Southeast Alaska Photo Expeditions

National Geographic Sea Lion in Tracy Arm near South Sawyer Glacier in Southeast Alaska.

National Geographic Sea Lion in Tracy Arm near South Sawyer Glacier in Southeast Alaska.

Southeast Alaska is a land of superlatives; immense, iconic and impressive. These past two weeks spent on the National Geographic Sea Lion with Lindblad Expedtions was all of these and more. Two action packed weeklong “photo departures” with many of the guests fulfilling their lifelong “bucket lists” and bringing home incredible photos. The talented photo team included National Geographic Photographer, Jay Dickman and three Lindblad Photo Instructors; Rich Kirchner, Emily Mount and myself.

Humpback whale breaching near the Inian Islands in Southeast Alaska.

Humpback whale breaching near the Inian Islands in Southeast Alaska.

Bald eagle capturing a fish at Cross Sound in Southeast Alaska.

Bald eagle capturing a fish at Cross Sound in Southeast Alaska.

The extra long days included early morning wakeup calls and greeted with iconic scenes like a mirrored images of Gut Bay and early morning orcas in Glacier Bay. The breaching humpback whales, feeding Stellar sea lions and eagles snatching fish around us at Cross Sound on a 16-foot incoming tide was also a life experience. Each day the “WOW factor” was greater and greater. Our visit to South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm – Fords Terror Wilderness was also one of those unforgettable memories with a colossal calving from this tidewater glacier and then a twenty story cobalt blue shooter erupted from under the water.

Stellar sea lion eating a fish at Cross Sound in Southeast Alaska.

Stellar sea lion eating a fish at Cross Sound in Southeast Alaska.

 

 

 

Inflatable boat near a recently calved iceberg from South Sawyer Glacier in Southeast Alaska.

Inflatable boat near a recently calved iceberg from South Sawyer Glacier in Southeast Alaska.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each day new friends were made and memories forged into our minds from this iconic destination. One is continually surprised what Mother Nature can provide regardless of how many times you visit Southeast Alaska.  National Geographic Society President in 1910 and Member of the 1899 Harriman Expedition to Alaska, Henry Gannett summarized his Alaska experience best;
“There is one word of advice and caution to be given those intending to visit Alaska for pleasure. If you are old, go by all means. But if you are young, wait. The scenery of Alaska is much grander than anything else of the kind in the world and it is not well to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeing the finest first.”

Mom and pup sea otter at Cross Sound in Southeast Alaska.

Mom and pup sea otter at Cross Sound in Southeast Alaska.

I am looking forward to another six weeks of pure natural bliss in Southeast Alaska this summer.

 

 

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2013 Showreel featuring Columbia River, Southeast Alaska and Galapagos Islands with Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic

 

Video and time-lapse featuring Columbia River, Southeast Alaska and Galapagos Islands aboard Lindblad ExpeditionsNational Geographic ships in 2013.

Originally I planned to create showreels for each destination until I juxtaposed the beautiful underwater Galapagos world with the majestic Alaska glaciers and bears. Somewhat my life metaphor of going from one destination to the next teaching photography to incredible people in the most scenic places in the world working with National Geographic Expeditions.

The Columbia and Snake River Journey is a land of extreme landscapes of canyons, mountains and waterfalls steeped in the rich history of Lewis and Clark and Native American folklore. This Pacific Northwest destination is a series of modern engineering feat including bridges, locks and dams that allow us to transition 425 miles upriver and climb 725 feet above sea level from Astoria, Oregon to Lewiston, Idaho. The jet boat adventure up the Snake River rapids is another highlight filled with spectacular scenery.

Southeast Alaska is one of earth’s gems that contains some of the richest marine life, spectacular fjords and calving tidewater glaciers. This place will continually amaze you regardless of your time spent in this part of the world; feeding brown bears, humpback whales bubble-net feeding and glaciers defining the landscapes. John Muir summarizes it best in his Travels in Alaska,1915, “To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”

The Galapagos Islands are another gem on this earth that will leave you speechless. Everyday, you experience another creature that defines evolution and environmental adaptability. Tameness is a word often used but nothing can prepare  you for this extraordinary land and sea adventure. Animals approach you without fear and often times indifferent to your presence. From Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the morning to a playful Galapagos Sea Lion in the afternoon. I cannot wait to return to this magical place.

