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Thread: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    As I stated in this thread, I recently became the proud owner of a Singh Ray Vari ND (the thin version).

    On my recent weekend away on the shores of the very beautiful Loch Lomond, my goal was, as well as hopefully making some decent images, to 'play' with the new filter and try and master its use on my various lenses. It will take more than one weekend to really understand the impact of the filter and I think only experience will allow me to really know what to envision as the final image if I use the filter.

    Colin (Southern) has far more experience using this filter and that shows in the quality of his work in images when he has it mounted on the front of the lens.

    Anyway, my earlier thread led to a discussion about the use of the filter and I said I was working on some images that would hopefully illustrate it (and me) at work.

    I think these are best viewed as a pair (or at least they work as a pair for me). I'm also just finishing a pair that I captured on the Sunday morning, when the mist really came down and the atmosphere was totally different. I'll put them up later.

    But in the meantime, I'd welcome any thoughts or comments you have about these. And, remember, I'm only learning!

    Evening on Loch Lomond #2

    Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND
    Canon 40D, EF 24-70 f2.8 L @ 30mm. ISO100. 32s @f5.6


    Evening on Loch Lomond #1

    Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND
    Canon 40D, EF 24-70 f2.8 L @ 32mm. ISO100. 7m 54s@f11

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Both are nice shots but viewed as a pair as you suggest highlights the first one as the better photo to me.

    The first one presents a more solemn mood overall and the high percentage of the slightly varying grey sky contributes to the shot. The tones of the water and the hills pulls me all the way through the photo a step at a time. A great shot you do well to hang in your home.

    The brighter sky in the second one separates it somewhat from the first. It has more defined clouds which over the duration of the shot have blurred less homogenous than the sky of the first. The blurring clouds over the sharp outline of the hills to me look like an error. Camera movement. The blurry cloud in the center of the brightest area of the sky immediately pulls my vision and does so a few times while I try to take in the rest of the photo. As my eyes keep going back there it just reinforces the error to me.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 27th July 2012 at 04:58 PM.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    remember, I'm only learning!

    I can't wait to see what you can do when you learn how to use it.

    The first image is a beauty!!!!! You should be proud of that one. The lighting is fantastic, and the soft blur of the water and sky really make the image pop.


    In the second image, the sky draws too much attention. (too bright i think)


    Excellent work donald, for just learning.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Extremely helpful comments which, when pointed out, become obvious. Thank you gentlemen, for contributing to my learning.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Donald,
    I too like the 1st picture the best.

    I love the solitude portrayed; please don’t tell me that if you turned 180 degrees, there is a large ‘McDonalds’ there.

    Filter looks a success to me.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    The first one works for me because each layer pretty much has its own tonality. In the second one, the clouds and land share the same tonality, which is less appealing. I can't articulate why that's less appealing, but it is.

    By the way, do you always put the first image second and the second image first?

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Donald

    The first image is stunning. What time of day did you take the shot at? I use one of these filters, but I struggle with it a bit - especially on wide angle lenses. My image of the reflections at Mirror Lakes was taken with one of these filters. They are pricey but well worth the cost. Well done.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Thanks for your comments

    Quote Originally Posted by JPS View Post
    I love the solitude portrayed; please don’t tell me that if you turned 180 degrees, there is a large ‘McDonalds’ there.
    No, don't worry John. If you turn 90 degrees and walk 50 yards, you get this. One I took when we were there last year. This, I hasten to add, is not the little cottage in which we were staying, but the 'big house'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    By the way, do you always put the first image second and the second image first?
    Just a quirk of naming, Mike. As I was processing them I called them #1 and #2. And then when I posted them here, it made sense, to me anyway (!), to put them the other way round.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markvetnz View Post
    The first image is stunning. What time of day did you take the shot at? I use one of these filters, but I struggle with it a bit - especially on wide angle lenses. My image of the reflections at Mirror Lakes was taken with one of these filters. They are pricey but well worth the cost. Well done.
    Mark - This is timed at 9:33pm which, because we're high up in the northern hemispehere summer, means it's still pretty much daylight. The sun was beginning to go down and the light was fading. It was what we call the 'gloaming', others call early twilight.

    I got the thin version of the filter because I want to try and make it work on the Tokina 11-16. I tried it when I was in France, but with no success. I just need more patience and and work how how it behaves with that lens. It certainly causes significant vignetting when on the 11-16, but you've just got to compose in the knowledge that you are going to be cropping. Given my liking for 1:1 formats, that's not a problem.

    But, after those images above, I am seeing the possibilities and also what doesn't work. That first one would not have been possible without it. If I had waited until the light was low enough to allow me a 30+ second exposure, the light would have been, obviously, very different to what we see in this first image. So, it certainly opens up other options for image-making.
    Last edited by Donald; 28th July 2012 at 12:58 PM.

