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Posts Tagged ‘National Geographic’

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So, are you intrigued? What do penguins and Schutzhund (IPO) dogs have in common. Quite simply, they both can be tricky critters to photograph as they move fast and sometimes in unanticipated ways. While on our trip to Antarctica, I was thrilled (on the inside, of course) when experienced National Geographic photographers grumbled that photographing penguins swimming is very difficult, much to their annoyance. I think they much preferred photographing the ice, as ice moves at a glacier pace, if you’ll pardon the pun. More about ice in a future post.

Their advice for photographing penguins confirmed my own approach to Schutzhund dogs. First, you must understand and learn their behaviors. And, then you must learn to anticipate. As with Schutzhund dogs, penguins are often the darkest part of the image, especially if they are hanging out on an ice berg or snowy area. At times, they are on rocky beaches, which offered welcome contrasts. So, like Schutzhund dogs, choices must be made as to whether to expose for the penguins or the background. We were blessed with marvelous weather – clear, sunny and very little wind. Temps were in the 30s. Simply lovely by Antarctica standards. Days were 23 hours long!

Penguins on land are funny – really – they’ll make you laugh at their antics and awkward ways of moving and stealing each other’s rocks, used to feather their nests. Even penguins look down and watch where they are walking in the rocky, icy, snowy landscape that is Antarctica. And, sometimes, they slip and lose their footing. Photographing penguins on land is more about capturing their expressions and funny behaviors.

Penguins hang out in flocks, as there is safety in numbers, but they also are sometimes alone, which makes for a very poignant photo. They fuss at each other, play, walk about, and are very curious. They also create highways in the snow to the water, and if you stand in their way, they’ll just wait for you to move.

Penguins in the water are elegant and fluid; such a joy to watch. I had a lot of fun and success one day photographing penguins swimming. I was on deck, which gave me a birds-eye view. The water is so clear that the penguins showed up very clearly. They dart about, but they also display flock behavior. Not being a birder, I had to watch and learn. They are very, very fast in water and unpredictable, so I tended to frame wider rather than trying to follow on particular penguin. And, I used a fast shutter speed – 1/750 or better – and burst mode. Yes, they are that fast!

On another note,  I asked several of the National Geographic photographers, who also act as guides and skilled zodiac drivers (inflatable rubber boats with outboard motors that got us up close and personal to the ice, penguins and landings), did they compensate for the bright light and white ice / snow. One fellow say he did not use exposure compensation, but tended to shoot in neutral. That, too, was my experience. While some like to over compensate (add light to light), I found that neutral worked very well. I still will try to add light to light when on a Schutzhund field to see if that helps.

We saw, by they way, four species of penguins – Adele (blue eyes), Gentoo (orange beaks), one Emperor, and Chin Strap (have a chin strap). We also saw many whales, including Humpbacks, Minke and Killer Whales. After one day’s shooting of nearly 700 images, I had to ask myself how many images of dorsal fins did I really need – more about that in my next post. Also, an upcoming post will focus on ice, which is really a discussion about exposures and other camera settings for Antarctica and how what I learned can be applied to Schutzhund photography.

Until then – Happy New Year – and thanks for visiting!

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Merry Christmas!

This past week I watched a photography webinar offered by National Geographic in preparation for our grand adventure to Antarctica. The information offered was very helpful, but pretty basic, which is fine as the target audience is tourists, not serious amateur or professional photographers. A couple of tips, though, really will be helpful not only in Antarctica but also on the Schutzhund field.

Tip 1: When faced with a bright scene, such as a glistening Schutzhund field, adjust the exposure compensation dial to over expose the scene just a bit. This will fool your camera into darkening the scene, which will greatly help get the exposure just right. Same holds true for darker scenes, such as shadows. The rule is add light to light and dark to dark. It’s a bit counter-intuitive. Give it a try and see what happens.

Tip 2: On very cold and very hot / humid days, condensation within the camera body and lens can be a problem. On cold days, condensation can occur when you bring the camera inside from the cold. Conversely, on hot / humid days, condensation can occur when you take the camera outside from the cooler air-conditioned house or car. To keep condensation from forming, store your equipment in plastic bags and let it come to the ambient temperature before you fire it up. In other words, on a cold day, let the camera sit indoors in the camera bag for 30 minutes or so before you turn it on to check images or take photos indoors. On hot / humid days, let the camera sit for a bit to warm up before using. I use plastic bags, which really helps avoid this problem.

The webinar instructor Ralph Lee Hopkins has published a book on outdoor photography, called Digital Masters: Nature Photography: Documenting the Wild World (A Lark Photography Book). It’s available on Amazon.com and looks to be an excellent resource.

Look for new posts just after the new year, including photos from our grand adventure. Until then happy shooting and best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy healthy new year!  Thank you for visiting!

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In an earlier post about perspective, the question was asked, “How low can you go?” In Schutzhund (IPO) photography, it’s a lot easier to go low than go high or wide, mostly because that is what is available as Schutzhund fields do not offer a wide variety of opportunities to stand on ladders and peer down on the dogs. Also, shooting wide often yields more field than anything else.

