127 Photos - Jul 12, 2011
Photo: The point by moonlight
To HDR or not to HDR
Kananaskis, Canadian Rockies.

It was a fantastically bright full moon last weekend and I was camping with my friends. Of course I'm the guy with the extremely heavy pack because I had to bring all my photo equipment, this makes the whole trip even more worthwhile.

The strange thing with the moonlight is that if I get a bright enough exposure, the whole landscape will look like day. That's interesting, but I want the photo to look the way it felt with those dark eerie clouds, the deep navy skies and cool dark tones illuminating the ghostly landscape.

Technical details: My first thought was to compose an HDR photograph. But typical with HDR it just came out looking too fake, with bright colours, soft and fluffy contrast and too much like daylight in photomatix, this works for other photos but it wasn’t creating the drama and realism I was looking for.
So I went back and manually layered each exposure on top of each other in photoshop, then selectively kept portions of each exposure. The result was much more realistic and akin to what human night vision sees. Less saturated colours, more moody tones and subtle highlights in the clouds. Sometimes the best HDR tools is manual adjustment in photoshop!

Share! if you like!Photo: The Skua
An inquisitive animal is an intelligent one
Gold harbour, South Georgia, Antarctic island.

The Skua is one of the most visible predators of penguins in the Antarctic, but also the most intelligent.
I parent penguin will often chase after a skua to defend it's egg or chick, but unfortunately for the penguin, the Skua will work in teams. While the parent is distracted the other bird will come in, and they will get to feed.
A penguin egg or a baby chick is a high reward for a Skua, I know it might be terrible to watch, but the skuas need to eat too (and their chicks are cute!).

Photographic details It was a joy to get a shot like this, it's times like these that carrying two cameras really comes in handy. I was watching the King Penguin colony, ready to shoot close up shots of penguin behaviour with my telephoto when the skua flies in right in front of me. I pulled out my other camera with my wide angle lens (16-35mm f2.8) and managed to get a few of these shots while the Skua pecked at my polariser.
While this happened by accident, I maximised my chances of interacting with wildlife by laying down flat on the ground. In this position not only do I have the best viewpoint, I'm also not considered a threat and more of a curiosity to wildlife. Laying down I have had elephant seals snuggle me, penguins walk on me and of course, skuas investigating my lens.

I also chose to keep a lot of the background and penguin colony in this shot, keeping this bird in full context of it's environment.Photo: Fur Seal Fractal
South Georgia, Antarctica

Not only was a so blessed to be able to see a rare leucistic fur seal, (these seals normally being dark brown in pelage), but it was a pup willing to pose for me! Guarding his own mound of tusset grass I was on my way to find some Macaroni penguins and of course got ambushed by these little guys. Tiny little barks and growls as they flopped at me until they scared themselves by getting too close, then they would flop away in retreat.
This guy was a little more calm, and mostly rested in these odd curly positions. And instead of zooming out I got close in and focused more on the shape this guy was creating.Photo: Zebras in the dust
On Safari in Tanzania, Serengeti, for wildlife wednesday
#wildlifewednesday

During the great migration countless zebra and wildebeest move through the Serengeti, following the rains that move cyclicly through Kenya and Tanzania. The amazing thing about this is moments before these zebra were nowhere to be seen, and upon arriving back to the river side we were inundated with this herd that went on as far as the dust allowed us to see.

These zebra were frantically running to the river to quench their thirst, always aware of the Crocodiles lurking, there was one in the river, but it was full. Nevertheless a zebra would get spooked and the entire group would abandon the river at once, kicking up dust and lining themselves up like this. It's something we spent the whole day doing, it was fantastic.

This was taken on my Kenya & Tanzania Photographic Safari last February, if you or anyone you know likes to travel and take photos this is the best way to see the wonder that Africa has to offer while getting the greatest photos possible. I love sharing my techniques, and it was a pleasure travelling with such talented photographers. I have two more trips in February and September 2012, to find out more check out my workshops here: http://www.kylefoto.com/category/workshops/Photo: Glacier in the sun
Antarctica

It was an ultra windy day, too windy to do any landings to explore other areas. Luckily in the shelter of this ice shelf we were able to get our zodiacs out to explore this bit of area amidst the whipped up ocean. We still had to get out into the weather to get here, after being soaked from the surface of the water being carried by the gale, this little part of the ice shelf felt like a calm piece of heaven. Fine snow was being blasted off the glacier by the katabatic winds, giving the edges an etherial feel. You can see this fine dusting in the sun star, it was like a frozen mist.

Photographic Details: Those who have been following my photography know that I’m not afraid to shoot into the sun, something a lot of people have been taught not to do. And like my other sun shots I used an aperture of f16. This employs more aperture blades, and the more blades used, the more points you see in the sun star. The high image quality of proper RAW exposure and processing ensures that even the shadows have details, all with taking only a single exposure, an important skill to learn while in a moving boat.

For more antarctic photos check out my antarctic worlds gallery: http://www.kylefoto.com/galleries/antarctic-worlds/

#thirstythursdayPhoto: #mountainmonday
Peyto Glacier, Banff National Park, Alberta

Snowshoeing up Peyto Glacier, our group is wearing harnesses, the rope you see is connected to myself and the next person behind me and so on, trekking up in single file in order to stay on a path that has been tested as safe by the leader.
As the glacier flows down the mountain, it bends and cracks, as a result crevasses large enough to swallow a human can form in the ice, but not before a thin layer of snow can cover the tops, creating the illusion that there is solid ice all the way up. The leading man pokes the trail ahead and walks with care, should the surface break away, the rest of the group can put on the breaks and haul him out on the rope.

It took quite a few hours, and due to a few obstacles like the bridge being washed out we almost had to abort our trip, as climbing the glacier would be too hazardous without being able to see where we were.

Photographic Details: I don’t think a plain scenery shot would have been interesting here, I wanted a photo that would tell a story of adventure and place their viewer in the photographers (snow)shoes. Taken with a wide angle lens I get the scenic view and the dramatic perspective of the rope attached at my hip. Also take note of the slight rainbow effect of the ice crystals in the sky, and clouds.Photo: Sun Tree
Ndutu Area, Tanzania, Africa
See what the shot looked like before RAW processing at www.kylefoto.com

Driving through the sparingly forested area, the sun was setting in the trees, the arid soil kicking up dust with the every movement, footstep, and breath of wind. As annoying as dust is, it lights up beautifully as the last rays of sunlight caress the branches of the trees.

Photographic Details: As each of these trees drifted by in the view of our safari vehicle I was ever hoping I’d find a giraffe at sunset so I could get a silhouette of both the magnificent animal and the iconic shape of the acacia tree. Alas there was no giraffe, although the other safari vehicle in our group managed that exact shot, needless to say I was extremely jealous when we recounted our experiences that night at dinner.
My best option was to find a particularly nice tree and position ourselves so the sun was where we wanted nestled in the tree like a godlen egg in a nest, this was the final shot out of that little tree sunset exploration moment.

I took the photo and looked at the scene again and noticed how dull it looked in camera. The colours were nothing the way I saw them, we had a deep blue sky and beautiful orange light pouring out of a hole in the clouds, but when I looked at the back of the camera the colours were not as bright. Thank goodness I shot in RAW. I was able to shift my colours back to what they needed to be in lightroom, increasing the contrast so I have more dramatic blacks in the tree and more texture in the background.

Compare the original untouched photo at www.kylefoto.com

For #treetuesday curated by +Christina Lawrie and +Shannon S. Myers #safari #tanzania #africaPhoto: The Perfect Exposure, Lyubov Orlova
Antarctica
See the dramatic before/after shot at www.kylefoto.com

The Lyubov Orlova, this ship named after a famous russian star had it’s hey day, but it certainly isn’t now. I had taken many voyages on this bucket of rust and I’ve decided to post about it given it’s intimate history with the Antarctic. It has recently been bought for $275,000 in the hopes that it’s worth more than that in scrap metal.

My first impression venturing on board was doing life boat drills noticing to my horror that the life boats were not covered. Knowing if this ship ever sunk in Antarctic waters during a strong storm I would be floating but I would still be exposed. I remember formulating a plan to jump inside the much more appropriate inflatable covered life rafts with the russian crew where I would certainly be warmer.

Running my hands along the outside of the of the ship was a very textural affair, 30 years of paint caked on the hull seemed to weigh the ship down and crust off with a slight touch. The skin of the hull was sunken in except for where there were reenforcing bulk heads, sticking out like the exposed ribs of a starving horse. I imagined how many bumps and scrapes this ship had to experience to have so many panels dented and bent inwards and had to stop thinking of such things as I listened to the creaks and groans echoing through the ship at night if I wanted any sleep.

Despite her crotchety demeanour, the Lyubov Orlova’s hallways echoed with the sound of joy and laughter. Filled with the gleeful faces of passengers who just saw their first humpback whale surfacing beside an iceberg, giggles of the people in the bar reminiscing over the farts and sneezes of the elephant seals. If the outer decks could speak they would talk of the feeling of awe so many thousands of people felt as they saw their first iceberg and the grand view of antarctica opened up before them. Who knows what this ship has seen, I’m sure if the cabins could speak they might talk of many nights of love an passion.

Photographic Details:
With this shot I got “the perfect exposure” not so bright that the highlights are overexposed, not too dark that there are no details in the shadows, this is what one would consider a perfect exposure and all without HDR. Yet the original image looks like garbage, it’s flat, has no contrast and the sky looks grey. I was there, and that sky was not grey! That old ship wasn’t bland dark blue it was royal blue and bright orange, and despite it’s age the fresh coat of white paint was stark white.

Thank goodness I shot this one in RAW.

Of course in lightroom I increased the contrast and selectively brightened the ship with the brush tool set to exposure. With about 4 adjustments I’ve gotten a wildly superior image that is far more like being there than the original image expresses.

I was also experimenting with a wide angle fisheye lens, I really loved the extreme distortion but quite frankly it’s a little too much and quite gimmicky. I do like how the distortion leads your eye to the centre of the image, and how it adds a sense of drama, but use this lens too much and you might bore your audience, use sparingly.

See the original shot before processing at www.kylefoto.com to compare!

For #wideanglewednesday curated by +Asif PatelPhoto: Photo: Photo: Photo: Secretary BirdPhoto: Photo: Photo: Photo: This guy was standing under the shade of the only tree we could see nearby, he ended up getting spooked and we usurped his spot for lunch. He then stood there looking at us under only tree he knew, I was able to lay flat on the ground and photograph him from this wonderful vantage pointPhoto: Photo: Photo: Superb StarlingPhoto: Photo: Mother cheetah speeding as fast as she could towards a gazelle, kept the shutterspeed slow intentinally and panned for a sense of motion. The gazelle got away... this time.Photo: Photo: One of the most ridiculous things about this photo is that I shot it hand held at 1/40th of a second at 400mm, photo nerdgasm!Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: This horse named Fargo loved this "game" when he figured out he had to gallop between the lightingPhoto: Photo: Photo: This horse "Ollie" would gallop into the sunset if someone wasn't holding him, I took a second photo of the scene after the horse and the person holding him walked out of the scene and photoshopped him out, I left his pulled halter on as evidence of this for the keen eyed ;)Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Penguins can fly:  Now familiar with hanging over the side of a boat, dipping my housed camera into the water has become second nature. Rarely I get the opportunity to photograph penguins under the water, as they tend to keep their distant from the unusual object that is my zodiac.  My first inspiration of getting this shot was looking at other peoples photographs from the Antarctic. One passenger in particular brought along one of those disposable underwater film cameras. She dipped it in the water in the antarctic and got some stunning shots of these birds flying through the water. It turned out fantastically and ever since then I haven’t judged a single person for using the simplest or cheapest equipment; like many people say “The best camera is the one you’ve got with you”.  I was particularly delighted to get the penguin on the left diving into the water creating a stream of bubbles. Most penguins tend to leave a stream of bubbles, both from air exhaled out of their lungs and air bubbles escaping from in-between their feathers. Seen from above you can see “penguin trails” surfacing and crisscrossing in the water.  I’d like to do this again, hopefully some day I can catch these guys in a closer proximity to the camera.  Related post: Antarctic Underwater Iceberg:  Share if you like!Photo: *Put people in your landscapes*
I was trudging along the shoreline in Antarctica, scattered with beached pieces of ice berg left by the waves and tides when I came upon this lovely scene. It was missing something, and I was alone, so I decided this was a good job for the 10 second timer on my camera. I stuffed my tripod into the snow, ran into the landscape as far as I could, and did my best to “look into the scene” in time for the shutter to release. Running back and forth was actually pretty good exercise, and pretty fun! I encourage you to try this environmental self portrait in your next sunset or interesting landscape shot, I’d love to see them if you do!

