Friday, November 30, 2012

Gentoo Penguin on Nest

Gentoo Penguin on Nest - 5D3, 70-200 IS II @ 200mm, f/4, 1/125s, ISO 800
I made this image on a pretty miserable morning.  It was cold, and since it was only drizzling lightly on the boat it seemed like the landing would be a good idea, besides I hadn't missed a single landing and wasn't about to start.  When the first couple of zodiacs got to shore, the rain started to really come down.  Some people immediately went back but I figured I was already here, might as well head up the tussock grass covered hills to the Gentoo Penguins on nests.  The hike was extremely wet and rather muddy and after getting up there, composing these guys was a challenge.  I wanted to keep it light so I took only the 5D3 with 70-200 mounted inside an Optech rain sleeve.  Still, with all the rain and mud, do I regret the landing?  Nope, it was the only chance I had to see and photograph Gentoos on nests and am glad I went.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Right Whale Beach Elephant Seal

Elephant Seal - 5D3, 70-200 IS II @ 170mm, f/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 400
Elephant Seal bulls look more peaceful than fur seals during breeding seasons but when two bulls get into a fight, things can get pretty bloody.  Still, they usually don't perceive humans as a threat to their territory so as long as you keep a reasonable distance, you're fine.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rock Hopper Call

Rock Hopper Call - 5D3, 400 f/2.8 IS II, f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 200
A Rock Hopper Penguin stretches its head for a call.  As the name implies, these Penguins tend to build their nests on rocks and yes they do hop as needed.  They also look like they have attitude with the distinctive white feathers on their head.

This image was made on Sea Lion Island in the Falklands.  The landing site was about 1.5 miles from the Rock Hopper colonies, requiring a hike.  Since we stopped many times along the way to photograph various other wildlife, it took nearly 2 hours to get out to to the Rock Hoppers.  Once there though, one set of the Penguins were positioned ideally so that they could be photographed with the deep blue of the ocean.  Many times the sun was out in full force, but clouds would occasionally obscure it, diffusing the light as it did for this image.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wet Rock

Wet Rock - Sony RX100, 10.4mm, f/4, 1/30s, ISO 2000
I took my sister who is visiting for the weekend from Boston on a hike through Big Basin Redwoods State Park yesterday.  We did my favorite loop in the park which covers about 11 miles.  We started at the park headquarters and made our way to Berry Creek Falls via the Skyline to the Sea trail and then visited Silver Falls and Golden Cascade connecting to the Sunset trail to come back.  The weather was ideal, sunny but cool, though the water levels were rather low.  I made this image on part of the Golden Cascade and with the lower water level I could easily cross to the other side to get a different angle.

Back to Serious Printing

My New Printer - OM-D EM-5, 7-14 @ 7mm, f/5, 1/8s, ISO 1000
I got a little Black Friday present for myself this weekend and am very excited to get some use out of it.  One of the really nice perks I had with my previous employer was being out-fitted with an Epson 7900 24" printer which was used primarily by me.  I got to know how to use the 7900 very well and got accustomed to the smooth tonal transitions and how well it could render subtle shadow tones.  Over the last few years, I've gotten to love making prints and have found that regardless of the size and quality of the display, my personal preference is always for a finely crafted print.

So when I changed employers earlier this year I knew I was going to have to give this up.  The Epson 7900 is not only an expensive printer (outside the ~$3k the printer costs, a full set of inks is about $1k) but its also freakin' huge, so I knew I could never fit one at home.  On Friday I found someone in the bay area selling their lightly used 4900 and bit the bullet.  The 4900 uses the same type of inks as the 7900 (and yes costs about the same) and has the same print head technology.  Its a smaller 17" printer so I won't be doing any 24x36 posters but even with the 7900 I usually made 17"x22" prints.

As soon as I saw my first contact sheet of test prints come out of the printer I was delighted.  The tonality was exactly like what I was used to with the 7900.  The printer is borderline absurdly huge in my home office but my wife hasn't complained so far so I'm happy.

One of the things I'm looking forward to doing is experimenting with the ink deposition amounts with different papers and building my own profiles to hand craft fine art prints.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Oakum Boy Close-up

Oakum Boy Close-up - 5D3, 400 f/2.8 IS II, f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 200
One of the things I found most interesting about the juvenile King Penguin is the eyes.  It has a fascinating pattern and the change between the eyes of the juvenile and the adult King Penguin is quite noticeable.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Colony

St. Andrew's Bay Colony - 5D3, 24-70 @ 24mm, f/9, 1/160s, ISO 100.  6 panel stitch.
After the clouds had settled in, we made our way to the main colony at St. Andrew's Bay.  Everyone keeps asking what those little brown guys are, they are juvenile King Penguins also called Oakum Boys.  The colony was quite large and rather noisy, a single photography truly doesn't do the experience justice.