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    Antonio Correia's Avatar
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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    These are not nice images Donald... these are gorgeous images !

    What a work ! Very very nice ! Good use of that filter ! Excellent

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    These are not nice images Donald... these are gorgeous images !

    What a work ! Very very nice ! Good use of that filter ! Excellent
    Thank you Antonio. Your remarks are very much appreciated.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Thank you Antonio. Your remarks are very much appreciated.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Donald the first picture gets my vote. It is superbe. I would like to see the second one in colour. The trailing clouds may have a wounderfull colour in that sky?

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND . Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Donald, the images need some adjustments to work together. I think you should - for example - adjust the level of the sea on both.
    As we look at them side by side, we can perceive they are un-leveled what I suppose contribute to a "not so good" pair.
    And - now that I see them side by side - something else which could in my not humble opinion contribute to a better pair is the fact that one sky is clearly different from the other, as well as the shape of the mountains and their silhouette. I mean, the treatment of one No. Not this, but: the moments they were done are not similar or at least that similitude is not here.
    The basic language of both images is there but they lack accordance in treatment or photographic moment.
    I am trying to explain but I am not sure if I succeed. I hope you understand what I mean.

    However, I am sure that, if you dig in your safe a little bit you will find a good pair of images.


    And Donald, look at the skies. How different they are in both !

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    I am trying to explain but I am not sure if I succeed. I hope you understand what I mean.
    I understand what you mean very clearly. Thank you for this comment. I am sure it will be educational for others as well as for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlou View Post
    Donald the first picture gets my vote. It is superbe. I would like to see the second one in colour. The trailing clouds may have a wounderfull colour in that sky?
    Thanks, Louise. I haven't looked at it is a colour image because I shot it to be B & W. So, although it appears in colour when I am processing the RAW image, I ignore that.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Hi Donald,

    Looks like you're well on your way to mastering it

    In a way, filters like this force you to "think ahead" more. A shot becomes not only "what do I see here/now", but "what would the camera see if I were to play with the length of the exposure".

    Some things to think about ...

    - Long exposures smooth water and blur clouds. If this is what you want - great - but remember you can also use it to get water / cloud effects that are less than the maximum (eg just a little water motion as opposed to perfectly smooth)

    - If you need even MORE smoothing, just take multiple shots and stack them.

    - With long exposures, you can (carefully) change the attenuation DURING the exposure

    - Don't be afraid to "mix and match". Take two shots - one normal - one with the filter. Stack them as layers and then erase a portion of one of them (eg the sky portion of the long exposure so you get smooth water, but sharp clouds).

    Hope this helps

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Some things to think about ...
    They are extremely helpful pointers that I'm not sure I would have got around to thinking about on my own: One of the great things about being of this forum is that ideas and knowledge are shared. And the comment about mix and match reminded me of Frank's first Project 52 post about blending fast and slow water.

    Great ideas. Thanks.
    Last edited by Donald; 29th July 2012 at 07:43 AM.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    No worries Donald

    To get all "yoda" for a moment (Star Wars fans will understand what I mean!), I think photographers "transcend" various levels as the progress their craft. At one level one works to use the tools to faithfully capture the scene before them, but at the next level, they start thinking "how can I manipulate the controls of this tool" (or program) to create the artistic vision I have in my head". It definitely kicks the brain up a gear.

    The camera never lies ... yeah right!

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    No worries Donald

    To get all "yoda" for a moment (Star Wars fans will understand what I mean!), I think photographers "transcend" various levels as the progress their craft. At one level one works to use the tools to faithfully capture the scene before them, but at the next level, they start thinking "how can I manipulate the controls of this tool" (or program) to create the artistic vision I have in my head". It definitely kicks the brain up a gear.

    The camera never lies ... yeah right!
    This one of mine being a prime example.

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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    So more to the point Donald, what do YOU think of your new Vari-ND? Are you enjoying the filter and the results you're getting with it?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Learning how to use a Singh Ray Vari ND

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    So more to the point Donald, what do YOU think of your new Vari-ND? Are you enjoying the filter and the results you're getting with it?
    I love it.

    If I'm totally honest, part of it is still the excitement of actually owning this bit of gear. I hope I don't come across as someone obsessed with having the best/latest etc, but (and you have to accept this) given a whole lot of factors to do with history, I am proud of being in the position of being able to feel that I am able to own the best bit of kit in its field ... and have the ability to use it effectively. Sorry, it's probably a long story, because I'm not a materialistic person. (We've all got our complications and mine is all about being fed messages as a child, by various people including teachers, about not to expect to succeed in life!!)

    I am excited also by what I see as the opportunities it opens up for different and exciting images.

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