*Technical facts:* It’s important to note, on my particular lens (Canon 16-35 f2.8 L) and many other lenses, that when I stop down to f/16 I get a beautiful star shape out of bright objects like the sun. The number of aperture blades employed in the lens determines how many points you see in the star, even more reason to go with the “sunny f/16 “ rule!Photo: I was exploring outside of Monumental island just south of Baffin Island in the Arctic in hopes of catching a glimpse of polar bears. Keen eyes were searching everywhere as we drifted past the rocky shores when a powerful smell offended my olfactory senses. To my surprise one of the rocks we had previously searched began to move, turned it's head to reveal bright white tusks! We were amongst the walrus this whole time.  It just happened to be they were perfectly matched to disappear into these rocks. these pinnipeds seemed quite relaxed, which is unusual for an animal that is still hunted in the Canadian arctic. I have had many other opportunities to get some close up shots of these guys, but what I really wanted to do was to express how well these guys disappear into the rock.  When I do this usually I don't want to centre my subject, instead I want the animals to be a third of the way across the image, this is all according to the rule of thirds. This way I can include more background to create more of an environmental portrait.Photo: Photo: King penguin in Salisbury plain, South Georgia; one of my most favourite places in the world.   When some of the first explorers laid their eyes on king penguins, they thought their colonies were made up of two species, funny looking brown fluffballs, and sleek clean King penguins, however it turns out the fluffballs are merely king penguin chicks.  This shows a juvenile in transition, shedding his chick pelage, soon to be a waterprof adult, free to roam the great ice-capped playground that is South Georgia.  These penguin colonies are massive and can be quite pungent, but that's no reason not to get down in the penguin guano, lie down flat on your belly and shoot across at your subject. That way you can include the background to get more of an environmental portrait. Lying down also makes you more interesting and less threatening to the penguins, and since it is not permitted to approach closer than a few meters, this makes it more likely they will approach you.  I also don't hide the fact that I do these expeditions with other people, keeping people in the background reveals that this is a real place that's accessible to someone like you or I, travelling workshops are such a thrill!Photo: You see penguins like to walk in single file along a single path. There was a whole train of penguins dropping 1 by 1 off this ledge in order to get to the water to wash their dirty selves off and hunt for krill. The funny thing is every penguin in this train was filthy, having spent a shift incubating an egg or watching over their young in the nest while their significant other is out fishing. If I was to zoom out you would see a second stream of clean fat penguins toddling their way back up to the colony to feed their chicks and switch off with their partner. This is their life, they are living breathing animals and just like us they have relationships and work for a living, it's just that they get paid in krill.Photo: These Adélies were hilarious to watch. Penguins always enter the water with great trepidation, and for a good reason too, predators like the leopard seal could be lurking nearby for a meal.   With this in mind no penguin wants to be the first in the water, they bunch up towards the shore until finally one gives into the pressure and they all dive in at once in a complete panic. Shot in portrait to include the beautiful Antarctic scenery.Photo: I was standing on a ock at the entrance to a penguin colony in Antarctica, watching them zip around underwater with joy. One of the coolest things is that they tend to jet out of the water onto land, but I don't think they look before they leap. Every so often one would fly out onto my rock only to be extremely surprised to see me standing there, immediately and frantically trying to back-flap their way into the water. This Adélie was particularly entertaining!Photo: Photo: Photo: Juvenile Polar bear   Beechey Island, Canadian Arctic. I was exploring one of the most famous places in the Canadian Arctic, home of the graves of some of the long lost explorers on the Franklin expedition. I came across the corpse of this polar bear.   Likely dead for a few months, this guy was well preserved by the cool and dry arctic environment. Judging by his size, teeth and head shape he was definitely a male juvenile. At this time of their life one of their greatest threats is actually competition from fully grown male polar bears. The large males see them as a threat in regards to mating, and usually end the life of younger bears to ensure dominance.  In a world with a shrinking habitat due to the melting of sea ice, this kind of thing is going to increase juvenile polar bear mortality rates, and ultimately polar bear mortality.  Photographic details: Shot with a wide angle lens to show the sheer size of these paws (like natural snow shoes). This is the only occasion I'd like to see polar bears up close, given this massive teeth and the incredible power this animal possesses.Photo: Lone Polar bear  Croker Bay, Canadian Arctic. This bear saw us, as we saw him from very far away. Being quite hungry and curious he trundled down the hillside to get a closer look (and whiff) of us.   The bear was definitely intrigued, as he would sniff the air the way I would outside a bakery full of freshly made pies, because to him we were nothing but gore tex wrapped seals. We were cautious to keep distance in our zodiac, I had to stay in reverse as the wind was blowing us and our scent directly towards him.  Between bouts of sniffs he would sit like this motionless, as if he wasn't a problem and we could let our guard down, it was certainly a funny position to be in.Photo: Photo: I was up in the high Canadian Arctic, outside Dundas harbour on Devon island, when I caught sight of this muskox. My fellow photographers and I were very excited, but in order to approach this guy to get a decent photo, we had to be very aware of how these muskox perceive this world.  They are very skittish and would never let us approach, they have a very good sense of smell and decent hearing, but thank goodness they have extremely poor vision. Luckily the wind was blowing towards us, had it been blowing the other way we wouldn't even catch a glimpse of him.  Being a group of photographers on expedition with me, we all wanted a shot, so we slowly walked towards the grazing muskox like a line of paparazzi, all 15 of us completely silent. It was like a game of "stoplight": the muskox would look down and munch on the arctic flora, and we would all approach, the muskox looks up and stares right at us and we all freeze. This continued for at least half an hour until we were close enough to get this image.  We also don't want to get too close, having a nearly blind beast charge at us should we startle it could be more disastrous than not getting a photo at all.Photo: The Dogs of Cappadocia
You go out to find one thing, but something else comes to find you
Cappadocia, Turkey

It was early morning when I woke up in my cave, carved from the soft pyroclastic rock that makes up the area. The goal was to photograph the "Fairy Chimneys" the formations and dwellings lit by the morning sun in the beautiful Turkish town of Cappadocia.

I wandered alone from rock to dwelling, looking for interesting formations and stimulating architecture. After emerging from a tunnel I was exploring, I began to hear a scratching sound of footsteps and a deep "woof!" clearly directed at me. A little nervous as I don't know these dogs, I cautiously let them approach and investigate me with a sniff. I realise then that these dogs are very accustom to people and had no problems with me being there. As I further explored the area the number of dogs curious about my presence grew as they popped out of various nooks and crannies.

The dogs of Cappadocia and most of Turkey have a different way of life than I'm used to in North America. My guide told me that every dog is subjected to a mandatory neutering program, this has greatly reduced the number of stray dogs. It's also common that someone may "own" a dog, but they leave them free in the streets, as opposed to having them live in a house and yard. The owner or community may feed the dogs food and scraps and may enjoy their company when they encounter them randomly. Other people may visit their dogs on a seasonal basis when they are in town from their work season in the city.

I came out to photograph architecture and scenery, then got ambushed by a new subject!

Photographic Details: I shot this with a wide angle 16-35mm f2.8mm lens, great for scenery and landscape shots, very handy with these dogs. I wanted the focus to be more on the dogs and their expressions, so I opted for a shallow depth of field at f2.8
I rarely edit an image with a clone brush, it's hardly needed out in the wild, but this one had a lamp post sticking into the sky that did not make me happy. I think a photographer needs to be open and honest about modifications like these, and many who depend on these edits are (Art Wolf is a great example who stunned the photographic world with his african edits in the 90's).
A personal photographic critique, I think there is too much negative space in the middle of this photograph, while I like to follow the rule of thirds I feel like something of interest in the middle could enhance this image.
edit A circular polariser as well as a graduated filter was employed in the lens to help darken the sky,Photo: Abbot Hut, Canadian Rockies  People often ask me, "when should I use a flash?" and my answer is "when you least expect to".  Some of the best times to use a lot of photographic tools or technique is when you don't think you should.  I was hiking to one of the highest and most beautiful Alpine club of Canada huts, and as we departed we were inundated with this surprise snow storm. Everyone else put away their cameras, and to everyones confusion, I brought mine out. In addition I attached my 580ex and started adjusting settings.  The amazing thing about this shot is that the traditionally undesired effect of "backscatter" when there is debris in the air is suddenly the desired effect. I want to emphasise the snow and the cold, I want it to be visible, and without a flash it is invisible (check out the same shot without flash, the snow becomes invisible). I later used a graduated filter to give the sky a little more drama.  Flashes have become standard in my toolkit to illuminate dust, rain and snow, give it a try yourself!  Todays lesson: don't do what you're told and if something doesn't work right, see how you can turn it to your advantage.Photo: *Don’t forget to look up, and use your wide angle for wildlife* _And when you do, keep your mouth closed_  Taken along the bird cliffs of the Spitsbergen & Svalbard archipelago in the Norwegian Arctic. These black guillemots and thick-billed murres fill the sky as they head back and forth their nests as they fill up in the fertile sea. It’s hilarious to watch as some of these birds are so fat and full of food that they dive off the cliffs and barely take flight before they crash into the sea.  When out among wildlife, it’s easy to assume your best friend will be a long telephoto lens shooting across the landscape, that’s something difficult to do in a boat that’s rocked hard by waves bouncing off cliffs.   *Technical facts:* Instead I preferred to use my 16-35mm lens in this situation, I shot directly up as I got speckled by bits of guano (it’s good luck!)  this really expresses what this environment is like. I had to process the RAW twice in lightroom and burn down the sky a lot in photoshop.Photo: The Blonde Seal
Standing out in the crowd
Antarctic Island of South Georgia

This fur seal was a fantastic prize among so many fur seals that populate the beaches of South Georgia. Apparently only 1% of the estimated 4 million fur seals on this island have this blonde expression called leucism.

As usual I was on a different mission, venturing the last leg of the great explorer Ernest Shackeltons historic expedition to find rescue for his men left on Elephant island. On my way up to the Stromness whaling station, I was inundated but the usual sight of fur seals when I came across this gaggle of fur seal pups.

I was extremely delighted to capture this one rarity among the pups. This seal stood out like nothing I’ve ever seen amongst a sea of brown blobs this one was wiggling his way through the crowd like a glow worm.

Photographic Details: The light was extremely low and overcast, I had to make due with a 1/00th of a second exposure. In cases like this, take as many photos as possible and hopefully one comes out crystal clear. I tried to get as many other seals in there as possible to really express how well this pup stands out, all while keeping the pup on the right side of the frame so that he “looks into” the picture.
Thank you!
I want to say thank you to everyone who follows, shares, + 1, comments on and contributes to the google plus community. Even if I don't find a way to respond, I'll have you know I read and appreciate every bit of feedback I get! I wish there is something I can do in return, all I think is that I have to keep on posting. I look forward to sharing so much more, and I'm putting together more detailed tutorials on some of my techniques. Every day client work and a lot of travel have been high on my priority list but I assure you more is coming!
You all make this place such an engaging and vibrant community, keep on sharing and thanks for making this place as great as it is!Photo: Encore Senset
Outside Cardston, Southern Alberta, Canada

As the sun sets on another slightly cooler day, I can’t help but be excited for the burst of colour that awaits in the deciduous trees and forests of Alberta! As long as an ultra frosty chill doesn’t come along and freeze off all the leaves before they have a chance to turn.

I just want to remind you all, as the nights get longer in the northern hemisphere, the less hospitable temperatures don’t make this beautiful world less accessible to you and your camera. In my experience, when things get tougher, the sights get more beautiful.

Photographic details: Just because the sun has set doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the gear. This photo was taken quite a while after a somewhat lackluster sun set. However after the sun had moved further below the horizon the clouds above me were high enough to be lit from below, like a celestial encore the land was once again bathed in golden light reflecting off the bottom of the clouds. I guess the heavens were just trying to keep me on my toes.
The original RAW image looked like it was over exposed in the sky, but like many of my images, I’m able to retrieve the highlights by using the exposure brush in lightroom, essentially getting an HDR

As I was shooting Fancy the horse, she kept turning to look out into the fall sunset. It was funny because I would push her butt to align her the way I wanted in the photo but every time I get back into position she would just keep scootching back to look out into the scene.
I don’t blame her, it was a stunning view of Alberta's dramatic skies, and with no assistant I had to settle with a bit more horse butt than I wanted.Photo: Lake Okanagan by half-moon
Manual HDR moonlight photography

I’ve been having a fantastic time in the Okanagan B.C., looking to extend my summer climbing in Skaha and biking amongst some of Canada’s most beautiful wine country and lakes; and of course I’m bringing my camera everywhere I go.