Special thanks to Lindblad ExpeditionsNational Geographic for enabling me to visit these wonderful places with such entertaining guests. I am really looking forward to returning to Southeast Alaska this summer, the Columbia River in the fall, Antarctica over winter and to Arctic next summer. I pinch myself everyday to see if this is a dream.

Humbled by Nature,
Rich Reid

Music:
Stamp’n Go -  iStockphoto®, ©Sporeboy
Flamingo Bay – iStockphoto®, ©bononiasound
Powerful Trailer Music -  iStockphoto®, ©-MUX-

Categories: Adventure, Alaska, National Geographic, Natural World, Time-lapse Techniques, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 iPhone Photos of 2013

I LOVE in the beach sand in Pacific Grove, California.

#10 I LOVE in the beach sand in Pacific Grove, California.

The iPhone has been a game changer in the ways we share our photography. Not only have these smart phones improved teaching photography during my photo expeditions but it also has created hours of entertainment with minimal processing time. Although the optical options are limited, the simple filters and unlimited sharing has more than made up for the quality limitations.

Aerial of clouds over the Everglades in Florida.

#9 Aerial of clouds over the Everglades in Florida.

Reluctantly last year, I signed a two year contract for a new (albeit old model) iPhone 4s so I could fulfill my obligatory texting duty with other parents. Reluctant, because I was already feeling overwhelmed with media dealing with video and time-lapse photography. Quickly I realized that the iPhone was more of a practical camera than a fancy phone and it fulfilled that “instant gratification” of sharing my photography. However, the iPhone will never replace that “perfection” that DSLR cameras produce to appease my professional clientele.

Shadows in Ojai Meadow Preserve, Ojai.

#8 Shadows in Ojai Meadow Preserve, Ojai.

Seven thousand plus clicks later, I have found the iPhone an indispensable piece of my professional camera equipment. Not only does it work as a social gadget with Facebook and Instagram but it also serves as one of my more practical devices that will predict sunrises, entertain you kid in a pinch or shut out the world with headphones. It also checks email, displays breaking news, finds your way home and even makes calls.

Vintage look of a girl decorating a Christmas tree.

#7 Vintage look of a girl decorating a Christmas tree.

My top 10 images were selected for the subjects being really close and lit with well balanced natural light. The camera is a simple fixed 4mm f/2.4 lens on the iPhone 4s and the image quality seriously degrades if you digitally zoom or use in low light. The HDR feature is really cool and works well in contrasty conditions. Panorama and Square features added to the iOS7 operating system were great improvements and created lots of fun double exposures. The new “square” option has been practical for social media.

#6 Heart shaped rock on Espanola Island in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

#6 Heart shaped rock on Espanola Island in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Perhaps the most useful applications for managing iPhone media is “Image Capture” which is included under Applications in the Mac OSX . A simple software that allows you to select the destination of your media being imported from your phone to your computer. It also allows you to batch delete unlimited amount of media from your phone. (CAUTION: You can inadvertently delete all you media with the wrong check box.)

#5 Lindblad Expeditions's Chief Mate at the helm with Johns Hopkins Glacier reflecting in the window in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

#5 Lindblad Expedition’s Chief Mate at the helm with Johns Hopkins Glacier reflecting in the window in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Other practical “Apps for That” I regularly use:

The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) is one of the most useful photography tools with a GPS locator and a moon/sun calculator. Great for scouting locations months in advance and hundreds of miles away.

Miniatures is a silly but simple tilt-shift time-lapse app that creates cartoonish miniature time-lapses.

Snapseed allows you to add filters, spot focus, crop and frame your images.

Squaready simplifies cropping your images square for Instagram.

#4 Galapagos Sea Lion sleeping on Gardner Beach on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

#4 Galapagos Sea Lion sleeping on Gardner Beach on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Enjoy my favorite ten iPhone photos from 2013 which were selects out of 5,000 still images that covered the gamut of subjects and locations. I am very thankful to National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions for assigning me to teach photography in wonderful worldwide destinations. The iPhone has been an integral part of sharing media during our Photo Expeditions and great entertainment for the guests.