On the other hand, higher angles allow for the “surrounding environment to take on more prominence,” as described in Robert Hirsch’s book, Light and Lens: Photography in the Digital Age. The higher you go, the less important the subject in the overall image. Higher angles suggest “vulnerability, weakness or the harmlessness and/or openness of the subject.” Obviously, in Schutzhund or IPO, photographers do not want to show dogs as vulnerable, weak or harmless. On the other hand, it’s an interesting perspective in the protection work to see how much of the field the dog is asked to cover in the various attack exercises or the long bite.

Bird’s eye views are rarely available to Schutzhund photographers and are not the best choice as they can be “perplexing an disorienting to viewers…A bird’s eye view enables viewers to hover over the subject from a Divine perspective. A subject appears inconsequential, reinforcing the idea of fate or destiny – that something beyond the subject’s control is going to happen.”  The higher up, the less the action is apparent and the less impressive it becomes.

The same can be said for oblique angles, where the horizontal line is at a very odd angle or tilted to one side. As Robert Hirsch explains, “This may suggest angst, imbalance, impending movement, tension or transition, indicating a precarious situation of the verge of change.” An oblique angle may be a creative choice during those brief moments of transition in the hold and barks, right before the escape bite, and as the handler approaches the dog and helper. Yet, so much of Schutzhund is about precision that I am not sure oblique angles really show the sport or the dogs to their best advantage.

On the other hand, at home, photographers can have a lot of fun photographing dogs from various angles. The slide show above shows one of my favorite pictures of our dog, Kira. She was sitting in the backyard and I was on our porch. I aimed the camera from my perch dead center on her. The result is a photo that looks a bit like a fish eye. Another image taken in our pasture, shows Kira and Eli (Leroy v. Rietnisse) chewing on sticks. I like this photo as it over dramatizes the difference in sizes between Kira and Eli and between the sizes of the sticks each choose. Also included is a picture of Kira taken in my office, very much up close and personal as a counter point. Other images in the slide show were taken at higher angles than at field levels. Photos like this are only possible when taken at a stadium, unless you are able to stage a shot on a club field. Now, that would be a fascinating experiment!

So, from this photographer’s perspective, shooting at angles that best show the action up close and personal is preferable as what I am really after is to show the power and impressive nature of these magnificent animals, as well as their skill and tremendous training.

On a personal note: My husband and I are in the process of moving to a new home and shortly thereafter embarking on a trip to Antarctica over Christmas! If you would like to follow our travels, visit the Lindblad / National Geographic website, where daily expedition reports are posted. We are traveling on the National Geographic Explorer. The expedition leaves on December 19 from Ushuaia, Argentina!

Please understand if I am not able to get another post in until just after the New Year! I will try, but my time right now is very much not my own. Yes, I am taking my camera and will share a lot of photos from Antarctica! Until then, best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year!  Thank you for visiting and Happy Shooting!

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Wondering why no new posts these past couple of weeks?  Don’t worry, I’ve not gone silent.  I will begin posting about Schutzhund Photography next week.  The reason there have been no new posts is we spent the past 16 days in Alaska. Wow – what a wonderful state.  Denali National Park (interior Alaska) is nothing like the Inside Passage (southeast Alaska). Each has its own beauty, animals, birds, flowers and amazing scenery.

Yes, I will post a few pictures.

The first week we were in Denali National Park, staying at the very small North Face Lodge (30 guests).  We saw Mt. McKinley (Denali) the first night; the rest of the week it was in the clouds. No sunset in Denali as it is so far north.  We hiked in sun, rain, wind and swarms of mosquitoes! Everything they say about Alaska mosquitoes is true!

During the second week, we were aboard the Lindblad / National Geographic Sea Lion (62 guests). We traveled up and down the Inside Passage, including stops at Dawes Glacier, which was calving at the time.  We saw a huge piece of ice fall and create a gigantic ice berg.  We also saw many humpback whales, including one that breached (leaped out of the water) right in front of my eyes! and bald eagles.  Amazing creatures.  As the ship was rather small, we could get up close and personal with the coastline and glaciers.  The ship also relies on Zodiac vessels to transport guests to the shore for hiking and kayaking and rides along the shore.  We took a Zodiac ride up close to where many Stellar sea lions were hanging out – amazing.  On the way, we saw some 20 bald eagles hunting for fish right above our heads!  We also took a ski plane ride over a glacier near Petersburg, Alaska.

During the two weeks, we saw brown bears, Caribou, Dall sheep, golden eagles, ground squirrels, a red fox, harbor seals, mooses and calves, mountain goats and kids, Dall porpoise, ravens, sea otters, snowshoe  hares, Stellar seal lions, Puffins, hawks, Peregrine falcons, owls, several  types of loons, ducks and gulls, and Cormorants.   I’m sure there are more species of birds, but we can’t remember.  We also learned a great deal about the wild flowers in Denali National Park. The naturalists there get very excited about itsy bitsy wild flowers, which brings up some interesting thoughts about macro photography.  Stay tuned for more!

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