Photographic details: I spent the day biking along the historic Kettle Valley Rail trail along the Okanagan Valley, a trail created out of an abandoned railway bed established in 1914. This trip was mostly planned out form the beginning, but this is where planning ahead takes a photographic and astrophysical turn.

I know that great light happens during the golden hour before the sunset and during the twilight hours after sunset. So I plan for fun biking times during the day, while toting my camera and tripod, then when the beautiful hours strike I take my photos in the right places. I also make sure I know where everything is, which way north and south is and what the sun and moon are doing. I know when the sun sets, when the moon sets and what phase it’s going to be in for every day this holiday. Here at a half moon phase our stellar companion is creating a substantial amount of light to light the landscape and water all at a height and direction that I have taken advantage of intentionally.

How do keep a good track of where the sun and moon is going to be? There are lots of apps for this but for a long time I have been loving a piece of software called Stellarium. I also use google sky map on my android phone if my computer is not available.
http://www.stellarium.org/

Photo processing: I use an HDR technique by taking 10 photos 1 fstop apart from each other to capture the full range of light in the image. I later mash every exposure together in photoshop by manually combining them via layers and masking. This allows full control of which parts of my image take light from the high and low exposures, without the unusual artifacts and unnatural highlighting prevalent in automatic HDR processing. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks as I roll out my moonlight photography tutorials!Photo: King-scape
Set the context for your wildlife portfolio with wide landscape shots

The great king penguins of South Georgia are a sight to behold, the air is ripe with the caustic smell of penguin guano, and saturated with the sound of the 200,000 king penguins that reside in the King colony of Salisbury plains. Seams of brown fluffy penguin chicks make up penguin rookeries (penguin daycare) that are scattered throughout the colony. Penguins and many birds identify each other by their voiceprint alone, making constant calling by many penguins a necessity to find one another amongst the crowd.

Strangely enough when I arrived here earlier in the day the ground was bare during this particularly warm summer. Soon the clouds came in, and spilled open their fluffy white contents over the land making this antarctic island feel much more like it does the rest of the year.

Photographic Details: Shot with a 16-35mm lens at f9 to create a high depth of field. I stuck with the rule of thirds and had the white mountains and sky on the upper third, emphasizing the sheer size and number of penguins in the lower two thirds. It’s important to decide where you want to place emphasis, when presented with a horizon you can choose either sky or foreground. A centered horizon can make the viewer feel awkward because of a struggle to find the emphasis or meaning in a photo. Other images with a lot of symmetry or reflections on the water can be quite calming with a centered horizon. These “rules” are meant to be broken, they just give you a good place to start when thinking about composition, and composition is 98% of a good photo!Photo: Frosty forest
Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada
I'm always delighted when I see fog in the winter air, because that means hoarfrost and rime! Just hope that there are no winds so the puffed up marshmallowyness of this world doesn't get blown into oblivion!

Photographic details Shot at f16 for a high depth of field, and I used the snow to calibrate my white balance, probably the most accurate way of getting white balance I have ever seen!Photo: This is my photographic hug to everyone who needs one today!
For those of you who are having a bad day and could really use a hug, reach out and I guarantee that you will find someone willing to try and make your day better. We all go through hard knocks, and if life was a race full of obstacles, the person who made it to the finish line without hitting any would be completely alone in their victory.

This post is dedicated to an inspiring aspiring photographer +Jenn Trunk , head on over there and say hello and make her day :)Photo: King Penguin symmetry
Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctica
#wildlifewednesday

Imagine seeing a landscape of king penguins. For as far as you could go these birds are nesting, calling and waddling to and fro between the colony and vast polar sea. It's a cacophony of sounds, smells and in every direction you look there is something happening.

Photographic Details: After taking initial scenery shots it's time to get down and do what a photographer does best. I put on my telephoto lens, lay down on the ground and begin observing every little social interaction around me. It's my job to find something happening amidst the chaos, to tell a story that is greater than the mere presence of thousands of King Penguins. This is where you ask yourself "what is the story here?" "what little events can help create a full photo essay?"

These two king penguins were definitely mates, they both payed a lot of attention to each other and did almost the same thing. Flapping their wings and stretching their necks they would eventually relax, beak to beak in a display of mutual affection. I would anticipate this symmetry and wait for them to relax to get this shot. I chose not to center it and keep much of the colony in the background in order to convey a sense of peace amidst the confusion and noisiness of a crowded penguin colony. At the same time I was pleased with the low depth of field in order to preserve focus on the penguin couple on the right.Photo: Shooting landscapes with wildlife lenses
The Spires of South Georgia
South Georgia, Antarctica

After one has gone to South Georgia, it is easy to talk about how dramatic of a place it can be. With seemingly calm weather that can turn hostile in a moment, to the great stories of exploration and survival that haunt the mountain sides, it’s a combination of history, geology and abundant wildlife that contributes to the grand atmosphere it exudes.

Photographic Details: This photo is no exception, with shafts of light piercing the clouds and mist settling in the valley this little scene stood out from the distance but in the grand scheme of things was only a small portion of the overall view. I had to zoom with a big (400mm) lens to get the scene as I saw it. Our eyes and brains are good at filtering out the things we aren’t interested in and instead, focusing in on the things we find attractive. In order to express what I felt photographically I had to zoom in. Traditionally scenery photos like this are taken from up close to the mountains with a wide angle lens, it just goes to show that the type of lens doesn’t necessarily restrict it to the type of photos a photographer can make with it.

The photo processing exactly emulates my film darkroom process. Dodging and burning (darkening and lightening) areas of contrast to bring the areas of detail to light, I pay homage to the days of silver images in my digital darkroom.

If you like the work I put into this, help me out by sharing it!

To see the colour version or get a print see my smugmug here: http://kylefoto.smugmug.com/Antarctica/Antarctic-Worlds/19589737_M4DwLg

This is also posted on my blog with additional views from this shoot at http://www.kylefoto.com/2011/10/shooting-landscapes-with-wildlife-lenses/

#PlusPhotoExtractPhoto: Giraffe Silhouette
Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa

The dramatic skies of the Masai Mara were surrounding us towards the sunset hours in Kenya. After a day of seeking out cheetahs, elephants and leopards we had time to observe this giraffe browsing along the hilltop amongst the iconic shape of the Euphobia tree.

Photographic Details: Silhouettes are some of the most illustrative and powerful compositional elements in a photographers repertoire. Throwing away the distraction of colour texture and exposure you are simply left with a figure that forces the viewer to concentrate on body language, posture, and shape. With the lack of detail the viewer’s imagination is put to work perhaps causing them to linger a little longer.
In addition a silhouette photo like this provides a stark contrast in detail with the perfectly exposed sky (underexposed by two stops) all the textures and beauty in the cloud formation is preserved in a hyper real fashion.

There wasn’t as much colour as I liked so I employed some colour graduated filters. I think of these as “sunglasses for my camera” that provide a colourful gradient that can enhance or even introduce colours much like putting on a pair of rose coloured sunglasses.

If you like this please share!

This is also available on my smugmug for print: http://kylefoto.smugmug.com/Animals/Africa/19644918_hpCKDK#1554516357_mBKRfCP

#plusphotoextractPhoto: Survived the sunset on a glacier
Peyto Glacier, Banff National Park, Alberta

In continuation of my other photo from Peyto glacier this shows us just reaching the top as the sun sets behind the mountain. Thank goodness we made it! To traverse and avoid crevasses (big cracks in the ice) at night with headlamps would be a risky affair. The possibility of walking in circles in the great white expanse on this glacier while snowshoeing blind would not only be disturbing but would do a number on our morale. We were full of joy at this moment just reaching the edge of the glacier and taking our snowshoes off and unroping for the final small stretch to our warm cozy Peyto hut. Hot soup, delicious food, good company and a toilet with a view would greet us in a few moments!

Photographic Details: Even though I violated my beloved rule of thirds I still love what this image has to offer, I had to keep the horizon in the center in order to show that beautiful portion of sky that was lit by the last moments of daylight, but I had to keep our group in there for context. All of this was taken with one exposure: while the sky was initially blown out, and the foreground dark, I was able to recover those details by shooting in raw and adjusting the image in Lightroom.

See the unedited version at http://www.kylefoto.com/2011/10/survived-the-sunset-on-a-glacier/

#mountainmonday curated by +Michael Russell 
#plusphotoextractPhoto: Learning to read icebergs
Antarctic Peninsula

Look at this iceberg now, then look at it after reading this and you will actually be able to read this iceberg.

There are so many stories in this photo alone I don’t know where to begin. I should start with the fact that a quick glance at an iceberg can tell us a lot about it’s history; mother nature etches a story in every crack, layer, texture and curve.

First of all this iceberg is in mostly in the same orientation it was when it first broke off the glacier it came from. The horizontal lines are the layers of snow that have been compressed into ice while the glacier was flowing down the mountain, as well the surface had an edge of snow, still built up from high precipitation, this tells us the ice is still mostly upright.

Once this huge chunk of ice was set free into the ocean, it began to melt faster than it would as a glacier. The currents and movement of the salty sea water begin eroding the bottom of the iceberg but in a smooth pattern, turning hard edges into soft curves. The “shoreline” on the iceberg is where the lapping of the waves on the surface erode the iceberg the most, creating the indentation in the middle where the smooth ice ends and the rough untouched ice begins.

As the iceberg melts and chunks fall off, the balance changes. As you can see the lower right portion of the iceberg used to be underwater because it’s smooth, it’s now above water with the new weight distribution.

This iceberg is now peppered with Adele penguins. It may be a lot of penguins who are two years old and younger; essentially spinster penguins not yet mature enough to breed. They have no obligation to be in a colony and get to spend the first two years of their life feeding and enjoying themselves. The cape petrel flying on the top right creates a point of interest in the most perfect spot, further illustrating how icebergs can be mother natures “rest stops”.

But there is more! Ice creates a mini ecosystem that krill and small copepods and crustaceans tend to cling to. Small slivers of grey dot the lower left of the iceberg betraying the presence of Antarctic Terns fishing for these small creatures. These waters are rich with life, and as desolate as an image can seem, a trained eye can see an abundance of wonderful creatures.

Take a look at the ice again, do you see what I see?

If you like this, do me a favor please share!
#plusphotoextractPhoto: Fata Morgana by moonlight
Outside Iqaluit, Canadian Arctic
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

If you look at the horizon you will see what looks like a band of cliffs or land, made of the same texture the sea ice is made of. This is actually the flat ocean but something is distorting it.
This is a photograph of the most mysterious optical illusions most commonly observed in the Arctic. Named after the sorceress Morgan Le Fay of merlin lore this phenomenon has been attributed to the flying Dutchman, UFOs, faeries and other unusual things. It’s no surprised, land seems to rise out of the ocean from nothing only to start jiggling and dancing to and fro like a mushroom made of jelly, it’s very entertaining to watch newcomers to the arctic try and process what they are seeing.

This is simply an optical effect created by an inverse mirage. With a layer of cool air by the sea surrounded by a warmer atmosphere, this threshold between cool and warm air bends the light in such a way that even things beyond the curvature of the earth can be seen, causing the seascape to bend into the sky

Photographic Details: This was taken on a ship with a telephoto lens, therefore a tripod was out of the question given that we were moving. I shot this hand held holding my breath at at 1/80 sec, f5.6 ISO 1600 Canon EOS 5D at 400mm, a feat not easily done but slowly mastered with practice. I always surprise myself when I manage “illegally” shooting such slow shutter speeds with long lenses, practice makes perfect! If at first you get a few blurry photos, keep trying, all it takes is one good one and your work will be worth it!

If you like this, please do me a favor and share!Photo: Ghosts of South Georgia
Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctica
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

The edge of the harbour that is home to 25,000 breeding pairs of king penguins. The sea is the key to life here, where penguins can bring krill and fish back to the mouths of their hungry chicks. This place was called “Gold Harbour” by whalers given it is full of large elephant seals and numerous king penguins. They were easy to capture and kill to be boiled for their blubber and oil, which was worth a lot of money in this last haven for whalers. In addition a lot of pyrite or “fools gold” had been found by Filchner’s German Antarctic Expedition in 1911.

Photographic details: I wanted to create a ghostly image with a lot of mood and drama, the long exposure technique works very well for this. With the extreme brightness of the mid day sun filtering through the overcast sun the longest exposure I could get was four seconds. In order to get the long exposure I wanted I had to mash 20 four second exposure images together to create a total of 80 seconds.