#3 Fourth of July patriotic girl in the Push and Pull Parade in Ventura, California.

#3 Fourth of July patriotic girl in the Push and Pull Parade in Ventura, California.

Please join me on one of my future National Geographic Photos Expeditions.

#2 Galapagos hawk flying at Playa Espumilla on Santiago Island in the Galapagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve, Ecuador.

#2 Galapagos hawk flying at Playa Espumilla on Santiago Island in the Galapagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve, Ecuador.

Below is my favorite iPhone image of the year and was taken at sunrise on Easter Sunday on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. The perfect light was reflecting off of the building and water as a couple strolled down an empty palm-lined beach. Visually it all came together but what really made this special was I was on vacation with my two favorite ladies in paradise. Happy New Years and may 2014 be a wonderful year.

#1 Easter Sunday sunrise service on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

#1 Easter Sunday sunrise service on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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Top 10 iPhone Panoramas

Top 10 iPhone Panoramas of 2013

The following are my top ten iPhone panorama photos from this year and a few lessons learned after 6,000 plus attempts….

• A steady hand and smooth panning will achieve the best results.
Great light is everything when your dealing with a fixed 4mm f/2.4 lens.
Composition includes anchoring your sides and looking for symmetry.
Double Exposed works best when your subject is about 10 feet away.
• Set your focus and exposure on a neutral tone somewhere in the center.

Special thanks to National Geographic Expeditions for assigning me to these incredible locations. Image are from the Galapagos, Hawaii, Washington, California and Alaska. Enjoy. Rich Reid Photography

Panorama of the Santa Barbara from the Courthouse Observation Tower in Santa Barbara, California.

Panorama of Santa Barbara from the Courthouse Observation Tower in Santa Barbara, California.

Panorama of Rock Creek Lake in the Eastern Sierras, California.

Panorama of Rock Creek Lake in the Eastern Sierras, California.

Panorama of fishing pangas moored in Puerto Ayora harbor on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Panorama of fishing pangas moored in Puerto Ayora harbor on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Panorama of the Santa Barbara Harbor from a fishing boat in Santa Barbara, California.

Panorama of the Santa Barbara Harbor from a fishing boat in Santa Barbara, California.

Panorama of Punta Pitt on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve, Ecuador.

Panorama of Punta Pitt on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve, Ecuador.

Panorama of the palm-lined Kalapaki Beach in Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai, Hawaii.

Panorama of the palm-lined Kalapaki Beach in Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai, Hawaii.

Panorama of the 198-foot Palouse Falls and river in Palouse Falls State Park, Washington.

Panorama of the 198-foot Palouse Falls and river in Palouse Falls State Park, Washington.

Panorama of Gardner Bay beach on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Panorama of Gardner Bay beach on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Panorama from the National Geographic Sea Lion bow and the Fairweather Range in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Panorama of the National Geographic Sea Lion bow and Fairweather Range in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Panorama of sunset over the Asilomar Coastal Trail in Pacific Grove, California.

Panorama of sunset over the Asilomar Coastal Trail in Pacific Grove, California.

Categories: Adventure, Alaska, iPhone, National Geographic, Natural World, Panorama, Photography Techniques, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

COLUMBIA AND SNAKE RIVERS JOURNEY

COLUMBIA & SNAKE RIVERS: HARVESTS, HISTORY & LANDSCAPES

Palouse_River

The National Geographic Sea Bird anchored in the Palouse River, Washington.

The Columbia and Snake Rivers are seeped in Native American history, Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition over two centuries ago and exceptional landscapes from the stark Palouse Plains on the Snake River to the vibrant rainforest that embraces the Columbia River are pristine and worth the visit.

For two weeks on the National Geographic Sea Bird, I spent long days with our guests photographing extreme geology, quintessential Pacific Northwest landscapes and the gamut of seasonal colors and harvests. This trip provided something for everyone; educational geology by Stewart Aitchison, detailed and humorous history by Don Popejoy and great wildlife sightings by Lee Moll including dozens of birds and even a Mountain Goat.

