Saturday, September 28, 2019

Once Again The Stars Aligned

I have written many times about how luck or serendipity plays a big part in getting successful images.   You see another example of that here.

On the recent private yacht cruise in Alaska's Inside Passage, we were headed to a quiet cove for the night. The sun was close to setting and the ambient light was falling quickly. We were out on deck  watching a few humpback whales lazily cruising nearby. I never expected this moment to occur, but fortunately I was looking toward the sun's reflection when one of the humpbacks decided to dive in the absolute perfect spot. What an exciting and serendipitous event!

It happened fast, but I managed to fire off a few shots before the tail disappeared below the water's surface.

These moments can happen without warning when photographing wildlife, and do not last long. That is why it always pays to have your camera set for a good exposure, and to be ready to put the camera to your eye and shoot as many images as you can while the action is happening.

I recommend that in order to be ready for these moments, you have your camera set on Rapid Burst, and your lens on Continuous Focus. And remember when using Rapid Burst to set your camera to the highest burst mode it has BUT only fire off 3 or 4 shots at a time. Then stop shooting for a second, giving your camera's buffer time to recover. Then fire off another 3 or 4 shots. If you allow your camera to fire off too many images at one time, the buffer will fill and you will be unable to trigger the shutter again until the camera has processed all the images in the burst. Giving it a second or so to  do some processing will usually assure you that you can continue to shoot while the action is occurring.

1/1000 sec. at f/8, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 140mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "When opportunities come, be ready."  --Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 23, 2019

Galapagos 2020 Trip Announced

Galapagos - just the name conjures up images of exotic birds, 
pristine beaches, beautiful waters, species unique to the 
area, and more. It is a photographer's paradise, and we 
will explore it more intimately than most other groups can. 

We will have 10 glorious days to sail among the islands and view the wildlife of this magical archipelago. 

We will live aboard our own private motor sailing vessel, a beautiful yacht that fits right in with the pristine locations we will be visiting. We will have our own onboard naturalist guide who is reputed to be one of the best guides in the Galapagos. 

We will have opportunities to land on most of the islands and explore the exotic wildlife, birds, and landscapes.

Our home will be a 78-foot steel-hulled motorized sailing yacht with 7 staterooms (double occupancy), each with private bath and air-conditioning. 

Our boat has motor launches to get us ashore to photograph and explore. And wetsuits and snorkeling gear will be provided, too, for some great underwater photography opportunities. 

Our knowledgeable guides will provide us with information on wildlife, geology, history, local color, and safety.

As with all my trips, you will have exceptional photographic opportunities, receive personalized attention, participate in image critiques, be treated royally, and have a great time! 

For a complete itinerary, pricing, and more details 
and I will be glad to send it to you.

Please note: the email address above appears this way to avoid spam. When you enter the email address, please use the standard "at" symbol.

Have questions? Call me at 757-773-0194 
and I will be happy to answer them!

This is a rare opportunity to experience the Galapagos on board a beautiful private yacht with limitless photographic opportunities. 
I hope you can join me!  


FYI the September newsletter came out today. If you did not receive it, please email me with YES in the subject line and your free subscription will start right away. You can read the newsletter at this link

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Lowly Dandelion

When you are looking for something interesting to photograph, don't overlook the simplest of subjects. This common dandelion was turned into an interesting image with just a few easy steps in Photoshop.

You can read about the technique at this link  

Dandelions actually make very interesting subjects if you take the time to get close and look at all the repeating shapes and textures. In fact many simple things which might not seem appealing take on new life when you take the time to examine them closely.

So stretch yourself. Go in search of simple, everyday things and think about what you can do to make them more interesting.

1/2000 sec at f/8, ISO 800, Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. "  --Robert Brault

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Power Of Black-and-White

Puffins are some of my favorite bird species. They are beautiful, somewhat comical, adorable, and they fly like the wind. And while their feathers are a simple blend of black and white, their large bills are brightly colored, especially during breeding season.

So why did I choose to do this image in Black and White? Because a Black and White image has the power to show graphic elements and textures more strongly than most color images.

With Black and White, you see the form, the line, and the shape much more clearly. Look at the graphic shape of the bills, the wonderful curve leading to the eyes, and the rounded textured chests. Those elements do not stand out when viewing a color image.

Sure, not all images lend themselves well to Black and White, and I admit that I wondered if this one would lose its visual strength without the bright colors of the bills. On the contrary, for me it gained more power than it had in color.

1/1250 sec. at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 400mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "To see in color is a delight for the eye, but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul."  --Andri Cauldwell

Friday, September 13, 2019

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Do you know what this is? The color pattern might make you think it is an Orca, a so-called killer whale. In fact this is a Dall's Porpoise, a beautiful little creature found off the West coast of the US as far north as Alaska. We were lucky to see a small pod of these little guys off the coast of Alaska. They are about the size of a typical porpoise, but incredibly fast. By the time you see them, they are gone before you can get a shot off. They can reach speeds of 34 mph in short bursts, and surface only briefly.

So what do you do? The best approach is to take your best guess as to where one might surface, and as crazy as this might sound, start shooting BEFORE you see one. Sure, you will get a lot of images of empty water, but once in awhile you will luck out and actually catch one, or part of one, breaking the water's surface.

While this image does not show the entire body, it did capture part of the black and white color pattern, the small dorsal fin, and a beautiful arc of water spraying off the fin.

For me, what makes this shot appealing is a combination of the color of the water, the water spray, and the beautiful warm light of early evening giving a golden glow to the fin and the white area under the water.

It is another example of how important it is to be prepared and do your best to anticipate action when photographing wildlife and birds.

1/1250 sec. at f/6.3, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 147mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn't been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn't have been lucky."  -- Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Abstracts Here, There and Everywhere

Abstract images are all around us. The potential is limitless. All it takes is a little time, a little patience, and an awareness of what is around you.

This shot was taken on a brown bears trip in Alaska. We were walking across the mud flats to get a little closer to the bears when the parallel lines of the mud raised slightly above the shallow water caught my eye. It was a clear day, and the blue sky reflected in the smooth water. In all honesty, however, the water was not this blue. I saturated the color in Lightroom to make it richer.

Because this is an abstract and essentially an art piece, I had no reluctance to oversaturate the blue. But for more traditional nature and wildlife images, I would never go this far. In those cases you want to preserve the realism of the scene as much as possible.

This is a cropped version of the original. I did some cropping in order to make the triangle of blue in the upper right about the same size as the similar triangle of blue in the lower left. While that is a small thing, attention to those sorts of details can elevate an image to a higher level, giving it more visual appeal.

1/1250 sec. at f/10, ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 140mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The acknowledgement of a single possibility can change everything."  -- Aberjhani