ISO50, f18, with a 5 stop ND filter, 20 4 second exposures combined into 80 seconds
If you like this, do me a favour and please share!
#plusphotoextractPhoto: They called him Macaroni... Penguin
South Georgia, Antarctica
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com see the larger version there

Macaroni: A term used in the mid 18th century to describe an unusually fashionable man who cared very much about his appearance with a flamboyant flair. Previous terms such as fashion-monger, ninny and fop were also used for someone overly concerned about their clothing. The Macaroni fashion was a precursor to the “dandies” which were the early 19th century metrosexuals.

Hence once the unusually vibrant crest of the Macaroni penguin was first observed they were given this name. These penguins were sitting on their nest, carefully keeping an eye on us while they tucked their necks in to conserve warmth and rest. Macaroni penguins lay two eggs during the mating season but often toss the first one out to make way for the second. The mother and father will share their responsibility over the egg as it incubates for a month, and raises the chick over another month. In this time the parents may fast for up to 42 days losing 40% of their body weight. Talk about dedicated parents.

Photographic details: I had to be very careful approaching these penguins. Believe it or not there is tall tussok grass growing here, it’s easy to accidentally step on a macaroni nest in a place like this. As we crouched down to their level this guy would keep an eye on me but that was the greatest reaction this bird would give me, and I respected their space as I waited for them to take a brief glance at me. After spending time with these fastidious penguins, I realize they only live up to their namesake in appearance.
Canon 5DMarkII ISO400, 400mm, f7,1 1/320sec

#plusphotoextract
#wildlifewednesday curated by +Mike Spinak 

If you like this, do me a favour and please share!Photo: Digital fisheye Antarctic Vista
Antarctica
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com/2011/11/digital-fisheye-antarctic-vista/

The views that welcome you when you first arrive along the Antarctic continent is quite the sight to behold. Being surrounded by these tall icy figures rising out of the ocean feels like the mountains are hugging you, and despite the cool the antarctic air I always feel warm and fuzzy.
This is one of the images I used to promote my Polar Worlds show.

Photographic Details: Fisheye photos are cool but to use one regularly would be somewhat disorientating. The original shot had a flat horizon but I wanted something a little more dynamic. So instead of going out to get a fisheye I thought I would make the effect myself, turns out it’s possible in photoshop in about 7 clicks of the mouse!

Full tutorial with screenshots is here! http://www.kylefoto.com/2011/11/digital-fisheye-antarctic-vista/


Canon EOS 5D, 1/100s f/5.0 ISO50 35mm 16-35mm f2.8 L lens.

If you like this, please share. And if you try this technique, post it in the comments and share, let’s see what you can do!Photo: Zebra migration
Tanzania, Africa
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

Being on safari is always full of surprises. While the keen photographers and enthusiasts expect I always know what’s going to happen, it all comes down to being as prepared as possible for when the action happens. While being surrounded by a herd of zebra and wildebeest, we were stationed where there was as much action as possible: by the river. These animals would stop to get some much needed water, but they are always nervous as there is an ancient threat that lurks in these waters, the crocodile.

A crocodile was lurking in the water, we wanted to see some action, but at the same time, we didn’t. We were wondering why the crocodile wasn’t paying any attention to the pedantic animals looking for refreshment at the shore, when the crocodile went to a log pulled out a long dead zebra under it and began to snack. Oooh, well he was full because he already had food in his pantry! It’s likely this croc won’t have to eat for months, given that they are cold blooded and thus don’t use food energy to maintain their body temperature, a very efficient way of living.

Nevertheless the zebra would get their fill of water until paranoia set in and one would bolt away from the shore in fear, setting off a chain reaction. The once crowded shore would be instantly vacated as all the zebra and wildebeest fled for their lives. After a few seconds or so one thirsty animal would slowly make it’s way to the shore and drink as more animals came in, and the cycle of spazzing at the shore would begin again. This gave us many opportunities to get these running action shots.

Photographic details: I intentionally used settings that get a lot of motion blur, normally something that people find undesirable. But it’s this sense of motion that makes the viewer feel what it’s like to be there. 1/100th of a second was guaranteed to get a blurry photo, as I followed the motion of these beasts as smoothly as I could. The incredible amount of dust in the air provided or a fantastic backdrop and a beautiful red cast on the image.
CANON 7D 1/100s f/16.0 ISO100 330mm

If you like this, do me a favour and share!

More on my photo safaris: http://www.kylefoto.com/photographic-african-safaris/Photo: The touch of a stingray
Cayman Islands, Caribbean
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

Stingray city was such a joy to swim in, after realizing that these animals were safe to be among, pure elation sets in as we come in contact with these creatures.

My brother and I were floating happily here when this lazy stingray comes up from behind him while brushing him with his fin. My brother jumped with surprise and amazingly enough this stingray was not afraid at all after this reaction.

As feared as these creatures are for having killed one of the most famous naturalists in the world, they are extremely docile. You can see the the much talked about poisonous barb used for defence barely sticking out of the base of the tail.

Photographic Details: As outlined in previous posts I used my trusty ewa-marine camera bag for this shot on shutter priority mode for 1/250 of a second. This was still fast enough to capture the gliding stingray as it swam into my face, their bellies are so soft it made me laugh!

1/250s f/6.3 ISO100 22mm (35mm eq:35.2mm)Photo: School of joy
Cayman Islands, Caribbean
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

Being surrounded by a school of fish feels like nature is personifying your wonder with the colourful shapes and graceful movements of each fish as they move around you in a synchronized spectacle.

Photographic Details: A shot like this could very well be possible with one of those underwater disposable cameras. The major difference here is that I used a graduated yellow filter on the top left of the image to give this photo a more etherial feel.
Next time you go on vacation, bring an underwater housing!


+ewa-marine Germany housing, Shutter Priority mode Canon 20D 1/250s f/5.0 ISO100 12mm (35mm eq:19.2mm)Photo: Sea fan sun rays
Cayman Islands, Caribbean
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

I can’t get over how awesome this little underwater world is! The sun rays are beautiful, the colourful fish help anchor the shot, but what speaks to me about this photo is the inclusion of these people here:
If you can snorkle, you can get these shots, just like I did. You can invest in an underwater housing from $300 up to some onholy amount, but I want you to know a shot like this is not beyond your reach!

Photographic Details: Ewa Marine housing, Shutter priority mode Canon 20D 1/250s f/5.6 ISO100 12mm (35mm eq:19.2mm)Photo: Stingray feeding
Cayman Islands, Caribbean
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

This is a wild sting ray in it’s natural environment, which is distinctly different from the other photos I’ve been showing you.

Stingrays feed in many areas of the oceanic environment, but sometimes they bury themselves in the sand. Although they can’t see well when they do this, they use their sensitive smell and electro receptors just like sharks do to locate mollusks and suck them up. Adequately crushing them with their strong jaws and teeth, protruding their mouth if they need to.

That’s what this stingray seemed to be doing, all the activity grabs the attention of nearby fish and scavengers, hoping to get some scraps or find something that’s dug up in the sand.

Photographic Details: Canon 20D Shutter Priority 1/200s f/16.0 ISO200 22mm (35mm eq:35.2mm)

#UnderWaterThursdayPhoto: No budget martini
Taken in my back yard when I was a 17 year old kid in high school, year 2000
See the before shots at http://www.kylefoto.com

In high school I had the absolute privilege of receiving a whopping 3 megapixel Olympus camera with a 16 megabyte memory card as a christmas gift. My parents saw that I loved photography and sprung for this little gem of a camera. Little did I know this little bundle of glass and circuitry would inspire and take me on such great journeys as it has.

Photographic Details:
I didn’t have any fancy equipment so I did the very best with what I could. I knew I needed a black background for the look I wanted. I took one of my moms nice black jackets and set it up outside as the background and floor of the shoot.

I had no flashes, bounces, fancy lenses or anything else besides my camera. Instead of lights I used the bright overcast sky outside and a wide open aperture of f1.8. This let in enough light for me to shoot at the fastest shutter speed available on this camera, 1/800th of a second. I then poured water into the martini glass and shot as many photos as possible, freezing the action. In addition I took photos of a toothpick olive, and various streams of water.

After selecting my favourite photos of each stream of water I brought the images into paint shop pro. I don’t think it had any masking features but I used the eraser tool to delete the background. I then replaced the background with solid black and added a touch of highlights, combining each item on a layer to get the final image!

I want to prove to you that fancy equipment wasn’t necessary 11 years ago and isn’t now. Even though this image does have many flaws and isn’t fully up to my standards, my brother used the image in one of his marketing assignments and got an A!

#Foodfriday Curated by +Bobbi Lance and +Charles LupicaPhoto: Arctic Kittiwake Iceberg
Canadian Arctic
from the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

The deep blues in this ice is a result of the light travelling through the dense ice long enough for the red and warm tones to be absorbed by the ice, leaving behind only the cool colours for our eyes to see.
There is still quite a lot of white being reflected by the ice, and they act like big reflectors. This white ice extends under the water allowing the light to bounce back out of the water to be coloured even more blue by the water, as water is much more dense it’s power to change the colour of light is much more intense.

Kittiwakes rest on the top of this berg, peppering it with character. If I had to choose I would always have some animal on these things, it visually proves to me that as hostile as these places are every corner of our big beautiful world harbours life.

Photographic details: This overcast light was quite dim, having to use a slow shutterspeed of 1/100th of a second and f5.6 to let in as much light as possible. Driving the zodiac it’s difficult to manoeuvre, as boats don’t have brakes a steady hand on both the tiller and camera is required.

Canon 5D 1/100s f/5.6 ISO50 100mmPhoto: Coburg island incognito
Coburg island, Canadian Arctic
from the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

The arctic can be one of the most desolate environments. The landscapes have a way of amplifying loneliness and introspection while still keeping you in awe of the harsh reality of this cold northern desert.

The cool arctic doesn’t hold much moisture, therefore it doesn’t snow very often, giving many places in the north the same amount of precipitation of the sahara desert. So when the fog rolls in I was sure to relish this sight as this dramatic island is shrouded in a blanked of mist.

These cliffs are homes to many species of birds who depend on the steepness and hostility of these cliffs to protect their eggs from land dwelling predators. Many birds lay pear shaped eggs ensuring that if an egg was to roll, it would roll back into the nest instead of the cliff. Being one of the most important sites in the arctic it’s home to over 220,000 pairs of nesting birds.

Photographic Details: Taken in the early morning it was somewhat dim out, I had to use a relatively low shutterspeed of 1/160th of a second, handheld from a ship that was bobbing in the ocean, where a tripod wouldn’t be much of an aid.
Canon 5D 1/160s f/7.1 ISO100 100mm

#moodymondayPhoto: Arctic Wake
West coast of Greenland, 77° North
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

Under way along the calm seas of the arctic, the fractal resonance of the ship’s wake created this beautiful pattern as we made a turn. As an artist would say, this image has “movement”. Your eyes have a lot to do in this image as they start at the bottom left of the image then curve around to the right and up towards the poignant icebergs floating merrily on the surreal horizon off the calm shores of Greenland.

Photographic details: I used an aperture of f7 to have a higher depth of field. But I still needed a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second in order to prevent the water from being blurred in too much motion, as I wanted to preserve the texture of the waves.

Canon 5D 1/250s f/7.1 ISO50 170mmPhoto: Ice Haiku
Canadian Arctic
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

from a glacier
the ice steals away the warmth
yet I feel comfortPhoto: Wheeler hut marshmallow land
From the holiday collection http://www.kylefoto.com
B.C. Canada

Wheeler hut is one of the most accessible alpine huts in B.C. Canada. That being said it was covered enough of the legendary marshmallowy winter powder to get me to sink to my chest. There was no hope of me getting far enough outside the hut to get a photo without my skis on. Setting up my tripod to get this 30 second exposure was also a challenge, as my poles kept sinking in the snow. The warm glow of the hut windows are welcoming as the final minutes of the "blue hour" past sunset wained into darkness.

Canon 5D Mark II 30s f/2.8 ISO800 50mm


This print and all of my prints are now 50% off with the coupon code WELOVEWINTER at http://kylefoto.smugmug.com/ 

Sorry for the ad, but people keep asking about holiday sales, might as well tell them!Photo: From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com  Some of the first long exposures I’ve ever taken! I did this while in photography school in 2005.   *Photographic Details:* Sneaking into a courtyard with these interesting sculptures I tried out the light drawing aspect of light painting. Here I would use an LED light to physically trace the outline of these objects, manually painting every stroke of light that you see on the tree trunk and sparkling structure in the background. I wanted to make it look surreal, as if the structure in the background was overflowing with energy. This is actually multiple 30 second exposures mashed together to combine into one ultra long exposure, with a minimum of image noise. Because I was wearing dark clothes and moving a lot, my body becomes invisible in the long exposure and only the light from the flashlight shows up! Other things like the colour and bubbles were added in photoshop.Photo: Polar Bear in the mist
Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
From the kylefoto of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com

Scooting around in the fog in our zodiacs we were slicing through very thin sea ice up in the arctic. Always cognizant that a polar bear could be anywhere we were keeping a careful eye out. The best thing about travelling with other people is that what would be one pair of eyes is now 10 pairs scouring the misty veil that surrounds us. I was more concentrating on not hitting a large iceberg while driving the zodiac when someone exclaimed “I saw a blob move over there!”
It took nearly a minute to fully locate this figure until it popped up from the surrounding white and stood out like an anvil on the horizon.

