Canyon X update

19 05 2009

Well I was out shooting Canyon X yesterday morning and again this morning.  In both cases the sunrises were crap, but I reckon I’ve still got some cracking photos (haven’t had chance to process them yet).

This place is a lot of fun to shoot.  An awesome blowhole,  fantastic rock shelves, gorgeous rocks,  amazing cliffs!

Not only that, but there are a whole bunch of other areas nearby that I scouted yesterday.  Weather forecast for the remainder of this week looks dubious, but I’m definitely going to shoot there as much as I can over the next week to create a nice body of work.   I will probably aim to publish the first photos of Canyon X on Sunday night along with a video that I made with Kajo and Gavin on our first journey down there…. it’s pretty cool.

Next week I will write a detailed photo guide on Canyon X so that other photographers can enjoy it as well…. I just want to enjoy the peace and solitude for a while longer….   Oh… and by the way.  This is not a location for everyone…. the ascent down the cliff in the dark is quite “exciting” to say the least.  Not overly dangerous, but certainly exciting!  Sorry to those of you that feel like I’m teasing you… I don’t mean to… I want to just share the excitement and give you all something to look forward to.

Stay tuned for more on Canyon X this weekend.


Canyon X.. A New discovery… a first ascent… a virgin site!

17 05 2009

For rock/mountain climbers there is something special about being the first person to ascend a new climb,   well I love it when I discover somewhere that is new or relatively undiscovered.  In every case I am not discovering somewhere new, but in my book if I haven’t seen any photos of this location or feature, then for me this is like a “first ascent”.

Devils Cauldron was a bit like that for me… I hadn’t seen any photos of this gorgeous rock formation.

Today I found a new one…. and from what I have seen today, it looks FRIGGING INCREDIBLE!!!!!  I’m very excited about this new location…. so excited that I have planned to shoot it tomorrow morning to see if it really will deliver what I think it can deliver in terms of seascape opportunities.   It looks to me like a AAA+++ site…. and I haven’t seen any photos of this place.

I’m calling it “Canyon X” for now because I want to keep the location secret for a few weeks until I get a chance to photograph the heck out of the place, then I’ll write a guide about it and publish it on freephotoguides.  Now this place is not for everyone…. lets just say the path to get there is somewhat “exciting” and not for the faint hearted.  I’m going to shoot a video of it tomorrow as a couple of us go and explore it for sunrise.

Oh by the way, the reason I have nick-named it Canyon X is because it reminded me of a canyon near Antelope Canyon in Page AZ that the photographic tour guide companies promote as a somewhat “secretive” canyon that offers great photo opportunities without the crowds….. I thought that would be a good name for this location… create a bit of intrigue.

Christian Fletcher is coming over shortly to do some East Coast shooting,  if he’s lucky (and up for the challenge), I’ll take him to Canyon X.

Stay tuned for more on this INCREDIBLE location!!!!


Camera Filters for Seascape Photography (part 1 of 3)

12 05 2009

I have had a few people ask me questions about filters for seascape photography, so I thought I would do a 3 part detailed set of articles about the types of filters I use and why I use them.  This first article will talk about the specific filters I carry in my filter pouch.  Article two will talk about some tips and tricks for using these filters,  and the third article will compare some of the different makes of filters in terms of what the do to colour balance etc.

Whats in my filter pouch?

I have built up my filter collection over a period of time.  I probably use filters about 95% of the time when I am shooting seascapes.  I can hear some of you thinking “Why use filters when you have photoshop”?  Well yes, Photoshop can simulate some of my filters if I bracket correctly in the camera, but there are some that it can not simulate.  There is no substitution for doing it in camera.  So here’s my inventory of filters.


1) I use a ZPro size creative filter system (thats 100mm wide filters that are either 100mm tall or 150mm tall for Grad NDs).  They come with adapter rings to screw onto different size lens threads.  This is one of the advantage with drop in filters as opposed to screw-in.  You can use them on lenses with different size filter threads with a cheap adapater ring.  Both Cokin and Lee make good filter holders (mine is a Cokin holder)

leend2) 3 stop Neutral Density Filter – I use a Lee ND filter.  This is one of the filters you can’t simulate with photoshop.  It allows you to maintain a slow shutter speed as the light increases when shooting early morning seascapes.  I tried a Cokin ND filter, but it gave me a terrible magenta colour cast.  I find the Lee ND filter works very well.  This filter simply drops in place and reduces the light entering your lens by 3 stops.

leegnd3) Graduated ND filters – I carry a set of four different graduated ND filters.

