a sunny day to powerful rainstorms within minutes apart is awesome; they hold their own unique beauty. I used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert to black-and-white and softened part of the image with onOne software to create the final image.

4) PHOTOGRAPHER: Michael Ryan
Equipment: Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm ƒ/4G ED VR, Hoya 6-stop ND filter

This coastal waterfall in Salt Point State Park, California, has always been a tough photographic challenge for me. Only after consistent heavy rainfall does it flow with enough power to make it memorable. Couple that with an area of the California coastline that seems dead-set against letting the sun paint the sky red, and you have a gorgeous location that tears your heart out, but always keeps you coming back. In March 2014, my friends and I were thinking big sunset colors, but like numerous times before, it wasn’t meant to be, as dark clouds emerged from the northeast. We didn’t want to give into another sunset defeat, so we took what was given to us and began shooting long exposures that resulted in streaking clouds and a creamy ocean. Sometimes drama doesn’t always come with a fiery sky. Processing was relatively straightforward. I processed the RAW file in Adobe Camera Raw and converted the image to black-and-white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.