Friday, May 31, 2013

Antarctic Terns by Risting Glacier

Antarctic Terns by Risting Glacier - 5D3, 70-200 II + 1.4x @ 280, f/4, 1/2500s, ISO 200
Moving away from snow and back to glaciers this is a close up of Risting Glacier, the same glacier from my post a couple of days ago.  There were Antarctic Terns flying around close to the water and I'd tried to capture them with a longer lens but they are fast and move erratically, so instead I focused on the glacier itself using the terns to show just how huge the glacier is.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lichens and Snow

Lichens and Snow - 5D3, 70-200 IS II + 1.4x TC @ 280, f/5, 1/640s, ISO 100
Continuing the theme of images involving snow I give you Licens and Snow.  I made this image during a zodiac cruise of Larsen Harbour.  I got lucky with the light as the clouds obscured the sun the moment this image was made which is why so much detail and pattern can be seen in the snow.  When I saw this scene I knew I wanted to bring to attention the patterns in the snow but also use the rock and the colorful Lichen growing on it as a contrasting anchor.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Risting Glacier at the head of Drygalski Fjord

Risting Glacier at the end of Drygalski Fjord - 5D3, 24-70 II @ 24mm, f/7.1, 1/500s, ISO 100
Last time it was snow and clouds in black & white and today its snow, glacier and clouds in color.  This is Risting Glacier located at the head of Drygalski Fjord.  We had dramatic clouds that morning for a  cruise down the Fjord and the blue of the glacier was very intense.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Snow and Clouds - King Haakon Bay

Snow and Clouds - 5D3, 70-200 IS II @ 70mm, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO 100
I had a berth in the lowest deck of the ship on my South Georgia trip last fall and this meant no portholes.  So when I wake up in the morning, its pitch black and I have no idea what the conditions are like outside.  Several mornings during the trip I managed to convince myself the light would be great and get up to the observation lounge and this was one of those mornings.

We were going to go for a landing at Cave Cove in King Haakon Bay that morning and waking up at 6, I quickly got ready and went upstairs hoping for some dramatic sky.  The sun kept going behind and then emerging from layers of light cloud, giving some really nice light.

I had originally fully intended to keep this image in color.  I love images with snow, clouds and glacier in them as there are subtle color differences (and not so subtle with glaciers) but in this case the black & white appealed to me more bringing more attention to the differences in texture and tone, even though I had to sacrifice not having the blue of glacier at the bottom.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Giraffe Dance

Giraffe Dance - 1Ds3, 70-200 IS II @ 200mm, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 100
Two Giraffe spotted on the way from the Ngorongoro Crater to Kusini Camp in the Serengeti.  When these Giraffe were spotted, we stopped for a look and that moment the one on the right scooted over to the other one.  This mid jump capture kind of looks like they are dancing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

King Penguin Colony at Right Whale Bay

King Penguin Colony - 5D3, 24-70 II @ 35mm, f/8, 1/320s, ISO 100, 12 panels.
Continuing the theme of high resolution panoramics from South Georgia, here's one of a King Penguin colony at Right Whale Bay.  Click through to zoom in and pan around on this 83mp panorama; all those tufts of brown fur up the hills are the juveniles.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nordenskjöld Glacier

Nordenskjöld Glacier - 5D3, 400 f/2.8 IS II, f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 100.  27 panels.
This 27 panel, 309 megapixel Nordenskjöld Glacier nearly killed my computer in processing it, and I had to give up my usual non-destructive workflow of Smart Objects.  I resized to 100 megapixels before uploading it to Google+, so if you click through you can zoom and pan on the 100mp version.

The gigantic glacier flows into the head of the Cumberland East Bay on the northern side of South Georgia.  This was from the third full day in South Georgia and after some Zodiac cruises in Ocean Harbour, we made our way around to this side cruising across the bay, eventually ending up at Grytviken.  The day started off with some sun but it became overcast quickly with occasional rain.