542-foot Multnomah Falls near Troutdale, Oregon.

542-foot Multnomah Falls near Troutdale, Oregon.

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Some of the most memorable aspects of our journey were the extreme landscapes from the 198-foot Palouse Waterfall in a desert environment to Oregon’s tallest waterfall, the spectacular 542-foot Multnomah Falls in a rainforest. Experiencing the engineering marvels of the 8 lock and dam systems that we traveled through during  400 plus miles on these rivers is something not to be missed. Overall we climbed (or descended) over 700-feet from the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon to the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers in Clarkston, Washington.

The Lewis and Clark history is visible at every town along the river. The museums included a thorough Native American display at Maryhill Museum to the Coast Guard Museum in Astoria. The weather really cooperated during the harvest season which allowed us pleasant farm visits and wine tasting under clear skies. The spectacular backdrop of Mount Hood and Mount Adams in their glory covered in early snow and clear days at Cape Disappointment were enjoyed by all.

This is a highly recommended expedition during the fall season and a wonderful way to experience the Pacific Northwest in comfort and in great company of National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

Please join me for my next Photo Expeditions

Special thanks to National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

Columbia & Snake River Gallery

Palouse_Falls

The 198-foot Palouse Falls in Washington.

 

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Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness – September 2013

The Inside Passage of Alaska and British Columbia is life changing for anyone who dares to visit this exceptional area. John Muir summarizes it best from his 1915 Travels in Alaska, ” To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”

What an honor to work for National Geographic Expeditions in one of the most beautiful places on earth with some of the best naturalists in the world. One role as a Photographer on board Lindblad Expedition ships is “provide enriching and immersive experiences that inspire participants to care about the planet and solidify their support of the Geographic by enhancing our travelers’ appreciation of the destinations they visit and giving them an opportunity to get to know a representative of the Society.” What a dream occupation to be able to share exciting experiences with inspiring guests in unique places with the common language of photography.

Expedition craft dwarfed by South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm - Ford Terror Wilderness, Alaska.

Expedition craft dwarfed by South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm – Ford Terror Wilderness, Alaska.

This fall I spent three wonderful weeks aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion for two Inside Passage Photo Expeditions. The late season voyages provided abundant wildlife sightings and visits to glaciers that are usually inaccessible due to ice or wildlife protection. The highlight was a “colossal calving” of ice from the rapidly retreating South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm – Fords Terror Wilderness. A series of smaller calves from the face triggered an enormous “city block sized” blue iceberg to “shoot” several hundred feet above the face before imploding under the laws of gravity. The sound was indescribable as the ice crashed, growled and snapped around our small expedition craft.

Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae cooperatively bubble net feeding in Iyoukeen Inlet off of Chichagof Island, Alaska.

Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae cooperatively bubble net feeding in Iyoukeen Inlet off of Chichagof Island, Alaska.

Wildlife highlights were certainly the rarely seen Humpback Whales “bubble-net feeding” off of Chichagof Island. This behavior requires all the members of this cooperative feeding group to “fluke” in unison then blow a ring of bubbles around their small prey before the pod erupts out of the water with mouths agape. We watched this event for a few hours and sometimes as close as 50 feet from the ship. Throughout our adventure we also observed salmon-eating pods of “resident” Orcas playing with humpback whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins.

Time exposure the National Geographic Sea Lion ship's bow entering Candian waters in the Inside Passage, Alaska.

Time exposure the National Geographic Sea Lion ship’s bow entering Candian waters in the Inside Passage, Alaska.

While our ship was transferring south to warmer waters, this offered the guests a biannual exploration of coastal British Columbia. Visiting Alert Bay just off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island was the cultural apex of our trip that included the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation people invitation to their Gukwdzi or Big House for a presentation by the T’sasala Cultural Group. What an honor for our guests to experience a traditional dance in a real Big House around a cedar fire, concluding with smoked salmon and fry bread.

Namgis Burial totem poles in the fog at Alert Bay in British Columbia, Canada.

