photo workshop

10 Countries, 10 Days, 10 Tips: Day 4 - Galapagos, The "Enchanted Islands" of Ecuador

Photograph by Rick Sammon
It's Day 4 of my series on travel photography here on my blog. Scroll down for past posts in this series.

Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Tip: For wildlife, bring your wide-angle and super wide-angle lenses as well as your telephoto lenses. Because the animals are not hunted, they are not afraid of tourists and photographers - so you can get very close to them.

Above, marine iguanas: Canon 15mm lens. Below, sea lions: Canon 17-40mm lens.

Note: marine iguanas "sneeze" a saltwater spray, so perhaps you don't want to get too close. :-). If you do get a "sneeze" on the front element of your lens or filter, wipe it off carefully with a lens cleaning cloth. The salt can scratch a lens or filter.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
When it comes to a telephoto lens, I'd recommend the Canon 100-400mm IS lens. I used that for the photos below of the blue-footed booby and the giant tortoise.

All my gear recos: My Gear.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
In Galapagos, when you are not on the beach, you must stay on the paths. Keep that in mind when thinking about your lens selection.

Photograph by Rick Sammon
Finally, plan to visit the Galapagos on a live-aboard boat. . . the best way to see as many islands as possible in a relatively short period of time.

You can see more of my Galapagos images in my SmugMug gallery.
• • • • • 
If you like traveling and photography, check out my workshops and photo tours.

If you want travel photography tips at your fingertips, check out my app: Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet.

Explore the light,

How Come I'm Not Getting The Shots?

© Rick Sammon
I teach a lot of workshops throughout the year. Every so often a workshop participant asks: "How come I'm not getting the shots that the other photographers are getting?"

© Rick Sammon
I've seen this happen on all different types of workshops - wildlife, people, landscape and so on. I've heard this from my fellow workshops instructors, too.

© Rick Sammon
The answer, sometimes, is equipment. In some situations, a certain lens, say a 400mm or a 15mm, is indeed needed.

In other situations, it's luck.

Of course, sometimes the photographer is a novice and has not yet acquired the skills to get specific shots.

Sometimes, and this is the point of this post, it's the photographer's responsibility.

To help all workshop participants, here's my list of "A Workshop Participant's Responsibilities." 

Know your camera - especially when it comes to fine-tuning the exposure with the +/- exposure compensation control - or dialing in the correct exposure manually. After all, for every photographer, there is only one correct exposure.

Stick like glue to the instructor.

Ask to see the instructor's photographs, and the photographs of the other workshop participants.

Know that the instructor is not a "mind reader" when it comes to your needs.

Show the instructor, and the other participants, your pictures as often as possible on your camera's LCD panel.

Be part of the "team" - and join in the fun, as well as the work.

Ask questions.

Do your homework before leaving home on the location, subject and the equipment that's needed.

Sit with the instructor during Photoshop and Lightroom sessions and see how your shots can be improved.

Set goals, and maybe even a specific goal.

• • • • • 

So my friends, speak up, join in, ask questions, know your camera, do your homework, don't assume anything, set goals, stick like glue . . . and you'll get the most out of a photo workshop. The more you put in, the more you'll get out.

Explore the light,

P.S. One example of "putting in = getting out."

On my recent Light Photographic Workshop in Alaska with Hal "Bull" Schmittt, workshop participant Linda Cullivan set many goals, one of which was to learn how to create a montage in Photoshop. We sat together for hours aboard the Norther Song (middle photo). She worked hard . . . and got it! Above is her first Photoshop montage, which Linda created during the workshop. Nice work, Linda - who also stuck like glue to the instructors.

Scroll down to my posts from this awesome Alaska workshop.

Thursday's Travelogue: Mt. Rainier National Park

Photograph by Rick Sammon
This is part of a series I run here on my blog: Thursday's Travelogue. This week: Mt. Rainier National Park.