  • Singh Ray 3 stop hard graduated ND filter
  • Singh Ray 2 stop hard graduated ND filter
  • Lee 3 stop soft graduated ND filter
  • Lee 2 stop soft graduated ND filter

So why do I have four of them, and why different brands?  Depending on the light, sometimes you need 3 stops of ND to equalise the bright sky with the foreground,  other times the sky is overcast and cloudy and 3 stops will darken it too much, thats why I carry both 3 stops and 2 stop GNDs.  If I’m shooting a horizon, then the hard ND filters provide a nice clean division between sky and sea…. works well.  If I have mountains, or rocks protuding into the sky, then she soft GNDs manage the transition better.  Why different brands?  I bought Singh Ray’s first,  but lost one of them,  and they are just too damn expensive to replace,  I think Lee give you better bang for buck and would recommend Lee GND filters now to anybody wanting to buy some.polariser

4) Cokin Circular Polarising filter – This drops into the internal ring of the filter holder and allows me to control the glare off the water, or darken the sky.  It also cuts down the light by about 2 stops.  This is another filter that can’t be simulated in Photoshop (at least not for cutting through water and seeing whats underneath).  Polarising filters make an incredible difference to the definition in the sky (by reducing glare) as well as controlling the glare of the water.  The difference in your seascapes can be significant if you use a polariser in the right situation.  You can fairly easily tell if a polariser is going to add any value to the shot by holding it up to your eye and turning it.  If your eye  doesn’t see much difference, neither will your camera.


5) B&W 10 stop ND filter – Otherwise known as my “bit of stonking black glass”.   This is a screw-in filter, but it does allow you to dramatically cut the light entering the lens during the day and shoot with some slow shutter speeds.  It’s a pain to have to screw this filter on, but I haven’t seen any dark drop-in filters.  This is a fun filter to use as you can get some cool effects with it.  However when this filter is on your camera, it’s like looking at the lens-cap.  You have

to compose first, then screw the filter on (and put an eyepiece on the viewfinder to stop light entering the camera via the viewfinder).

So,  if you wa

nt to buy filters for seascape/landscapes… here’s the order that I would recommend buying them in (assuming you are on a budget and can’t buy everything in one go).

Brent’s Recommended Buying Order

  1. ZPro size creative filter holder (either Lee or Cokin)
  2. Adapter ring for the lens(es) that you wish to attach your filter holder to
  3. Lee 3 stop ND filter
  4. Lee 3 stop soft GND filter
  5. Lee 3 stop hard GND filter
  6. Circular polariser
  7. Lee 2 stop soft GND filter
  8. Lee 2 stop hard GND filter
  9. B&W 10 stop ND filter

Stay tuned for the second article in this series which will be published in a few more days.


Extreme Photography – Don’t try this at home!

4 05 2009

Last week I looked at the weather forecast for the next day and it said “big seas and possible early morning thunderstorms”. I thought that this was exactly the sort of weather that I wanted for a photo that I had in mind of Devils Cauldron. I wanted some drama in my shot… and boy did I get it!!!


Now normally I would call it a bad day if I got splashed or hit by a wave while I was shooting…. well this day I got hit by not one wave, but four of them. And I happened to have my little Panasonic Lumix camera rolling each time.

Now to understand how I videoed this, for the first half I had the Panasonic camera sitting on a Gorillapod on the rock behind me. For the second half of the video, I wrapped the gorillapod around the front leg of my tripod and just left the camera rolling while I was snapping stills on my DSLR.  So I hope you enjoy my little bit of sunrise drama that I caught on video.

While I was not in any danger of being swept off the rock shelf out to sea, I was in very real danger of getting my camera gear trashed. While I have all my gear insured for this type of event, it still would not have been much fun. So a word of warning for all buddying seascapers, always be careful on the rocks near the surf. I’m pretty experienced when it comes to shooting seascapes, but this is an example where  I let the thrill of the shot get to me and over-rule common sense.  Luckily none of my equipment was damaged.

My camera bag with spare lenses etc. was left high and dry at my original shooting location

My D700 was protected by an Optech Rainsleeve (pretty good insurance for these type of shooting conditions at US$6

My Panasonic LX3 took a direct hit and got drenched but it kept on working for some unknown reason.

Get the good shots by all means, but stay safe.