Namgis Burial totem poles in the fog at Alert Bay in British Columbia, Canada.

I would like to close with an appropriate Alaskan quote from Henry Gannet, National Geographic Society President and 1899 Alaska Harriman Expedition member; “There is one word of advice and caution to be given those intending to visit Alaska for pleasure. If you are old, go by all means. But if you are young, wait. The scenery of Alaska is much grander than anything else of the kind in the world and it is not well to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeing the finest first.” 

Please join me for my next Photo Expeditions

Special thanks to National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

Perfect light and male killer whale, Orcinus orca in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Perfect light and male killer whale, Orcinus orca in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Alaska Photo Portfolio

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Galapagos Photo Expedition – June 2013

Its been two months since my Galapagos adventure aboard the National Geographic Endeavour and tomorrow I am off to Alaska with National Geographic Expeditions experiencing a much different wildlife among its amazing islands with wonderful guests and crew.

The Galapagos Islands are a land like no other and my two weeks spent with an incredible photo team and knowledgeable guides were truly memorable.   On land the animals are all perfect specimens of evolution and in the water the wildlife approach humans with no fear. This place is magical.

Each week was a well planned itinerary maximizing out time visiting different islands and observing a gamut of wildlife. Some of the more remarkable underwater encounters included  swimming with the green sea turtle at Punta Vicente Roca on Fernandina Island and the playful Galapagos sea lions at most of our snorkeling destinations.

Galapagos land iguana, Conolophus subsristatus introduced on North Seymour Island in the Galapagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve, Ecuador. Reintroduced back to an extinct population on neighboring Baltra Island.

Galapagos land iguana, Conolophus subsristatus introduced on North Seymour Island in the Galapagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve, Ecuador. Reintroduced back to an extinct population on neighboring Baltra Island.

The iconic land animals include the large colorful Land Iguanas and the highlight of spending time with the Santa Cruz Galapagos tortoise in their natural setting in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.

Please join me for the next Galapagos Photo Expedition on October 25 and November 1, 2013.

Special thanks to National Geographic and Lindbland Expeditions.

Galapagos Photo Portfolio

iPhone Panorama Portfolio – Seeing Double

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How Fire Can Restore a Forest – TIME LAPSE VIDEO

Originally posted on The Nature ConservancyConservancy Talk on July 24, 2013.

Editor’s note: The following guest post is from Rich Reid, an outdoor photographer based in Ojai, California. Rich recently returned from an assignment for Nature Conservancy magazine documenting the regrowth of a forest after a controlled burn.

Ground View Time-lapse (8 weeks)

The Nature Conservancy’s Chuck Martin pulled up in his white truck and introduced himself in his friendly southern accent as I photographed a historic tobacco-drying log cabin on the 4,000-plus-acre Moody Forest Natural Area that he manages. The wealth of Chuck’s ecological and historical knowledge made this preserve in southern Georgia come to life. After decades of turpentine harvesting from the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), plus altered land use for over a century, the Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources partnered to create this woodland preserve in 2001 with the help from the Moody Family.

I found myself in this beautiful old-growth forest on a unique mission: document the changes of a controlled burn using time-lapse photography. The Conservancy has been using controlled burns as a method to restore native habitats and control invasive plants for over 50 years on their lands. My assignment sounded simple enough… what could go wrong?

Moody’s Diverse Natural Communities

Driving down the narrow sandy road through this longleaf pine and blackjack oak forest, Chuck points out the burrows of the threatened gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). As we past each “unit” I could see the obvious burn chronology on the fire-managed forest he was describing. We glided past the 32-acre scheduled burn site on our way to a beautiful cypress and tupelo slough that recently flooded from an overflowing Altamaha River. The large carnivorous yellow pitcherplant (Sarracenia lava) grew in patches of recently burned underbrush as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) leaped through the well-managed forest.

On our ride I reflected on the preparation that went into pulling off this long-term time-lapse video assignment. Not only did I have to build a fire-proof camera housing for my Nikon D7000, it had to survive two months out in the elements as it recorded the forest regrowth after the burn. Challenges were met each day; software limitations, hardware problems, battery issues and long days in the field.

