Posts Tagged With: Nikon

Best of Antarctica

A person enjoying the view and Luigi Peak from Booth Island at Port Charcot in Antarctica.

A person enjoying the view and Luigi Peak from Booth Island at Port Charcot in Antarctica.

Antarctica is the land of superlatives; the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth. Exceptional beauty and abundant wildlife are other ways to describe this amazing continent. Tourist go to Antarctica to experience the iconic penguins but return for the magnificent ice; gigantic glaciers, tabular icebergs and frozen sea ice.

Ushuaia, Capital de las Malvinas at the southern tip of Argentina.

Ushuaia, Capital de las Malvinas at the southern tip of Argentina.

This lifetime expedition usually begins with a cultural stopover in Buenos Aires, Argentina where one can sample outstanding Malbec wines and their famous “carne” cuisine. This is also the last stop to feel the warm southern hemisphere summer and to soak up the colorful Argentinean flora. After a three-hour flight south over the Southern Andes, you arrive in Ushuaia. Located on the southern tip of Terra del Fuego Island, this resort town is accessible by air and sea. The majority of tourist access Antarctica through this scenic community perched between the mountains and the sea.

 

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Chinstrap penguins, Pygoscellis antarcticus at Baily Head on Deception Island in Antarctica.

Now the real adventure begins once we embarked on the National Geographic Explorer and headed down the calm Beagle Channel entering the notorious Drakes Passage. Up to 40,000 tourists visit Antarctica each summer season and the majority departs from Ushuaia by ship for a two-day 700-mile journey crossing the Drakes Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Each passage is a different experience depending on the wind and swell however the one constant is the open ocean with birds, lots of them. Cape petrels flying in harmonious formation, Wilson Storm-petrels bouncing off the surface feeding and of course the magnificent albatrosses; Black-browed, Grey-headed and Wandering.

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Glacial and sea ice in on the Graham Coast from Grandidier Channel in Antarctica.

Outside the dead of winter when the sea ice embraces the continent for up to 9 months, I have been lucky enough to see Antarctica in three seasons and get a greater appreciation of how resilient the endemic wildlife is to survive in these insane conditions. The weather also confirms why there are no indigenous people or local government. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 is the legal framework signed by 43 countries that has uniquely spared much of the continent for any type of development, military activity or resource extraction. In addition, the voluntary organization IAATO(International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) sets rules limiting number of guests at landing sights and environmental procedures to further protect the wildlife and to avoid introducing any invasive species.

Sunset on the Graham Coast from the Grandidier Channel in Antarctica.

Sunset on the Graham Coast from the Grandidier Channel in Antarctica.

Sometime during the early morning of the second day crossing the Drakes Passage, one of our guests enthusiastically shouts “iceberg” in the normally quite bridge. The first sighting of anything gets lots of attention and ice is no exception. Huge tabular icebergs calve off of gigantic Antarctic ice shelves and migrate large distances at the mercy of the wind and currents. Beautiful, blue and timeless, this ice is like nowhere else on earth. We have now crossed the Antarctic Convergence, the invisible line in the ocean where the air and water temperature drops to freezing and waters merge to create a strong current that brings rich nutrients to the surface. “Whale” was shouted next on the list of many first sightings. Blue, Humpback and Minke whales feeding is this productive zone.

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Leopard Seal, Hydrurga leptonyx on sea ice in Cierva Cove on on the Antarctic Peninsula in Antarctica.

First impressions certainly last a lifetime and making our first landing at Baily Head on Deception Island was quite impressive. Mother Nature limits this landing sight with dangerous waves on a steep beach but conditions were perfect for us on this particular day. The main prize on this stark black and white landscape was the colony of chinstrap penguins that spanned as far as the eyes could see. The first of the three brush-tailed penguins, the chinstrap fly out of the surf in numbers landing on the pebbly beach and start their long march back to their hilltop nests. Bellies filled with krill, this amazing creature commutes long distances on three-inch legs to feed their two chicks and relieving their partner from nesting duties that include fending off the aggressive Brown Skua trying to snag a chick. The sight, smell and sound of 100,000 nesting pair of chinstrap penguins are forever ingrained in my memory.