Photographic Details: It was relatively dark out there with the heavy fog obscuring a lot of the light. I bumped it up to ISO 200 to increase the sensitivity but used the slowest shutter speed and most open aperture I could. I knew I would have to process this image a lot to get the details back, and a higher ISO could present a bit of a problem in this regard as it degrades the image the higher I go

1/400s f/5.6 ISO200 400mmPhoto: Heavenly arctic rays
Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
From the kylefoto of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com

It was a grey day up in the norwegian arctic as we tromped around the snow and rocks in search of arctic enlightenment. It was nice to stretch my legs and explore the contemplative landscape of the north, but I still felt like I was holding my breath, like I was waiting for something to happen. I didn’t know what I was expecting but I was going to be ready for it.

As our group walked between a valley towards an old hut the view of the mountains in the distance greeted us. This is when the sky opened up to reveal these beautiful rays of light pouring out of the grey clouds. Everyone just stopped to look in.

This is where I was glad to have other people in this photograph. The woman in purple on the right is also taking a picture, further expressing this is a scene worth photographing as her shadow is cast behind her like a spectator of a nuclear explosion.

Photographic details: Shot in raw I was able to get all the details I wanted in this scene with one exposure. I had to darken down the brighter portions of the image, and brighten up others to get the photograph to look much more like how I saw it. The magic with shooting and processing in raw with lightroom is that I can correct the mistakes that my camera makes. It’s nowhere near as intelligent and advanced as the human brain and eye; a photograph needs human direction to be a human photograph. Sure it’s nice when a photo comes out looking perfect without a bit of processing, but most of the time an untouched photograph is something that is just done by a robot. I am not a robot.

I shot this at f16 to make sure everything is as sharp as can be for this landscape photo.

Canon 5D Mark II 1/80s f/16.0 ISO100 16mmPhoto: 90 Degree iceberg
Canadian Arctic
From the kylefoto of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com

What am I talking about with this 90 degree iceberg? I’m not talking about temperature, I’m talking about angles.

Look at the striations on the iceberg, how the lines in the ice are going straight up and down. Those are the layers of snow that have been compacted into ice while this ice was still being formed on a mountainside as a glacier. Over hundreds, even thousands of years each layer of snow is piled on top of each other until the tremendous pressure compresses it into ice.

Because the ice normally stays more or less upright while it’s still a glacier, these lines should normally be horizontal. Once the glacier ends up dumping itself into the ocean the ice will bob around, melt, break apart, and in doing so this newly formed iceberg will rotate and change orientation. Thus the ice is now shifted 90 degrees from it’s original orientation.

Now go into my master collection of photos and look at every other iceberg and you will obsessively look at these striations and assess the history of the iceberg, you will never be able to unsee it, muahaha!

Photographic details: Nothing special is going on here for camera settings, I was more looking for unique and interesting shapes and this one caught my eye. Sometimes I don’t look at a subject as a whole and I just focus on the interesting detailed portions.

1/160s f/5.0 ISO50 170mmPhoto: An iceberg’s past
Canadian Arctic
From the photo of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com

The history of an iceberg is always etched into the ice. But rarely is hard evidence of it’s birth so glaringly obvious the way it is in this detail shot of a piece of ice.

As I’m sure you’ve heard me say, an iceberg starts of as a glacier. A glacier starts off as layers of snow building up over hundreds or thousands of years along the mountain side. The tremendous weight of the snow on itself squeezes air out of the compacting ice and it becomes more clear and blue. So imagine a massive glacier slowly moving down a mountain side, the deepest part of the glacier is grinding away at the mountain, carving out U shaped valleys and pulverizing rock into dirt and silt. The ice at the bottom of the glacier is underneath hundreds of meters of ice, thus it’s the clearest, but it will also be exposed to the rock and dirt. When the glacier finally dumps itself into the ocean these ancient pieces of ice will carry remnants of the mountain with it.

That’s what you’re looking at here. A piece of a glacier that was actively carving away at the mountain that has made it’s way across the canadian arctic.

Photographic details: I had to poke my camera through a dark hole in an iceberg to get this, so it was relatively dark. I couldn’t shoot like I normally do, I just stuck my arms out with my camera and hoped for the best. Yeah professional photographers blindly shoot and do guesswork too! I think I would have made it easier on myself if I used a higher ISO of 400 or so instead of 100.

1/50s f/5.6 ISO100 260mmPhoto: Glowing sea ice
Ellesmere island, Canadian Arctic
From the photo of the day at http://ww.kylefoto.com

The sea ice in the arctic is usually quite featureless, but after a while it piles up on top of itself into large conglomerates. The tides are still prevalent in the arctic and can ground the sea ice by the shore, revealing interesting features that would normally be underwater. I waited until the kittiwake that was flapping around above me was in the patch of sky exposed, just to give the photo an extra element.

Photographic details: Back lighting situations are usually thought of as a disadvantage by photographic enthusiasts, but I have found that more difficult situations provide unique opportunities. Instead of just lighting the surface of the ice, now the light is travelling through it, making it glow! Walking through this little cavern of abandoned sea ice felt like having my own personal fantasy land, as I knew in a short time the tide would come and take it all away, never to be seen exactly like this again.

1/50s f/4.5 ISO50 16mmPhoto: 230 degree Arctic vista
Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
From the photo of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com

In the hopes of pursuing a polar bear a great place to look is the very platform that bears depend upon for hunting: sea ice. Our vessel being ice strengthened we have very little to worry about when navigating around frozen areas like this. In fact given that we had some time and wanted to scan the horizon for bears, we end up ramming into the sea ice to park the ship, with no need of an anchor we can rest here and take a look at the view.

Photographic Details: I was admiring this view when I thought I would have fun with a panorama. Taking multiple photos with my wide angle lens I was able to capture over a 230 degree view, which as a photo tends to play with the mind. It looks like two ships are right beside each other when in reality it’s just the left and right side of the main deck I was standing on. Each photo was automatically stitched together by photoshop after being processes in lightroom.

1/125s f/9.0 ISO100 16mmPhoto: Breaking through the sea ice
Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic, Ship: Akademik Sergey Vavilov
From the photo of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com

Navigating open water is a great experience, but winding through big pans of sea ice, pushing them out of the way and slicing through other chunks is a past time I will never get tired of. Some chunks bounce off the hull making way for us with a thud, while others split right before our eyes with a very satisfying crunch and scraping sound. Thumps and bonks echo throughout the ship while mild tremors wiggle their way through the hull, making me smile as I watch my green tea on the table tremor with excitement. Having no worries about danger with the adept crew in the bridge and the ice strengthened hull I enjoy a day that is full of these little events as this landscape of little icy continents drift past.

Photographic details: Standing up along the wing bridge, I can get a grand view of the ship and the ice below. With an ultra wide 16-35mm lens I can capture a lot in just one view at 16mm. Positioning the bow of the ship as it pokes into the middle of the photo gives it a sense of motion as it travels towards the centre of the image. Having the ship take up less than a quarter of the image helps express the grand view presented in a scene like this. I love seeing the passengers looking out at the ice, they add a human element and help express that travelling in such a desolate looking place doesn’t have to be a lonely affair. I’m not some lone photographer who disappears to the edge of the earth while taking photos in complete isolation to magically appear with great images, I’m a social person and believe me I can’t do what I do completely on my own; everything I do in some part is a team effort.

1/160s f/8.0 ISO100 16mmPhoto: Explorer's silhouette
Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
From the photo of the day at http://www.kylefoto.com

Exploring the arctic tundra is somewhat of a contemplative activity. Mostly bare rocks will seem uneventful to the inattentive eye, but if you take your time you will become aware of the subtle flora that populates the land. As guides, we establish a perimeter where it’s safe for us to explore, investigating the land for polar bears and keeping armed guides within view of everyone and everything just in case. This group was looking out into the horizon to our expedition vessel, the Akadamik Sergey Vavilov.

Photographic details: I noticed how at this moment everything seemed to just fit together. I often use the “rule of thirds” to line my subjects up and this is a great example. I split the image into thirds and my subjects are placed in the intersections of these divisions. The silhouette of the group and the ship are both important parts of the image but they are both 1 third of the way into the image. In addition the sky takes up the top third, the ocean the middle third and the land on the bottom third. The eye has a lot of paths to follow, from one subject to the other. The centre of the image has nothing in it, it forces the viewer to look around and linger a little longer on the photograph.

The original full colour photograph was interesting but I wanted more drama, it had a lot more details and I could even see the faces of the silhouettes. In lightroom I shifted to black and white and increased the blacks, this gave me the the contrasty look I wanted. check out the full post at http://www.kylefoto.com to see the original colour version.

1/400s f/8.0 ISO100 100mmPhoto: Bird Cliffs Alight
Coburg island, Canadian Arctic
From the blog at http://www.kylefoto.com

These steep cliffs are completely inaccessible for any person on foot and out of reach for any land dwelling animals. For this reason these cliffs make the perfect place for a bird to build a home. Free from the prying eyes and jaws of Arctic fox, Polar bears and anything that could take home an egg as a prize, birds have been nesting in places like this for millions of years. Hundreds of thousands of birds swarm the cliffs, changing the colour of the rock with their guano and filling the air with their calls.

Photographic Details: Waiting for a glimpse of sun to come out of the clouds I wanted the cliffs to be highlighted by the light. The rare sight of fog on the cliffs adds enormous amounts of texture and depth to the already dramatic scene. Look closely at the image you will see white dots peppering the image, as the sun lit birds show up against the darker shadowy cliffs.

1/250s f/6.3 ISO50 135mmPhoto: Hagia Sophia by night
Istanbul, Turkey
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

The Hagia Sophia (or ayasofya) is a place so rich in history I can merely scratch the surface of this ancient centre of religiosity. Originally conceived as a greek cathedral of constantinople in 360AD this monolith has shifted theological allegiances numerous times, lastly becoming a mosque in 1453 which was finally converted to a museum in 1931.

One of the coolest things about the building is it’s restoration, and with it’s long history of being both a church and a mosque a careful extraction of the newer islamic art reveals the ancient christian mosaics behind them. The resulting experience is a beautiful mix of both cultures in one breathtaking monument to architecture and history.

Photographic details: This building being the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years is certainly deserving to look as grand as possible. Believe it or not once you get close to this building, most of it’s minarets, great architecture, and city behind it is blocked by it’s surrounding buildings. I really wanted to show the context of this building as it stood the test of time in the ever changing city landscape around it.

I decided to climb the roof of some hotels nearby to get a view of the city lights. With a tripod I shot a 2 second exposure at 70mm to zoom in enough to get details, while also keeping enough foreground and background. This is another great example of landscape shots being taken with a telephoto lens.

2s f/3.5 ISO100 70mmPhoto: Village Child, get down to their level
Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania, Africa
from the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

Mto Wa Mbu is a village sitting on the edge of one of the greatest natural areas in Africa, the Ngorongoro conservation area. With over 16,000 people in this dense fertile volcanic area, there was a lot to see. I was somewhat apprehensive coming here as I feel that bringing a troupe of photographers and big lenses would be an invasion of privacy, but our tourism is bringing much needed revenue in to bring in fresh water, maintain pipelines and build schools, thus we were welcomed with open arms.

In a world where electricity is often bought a lot like a drink in a bar to power Nokia cell phones that have battery lives of up to two weeks, you aren’t going to be seeing children tweeting about how they didn’t get an ipad for christmas. I was asked how long the batteries lasted in my Android phone, and they laughed at the idea that I had to charge it almost every night. Tires and soccer balls seem to have a long life here compared to other toys, and most likely have the longest life out of anything else around here.

Photographic details: I was walking with a photographer that has a keen eye for people, while I was photographing some soccer players I noticed my buddy completely change in body posture, kneel down and shoot towards this kid. She had the right idea in getting close to the ground and at the level of the child. Shooting across at them the ground tends to fall out of focus and a much more interesting perspective is achieved. We are so used to seeing everything from eye level that it’s no longer an interesting perspective. I like the fact the child is waving, creating a connection between the viewer and the subject. I of course gingerly waved back as this kid smiled, giggled and swung the little tire around as far as his little arms could let him.

