Adventure

Sharing one of my adventures with you.

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.

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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Categories: Adventure, iPhone, National Geographic, Natural World, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Categories: Adventure, Alaska, National Geographic, Natural World, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Categories: Adventure, iPhone, National Geographic, Natural World, Time-lapse Techniques, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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.

Categories: Adventure, iPhone, National Geographic, Natural World, Photography Techniques, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Prescribed Fire Time-lapse Assignment

Time-lapse camera in Moody Forest.

Time-lapse camera in Moody Forest.

Time-lapse camera in Moody Forest.

Time-lapse camera in Moody Forest.

What a crazy assignment covering a prescribed fire for The Nature Conservancy.  Moody Forest Natural Area is managed by TNC and Georgia DNR and covers over 4,000 acres of mixed hardwood, Longleaf pine forest and tupelo swamps along the Altamaha River near Baxley, Georgia.

Annual prescribed fire is one management technique that The Nature Conservancy uses to protect endangered wildlife and a rare old growth forest. Spring is the opportune time to burn much of the non-native undergrowth in the Longleaf Pine forest.

Much preparation went into pulling off a long term time-lapse video assignment of forest regrowth after a prescribed burn. To achieve my three month objective, I had to build a camera housing and create a visual script of before, during and after the fire. Challenges were met each day; software limitations, hardware problems, battery issues all while working long days in the field.

Equipment used were 3 Nikon D7000 DSLR cameras, a Wingscape 8mp camera, several Nikkor lenses, two tripods and a custom pelican case housing. All the equipment survived direct fire and only the custom hood melted. The design and construction phases of the housing were entertaining however the transportation and installation not as fun.

A total of 275 GB of media was captured including RAW time-lapse and still images plus HD video for the project. The editor and I are pleased with the initial results of 40 images, 2-minutes of HD time-lapse and RAW video footage documenting the burn. Many thanks go out to Chuck Martin, Erick Brown and their fire crew for keeping me safe and providing an incredible opportunity to document fire in a positive form. Stay tuned for the final video!

Time-lapse camera during a prescribed fire in Moody Forest.

Time-lapse camera during a prescribed fire in Moody Forest.

Chuck Martin of The Nature Conservancy, Georgia.

Chuck Martin of The Nature Conservancy, Georgia.

Time-lapse camera during a prescribed fire in Moody Forest.

Time-lapse camera during a prescribed fire in Moody Forest.

Melted time-lapse camera after a prescribed burn.

Melted time-lapse camera after a prescribed fire.

Full moon frame grab from the time-lapse tree camera.

Full moon frame grab from the time-lapse tree camera after the prescribed fire.

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

12 Suggestions to Become a National Geographic Photographer

Each week, I receive emails from high school students researching career week to professional photographers requesting suggestions on how I got involved as a National Geographic photographer. The two simple answers are with dedicated persistence to the art and lots of honest hard work.

Looking back at my 25 years as a freelance photographer in the adventure travel industry and producing several assignments for National Geographic, here are 12 valuable lessons I would like to share:

Photography should be your obsession and not a hobby. Perhaps my best visual training was printing millions of marginal photos while managing a 1-hour lab. Develop your own unique style through visual immersion.

Working as a college newspaper and yearbook photo editor introduced me to the business end of the industry managing budgets and assigning projects. You will need business sense to survive as a professional photographer. The reality is 80% of my time is dedicated to business and the other 20% is travel and producing work.

• Communication is key! Always follow up with clients and keep your promises. Your word is the most powerful tool in this industry so keep a viable database and contact your clients regularly. Formal emails and phone calls are still the preferred communication even in this crazy “mobile” world.

As cliché as it sounds; pursue your passion and the money will follow. Success rates will rely on two variables; time and money. My two passions that I have consistently pursued have been wildlife conservation and adventure travel. Early in my career, I partnered with non-profits and travel companies that shared my passions then and now.

• Knowledge is power and ignorance is not an option. Becoming passionate about your subjects and your research will show in your production. Being open-minded and conscious about sensitive subjects and peoples’ values while filming is mandatory as a journalist.

• Value your work. If you don’t, then nobody will. One of the biggest mistakes starting out is selling yourself short in this industry of rejections. Free is not an option, even “for credit and exposure” as been repeatedly quoted over the years. Remind the editor that “Income minus Expenses equal Profit.”

Respect is everything.  The environment and wildlife do not have voices so you need to stick to your ethics and behave like a photographer. Respect other “artists” intellectual property because we are a small group of professionals working together in a volatile industry.

• Honesty is the best policy. Its a small world out there so emit positive vibes and never deceive. Truthful captioning in this digital world is more important than ever.

Joining a professional organization will help you share ideas with like minded people, network with potential clients and give you power in number to create positive legislation for our industry. Personally, I joined NANPA from the very beginning because they share my visions and ethics as a “nature photographer.” Another bonus is affordable business insurance.

• Being both mentally and physically flexible are important. Physically stay fit since camera equipment does not get any lighter and assignments seem to get more demanding. Mentally you need to be competent to constantly alter your workflow due to industry change in software technology and client requests. Examples would be the paramount change from film to digital and more recently the increase demand for assignment video.

Buy the equipment you need not want. This is a tough one with so many options and great incentives with new cameras. As a professional, I always buy two of the same camera bodies and usually the best lenses I can afford. Last year’s DSLR models are more reasonably priced and the hardware more stable. If you wait for a least one firmware update before purchasing a camera, you’ll avoid being a beta tester. About every two years, I upgrade to newer camera models.

Give back more than you receive. This is perhaps the most ethereal but also the most important topic mentioned. Whether its mentoring a photography student or donating your time to a non-profit, giving back to the industry will ensure its future and viability for many generations.

So the reality of being a freelance photographer are days of monotonous office time, hours of software troubleshooting, fixing broken equipment, constant self-promotion and an unpredictable P&L. There are also no vacation pay, sick days, medical plans and matching contributions. Days often begins at 5am and end around 9pm.

So why do I do this? Its the best job ever!

If your passion is to work with all types of people from all walks of life in all corners of the globe under unpredictable conditions with a scant reality of the outcome….then this is a job for you.

Now that we got the basics covered; be the most honest creative photographer you can and be sure to share your experiences with someone who will appreciate your work. Go Create!

Rich Reid on assignment for The Nature Conservancy in Moody Forest near Baxley, Georgia.

Rich Reid on assignment for The Nature Conservancy in Moody Forest near Baxley, Georgia.

Categories: Adventure, Photography Techniques, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Southern Chile 2013

Southern Chile – Patagonia Experience 2013

Bahia Tictoc pano

Enjoy my new gallery.

Chile is an incredible country with extreme habitats. In February 2013, I joined an adventurous group in the Northern Patagonia region for a week of hiking the tundra, kayaking to hot springs and extreme fly-fishing. By no means roughing it; a comfortable ship, impeccable crew and helicopter support created pure luxury. The weather bide us well and spirits remained high for an entire week of adventure.

Thank you Young Travel , Nomads of the Seas and our Expedition Leader, Lewis Smoak.

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Categories: Adventure, Natural World, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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