 

Three species of brush-tailed penguins; Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adélie

The other two penguins in the brush-tailed family are the Adelie and Gentoo penguins. Both have their quirky antics waddling large flightless bodies on land and their extraordinary hydrodynamic agility porpoising in the water to feed on krill and avoid predators. Watching these remarkable birds gains your respect for their perpetual rock stealing from their neighbor’s nests and their resilience protecting their chicks from a constant barrage of aerial predators. One of my most amazing wildlife encounters to date was witnessing a pod of small type B Killer Whales hunting Gentoo penguins in Gerlache Strait. Under the ship’s bow, five Killer Whales pursued an agile penguin that could turn much quicker successively getting away this time, albeit exhausted.

 

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Gerlache Killer Whales small type B chasing a Gentoo penguin in Gerlache Strait in Antarctica.

Other Antarctic highlights including motoring through the towering icy walls of the scenic Lemaire Channel that narrows to less than a mile wide. Experiencing the sea in Crystal Sound and Grandidier Channel starting to freeze into “grease” ice during the glowing 11pm sunset as the full moon raised over water also tops the list. Antarctica never fails to deliver a lifetime experience every day. Standing in gale force freezing wind in blizzard conditions really puts life into the epic adventures that the early explorers felt like Sir Ernest Shackleton, Roland Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott. They made history and brought back real life stories from the place of superlatives; coldest, windiest and driest place on earth.

 

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National Geographic Explorer cruising through the Lemaire Channel in Antarctica.

My role on these expeditions as the National Geographic Expert is pretty straight forward; “to enhance the travelers’ appreciation and understanding of the destination.” I am honored to work with exceptional staff that I constantly learn valuable life lessons from shared experiences. Even though photography is an integral aspect of this “appreciation,” sometime silently observing wildlife with guests is just as rewarding. The National Geographic Global Guest Perspective Speaker also enhances everyone’s experience and are the most inspiring people I have ever met including Peter Hillary, Dr. Joe Macinnis, Eric Larsen, Wade Davis, Andrew Clarke and Eva Aariak. These exceptional people have added so much to the places we visit and to my life.

 

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Zodiac with tourists enjoying the icebergs near Booth Island at Port Charcot in Antarctica.

I want to thank all of the Lindblad Staff that I have been so fortunate to work with in some of the finest destination on earth. Your knowledge and patience are unsurpassed. A special thank you to National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions for providing me with such an incredible lifetime opportunity.

 

Sunset on the Graham Coast from the Grandidier Channel in Antarctica.

Sunset on the Graham Coast from the Grandidier Channel in Antarctica.

Safe travels. Rich Reid.

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Gentoo penguin on Booth Island off the northwest coast of Kiev Peninsula in Graham Land, Antarctica

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Antarctica, iPhone, Lindblad Expeditions, National Geographic, Natural World, Photography Techniques, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands

Remnant ice split from the massive b-17b tabular iceberg grounded off South Georgia in "Iceberg Alley."

Remnant ice split from the massive b-17b tabular iceberg grounded off South Georgia in “Iceberg Alley.”

On Assignment with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions with Rich Reid.

Black-browed albatross taking off from the Beagle Channel between Chile and Argentina.

Black-browed albatross, Thalassarche Melanophris taking off from the Beagle Channel between Chile and Argentina.

Like the albatross, our ship plied through the Southern Ocean guided by wind and currents. Certainly not as graceful as these magnificent birds but making forward progress through the icy waters. Everyday something exceptional happened whether we were surrounded by endless views of king penguins or whale watching crossing the Drakes Passage.

Big waves and high winds in the Scotia Sea offshore from South Georgia.

Big waves and high winds in the Scotia Sea offshore from South Georgia.

What really made my endless summer so special was experiencing the contrast of Antarctica, South Georgia and Falkland Islands twice this past winter in two seasons in opposite directions on two different ships. The weather extremes were noteworthy with a cold southern spring and a stormy autumn plus the record heat and drought that I experienced this winter in California. A fascinating history tidbit was retracing Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic open-boat journey on the centennial and gaining a whole new respect for his courage and tenacity.

Gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua at Neko Harbor on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua at Neko Harbor on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctica is the definition of remote and quintessentially beautiful. Every shade of blue and white filled the landscape that’s palette and silence is broken by colonies of Gentoo penguins and calving ice. The ancient tabular icebergs are the most spectacular designs found in nature forming gravity-defying arches and translucent blue faces. An abundance of micro marinelife in these frigid waters support an entire ecosystem from whales to penguins that gather in large numbers in the Southern Ocean.

Antarctic fur seals and the National Geographic Orion at Godthul Bay on South Georgia.

Antarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus gazella and the National Geographic Orion at Godthul Bay on South Georgia.

Both the National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion are excellent ships and perfect platforms for exploring such remote locations. Both ships handled the two-day ocean crossings well and we accessed land in our Zodiacs for daily adventures of hiking and wildlife viewing. Perfect home away from homes with so many new friendships developed on these expeditions.

Bull southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina at Saint Andrews Bay on South Georgia.

Bull southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina at Saint Andrews Bay on South Georgia.

Antarctica provided the ice-extravaganza while South Georgia just plain overwhelms you with wildlife. Spring offered the thrill of aggressive male Antarctica sea lions and enormous southern elephant seals battling for beach master ranking while the king penguins gathered in unimaginable numbers performing comical acts like court jesters. The fall wildlife consisted of tens to hundreds of thousands of rambunctious penguin chicks getting ready to fledge and the feisty sea lion pups snarl while practicing their jousting. Adding to the allure of this magical island are the backdrops behind these expansive beaches of towering peaks and active glaciers that Sir Shackleton and two of his men heroically crossed in 1916 to save his stranded crew back in Antarctica.

King penguin colony at Gold Harbor on South Georgia.

King penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus colony at Gold Harbor on South Georgia.

The Falkland Islands are conveniently located about halfway between South Georgia and Ushuaia, Argentina. This group of islands has an interesting modern history of conflict with its nearest neighbor and the recent exploration for resources. Nevertheless, the islands are beautiful and the critical breeding grounds for so many sea birds including the rockhopper and Magellanic penguins plus several species of albatross.

Pair of Black-browed albatross preening on New Island in the Falkland Islands.

Pair of Black-browed albatross, Thalassarche melanophris preening on New Island in the Falkland Islands.

As we entered into the shallower waters near South America on our return trip to Ushuaia, the ocean teemed with wildlife as large flocks of birds fed on bait fish and the Peale’s dolphins played in our ship’s bow wake. Having seen the southern ocean twice this past “summer” has been an absolute privilege and looking forward to my return to Antarctica for two trips with National Geographic Expeditions in January 2016. Please consider joining me on one of these incredible Photo Expeditions to my favorite place on earth.

The Adventure Continues…

Pair of humpback whale flukes in Gerlache Strait, Antarctica.

Pair of humpback whales,  Megaptera novaeangliae fluking in Gerlache Strait, Antarctica.

Southern giant petrel eying gentoo penguin chicks at Gold Harbor on South Georgia.

Southern giant petrel, Macronectes giganteus eying gentoo penguin chicks, Pygoscelis papua at Gold Harbor on South Georgia.

Antarctic fur seal pups at Stromness Whaling Station on South Georgia.

Antarctic fur seal pups, Arctocephalus gazella at Stromness Whaling Station on South Georgia.

Giant Leopard Seal in the waters around Prion Island in South Georgia.

Giant leopard seal, Hydrurga leptonyx  in the waters around Prion Island in South Georgia.

King penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus portrait at Saint Andrews Bay on South Georgia.

King penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus portrait at Saint Andrews Bay on South Georgia.