1/500s f/2.8 ISO100 200mmPhoto: Polarised Sky
Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
From the blog http://www.kylefoto.com

This sky was particularly beautiful. Sometimes it’s not about the extraordinary landscapes that are under my feet, but the canvas of ever changing colour and texture above in the sky.

Photographic Details: Shot at the brightest exposure I could allow myself in order to capture the most detail, I also used a circular polarizer. A handy little filter known for darkening the blue sky in order to get the sky to pop. If the sun is in the right direction often the piece of sky 90 degrees perpendicular to it is greatly effected by the polarizer, adding a bit more drama to the image.

The best way to visualise which part of the sky will be greatly effected by a polariser is by making a 90 degree angle with your thumb and index finger, like making a pretend gun with your hand. If you keep your thumb pointed directly at the sun at all times, any direction you can then point your index finger will tell you where the sky is mostly effected by the polariser, voila! Your hand is a polarised sky finder!

1/125s f/9.0 ISO100 16mmPhoto: Heading Out on Safari

Today I fly out for Kenya, on a 19 day trip through some of the most fantastic wildlife and scenery in Kenya and Tanzania! I'm guiding 10 lucky people with two local guides to sharpen their photo skills and get the most inspiring shots!

I don't know how well connected I will be to the internet but I will try and keep you all posted on happenings and sightings that we encounter!

I may only have enough bandwidth for quick twitter updates in which case you can follow @kylefoto at http://twitter.com/kylefoto

I can't wait to show you the pics when I'm back!Photo: Reticulated Giraffe reach
Sweetwaters game reserve, Kenya
Taken on safari mere hours ago.

This subspecies of giraffe is known for it’s dark spots separated by cream coloured lines. As we drove up in our safari vehicle this giraffe stared at us blinking with her huge eyelashes then continued browsing on the acacia tree after determining we were of little importance.

Photographic Details: I wanted to get a more unique photo of this giraffe while still expressing the daily life of this graceful animal. I liked the curve of the neck while she reached out parallel to her body on the top of the small tree, the open mouth and purple tongue clearly illustrating she was munching away.

I cropped the bottom of the image and kept the sky in the top third of the image, the giraffe in the middle and the green foliage in the bottom, conforming with the rule of thirds for this composition.

Canon EOS 7D 1/320s f/7.1 ISO100 400mm (35mm eq:640mm)Photo: Taken live on safari from africa from http://www.kylefoto.comPhoto: Samburu Dance
Samburu Village, Kenya
Follow more articles at http://www.kylefoto.com

I’m currently on Safari in Africa, here is my latest story:

The Samburu people of Northern Kenya are the traditionalists of Kenya, one of 42 different tribes or cultures that make up the origins of many people here. This is one of the few tribes that hasn’t adopted a more western lifestyle.

The man depicted here is doing a traditional dance, jumping straight up and down high in the air. One after the other the men display their prowess, impressing the ladies by the heights they can reach.

Photographic Details: Laying on the ground I was able to get low enough to properly show the space between the dancers feet, given that the men do the same thing over and over again, it’s somewhat easy to predict where they are going to be. Instead of using a sepia filter, I simply increased the white balance on my camera to give my photo a warm tone, combining this with decreased colour (saturation) I get a warm old fashioned look the image without losing the colour completely. This look gives an impression the heat and dryness of Samburu and the rich and ancient history of the Samburu people.Photo: Superb Starling catch
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, Africa

The aptly named superb starling impresses his mate with an offering of a juicy insect while the iridescent colours shine off his back in a beautiful flash of blue and green. The tree branch he is standing on is of the iconic acacia tree, the thorns meant to protect the tree make these trees a safe haven; a suitable place for the many thousands of species of birds that call africa home.

photographic details: This bird was standing here for quite a while, normally I would prefer sunset or sunrise conditions but the overhead light by the mid day sun was perfect to light up the back of this bird, who would look mostly black in the wrong light. I could not ignore this opportunity despite it not being the golden hour. I don’t like to place my subjects in the centre, nor do I want to lose myself too much in the details of the animal. With this in mind I left the bird on the right side of the image, looking into the frame, I made sure I could include the acacia tree to create a sense of context also illustrating the incredible thorns on this famous tree. One picture, two subjects, my kind of photo.Photo: Lion Stalks the Wildebeest
On safari in Tanzania, Africa
Read more at http://www.kylefoto.com

Anyone who has ever owned or spent time with a cat would feel right at home in the Serengeti of Tanzania while watching the behaviour of this male lion slinking up to it's prey. After hanging around with his brothers he decided to head off towards the herd of wildebeest that had wandered into their midst. Us watching in our vehicle with baited breath, our camera trigger fingers were itching with anticipation as this male expertly crept towards the wildebeest and vultures, keeping his body low to the ground with every deliberate and careful motion. At last the moment we thought had arrived: the big cat revealed his presence to the wildebeest as they scattered away from him, the vultures filling the sky with in an explosion of feathers.

This powerful and successful hunter bolted towards the wildebeest, took one look at them, and proceeded to lap up water in the nearby watering hole hidden by the tall grass. All this work, and all this teasing was just practice and fun on the lions behalf. We looked at each other and laughed as the now quenched lion returned to his resting spot among his brothers.

Photographic Details: Sitting as low to the ground as I could get I was able to make the lion in the foreground visually closer to the wildebeest in the background. More interested in showing what the lion was looking at I decided to focus on the wildebeest to put the viewer more in the lions perspective. I also set the white balance to "cloudy" mode, to add an extra warmth to the image to help convey the extreme heat of this environment.
Canon EOS 7D 1/200s f/8.0 ISO100 400mm (35mm eq:640mm)Photo: Through the eyes of a chimp
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Kenya
Additional photos on my website at http://www.kylefoto.com

The chimpanzee is the closest living relative to humans, capable of using tools, deception, planning ahead and hunting with sophisticated tactics. These chimps however are not native to Kenya, as they have been brought to the sanctuary for refuge as orphans from abusive situations and war torn area from west and central africa. The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee sanctuary allied with the Jane Goodall Institute was thus created as a permanent residence to our expressive and vibrant cousins.

Photographic Details: Humans and chimps are both able to establish a connection visually. I wanted to express this with a detail shot of the chimpanzee’s eyes, since they are such a telling and powerful part of this apes expressions. In addition the chimps were behind a fence, as these are wild chimps who's own private space needs to be respected. The best way to get a shot without having wires in the way was zooming in for detail between gaps in the fence. In addition I only wanted the eyes to be in focus, using an aperture of f2.8 there is no denying the eyes are the focal point of this image. I also waited for this chimp to pose with her arm on her shoulder, as I watched her do this before. This just barely showing her fingers in the background provides a little more visual evidence that these apes are so much like us.

1/160s f/2.8 ISO160 200mm

More on the sanctuary here:
http://olpejetaconservancy.org/why/chimpanzeesPhoto: Wave of vultures
Tanzania, Africa Serengeti
On safari from the blog at www.kylefoto.com

Spending the previous weeks watching vultures circling lazily on the thermals above us, I would casually photograph their figures against the sky knowing some day I will see these creatures up close and personal. Sure enough, as we drove across the Serengeti we spotted a writhing ball of feathers and dust, the vultures were on a carcass. Upon arrival we were greeted with the sight of 20 or so vultures and Marabou Storks frenetically feeding on what was left of a zebra, it was not a civil affair. The air was full of the sounds of squabbling. Nearby vultures were standing still on the ground with their wings out, a behavior that is good for either drying off the wings or thermoregulation in the hot african sun.

Photographic Details: I’m always looking for something unique and stunning, and when I saw the repetition of shape with these vultures lined up I could not keep my camera off this sudden order that developed spontaneously in the chaos. This order and simplicity is extremely attractive to me. I would wait for the birds to line up and turn their heads to face the right direction and squeezed the trigger at the right moment. In addition to the shapes in this image I was enthralled with the texture and detail in the wings, choosing to focus on the wings of the closer bird in order to also keep the focus of the bird and it’s eye.
1/400s f/7.1 ISO100 400mm (35mm eq:640mm)

#birdpoker #birding #africa #tanzania #serengeti #wildlifePhoto: After a day in the Serengeti
Moru Kopjes, Tanzania, Africa
Taken on safari from the photoblog www.kylefoto.com

The word “safari” literally means “long journey” in swahili and “to travel” in arabic. I could spend forever trying to describe the day to you with all sorts of other colourful words but I don’t think I could find anything as poignant as that.

After being out all day seeing many thousands of wildebeest, buffalo and zebra, obsessing over lions lounging on kopjes (unique granite outcroppings shown in the photo) we finally got to a point where we could slow down. The previous hours we were desperately trying to absorb and photograph every new little thing we saw, exclaiming “wildebeest! Oooh no baby wildebeest! ooh no baby wildebeest with an egret standing on it!... No I have a better one with egrets AND oxpeckers on it and it’s in better light!”. We were so tuned into looking for wildlife that every rock and stump in the distance had to be an elephant, rhino, or a baboon standing on a hyena on an elephant. Somehow the shame of the misidentification didn’t stop us from pointing these imaginary animals out.

The golden grass of the Serengeti rolled in the breeze personifying our collective deep breath of relaxation as this sight rolled into view. We took a photograph, then dropped our cameras in awe as we simply watched, taking it in without pointing out every little thing we saw and just being present.

Photographic Details: This was a very cut and dry easy decision to make for me. I don’t like having horizons in the middle unless I’m somehow forced to by my subject or some other circumstance. Instead I like to choose an emphasis and ask myself what’s more important or more beautiful, the sky or the foreground? Here the dramatic clouds above had so much texture with a touch of blue sky, but below the wildebeest there was nothing but bare grass. With this in mind I let the Serengeti foreground anchor the photo on the bottom third, and the sky above take up the two thirds, following the aesthetic rule of thirds and making it easier for the viewer to understand what they should be looking at. The rocky outcroppings of the Moru Kopjes were then kept on the left so the eye could follow the formations into the image. All of this is designed to keep the viewers eyes inside the photo, so they don’t stray off and lose interest.

Need a photo mission? Check out the daily photo themes at
+Daily Photography Themes and http://ericleslie.com/guides/daily-photography-themes-googleplus/ 
This is #naturemonday by +Rolf Hicker and +Kate Church 
#africa #serengeti #safari #tanzaniaPhoto: An elephantine case for HDR
Family of Elephants
Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa
From the photoblog at www.kylefoto.com

As this family of elephants walked past us we were ever aware of the impending sunset. I took many photos of the elephants but what stood out were the ones with the leading elephant giving himself a dust bath as the sunset backlit the puff of serengeti ash. It’s these moments that I get very excited, the low golden light is paramount in photographing anything from wildlife and landscapes to portraits. This is where I knew I could get a stunning environmental portrait of this family, scenery and a sunset scene all in one. The major technical problem is the wide tonal range I was trying to capture: the bright highlights of the sun, clouds and landscape to the dark shadows of the elephants and foreground. This would be too much for my camera to take in all at once. I turned on the auto bracketing and multi burst shooting mode on my camera, holding down my shutter I rapidly fired off three exposures, one over exposed by two stops, one with normal exposure and he last under exposed. The three images combined provided me with an extra wide tonal range that captured everything I was looking at, this is what’s known as HDR, or High Dynamic Range. After firing off a few shots I thought, “I just +Trey Ratcliff ed it”.

Even before this I have already accepted HDR images as a legitimate photographic technique. A lot of people currently consider it “cheating” or “fake” the irony is that the images come out with a tonal range that more accurately reflects what a person would see in real life.
To me, the fact that I use this technique is personal validation that HDR is here to stay and that this technique is just as good as any other a photographer keeps in their arsenal. This scene begged to be captured in a full range and this was the only way to do it with the available light. My first impression of HDR years ago appalled me, but no more than bad photography might appall me. These days there are plenty of great examples of masterfully processed HDR photos, and these photographers and the community in general is getting better every day. People tend to dislike images that are highly processed on a computer but then don’t complain about techniques that can be employed in camera. New cameras coming out will focus more on performance and image quality including doing HDR in camera, some with specialized sensors do it all the time. What will HDR dissenters think about that? When it becomes more about how the photo is taken it becomes a game, for me photography is about capturing truth and beauty, truly expressing the emotional power of being there, I couldn’t care less if the photography did headstands while doing it, it’s the photo that matters.