Wikipedia has a neat overlay of on Google Maps of the area with interesting information on the various bays and points of historic interest, definitely worth checking out.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Elm & Sunstar

Elm & Sunstar - 5D2, Zeiss 50 MP, f/22, 1/4s, ISO 100
I captured the frame for this image almost exactly 2 years ago on a spring weekend trip to Yosemite.  Spring time starts to get popular at Yosemite with the general public and I know many photographers who head there trying to make images with flowering plants.  On this particular visit, I was too early for the flowering dogwoods and with a crystal clear sky, there was no pretty sunrise and no dramatic fog.

I got out there pretty early in the morning and being a weekend and that time of year, two separate workshops joined me.  I was set up in an area to photograph a reflection of halfdome in a pool of water and if there had been a spectacular sunrise, it would have been a spectacular image.  The workshop organizers had a similar idea so we shared the spot for a while.  I like to photograph in a social way, interacting with other photographers, but with nearly 20 people crowded around this small pool of water, I decided to do my own thing after it was clear the sunrise was going to be a bust.

I was drawn to this iconic Yosemite Elm and liked the way Halfdome was behind it, I made some verticals with just these two elements for a bit.  I really wanted a third element and thats when I realized that the sun would soon peek over the mountains in the back.  I figured I had several minutes to compose and came up with what you see here, having 3 dominant elements, the sun-star, Halfdome and the Elm.  Stopping down to f/22 is essential to get a good sun-star and I wanted to make sure I got it at exactly the right moment when the sun first peeked over the mountain, otherwise it would be too bright and things would be too washed out.  I still used a neutral graduated density filter to bring the bright sky under control (may have even stacked a couple).

Curiously, I was the only person capturing this scene even though there were two workshops in the area.  After about 15 minutes when it was clear the sun was out in full force, I started packing up to leave.  Its then that a couple of photographers were hurrying from their parked cars to my area starting make similar images.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rockhoppers

Rockhoppers - 5D3, 17 TS-E, f/14, 1/200s, ISO 200
These are Rockhopper Penguins in their small colony on New Island in the Falklands.  I almost didn't make this image, as I spent most the landing with the Black-browed Albatross on their nest.  During my time with the Albatross, I did a lot of experimentation with going extremely wide and pulling in the environment (my favorite kind of wildlife image), so when I was finished there and walking back, I wanted to do something similar with the Rockhopper Penguins.   The trick is of course to make your image without getting too close to the subject and making yourself as unnoticeable as possible so that they don't get disturbed.  I knew that I wanted my 17mm lens, so left everything else in my bag behind and got on my belly with just the camera and lens.  Over the course of about 15 minutes, I very slowly shimmied on my belly to get the right angle and perspective.  I was fortunate as there was a big bush to hide my presence to my right that did a good job of hiding me.  I could have gotten even closer (this is a fairly heavy crop), but I didn't want to risk disturbing the penguins so stopped here and extending my arms close to the ground and with Live View made this image.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Serengeti Star Trails

Serengeti Star Trails - 5D2, 24 f/1.4L, f/2.8, 17m 21s, ISO 200.
I didn't take a tripod with me when I went to Tanzania in 2011 since there is little opportunity for tripod based photography.  I did however pack a little gorilla pod just in case and one night while staying at the Belila Lodge (which is a spectacularly luxurious lodge in the Serengeti) it came in handy.  I wrapped the legs around the rail of my balcony and captured this 17 minute exposure.  It was late and we had game drives scheduled for the morning so I didn't try more or longer exposures.  Unfortunately, there's nothing uniquely African in this image so for all you know these star trails could have been captured anywhere (though the astute astronomers might be able to make out some signature southern hemisphere celestial objects).  