Categories: Adventure, Antarctica, Lindblad Expeditions, National Geographic, Natural World, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surf Art Photos

Grandstand and crowd at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

Grandstand and crowd at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

The final day of the Rincon Classic surf competition was greeted with perfect waves on a balmy January day with plenty of tanned skin exposed to the Southern California sun. It was a hot afternoon while talented surfers worked their magic on clear blue waves.

 

Pro Semi Final at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

Pro Semi Final at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

Bright backlit mid day sun reflecting off the ocean is one of the more challenging lighting for photography. One solution is turning your “classic” stop action scene into a “Surf Art Photo.” Using a combination of filters and a tripod can create magic time exposure images with the right equipment.

King of the Queen Final at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

King of the Queen Final at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

First is a sturdy tripod placed on a rock well about high tide and the steady stream of spectators. Next are two stacked filters; 4 stop neutral density and a circular polarizer mounted on my 80-400mm Nikon lens. I set my ISO to 100 and varied my shutter speed from between 1/160 second to .6 (or 3/5) second. The best exposure mode was aperture priority which I varied from f/5.6 to f/40 and relied on continuous auto focus for sharpness. Most of the 900 images where shot at 400mm.

Gremlin Finals at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

Gremlin Finals at the Rincon Classic surf competition in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

Panning the camera to follow the surfer at slow shutter speed requires lots of luck blended with a tai chi motion. About a dozen serendipitous moments happened on Sunday when everything came together to create that magical image. The selected aperture creates the correct exposure while panning the camera on a talented surfer on a uncrowded perfect wave. The bright sun created the specular highlights on the backlit water and made the waves a transparent blue.

Longboard Final at the Rincon Classic in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

Longboard Final at the Rincon Classic in Carpinteria, California on January 25, 2015.

What a magical day in Southern California at the Rincon Classic.

January 25, 2015

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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, Videos, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

COLUMBIA AND SNAKE RIVERS JOURNEY

COLUMBIA & SNAKE RIVERS: HARVESTS, HISTORY & LANDSCAPES

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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

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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

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

Time-lapse Collection 2012 Showreel

My time-lapse showreel arrived a bit late this year but here it is…

2012 was an exciting travel year from Svalbard, Norway to Northern Arizona photographing polar bears to ancient Sinaguan monuments. Time-lapse challenges with equipment and software were numerous and new workflows and techniques were forged by inevitable progress.

The monarch butterfly metamorphosis was the most challenging and educational. See my post on the process of capturing this impressive macro event in my studio.

The day-to-night time-lapses are the most difficult to capture smoothly and I tried several new dissolve techniques with varying degrees of success. The big tip is to know the moon phase and other celestial events that will influence your lighting. Shooting in RAW is critical.

Traffic was a new subject tested last year and I discovered the twilight hours produced the best results with a setting of a 1:2 ratio of exposure to interval. A stable platform is a must.

Astrophotography is one of my favorite time-lapse subjects and 2012 offered us a rare chance to witness a full solar eclipse which I botched due to my tripod. Lesson learned long ago was to use a two tripod or mono- tripod combo to stabilize long lenses. And good luck focusing.

My equipment performed flawless this year accept for crossing the leads on a 12v battery which melted. Always cover open battery leads! My Nikon D7000 dealt with extended freezing and hot conditions without any problems. Really hope to use the Dynamic Perceptions MX Dolly more in 2013 with planned car travel.

Some of the software used to create this showreel includes; Photoshop, Bridge, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion, LRTimelapse and Starstax.

My new favorite app is The Photographers Ephemeris  (TPE). It saved me hours of scouting for my time-lapse workshop and worked flawless when we scuttled to Plan B because of fog.

Please join me at one of my time-lapse workshops over the next few months:

ASMP San Diego Time-lapse Photography Lecture & Workshop: May 9 & 11, 2013 in San Diego, California.
Brooks Institute Time-lapse Photography Workshop: July 12-14, 2013 in Ventura, California.

Thanks, Rich.

richreidphotography.com
timelapsecollection.com
richreidphoto.wordpress.com/

Music by Alexander Maas, MUX, iStockphoto

Categories: Natural World, Photography Techniques, Time-lapse Techniques, Travel, Workshop | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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