HDR Technique: I initially processed this in Photomatix, the de facto HDR processing software as far as I can tell. I like what it does but I don’t love the way it treats all the textures, coming out with too much contrast in unusual places, the software not being aware of the elephants natural smoothness it treats their skin like a texture that needs to be brought out, and it was too much. Other unusual artifacts produced by photomatix cause flaring on highlight edges and the images come out a little softer than I like, losing a bit of resolution.
For this reason my final image was an HDR photo that I manually combined in photoshop. I layered each exposure on top of each other and kept each portion that was properly exposed for the final result. It ended up looking just the way I saw it without unusual artifacts and a more subdued contrast change. It will be interesting to see which image appeals most to people, so comment and let me know.

See both full images at www.kylefoto.com to compare!

For #sunsetsaturday curated by +TJ KellyPhoto: The snappings of Bee-eaters
Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
On safari from the photoblog www.kylefoto.com

Out in the rolling hills of Samburu the hum of crickets fill the air like a morning chorus punctuated by a sharp snapping sound. Scanning the scene before me some flits of bright green and blue make their way to a tree near me. No time to register what I’m shooting the bee eater stops and poses on the tree, looks in the perfect direction to allow a spark of sunlight to bring life to it’s eye then flits off to another tree. “Bee eater!” my local guide says “And do you hear that snapping sound? It’s the bee eaters knocking the stingers off the insects until all the venom is released”

A pretty remarkable experience to not only see these birds snatch bees right out of the air, but also hear them preparing their breakfast.

Photographic details: I had not choice but to just fire at the thing that was moving in front of me, no time for a change of settings, I just had to hope what I was using to photograph the Guineafowl previously was good enough to shoot the bee eater. The time it took to realize the birds were there, aim my camera and squeeze out a shot must have been 1 second, my next shot was a blur of yellow and green, I’ll upload that for a laugh on my blog at www.kylefoto.com it goes to show how quickly an opportunity can turn into an empty branch.

1/400s f/7.1 ISO320 400mm

P.S. Bonus points if you can tell me exactly which Bee-eater this is!

#birding, #birdpokerPhoto: A mother is a shelter
Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa
Taken on safari, read more at www.kylefoto.com

After spending time at an elephant orphanage I’ve truly come to understand how important a mother and a family is for an elephants survival. This baby elephant who has not yet mastered the art of applying his own mud and dirt sunscreen is highly reliant on the shade of the mother in the harsh african sun. It never occurred that the mother provides so much protection just by standing there, just by existing. Of course this baby is also reliant on her wisdom, affection and milk. Should a young elephant become separated from it’s family, despite being taken in by people and being well fed, history has shown that pure grief over the loss can kill an elephant. Clearly this baby has her mother, she was so happy she could barely contain it as she ran around and swung her trunk all over the Serengeti.

Photographic Details: I wanted a photograph that visually expressed how large and important a mother can be to her calf. While the focus is on the baby elephant jovially swinging her trunk around, I wanted a background dominated by the body and textures of the mother towering over her, the same way a home would. Reminiscent of a classical portrait of a person with their home situated in the background if you will.

Canon EOS 7D 1/200s f/7.1 ISO400 400mm
For #feelgoodfriday curated by +Rebecca BorgPhoto: Baby Giraffe springs across the Serengeti
Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa
From the blog www.kylefoto.com

Looking across the Serengeti we sat quietly looking at a group of a dozen giraffes, our guide indicated that these were females who usually group together for safety.

Suddenly a large giraffe bursts from the trees behind us and begins to make her way towards the herd. Another much smaller gangly figure awkwardly stumbles out into the open; for a moment my subconscious thought it made more sense to tell my brain that my tripod had sprung to life and jumped out of the back of the safari vehicle and ran across the Serengeti. Then I realized this energetic stick figure was a baby giraffe running around her mother and all over the grass like there was a party going on in her head that only she could hear.
I’m used to seeing these large animals move like they are a slow motion movie, to see one of these things dart around, buck and jump so quickly was both startling and delightful.

Photographic Details: I wanted to capture a bit of motion with these animals moving faster than usual, I slowed my shutter speed down to 1/160th of a second in hopes of getting a little motion blur on their legs and tails without getting too much blur on the bodies. I actually have some much more artistic versions of these images that I will be sharing in the coming weeks but I liked the energy of this one as it really shows how much spunk the baby has, which made us all giggle in the safari vehicle as we watched this unfold in front of us.

This also happened so fast that I forgot to lower my aperture to let more light in, I ended up underexposing. However with the magic of shooting in RAW mode I have a little wiggle room, I was able to correct my mistake and get the detail back by changing the exposure after the fact in Lightroom, we all make mistakes but with the right settings we can compensate for them, See the original image to compare at www.kylefoto.com 

Canon EOS 7D: 1/160s f/9.0 ISO100 150mm (35mm eq:240mm)Photo: Giraffe and her daughter
On safari in the Serengeti, Tanzania
See the original untouched image at www.kylefoto.com

This young giraffe will hang by her mother along with other females in a group. This is the identical pair that I photographed earlier. After this wild baby giraffe was finished ambling around the Serengeti she settled down under her mother for a moment. Already getting the zoomed out scenic shot under my belt ( http://wp.me/p1meFH-OA ) I had to photograph some detail shots now.

Photographic Details: My main focus was the baby giraffe, and given how good our minds are at putting things together I knew I didn’t have to have the whole mother and baby giraffe in the same shot. The point of the photo is to show the scale between the mother and the baby, in addition her position under her mother perfectly expresses how important of a shelter this mother is to her baby. The rest is up to the viewer, we’re good enough at guessing that the rest of the mother is beyond the frame to know she’s just not a headless four legged monster, keeping the focus squarely on the baby. I decided to crop this image square, it’s a nice shape and the extra background to the right I thought was unnecessary.
With this image I used the exact same storytelling device I used with a baby elephant, clearly it’s a story that is seen in many animals all over africa http://wp.me/p1meFH-Ow

1/160s f/7.1 ISO100 400mm

#critiquepls What do you think about the crop of this image? Could it keep it's rectangular shape?: http://wp.me/p1meFH-OW

For #wildlifewednesday curated by +Mike Spinak !Photo: Ice and Sky
Antarctica
From the photo blog www.kylefoto.com

The ice whips off the continental glaciers of antarctica, carrying with these torrential winds a fine dusting of ice crystals. These give the edges of the glacier an etherial feel, looking like a continental sized thermos of liquid nitrogen as condensed air flows from the edges.

Photographic details: A lot of people think it’s wrong to point their camera directly into the sun, I say keep your lens clean and shoot directly into it! The sun was just above the top of the image and the way the light lit the edges of the glacier and fine ice crystals was perfect. If you think something will be difficult to photograph, give it a try, the result may surprise you.

1/125s f/9.0 ISO100 35mmPhoto: Cat Skiing
Monashee Mountains British Columbia, Canada

"Cat skiing", that is riding this massive snow crawling machine called a caterpillar up rare and fantastic mountains to ski in the most untouched powder one has ever seen.

Sometimes I joke that we just strap cats to our boots, hence this is why ski hills need lots of groomers :P

Photographic Details: I know that the first thing many people will say is "wow is that an HDR (high dynamic range) shot?" or "did you photoshop that?" The answer is no to both. The secret here is RAW photography. Getting the most optimal exposure that covers both the highlights and the shadows in an exposure that is picked with such precision there is no room for error. In Lightroom I'm able to edit the raw file to coax out the details I want in the shadows and the flecks of light on the highlights while preserving the textures where they are needed most. This way I don't need a tripod, I can quickly snap off shot and move on my merry way knowing it will only take a minute for me to process this photo for presentation.

In addition one might wonder what created that fantastic star of a sky, shooting at F16 I employ the most aperture blades in my lens which makes bright objects shine in this wonderful pattern, sunny F16 is a rule for shots like this!


Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35mm Lens 1/160s f/16.0 ISO160 16mmPhoto: Egret and Wildebeest
Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa
See more at www.kylefoto.com

Out in the Serengeti we were hunting with our lenses, hoping to snap a view of something unique and special. Of course we got the basics under our wing: many photos of the beautiful white Egrets flying, and a whole whack of the wildebeest. On their own they can be interesting shots, but it’s when I saw the white figure balancing on a wildebeest far ahead I knew I had to get an egret on top of a wildebeest. Once I knew what to look for I noticed it was happening everywhere, I just needed it to happen near me! Patience awards us with a few of the Egrets posing calmly on the back of the beasts. But as the photographic process always goes, you always try to outdo yourself. That’s when I realized I could do even better with a photo of the Egret just landing on a wildebeest with their beautiful outstretched wings. This is where I tell myself it’s time to sit back and observe the Egrets, watch from their body language so I can tell when one is about to take off, and one is about to land. I taught myself to pay attention to my peripheral vision so I could anticipate the landing vector of the Egret and have my camera ready on the right wildebeest for the landing shot. This is where you become a naturalist and not a photographer, you learn about the animal in a more intimate way and you can be where you need to be to get the better shot.

These heron and wildebeest have established a symbiotic relationship, the insects swarming around these odiferous beast are removed and the egrets get their fill of food!

Egrets aren’t exclusive to feeding in wildebeest herds, they like to feed on small insects, frogs, and earthworms in most environments in the Serengeti. But once a herd of wildebeest comes along, the commotion and dust disturbs grasshoppers and other insects which makes for a great selection of meals. When the herds show up it’s kind of like going to the grocery store when your favourite items are finally in season and everything is on sale and the store is ultra in stock! The Egrets can’t help themselves when the savings are so stellar and it’s so convenient, you just stand on the back of an animal and window shop with minimal effort!

Photographic Details: The Main setting I was worried about was the shutter speed, I wanted it fast enough to freeze the motion of the wings, if I wanted to be safer with the motion blur I would have used 1/1000th of a second for the shutter speed, but these Egrets were relatively slow and I got away with the slower shutter speed of 1/500th of a second.

I like how the wildebeest the egret is standing on is merely shown by the texture of his side, and the telltale horn on the bottom left corner. He’s too busy to do anything else but keep eating, as if he’s merely a structure for the Egret to stand on. The other wildebeest staring at the Egret helps complete this, photo, seemingly staring in disbelief and this sudden pairing of Egret and Ungulate. I wanted the background to fade out with the horizon still in the shot, expressing the impressive expanse of the Serengeti.

Canon EOS7D, 100-400mm L Lens, 1/500s f/7.1 ISO100 180mmPhoto: King penguin hangout
Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctica
See more at www.kylefoto.com

Photographic details:
These penguins were all standing in a stream of glacier runoff, as penguin feathers and other lovely things floated by. I wanted to capture how still these penguins can be, with the exception of the occasional turn of the head and a moment to preen their feathers.

I sat down with my tripod in the water and wanted to get the slowest shutter speed possible to get the maximum amount of motion blur. This was an easy technical problem to solve, let in as little light as possible by closing down my aperture to f16, decrease sensitivity with an ISO of 50. This gave me an acceptable 6 second exposure. With these settings the water looks smooth and icy as if frozen over with the passing penguin feathers streaking by. I cropped the image to keep the line of penguins on the top third, emphasizing the strange etherial space that makes up the stream they are resting in. My hope is to express what penguin watching can be like in some areas of the colonies, they may simply stand there and molt, only moving every so often to satisfy an itch, or take a look around.

For #monochromemonday curated by +Monochrome Monday +Bill Wood +Hans Berendsen +Charles Lupica and +Jerry Johnson 

6s f/16.0 ISO50 130mmPhoto: Baja Desert Racers
Rural Mexico, Baja California Peninsula

So I've tried my hand at a very different kind of "wildlife". Recently I've had the great opportunity to ride and drive some of the much famed baja racers. Cactus wipping past my head, crazy desert vehicles bouncing on the "woop-de-doos" and adrenalin pumping through my veins, it was an incredible experience to see what these races were all about, and to learn how to drive a stick, hahaha.

Photographic details: I really wanted to get a photo that expressed the speed of these machines, this quickly led me to use a slow shutter speed. It's in cases like these that motion blur is actually desired, I wanted the cactus blurry enough to create a sense of motion, while sharp enough to still be recognizable. I entered shutter priority mode and used an incredibly slow 1/50th of a second exposure, letting the camera choose the rest. Not much time to fiddle with settings so shutter priority mode allows me to choose just one variable without me having to think of the rest! Photography buffs can see my camera chose a good aperture to achieve this in the bright desert sun.