Time-lapse camera casing

Burn a Forest to Save a Forest

Chuck handed out satellite maps and safety briefed his professional fire crew as they measured conditions. The small test fire passed inspection so the “back fire” was light with drip torches along the trail and burned predictable into the north breeze. Now for the impressive part: the fire crew scripted with precision the lighting of the “head fire” connecting the “back fire” precisely where my three cameras were filming, capturing every lick of flame.

Time-lapse camera

All three cameras were surrounded by fire at one point but remarkably, only a lens hood melted and the safety straps shrunk. Once it was safe to enter they burn zone, I swapped new cards and batteries to record a time-lapse of the full moon casting long shadows through the smoky forest. At sunrise, I returned for the final time to retrieve data and set up two of my cameras for two months recording the regrowth in the burn zone.

Two months and one week later, I was really excited to see a large box on my porch that Chuck shipped containing my two cameras. Not a day went by without thinking about my equipment 2,500 miles away strapped to a tree “supposedly” clicking away. Anxiously I opened the box that contained the answers and unbelievably they performed as planned; 1850 RAW files on one camera and 1,200 jpegs on the other.

After months of planning and executing this assignment, ecstatic is the only way to describe seeing a lush green forest on the last images on each card. This couldn’t be the same forest I left a few months ago? Not only was I amused with the prolific regrowth but also amazed my cameras survived this adventure. After hand selecting the forest images, I used a range of software to auto-align, color correct and assemble thousands of still images into these time-lapse videos. Enjoy.

Tree View Time-lapse (6 weeks)

Special thanks to Chuck Martin and Erick Brown from The Nature Conservancy and their fire crew for keeping me safe and providing this incredible opportunity to document fire in a positive way. Your work benefits the wildlife and people that depend on healthy forests.

[Video and images © Rich Reid for The Nature Conservancy]

Categories: Natural World, Photography Techniques, The Nature Conservancy, Time-lapse Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing DOUBLE – Galapagos

Photographer on Bartolome Island panorama in Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Photographer on Bartolome Island panorama in Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

This past two weeks I spent working for National Geographic and Lindblad onboard the Endeavour in the Galapagos Islands enhancing our guests photo expedition. The wildlife encounters were epic and our local Ecuadorean guides were fantastic. I was warned before the trip on the excessive amount of footage I would capture but had no idea of the volume.

Puerto Ayora panorama on Santa Cruz Island on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Puerto Ayora panorama on Santa Cruz Island on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Up at 5am most mornings and onshore by 6am due to darkness and National Park rules. On land, we stepped into a world like no other;  animals without fear that have evolved into endemic species, stark landscapes that were formed by lava eons ago and incredible guides that truly know and love this place.

Champagne toast on the bow of the National Geographic Endeavour panorama in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Champagne toast on the bow of the National Geographic Endeavour panorama in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Of course I brought my quiver of multimedia tools to capture this environment; two DSLRs for still images, video and time-lapse and a GoPro for underwater footage and quirky time-lapses. Even with the gamut of tools; I found it frustrating not being able to capture the true sense of this place due to the vast landscapes. The solution…… my iPhone.

Cerro Brujo panorama on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Cerro Brujo panorama on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

The panorama feature under Camera options was the best tool for the job and added a whole new level of creativity and FUN. The results were instantaneous and often hilarious.

A couple on Bartolome Island panorama in Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

A couple on Bartolome Island panorama in Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

It’s quite simple, you find a landscape that requires you to swivel your head 180˚ and then select the panorama feature under Camera Options on your iPhone (4s & 5). Find some willing guests to anchor the sides of your panorama while you slowly pan vertically left or right. About midway, you have the guests run to the other side and anchor that side of the photo for a “double exposures” panorama. Wa La…..it appears instantly as a jpg in your Photos and everyone gets a good laugh. Repeat again and again for continual laughter.

Photographer on Genovesa Island panorama in Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Photographer on Genovesa Island panorama in Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Five tips for shooting iPhone panoramas:

• Anchor the sides with a subject either people or an object.
• Portraits work best approximately fifteen feet away.
• Pan horizontally smooth and slow with the daylight at your back.
• You can stop the panorama at anytime by touching the camera button.
• Try shorter panoramas to change the height and width perspective.