Juan Pons and I are running a photo tour/workshop to the park next month. We have one spot open. Click here for info:

Photo tips:
• Bring wide-angle, telephoto and macro lenses.
• Pack a polarizing filter.
• Be prepared to shoot HDR. For discounts on HDR plug-ins, click here.
• Shoot a series of images for panos. Great pano opportunities.
• Tote a tripod.
• As simple as it sounds, shoot horizontal and vertical photos of the same scene. Frame for a cover.
• Work with reflections.
• Pre prepared to photograph small waterfalls - pack an ND filter.
• Also pack a split ND filter for landscapes.
• Always look up, back and up - for added photo opportunities.
• Get to the park before dawn to capture the beautiful dawn light.
• Stay until after sunset, when you capture the afterglow of sunset.
• Remove all filters when shooting into the sun.
• Explore the area surrounding the park. You'll find other great photos opportunities. See image below.
• Bring a flashlight for early morning shoots. Head mounted flashlights are best for photographers.

Head-mounted flashlights:
Streamlight 61407 Enduro Head-Mounted Flashlight with Visor Clip and Elastic Strap, Blaze Camo
SpareHand Head Shot Flashlight with Head Band

Photograph by Rick Sammon
Travel tips:
• No gas in the park. Gas up!
• Pack a map for your park visit.
• If you will be leading a photo tour, you'll need a permit.
• Not too many hotels/motels near the park. Do a search on-line and book early.
• You can camp in the park, but you need a permit.
• You'll probably be coming from Seattle. Keep your camera handy. It's a beautiful drive.
• Dress in layers and bring gloves. It's cool in the morning but it warms up - at least in September when we are going :-)
• Hiking boots are a must.
• Plan your shoots in advance - so you are on site in plenty of time to catch the light.
• Check out the Mt. Rainier National Park site for detailed info about the park.

Photograph by Rick Sammon. We may eat or shoot HDR here. It's a possibility.
Explore the light,

P.S. Here are two bonus tips by Juan:

Photograph by Juan Pons
Get closer. Sometimes getting closer than you originally intended can create a completely different but very interesting and engaging image. While at Mt. Rainier National Park I noticed these awesome looking plants that reminded me of the "Truffula Trees" from the famous Dr. Seus story "The Lorax". I was looking for a way to capture both the detail as well as number of these you would encounter in the fields. So in order to do that I used my widest lens the 10-22 mm Canon zoom lens set at the 10mm and got in VERY close to one of the Western Pasqueflower seedpod while carefully framing my background to include items of interest. The front of my lens was probably about 4-5 inches away from the seedpod on the left, and I was lying down on the ground on my side. A little uncomfortable, yes, but this allowed me to capture the exquisite detail of this seedpod while also including the environment.

Photograph by Juan Pons
Think outside of the box. We've all heard the saying "Dead Center is Deadly," and for the most part that is correct. But sometimes rules are meant to be broken. In this case I placed Mt. Rainier dead center mostly because I thought it was such as strong element that it deserved to be dead center. However I made sure to balance the image by having other strong elements in my image to keep the viewer interested. It is important to know your basic compositional rules, but don't be a slave to them break them form time to time to add more impact and interest to your images.

Rick and I look forward to the workshop. We may even recored a segment for our Digital Photo Experience podcast. 

Tulip Trick

Picture above is a nice enough photograph of some tulips. Below is an image I created from that image using a simple Photoshop trick. The effect works great on flowers, but try it on other subjects for a surprising effect. Here's how to do it.

In Photoshop, go to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates > Polar to Rectangular.

Next, go to Image > Rotate > Flip Vertically.

Next, go back to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates, but this time click Rectangular to Polar.

That's it. For added fun, play with Hue/Saturation, or change the Image Size to square.

If you like photographing tulips and playing in the digital darkroom, check out the workshop that I am doing in The Netherlands in 2011.

Explore the light,