Camera settings: 1/50s f/22.0 ISO160 35mm

I ended up popping a tire and breaking the axle and other parts I didn't even know existed, does that count as a non 4 wheeled vehicle for #transporttuesday given how determined I was not to keep them? Curated by: +TransportTuesday +Mike Masin +Gene Bowker +Steve Boyko +Michael Earley +Joe PaulPhoto: Framed Giraffe
Ndutu, Tanzania, Africa

When you are out on safari you would think that you’d be able to see a giraffe from miles away the same way you would see the Eiffel Tower in Paris long before you got to it. For some reason in Africa it seems the bigger the animal is, the stealthier they are. Driving through the trees of Ndutu we kept on getting surprised by these random giraffes popping out from every direction. We would sit there in silence and poof one would be 10 feet in front of us only to dash away after it got a quick glance at us. I felt like I was in some kind of arena as puppeteers in some safari control room was launching random giraffes in our direction, laughing at our surprise as they monitor us with secret tree cameras. Like an African hunger games except instead of fighting to the death I’m just trying to get a decent photo!

Anyways, these giraffes have a few things working for them that help keep them nice and quiet. Larger animals are simply a lot more graceful because they are so heavy, they tend to look like they are walking in slow motion because the shear mass of their limbs slows quick movements. Because they are so large they don’t have too many predators (mainly lions) this negates the need to run around in a constant panicked like state, and verbal communication is unnecessary .

Photographic Details:
I often say, never centre your subject, but in this case I was able to frame this giraffe down with this tunnel of trees as she popped out. Framing is a great compositional tool, and if you can find something interesting to surround your subject in a centered subject isn’t so bad.
She turned and stared at us for a few moments, then quickly made her way again. You can see how her front leg is poised to take off again, a really cool demonstration of body language is plainly depicted here.

Camera Settings: 1/250s f/2.8 ISO100 160mm

For #wildlifewednesday curated by +Mike SpinakPhoto: Egret on a wing
Serengeti Tanzania

This was taken moments after some of the previous Egret shots I have shared with you. After getting used to the way these birds fly so I could anticipate their movements, I got into photographing them as they fly. I chose this image because the painterly like Serengeti background is still somewhat recognizable as the iconic Acacia trees stick out of the horizon and the horns of the wildebeest populate the bottom.

Photographic Details: The important part here was freezing the motion so I could have the wings and the birds still. For this reason I used a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, which is usually fast enough to capture most birds.

Camera settings: 1/1000s f/7.1 ISO160 400mm

For #midairmonday curated by +Jeff Moreau and #actionmonday curated by +Adrian ButurcaPhoto: Sunset in one shot
Ndutu, Tanzania, Africa

The sun was shooting towards the horizon, here I desperately searched for a giraffe to put in my silhouette shot, alas I did not find one in time. I have tried stalking giraffe as the sun sets in hopes of getting them in one of these shots, but even then the giraffe would not cooperate, I think they know what I'm trying to do. The funny thing is that the other safari vehicle got a similar shot but with the giraffe! They were listening when I told them I wanted giraffes in a sunset.

Photographic Details: This was shot on the way home, I used a high shutter speed simply because we were driving and I didn't want any motion blur. I took just one shot and processed it in lightroom 4 to bring out the details. This is something that may look like HDR but is nothing like it. To the unprocessed before shot go to www.kylefoto.com

Camera Settings: 1/800s f/4.0 ISO100 73mmPhoto: Via Camel
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

The warm unmoving desert air was stifling, a day riding these four legged beasts felt like riding an oven with square wheels. Never the less I enjoyed it! Spending the day wandering across the desert free of the sound of any vehicles, journeying our way to a place where there is shade and water before the heat of the high noon sun arrives. It was actually slightly overcast, the thin clouds above acting like a giant blanket keeping all the heat of the day in, instead of letting it escape into space.

Photographic Details: These camels had a lot of attitude but of course by now we were used to each other. This guy was laying down and in the clean soft sand it was easy enough and really comfortable to lay down as well. I wanted to get a unique perspective, this is a classic example of a photographer either getting as low or high as possible but not at eye level. Because of his incessant chewing of cud his jaw looked unusually blurred, I had to use a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second to freeze that motion.

Camera Settings 1/250s f/5.0 ISO200 70mm

for #travelthursday curated by +Laura MitchumPhoto: Gateway to Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum, Jordan

I had the afternoon to myself to explore the area surrounding my camp. My guide told me there was some fun climbing in the cliffs and rocks overlooking us, he sure wasn’t kidding. The inner child in me came out to play on the fantastic formations of granite and sandstone, every curve, cave and crack was a gateway to new worlds and fantastic views.

Photographic Details: This is another great example of framing. When I’m out and about I search for something (usually trees) to use a real world object to frame a scene or subject. In the case of the desert it’s the rocks themselves. Not only does this frame show us what the rocks looks like up close, but you can see the very cliffs they make in the distance; It’s a two in one shot. In addition the multiple angular lines made up of the rock is pleasurable for the human eye, providing many paths for the eye to follow, like a visual roller coaster guiding your view over every stone and texture in the image.

Camera Settings: 1/160s f/7.1 ISO100 50mm
For #stonesaturday curated by +Antoine BergerPhoto: Petroglyphs to the Past
Wadi Rum, Jordan

Written by the pre islamic people of the arabian desert and sinai areas, some of these Petroglyphs are up to 2400 years old. These "photographs of ancient times" even depict wildlife that are either extinct or do not live in the area, as over time the local climate has since changed to a more arid one. This area being famous for Lawrence of Arabia and the filming of "red planet" I can't help but think the deep history of this place is often overlooked. This is where people have lived and thrived for thousands of years, whole lifetimes written out like a story book for us to see so many years later. I feel almost like I can touch the rock and go back and time and ask these people, "What are your hopes and dreams?".

The largest petroglyph of the camel on the bottom left shows a hobbled camel, the practice of tying the front two legs together so the animal can't run far. This allows them to slowly graze without ever needing fences and is still done by the people who live here today.

Photographic Details: Using a polariser I was able to darken down the blue sky into a much deeper blue. The clouds seem to erupt from the cliffside pronouncing the deep history of these images. I didn't keep the aperture too sharp as I wanted some of the wall to blur into the distance, farther away objects fade from view just like the passage of time obscures our view of the past.

Camera Settings: Canon 5D Mark II 1/80s f/7.1 ISO100 16mm

For #historythursday +History Thursday curated by +Matt ShalvatisPhoto: Just sitting by the camels
Wadi Rum, Jordan

I rarely get the chance to photograph myself, but when I do I don’t do the typical one armed pointing the camera at my face with something in the background thing, for me that’s too contrived. The thing I like most about my photos is that they are shot just the way I see them, and express exactly what it was like to be there. Because of that every scene is an extension of myself and my experiences. Because of that the need to plop my face in front of the camera to express where I’ve been is moot.

However I wanted to express that after a long day wandering in the desert, I just plopped myself down and watched the camels graze. The two front legs of the animal are hobbled just like what’s depicted on the petroglyphs I posted yesterday. This ancient practice keeps them from galloping off into the sunset, and instead they graze on the sparse but nutritious grasses popping out of the sand without straying too far from “home”. Including my feet was the perfect way to express this unusual relaxation scene that I found myself in.

Photographic details: I used a higher aperture of f9 to keep things sharper, but not too sharp so the image will lose depth. Using a wide angle lens at 35mm helped to easily keep my legs in the shot. I just laid back in the soft sand, got comfortable and snapped a few shots while the camel was chewing his cud. I would have preferred the camel move a little to the left but I think that was asking too much of him on his down time. Normally I could have moved to the right to get the camel in the right position but I would end up falling off the sand dune.

Camera Settings: 1/100s f/9.0 ISO200 35mm

For #feetfriday and #feetupfriday curated by +Carrie McGann and +Feet FridayPhoto: Supermoon, Airplane and Calgary Tower in one
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I really wanted a photo of the supermoon against something that was iconically Calgary. At the same time I didn't want to photoshop the moon to make it look bigger. In order to show a large moon I had to use a telephoto lens and be somewhat far from the tower itself. This meant mapping the path of the moon ahead of time and knowing where I had to stand to get the Calgary tower visible. After a few calculations I knew that I had to be at the Jubilee auditorium, a place I've always gone to and had a fantastic time watching Alberta Ballet or other fantastic shows.

One other problem with shooting such a bright object is that the camera can't capture the comparatively dim lights of the towers and the bright moon at the same time. This required that I take two photos at different exposure levels and mash them together to get the combined details of the moon's beautiful craters and the city's vibrant textures. I had the lucky bonus of an airplane flying in front of the moon while I took the shot, creating a cool streak across the sky.

I have to stress that the the size or shape of the moon has not been manipulated, the only "photoshopping" in this photo is the combining of the two exposures, the large size of the moon is magnified just as much as the tower is by using my 400mm lens on a canon 7D.

Exposure 1 for the city: 4s f/8.0 ISO200 400mm (Brighter)
Exposure 2 for the moon 1s f/8.0 ISO100 400mm (Darker)

For #satudaynightlight curated by +Dirk HeindoerferPhoto: The Northern Gannet portrait
Ile Bonaventure, Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec, Canada

I'm very used to seeing exotic and beautiful bird colonies out in some of the farthest reaches of our world. But this afternoon I spent time in my own country, the gaspé peninsula in a small and picturesque quebec town of Percé, Canada. After enjoying some fine french cuisine of arctic char for lunch I couldn't believe my eyes that after a short ride over to the island I was surrounded by thousands of beautiful white patterned Northern Gannets.  The first thing I noticed as I wandered through the forest is the pungent ammonia and fish like smell of a typical bird colony "they smell just like penguins" I thought. Then the cacophony of calls from the gannets filled the air as the landscape of the colony broke through the trees, the brown colony floor perfectly spaced and dotted with gannets, like they were dollops of icing placed down by some divine gingerbread house maker. It was remarkable to see how each gannet was just one "beak peck" away, as if they hate each other but have to be close enough because of safety in numbers.

I wandered around the colony where there was a wooden observation platform looking down on the gannets. I leaned over the railing and to my surprise just a couple meters below me there was a gannet staring up at me with curiosity. He didn't fidget, or look at me with concern, just sat there as the rain and fog beaded up on his head. I never had such a fantastic viewing angle from a such a beautiful bird like this before.

Photographic Details
Because I was using a 400mm Telephoto lens, I had no choice but to actually lift my camera up as high as I could, farther away from the Gannet. These lenses have a   minimum focusing distance and I was actually too close to photograph this bird. I had to hold my camera away from me the way one might hold a baby away from them after they just filled their diaper: you would never drop what's in your hands but you want it as far away from you as possible. I put my camera into the very rarely used live view mode so I could see where the camera was focusing, and shot multiple photos like this. I had to use a high shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second as these birds were constantly looking around shaking their heads and my own hands weren't the most stable platform to be shooting from. I was very happy with the results and to get a shot like this without disturbing this beautiful bird was fantastic. I can't wait to see more places like this in my own "backyard" of Canada. The artistic quality of creating a vertical line from the bottom left to the upper right is what I was going for, I also wanted to express the subtle but beautiful yellow hues this bird has in it's pristine pelage. Focusing on the eye is the standard for a photo like this but the emphasis is in the strong diagonals this bird presents.

Camera Settings
Canon EOS 7D ISO400 f5.6 1/1000 sec Canon 100-400mm lens

#birdpoker #birding #gannet #canada #wildlife #birds #quebec #FineArtPls curated by +Marina Chen , and #yisforyellow  curated by +Lucille Galleli and +YisforYellow 

Also I'm back! I know you have seen many posts relayed to google plus by my wonderful helper +Kathryn Bechthold while I was away, hence the third person, but rest assured I'm back now and will be glad to answer your questions!Photo: Hover fly
Waterton National Park, Canada

This is such a fascinating insect to watch. At first glance I approached this patch of flowers with great trepidation to ensure I don’t incur the wrath of the bees I was looking at. But upon closer inspection I realised these were not bees at all!

Canon EOS 7D 1/400s f/3.5 ISO100 50mm

#insects   #insectsphotos  Photo: Everyone looks good on a horse!
This was a remarkable Thanksgiving day. The sky was dark and dramatic in the background, but the sun managed to peak out for a few moments. What was remarkable for me is that I managed to take this photo while riding a horse!

Perhaps it would be easier to take a shot with a small point and shoot, or with a wide angle lens, but instead I used my 70-200 telephoto to increase the size of the mountains in the background.I positioned the riders on the right side of the frame, facing into the view to satisfy that unconscious urge to "see what the riders are looking into".

The somewhat ridiculous setting on this photo is the fact that I have a high shutter speed of 1/2500 of a second. At first this might look like a mistake, but in reality, holding a telephoto lens or a moving horse will create a lot of motion blur, and this high shutter speed will prevent that blur from happening.