It seems like an eternity ago, and in a sense it was. In February I traveled with Kevin Raber and Rockhopper Tours to Antarctica. So much has happened in the relatively short time since then that I very nearly forgot about this trip, filled with abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes.
A highlight was a massive iceberg we cruised by at dinner time. Everyone was deep in their dishes when I jumped up, grabbed my camera and ran off. A krill-red smear announced the presence of Chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Against the blue of the iceberg, it was a rich sign of life in this arresting landscape.
Seals, orcas, petrels and some minke whales also came to escort us along our cruise aboard the ship. Enjoy the photos – if you have any questions about them, join me on Thursday for another live episode of Tequila Time with Art and ask away!
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to vote on the New Big 5 of wildlife! British journalist & photographer Graeme Green has been hard at work creating this new international initiative to create a new Big 5 of wildlife photography, bringing awareness to the plight of wildlife everywhere.
If you’ve been paying attention to the blog or caught last week’s livestream, you already know I’m keeping myself occupied lately working on a new series of educational videos releasing very soon. If you follow me you know that I’m an artist first and a technician second – I learn to use technology as I need it, but unlike many photographers my background lies in fine art.
That being said, my upcoming lecture series will touch on many of the technical aspects of photography as well, for example using a high shutter speed to capture water droplets around the high-speed movements of this small painted bunting.
Freezing the action here requires a fast shutter speed – in this case I’ve chosen 1/6400th of a second. I’ve achieved my goal – the droplets and the bunting are sharp! However one problem you may run into depending on the available lighting is the high ISO required to get enough light from such a brief exposure. In this case my ISO was bumped all the way up to 5000 – well beyond what most photographers are comfortable with.
Personally I have always pushed my use of ISO; if the photo truly requires a high number to get the effect and freeze the action like I want it to, I am okay introducing a bit of noise. Much of that can be removed later in post. As an example, here is a close-up of this image with one side using Topaz Denoise AI, and the other the original image:
As you can see, Topaz does a great job of removing much of the noise in the image while retaining details. I highly recommend that regardless of the software you use to remove noise, that this is your first step in your edit. As you tweak levels, colors, and other attributes of your image, they may overly enhance the noise making it harder to retroactively remove. After you remove the noise, you can then go back and re-introduce some sharpening where needed, selectively avoiding areas with large swaths of color that will just end up looking noisy.
That will have to be a lesson for another day – enjoy your week, stay safe and healthy!
Happy technique Tuesday! Hopefully everyone is healthy and using their time to practice their photography at home. While I’m currently working on my Pathways to Creativity series of lectures, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give some tips for those of you looking to pass the time.
Photographers of all levels know just how useful a tripod can be. Myself and others have touted the necessity of choosing a good brand and not skimping on a cheap one. That being said, sometimes you need to ditch that thing. While the stability a tripod offers is essential for many shots, it’s not always the most maneuverable tool to use.
In this video, I illustrate that by losing the tripod and getting down low, I can capture these chinstrap penguins in such a way that enough background is included and in focus to give true context to their environment. This is an angle and perspective I wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the spontaneity and maneuverability gained by freeing myself from the tripod.
Use your body, the ground, and objects around you to stabilize your shot – don’t forget, any three points of contact, not just tripod legs, will make for a steady shot. Now, unless you’re super lucky, you don’t have penguins in your back yard – that’s okay! Get down low and photograph your familiar surroundings from a whole new perspective.
Continuing my series looking back on the previous decade and half of travel, April has been a varied month for me, with shoots spanning the globe to Europe, the Far East, the southern tip of Africa, South America, and plenty of shoots here in the states as well. This is typically an opportune time of year to visit so many locations that it’s making me antsy to think about it. Fortunately I’m keeping myself very occupied and fully immersed in creating my next series of educational and hopefully inspiring lectures – stay tuned for more information about that project, and enjoy the photos.
Greetings from Seattle! I won’t spend too much time talking about the elephant in the room, but I do want to wish each and every one of you the best through these difficult times and hope that you and yours are healthy and getting the support you need. In my limited excursions to get groceries and other necessities, I’ve witnessed nothing but kindness and support out there in the community, and that’s exactly what we need – we are truly in this together. I’m not one for standing still, and to that end I am working diligently to prepare some exciting new distance-based learning opportunities to unveil soon. Stay tuned!
One of my last trips before buckling down here was to Patagonia, with the primary goal of photographing pumas. These are notably solitary animals, whom rarely congregate or hunt with others until it’s time to breed. When cubs are born, they remain with their mother long enough to grow strong and learn to hunt before venturing out on their own. I was fortunate to capture not one but two such families on this trip – one with adorable young cubs, the other with rough-housing older siblings. To be able to follow these two groups and observe their similarities and differences kept me busy. They were surprisingly indifferent to my documentation of their days, whether they were lounging, scrapping, or enjoying some fine dining. Along the way I captured some other denizens of the area as well.
We are living in some crazy times, aren’t we? My thoughts are with you while we navigate all of this, and I’m heartened by what I’ve seen and heard of communities supporting one and other. How about just a little bit of bright news for the day?
The California Condor was down to just 27 individuals in 1987 due to lead poisoning (eating carrion containing lead shot), habitat loss and poaching. At that point an emergency was declared and every wild individual was captured and put into captive breeding programs in two zoos in California. Chicks were hatched and raised and several years later they began the delicate process of reintroducing them to the wild.
Today there are over 300 individuals in the wild with another 200 in captivity, and in 2019 the 1,000 chick was born in the wild in Zion National Park! This is fantastic news and shows just how powerfully we can impact the survival of species world-wide.
2020 continues to fly by at a supersonic pace. Spring is just around the corner, and here in Washington things are starting to warm up. When I’m home and working in my garden I can definitely appreciate the longer days. Looking back at the past 15 years, photos from March tend to capture the colors and activity of those approaching spring months. With better weather and more hours to get things done, cultures world-wide begin to celebrate and festivals such as Holi in India have captured my attention over the years.
Enjoy the photos, and have a fantastic weekend – and for those of you in the affected time-zones, don’t forget to spring ahead this Sunday!
Blue whale populations were decimated by whaling, exterminating an estimated 97% of their numbers until a moratorium was placed on whaling in 1986. When whalers first descended on their summer feeding grounds around South Georgia Island off Antarctica they would see “whales by the thousands” in the area. An estimated 176,000 whales were taken over 60 years.
In 2018 a lone pair of Blue Whales was spotted in the area, adding to just one or two sightings over the last 40-50 years. And then in 2020 – on their most recent survey – 55 Blue Whales were counted feeding in the area! An amazing swell in the numbers in such a short time.
Better late than never and it’s still February; where’s the year going??? More importantly, where have the past 15 years gone? It’s always interesting to look back at the various phases of my career to be reminded of my previous goals, successes and of course. . the very very occasional failures. If you’re ever struggling to come up with something to say with your photography, there are plenty of resources around to step back and take a look at. I’m an avid book collector and I’m always on the look-out for compendiums of the passions of others that may help spark an idea of my own.
There is something to be said for being your own inspiration, however – especially if it’s been some time since you’ve looked back on your own photos and/or artwork. Perhaps time and experience will give you a new angle on an old idea, or you may find the simple purity of your original concepts got lost among new technologies, software, or just the clutter of life in general.
Enjoy the photos, and stay tuned to the blog for some exciting upcoming events!