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Tour of California – Bike Race Coverage

The Amgen Tour of California is one of America’s greatest bike races and has been hosted in the state’s most popular cities and over the most iconic places in the past 8 years. Each year, the course gets more challenging and summons the best riders in the world to compete in this 8 day, 750 mile brutal test of endurance.

Fans gather at the summit of at category 4, 12% climb up  Balcom Canyon during stage 6 of the 2007 Tour of California.

Fans gather at the summit of at category 4, 12% climb up Balcom Canyon during stage 6 of the 2007 Tour of California.

Since the tours inception, I have been covering the race from the inaugural prologue when Levi Leipheimer reached the top of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco in record time to yesterday’s sprint through downtown Ojai. The first few years, I covered the event for Getty Images and now I photograph the race simply for inspiration.

Five image composite of Levi Leipheimer riding to his victory during the prologue stage of the 2006 Tour of California in San Francisco, California.

Five image composite of Levi Leipheimer riding to his victory during the prologue of the 2006 Tour of California in San Francisco, California.

Covering a professional road race is not easy, in fact its down right difficult. My general approach is to scout my spots using Google Earth looking for topographical features and classic viewpoints on a hill climb and the finish. Half of the entertainment is the crowd, however they pose challenges like kicking your tripod or obstructing your view. I arrive a few hours before the forecast appearance and stake my claim on a high vantage point. Even then, you can never predict the kid that’s uses your tripod as a climbing handhold or a brawl in the crowd.

Levi Leipheimer cycling to his victory up Lombard Street during the prologue stage of the 2006 Tour of California in San Francisco, California.

Levi Leipheimer cycling to his victory up Lombard Street during the prologue of the 2006 Tour of California in San Francisco.

My objectives are always the same; get great still images and a dynamic time-lapse with only one chance in a “very” short time window. The still images are pretty straight forward but you need the subject with background and the right lens. Wide stitched panoramas incorporating the scenery to tight panning telephoto shot of a time trail are techniques I employed to add value to a static still image.

George Hincapie wins stage 5 of the 2006 Amgen Tour of California in Santa Barbara, California.

George Hincapie wins stage 5 of the 2006  Tour of California in Santa Barbara, California.

The time-lapses require a much more methodical approach and luck….yes luck. When you are trying to predict something in the future, it doesn’t always happen as planned. In most cases, I set my intervals to 3 seconds at least 15 to 20 minutes before the riders appear and then change to a 1 second interval while the peloton passes and then back to 3 seconds. Sometime, I will set my motor drive on multiple images and fire at least a dozen images while they are passing. The above technique will create a “ramped” time-lapse that starts fast, slows in the middle and finishes fast. This can also be done in post, however its much better to have the data (images) when the action happens. I refer to this technique as “stop-time-lapse” and the results can be pleasantly unpredictable.

To learn more about time-lapse photography, please visit my website for the next available workshop.

Here are a few favorite still images from the race…..

The peloton during stage 3 of the 2013 Tour of California bike race passing through Ojai, California.

The peloton during stage 3 of the 2013 Tour of California bike race passing through Ojai, California.

Ivan Basso riding the time trial during stage 5 of the 2007 Tour of California in Solvang, California.

Ivan Basso riding the time trial during stage 5 of the 2007 Tour of California in Solvang, California.

Thomas Danielson,  Levi Leipheimer,  Floyd Landis and George Hincapie during stage 6 of the Tour of California in Ojai, California.

Thomas Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis & George Hincapie during stage 6 of the Tour of California in Ojai, California.

Paolo Bettini, Gerald Ciolek and Juan Jose Haedo sprinting across the finish line of stage 5 of the 2007 Tour of California in San Luis Obispo, California.

Paolo Bettini, Gerald Ciolek and Juan Jose Haedo sprinting across the finish line of stage 5 of the 2007 Tour of California in San Luis Obispo, California.

Categories: Adventure, Photography Techniques, Time-lapse Techniques, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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