Assignments: August 2015

1) Photographer: Harry Lichtman
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead

This image was taken in March 2013 during a trip to Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park at the southern tip of South America. While in Patagonia, I was hoping to capture an image that illustrated the epic winds the region is known for. A wind and sleet storm had blown in over the town of El Chaltén during my last day in the park. Since the winds were so strong and visibility was so poor near the mountain, I figured I might have better chances of a clear view by moving away from the mountains. The intense and steady winds made it difficult to get sharp images, so I made plenty of exposures as insurance. I positioned myself prone on the ground and left the IS engaged even though the body was on a tripod—normally not recommended. Wearing swim goggles prevented my eyes from tearing up due to the wind and dust, and allowed me to focus using Live View for the sharpest images possible using a long zoom lens. I felt fortunate I was able to capture the power and magic of this iconic landscape.

Postprocessing was very straightforward. The color original was converted to black-and-white in Photoshop. I increased the contrast selectively in the cloud areas to help reveal the detail and texture, and gave the image the ever slightest blue tint to remove the warmth from the original black-and-white conversion.

For this special Black & White issue of OP, we’re highlighting several standout images from the recent Shades Of Gray Assignment at Congratulations to Harry Lichtman, David Bodine and Michael Ryan for their winning images. In addition to the OP website, you can keep up with the latest Assignments on our Facebook page,

2) Photographer: David Bodine
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II, Really Right Stuff tripod, BH-55 ballhead, Lee 6-stop ND filter, Click Elite camera backpack

Late Fall 2012, I headed up the trail to Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. It was late fall and the color was coming on. When I arrived, I realized this waterfall was far too low in the canyon for the sun to set anywhere near it. No matter—fresh air, beautiful weather—my spirits were high. Photography teaches me that patience is the key. The stream leading up to the falls led me alongside her now and then—sometimes away where I could only faintly hear her, then back through dark timber and small clearings. I decided to go off-trail to see if I could find a few spots to shoot that weren’t often visited. There were some beautiful spots, but the water just wasn’t flowing. In June 2013, I headed back up for the peak time for snow runoff. I found my spot and set up with one leg of my tripod in the flowing water. This was taken about 20 minutes after sunset. I wanted really soft water, so I shot this image in HDR with a Lee 6-stop ND filter. When I was finishing up and taking my ND filter off, I dropped it, and it was washed away. The image was postprocessed in Photoshop CS6 through Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

3) Photographer: Michael Ryan
Equipment: Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G ED, Hoya 6-stop ND filter

After several years of living in the San Francisco Bay area, I’ve grown to love the ever-present coastal fog that often dominates the landscape. When photographing fog in the Bay area, the Golden Gate Bridge is often the first shooting location chosen by many, but I prefer the beautiful hills of Marin County that lie farther north.

On this evening in May 2015, local webcams gave me the inspiration to make a last-minute trip to Mount Tamalpais State Park in hopes of catching fog streaming over the western slopes. Summer is the best time to capture this type of scene, and my efforts were rewarded with beautiful conditions as sunset approached. In the past, I’ve focused on capturing the wider view, but this time I decided to use my 80-400mm zoom to pick out smaller scenes within the larger scene. Just like with moving water, an ND filter allowed me to extend my exposure, softening the appearance of the moving fog.

I processed the RAW file in Adobe Camera Raw and converted the image to black-and-white using Silver Efex Pro 2. Final adjustments were limited to minor cloning in the bottom left and right to remove very small intruding treetops.