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Although Kevin Thompson has been a sports and events photographer in and around Nevada, Arizona and California for about 10 years, he had seldom tried taking landscape images. "Then about 3 years ago my wife started running marathons, and I would tag along to explore each new city and take photos. When I submitted some of my marathon images while applying for credentials, I was asked if I would photograph the entire marathon from a creative point of view. That's when my travel photography business was born. I covered about 12 marathons this past year and it looks like it will be even more next year.
"Every marathon I cover now includes great opportunities to capture impressive landscapes and views of the city that can be used for next year's promotional purposes. Seeing more opportunities to sell landscapes, I decided to upgrade the way I was capturing images. I started looking into new products and techniques, after seeing some amazing work from other photographers I realized I needed to try out a certain Singh-Ray filter. I have now been using this same filter for all my landscapes and can say I am very happy with it.
"The colorful image above was taken about 7 miles north of Sedona's city center. We were driving along and thought this might be a good place to stop. What you don't see is the snow that was all around, the night before a good size snowfall blanketed the valley. It was still snowing when we woke up, the snow actually put the brakes on our sunrise photos. The clouds were so heavy the sun didn't show up until around 8 am. This spot was incredible, we were actually late arriving in Monument Valley because we stayed a bit longer than we should have. I used my new Singh-Ray filter on a Nikon D3s with a 24-70 lens for all the shots in this story.
"This image was taken about 20 miles south of Monument Valley. I just pulled off the side of the road and setup for this quick shot. The sun was moving quickly and I didn't want to miss the sunset going into Monument Valley, however the colors were awesome and I just couldn't resist. One thing to keep in mind in and around Monument Valley is that the dirt is extremely soft. We traveled in a 4x4 so the risk was not bad, but it would be easy to find your self stuck out there.
"Here is one of my favorite images taken just outside the fence of Monument Valley. What you don't see are the cows that walk down the road and wander into traffic. This is just after the sun had dipped below the horizon -- along with the temperature. It was very cold to say the least, my friend would not even get out of the truck. So here is a bit of information I didn't know about Monument Valley, you can't get in without a guide before 8am. (This time changes with the season as well). I had even asked about it the night before, and the only thing my hotel staff would tell me was Navajo guides offered tours, and would not suggest any company over another. We woke up before sunrise and tried to drive into the park, however there was no marked entrance and no one to offer assistance. While we tried to gain access to the park a guide approached us and informed us about the need for a guide before 8am. So we arranged for his services and away we went. He was most helpful, taking us to several great spots and informing us of the history for each location.
"So after our guide dropped us off at my truck, I turned around to discover this view from where we were parked. I really like the shadows on the valley floor and the contrast in the sky.
This combined image is made up of approximately 7 portrait images which were stitched together in Photoshop.
"I really like panorama photography and with most of my panoramas covering a 120 - 200 degree field of view, the sun does not stay consistent from start to finish when polarized. I found that I still need to add another filter to my bag, so my next filter purchase will be the Vari-ND. Without the polarization I will have fewer variances in the sky color. I have a wide variety of tools in my bag. The only problem is bringing everything with me on a trip is difficult when flying, so I try bringing as little as possible. In many cases it still amounts to more gear than most people would ever drag along. The Singh-Ray Vari series filters allow me to bring fewer individual filters with me.
"Just outside of Moab, Utah, is a place named Wilson's Arch, and man what a view. It is no joke to hike up to this vantage point, but it's worth the effort. We hiked to the top and took a few images before giving in to the wind and freezing temperature. We were planning on an early sunrise at Dead Horse Point and stop at Arches the next day, however bad weather had other plans. I am happy that we stopped here for this view, it isn't Arches, but it's still a great stop.
"So our tip was cut short due to weather plus I was not feeling well, but the trip was incredible. If you ever get a chance to head out to one of these locations, do a bit of homework and find out any stipulations and park rules. My buddy Barney would also recommend a good pair of hiking boots, we had to stop and get him a pair because his feet got wet and that ruined the first day for him. In my opinion, the best way to see our amazing country is by driving -- there is so much to see and many cultures of people to meet. There aren't many big chain restaurants and good luck finding an electronics store, but I did find a Starbucks in many areas we stopped. So pack up your car or truck and go explore America!"
As you may have figured out, all of Kevin's landscapes on this trip were taken with his Singh-Ray Vari-N-Trio, which allowed him greater control of his shutter speed and aperture, managed glare and reflections with its polarizer function, and added a natural kick of color intensification to his images.