I put this 6 panel stitch together to capture a field of view that covered almost 180 degrees and to get a higher resolution image to potentially make a large print.  Below is a Zoomify version of this image.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Beautiful Early Morning

King Penguins by a Stream - 5D3, 24-70 II @ 47mm, f/13, ISO 100, 3 exposure fusion.
This is one of my favorite images made in South Georgia.  It shows not only the incredible wildlife but also the amazing landscape.  This image was made on an early morning landing at Saint Andrew's Bay.  We had landed shortly after 5:45AM that morning and though I had only gotten about 5 hours of sleep the night before, it was absolutely worth it.  The skies were clear and the light was wonderful but it only lasted about an hour.  Shortly after 7, clouds started to cover the peaks and within 15 minutes we were under a blanket of cloud for the rest of the day.  In all my years of waking up at crazy hours to photograph, I haven't regretted the loss of sleep even once, even those times I've been skunked.

I made this image as were walking to the main colony site.  It was hard to leave the area and continue to the main colony as King Penguins would keep crossing the stream making for interesting photography.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Penguin Love

King Penguins Courtship - 5D3, 400 f/2.8 IS II, f/6.3, 1/800s, ISO 800
Avian courtship behavior is probably one of my favorite things to observe in nature.  Some behaviors can be quite complex, while very simple.  This pair of King Penguins were engaged in courtship for some time and since we had splendidly long landings, I spent a long time observing and photographing them.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Southern Giant Petrel over the Scotia Sea

Southern Giant Petrel over the Scotia Sea - 5D3, 70-200 II + 1.4x TC @ 280mm (equiv.), f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 400
This image of the Southern Giant Petrel was made from the stern splash deck of the ship on the Scotia Sea enroute to South Georgia.  The timing with the swell was lucky as the Petrel was coming in and banking just as the swell behind the ship rose up putting the sea and bird in the ideal place for me to release the shutter.

I've also now had plenty of opportunity to use the 5D Mark III for avian flight photography and am now confident in saying that for me its has the best auto-focus system for moving subjects I've used (I've used them all except the 1DX).  The 5D3 performed very well giving many bursts of perfectly in focus frames.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Black-browed Albatross on Nest

Black-browed Albatross on Nest - 5D3, 17 TS-E, f/14, 1/200s, ISO 200
From one kind of close-up, we go to another.  This was one of the few images I made with the 17mm TS-E lens.  I spotted the Albatross on a landing below a cliff I was standing on and so I slowly got on my belly and extended my upper body over the cliff and made this image, careful not to disturb the Albatross.  This kind of ultra wide angle image of a Black-browed Albatross is something I've wanted to make for a while.  I also used shift on the TS-E lens to exaggerate the size of the foreground, in this case the bird; which makes for a unique perspective.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

King Penguin Detail

King Penguin Detail - 5D3, 400 IS II + 1.4x TC (560mm equiv.), f/13, 1/400s, ISO 200
My last two images involved King Penguins at different scales.  First there was the landscape with the Penguins making up a very small part of the frame, then a single Penguin within a larger part of the frame.  Now lets get real close and look at feather detail.  My inspiration for this was something that Artie Morris did for the rat eradication auction (read about it on his blog post).

This image was made at St. Andrew's Bay on a ridge that overlooked the colony.  It was an overcast day, making the light ideal for this kind of detail work.  I performed only basic adjustments in Lightroom and then hit the image with a little bit of Detail Extractor and Tonal Contrast in Color Efex Pro.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Snow! Wheee!

King Penguin Enjoying the Snow - 5D3, 400 IS II, f/5, 1/500s, ISO 100
The weather in South Georgia can change in an instant.  One moment its somewhat clear and the next there are 60 MPH winds and blowing snow everywhere.  This was was made during a transition from the latter to the former.

Monday, November 12, 2012

King Penguins at Right Whale Bay

King Penguins at Right Whale Bay - 5D3, 70-200 II @ 102mm, f/7.1, 1/125s, ISO 160
A group of King Penguins, some molting walk in a line towards their larger group at the base of a mountain at Right Whale Bay.  With the sky overcast, black & white was definitely the way to go for this image.