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Choosing the Right ND Filter

In Black & White, Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole Thompson6 Comments

I assist with the occasional photo workshop (John Barclay Photo Tours) and I am seeing something that bothers me. Participants are coming with a 10-stop ND filter and wanting to do 30-second or longer exposures. There’s always disappointment when they learn this filter will only give them a few seconds. I’m not claiming that I’m an expert, but I do shoot a lot of long exposures and would like to share my thoughts on choosing the right ND filter. This …

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The Story Behind “Melting Giants”

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Scenes & Scenarios, Water Features by Cole Thompson2 Comments

In 2015 I was photographing in Nova Scotia when someone told me that Newfoundland to the north had icebergs. I have always been fascinated with icebergs (I think most people are) and so I decided that my next trip would be hunting icebergs in Newfoundland. I say “hunt” because I was warned that icebergs were unpredictable and inconsistent. One year you may see many and the next year…none. You just have to go and hope that you’ll be lucky. I prepare …

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Photoshop and six tools… with a video demonstration

In Black & White, Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Post-Processing, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

Editor’s note: We are huge admirers of Cole’s work and have always wondered how he processed his memorable B&W images. Here Cole describes his process – and illustrates it with the video included in this article. Cole uses the Singh-Ray Vari-ND variable neutral density filter and our Mor-Slo 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-stop solid neutral density filters to help create many of his images. A friend and I were recently discussing how I process my images. I was trying to …

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Oregon – Five “Before” and “After” Long Exposure Images

In Black & White, Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

Editor’s note: We’ve been huge fans of Cole’s tremendous black & white work for years – and have often wondered what his images looked like out of the camera, before he applied his unique conversion and processing vision. So we were delighted when Cole sent us this post. I’ve had a number of people ask if I’d do some more “before” and “after” shots. So here are five from my recent Oregon trip. All are long exposures created with my …

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Five + Ten + Fifteen + Twenty + Vari-ND = Perfect ND Kit

In Black & White, Corporate/Commercial, Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

Utah Hills, created with the Singh-Ray 15 Stop Mor-Slo Filter After years of experimentation and trying various ND filter combinations, I have assembled what I believe to be the world’s perfect ND kit. It consists of the following Singh-Ray filters: 5-stop Mor-Slo in 82mm 10-stop fixed ND filter in 82mm 15-stop fixed ND filter in 82mm 20-stop fixed ND filter in 82mm Vari-ND in 82mm Step up rings on each of my lenses so they all can use 82mm filters …

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How I Found My Vision

In Portraits, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

Our thanks to Cole for sharing his thoughts on a subject that is rarely discussed with such insight. The Angel Gabriel Why do I focus on Vision so much? It’s because I believe that Vision is what makes an image great. It’s what makes the difference between a technically perfect image and one with feeling. It’s what makes your images unique. Great images do not come about because of equipment and processes, but rather from Vision that drives these tools …

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Explaining how to determine correct exposures for long exposure images

In Corporate/Commercial, Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Portraits, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

An acknowledged master of long-exposure photography, Cole Thompson shares his techniques for finding his “correct” exposure, and extrapolating that to dramatically longer exposure times. Getting the correct exposure when using one or more neutral density filters can be challenging. I use up to 18 stops of ND with exposures ranging from 30 seconds to 8 minutes. At first finding the correct exposure was very frustrating and my images were often underexposed and I’d have to resort to guessing at the …

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Sharing some of my latest long-exposure images from recent trips

In Black & White, Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Scenes & Scenarios, Water Features, Wildlife by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

Since my last post, I have been on a number of trips and thought I’d share some images from them. Each of these long exposure images has something in common, the Singh-Ray Vari-ND and the Mor-Slo 5-Stop ND Filter. I was in the Sierras to attend the memorial of an old friend and mentor when I created this image. John was on my mind as I spent several days reminiscing about our times together and missing him. He loved the …

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Visiting Joshua Tree National Park to commune with the ancient boulders

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

It was the first time I had visited since 1987 when my wife and I went camping there. Coincidentally, our trip occurred right after U2 had introduced their new album “Joshua Tree,” and I remember listening to it non-stop as we sunned ourselves on the large round boulders at the park. The music and that location are positively and indelibly intertwined in my memory. Each time I hear those songs, I am transported back in time. So it was with …

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Series of dramatic architectural studies reflects constant search for fresh ideas

In City/Urban, Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Cole ThompsonLeave a Comment

For the past two years, I’ve been working on a project that combines my love for architecture and photography. Called The Fountainhead, after the Ayn Rand novel, this series features images of skyscrapers that have been dramatically distorted to give them a very modern and futuristic look. Rather than transforming these images by using Photoshop, however, I resorted to a much more ‘old-school’ technique that enabled me to visualize and capture the final images in my digital camera. I photographed …