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Little Bit of Color

Spring on the Coast - S2, 120mm, f/22, 1/3s, ISO 160
The last few posts have been black & whites so I figured its time for a little bit of color.  Driving around the bay area, I've noticed the cacti flowering all over the place and so dug up this image I made last year at Garrapata Beach.  With scenes like this I find its a challenge to find a composition that works.  You walk up to a bunch of flowering cacti and you have to figure out a way frame things so that its not busy.  I'm not sure I was entirely successful here, could probably stand to lose a couple more flowers, however I liked the way the image was anchored  on the bottom right so it works for me.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Wildebeest and Flamingos

Wildebeest and Flamingos - 1D4, 500 f/4 + 1.4x TC, f/7.1, 1/600s, ISO 400
I was inspired to work on this image after seeing +Andy Biggs's latest post featuring Water Buffalos and Flamingos.   I captured the frame for this in the Ngorongoro crater at around mid morning, about 10:30.  There is a lake in the distance where the flamingos hang out and since this is a national park, vehicles aren't allowed off-road, so you make do with where you are.  I used a 1.4x teleconverter on the 500 and with all the atmospheric haze the pixels are pretty much mush so it sad unprocessed, unloved for the last two years.  Then, in a moment of inspiration this morning, I worked on a black & white version of this and with a combination of Silver Efex and Color Efex managed to get something acceptable.

I found the Ngorongoro crater both a frustration and delight to shoot.  It was a delight because the crater walls can make for very interesting backgrounds, giving images a more unique look than an image of animals on an open plain.  I found it frustrating because the park rules require you to only enter after sunrise and leave well before sunset.  This means you spend the day mostly photographing in challenging light.  One of the things I'm really looking forward to in Botswana is being able to get out during good light and being able to go off-road and get close to the wildlife.  You can do this if you stay at the private reserves.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Lemonade

Alpa STC, IQ 180, 32 HR, ~f/11, ~7s, ISO 100
I call this lemonade because its an image where I'm just trying to make the best of a bad situation.  I captured the photograph for this image on a big sur trip a few weeks ago.  It was an evening shoot and the location was McWay Falls.  The skies were a little too clear and there wasn't a lot of color and so for most of the evening I just relaxed chatting with folks and hadn't even bothered to pull out the camera.  Then just as the last light of the day was fading, I felt bad for not having made a single frame, and so decided to capture just one frame.  I set up my camera and having watched the scene for so long, knew exactly what composition I wanted.  I also knew that I wanted a panoramic and though the right answer would have been to go with a longer lens and stitch, I was worried that the stitch would look weird with all the moving water so I decided to stick with the trusty 32mm lens and crop in post.  With all those lovely pixels of the IQ 180, one can afford to crop a little in post.

So where did I goof up?  First, my back was set to ISO 100 and not ISO 35.  If you try doing longer exposures (like multiple seconds) with the IQ 180 at ISO 100, it starts degrading image quality.  Its not huge, but its noticeable.  This goof was purely inattention on my part, I had set the back to ISO 100 for some other faster shutter speed work I was doing earlier in the day and simply forgot to check to put it back to 35.

Second, I had my tripod set up on a wooden bridge and with moving walking over it and a 7 second exposure, you inevitably get blur which is exactly what I got when I zoomed in to 100% and closely examined the pixels.  Normally I would time my exposures to avoid people walking and do multiple exposures as insurance.  In this case, I wanted to stick to 1 so I had to live with this one.

In the end, this gave me a somewhat mushy file to work with.  After cropped to my panoramic aspect ratio and then resizing to get back to an image with actual detail at the pixel level, I was left with a 10mp image.  If I hadn't goofed on the ISO and the shake, I would have had a super crisp 40mp panorama.  Oh well, at least I got a neat monochrome with Silver Efex Pro.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Dreaming of Africa

Zebras Grazing on the Ngorongoro Crater Floor - 5D2, 24 f/1.4 II, f/10, 1/200s, ISO 100
It was over two years ago that I went on safari in Tanzania and when things start to get a little crazy at work I dream of being back out there spending the days without a care in the world, just wildlife and lots of photography.  I'll be heading to Botswana this fall with +Andy Biggs and only bad thing is that its nearly 7 months away.