Almost Weekly Photo

The Problem With Puffins!

Puffin, Fugle Fjord, SvalbardFujifilm X-H1, XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR,…

Credit Where Credit Is Due For Photographers

House, Arnarstapi, Iceland. Inspired by a National Geographic photo from…

Wanted: Travellers to Georgia & Armenia

Ushguli towers, Georgia. Love the vehicles below.Phase One A-Series, 100MP,…

Puffin, Fugle Fjord, Svalbard
Fujifilm X-H1, XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR, f8 @ 1/650 second, ISO 250

The more nature photography I do, the more I realise how much our subjects move. Even these puffins swimming quietly along on a glassy afternoon needed a reasonably fast shutter speed to freeze the action completely.

For many people, nature photography relies on technical perfection. Not always, but for photos like the samples here, you want your subject to be tack sharp, at least on the eyes and beak where it counts. So, how do you do it?

First up, ensure your lens is focusing properly. When you use a telephoto lens (this was a 100-400mm), it magnifies both your subject and any errors in focusing. So, if the autofocus system locks onto the bird in front, the bird behind might not be sharp. Worse, if the autofocus locks onto the shoulder feathers, the eye may not be sharp. Depth-of-field with telephoto lenses is very shallow, and the closer you are to your subject, the shallower the depth-of-field.

In this situation, I used a single spot autofocus point, which was a struggle because I was shooting from a floating zodiac (which is better than a zodiac that's not floating, of course). Slight movements of other passengers compound the movement of the birds and it can be challenging to keep the autofocus point on the eye of the bird. There were a lot of misses, but I knew this would be the case, so I took LOTS of frames and at least a couple were sharp!

Image stabilisation is also great because it helps keep your camera still, but it doesn't help if the subject itself is moving. At 100% magnification, any movement is a problem, so 1/500 second is probably as slow as you should use for any wildlife photography (conditions permitting), but if I had this opportunity again, I'd go for 1/1000 or even 1/2000 second. Most cameras will work very happily at higher ISO settings, allowing these faster shutter speeds.

You don't always see Puffins up in Svalbard, or so they told me the day before, but no one told the flock of twenty or so Puffins that were swimming not far from our ship! 

Interested in a trip to Svalbard? I have two options, one this year in August, one the year after in July! Check out the voyages I'm doing with Kevin Raber (click here) on M/S Quest (Rockhopper Workshops) in 2020 and with Aurora Expeditions here in 2021.

House, Arnarstapi, Iceland. Inspired by a National Geographic photo from 30 years ago!
Phase One XF, IQ4 150MP, 55mm Schneider lens, f11 @ 1/100 second, ISO 64, exposure averaging 2 minutes.

Here’s my new year soapbox: photo credits! If a journalist is acknowledged for their words in a magazine or website, why is it that photographers are not?

Now, up front, there are some publications and websites which are extremely good about crediting photographers – thank you! On the other hand, publications you’d hope knew a little better are not.

In a recent Qantas inflight magazine, a journalist wrote a series of captions about some 'amazing' photographs. We knew she was writing the captions, but in most cases, we had no idea who took the photographs she was talking about.

Why not?

As both a writer and a photographer, I can't understand why there is such a bias against photographers. We know how cheap and easy it is for publications to grab photos from a stock library. We also know that sometimes the stock library may only require the publication to credit the library, not necessarily the photographer. Even so, given the paltry payments made for usage these days, the very least a publisher can do is give the photographer a credit!  

Under Australian law, moral rights means (in simple terms) that anyone publishing a photograph must credit the photographer. Of course, there are situations where you don’t have to provide a credit, but I can’t think of a good excuse not to credit a photographer when the photograph is a key component of an article or blog.

So, let’s ignore the legalities. Let’s just look at this ethically.  If a publication credits its writers and journalists, why not credit photographers as well? And if we see publishers forgetting to do it, let's call them out.

So, Qantas, how about a quiet word in your editor's ear? You'd make a bunch of photographers very happy!

And a Happy New Year to all Better Photography readers!

Ushguli towers, Georgia. Love the vehicles below.
Phase One A-Series, 100MP, 23mm Rodenstock lens, f8 @ 1/180 second, ISO 50.

Georgia and Armenia are so full of history, it's practically dripping off your photos. And two of my favourite locations are Ushguli and Mestia in Georgia, for many reasons. 

First, these towns are tucked away in the mountains, so there's a good chance of snow or - on our planned trip for 2020, golden autumn leaves! As you can see from the photographs, last time we had plenty of snow. We were there in early spring and a late snowfall transformed the landscape. Mehmet our guide mentioned how beautiful the area was in autumn with the changing colours - and so that's why this time we're going there in late October 2020, hoping to get that colour.

Second, the towns are home to these wonderful towers. There are lots of great stories about why they were built, how each neighbour would try to out do next door, and even of a few people jumping off the top or dropping things on marauders below! For me, they punctuate the landscape and there are a couple of angles I'm hoping to shoot in Ushguli especially. Last time, it was raining pretty heavily, so I couldn't explore as freely as I wanted to.

And third, I still remember the home made soup we had in an Ushguli farmhouse. Ushguli has only a handful of dwellings and is very remote, so our expectations for a great lunch were not too high. How wrong I was - it was sensational!

If you'd like to join me in Georgia and Armenia in October 2020, please book now! Details can be found on the Better Photography website - or click here.

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