Tag Archives: landscape photography

2015 in Retrospect

It’s that time of year again to reflect on the year that was as a photographer: the lucky breaks, the missed opportunities, the long stretches of pulverizing boredom, the fleeting moments of ephemeral magic. That’s 2015, which is a pretty standard example of most years as a wildlife, travel, and nature photographer.

Looking over the choices of my personal favorites, I was somewhat surprised to see no verticals. I hope that’s not a trend and maybe it’s something to conciously consider as the calendar turns over to 2016. Aside from that, there are some very pleasant memories represented in these images. Good times. Good year. Enjoy.

 

Caption

“Cosmic Number 9” February 17, 2015. Inyo National Forest, California USA.

14 degrees Fahrenheit on a cold, still February night in the Eastern Sierra mountain range of California. The 4.5-hour exposure was almost worth being sick the following 3 days. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF16-35 f/2.8L II USM @ 28mm, about 4 1/2 hours (15,861 seconds) @ f/3.2, ISO 100. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

Giraffes reflected in sunset light, Etosha National Park, Namibia

“Mirage” May 25, 2015. Giraffes reflected in sunset light, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

The group of giraffes approached the water hole with great deliberation and caution – as they usually do – but this time with perfect sunset light reflected in the water. The symmetry, balance, and separation between each of the animals is what elevated this frame over the others, especially the giraffe on the right with its head and neck arched in the opposite direction from the group. I then flipped the image upside-down to give viewer a bit of a visual puzzle to work out. Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM @ 64mm, 1/800 second @ f/4, ISO 2000. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

Polar bears, Barter Island, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska USA

“Faraway Eyes” October 8, 2015. Polar bears on Barter Island, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska USA.

I knew that one of my polar bear images would make the favorites list for 2015, I just didn’t know which it would be. I suppose I eventually picked this one over the others because of the cub’s quizzical head posture and expression as our boat slowly backed away from the shoreline. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM @ 371mm, 1/800 second @ f/4, ISO 1000. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

Gondolas parked for the night, Venice, Italy

“Venice Blues” July 26, 2015. Gondolas parked for the night, Venice, Italy.

Piazza San Marco in Venice is usually a raucous, crowded, noisy place. In the morning’s pre-dawn stillness, the only sound to be heard was the gentle rocking of the idle gondolas to the waves, which is captured as soft blurs in the long exposure. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF EF16-35 f/4L USM @ 30mm, 13 seconds @ f/14, ISO 100. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

Light Break

“Light Break” June 14, 2015. A lone oryx crests the ridge of a dune, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

This image is all about fortuitous timing and LIGHT! Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM w/1.4x extender @ 448mm, 1/160 second @ f/6.3, ISO 500. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

Sea stacks along Iceland's southern coast.

“Njord’s Temple” September 25, 2014. Sea stacks along Iceland’s southern coast.

Iceland’s Reynisdranger basalt sea stacks are formidable and impressive from almost any angle you view them, but from the side – the angle you see here – they appear other-worldly if not dangerous. Still, without the rim light on the foreground rocks, I would have never even bothered to lift the camera to the tripod. This is one of those rare images where I knew it would be a black and white interpretation at the time I captured it. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM @ 55mm, 1/80 second @ f/16, ISO 500. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

Last Stand

“Last Stand” November 14, 2015. Arches National Park, Utah USA.

The warm light on the dead juniper tree was so visually striking, especially against the shadow which was cast along the wall of Skyline Arch. I simply used the shadow’s edge as a frame to the tree while leaving out any of the sky, which is just out of the image frame along the top. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM @ 70mm, 1/80 second @ f/11, ISO 500. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

A family of African elephants takes a drink at the water hole is late afternoon. Etosha National Park, Namibia

“Generations” May 25, 2015. A family of African elephants takes a drink at the water hole is late afternoon. Etosha National Park, Namibia.

The title I gave this image, Generations, refers to the relative size and position of each elephant in the frame. Of course these elephants may not represent distinct “generations” but it’s a nice thought anyway. The light comes from a soft glow on the western horizon just after sunset. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM @ 316mm, 1/500 second @ f/4, ISO 800. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

A shapely tree and spring reflections in the Little River, Great Smoky Mountians National Park, Tennessee USA

“Sang-froid” April 21, 2015. A shapely tree and spring reflections in the Little River, Great Smoky Mountians National Park, Tennessee USA.

While the tree was shaded by the mountain behind me, the river was getting some beautiful reflections from the illuminated forest on the other bank, giving the background a soft, lemony color wash. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM @ 126mm, 2 seconds @ f/20, ISO 100. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

 

The surreal landscape of Deadvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia

“Dry Bones” June 14, 2015. The alien landscape of Deadvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

A stark and surreal landscape, Deadvlei never fails to inspire with an amazing array of compositional options. The best time is just after the pan falls to shadow and the surrounding dunes are lit from the low-angled sun. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM @ 168mm, 1/8 second @ f/18, ISO 250. © Richard Bernabe/Earth and Light

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A Cool Website for Predicting Sunsets/Sunrise: SunsetWx

There is now a website that can reasonably predict whether a sunset or sunrise will be good or not in your area. This is not an exact science, obviously, but the site does use an extensive, in-depth algorithm that considers certain meteorological factors that go into creating a good sunrise or sunset: clouds, cloud types, cloud altitude, humidity, barometric pressure changes, etc.

SunsetWx is the first site of which I know that attempts to predict the quality of a sunrise or sunset. On the main map (only available for the United States, I’m afraid), the warm colors indicate there is a good chance there will be a quality sunrise or sunset in your area. Cool colors mean you should plan on sleeping in. Landscape photographers, take a look. It’s better than guessing.

http://sunsetwx.com

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The Great Smoky Mountains: Behind the Lens, Second Edition

I’ve just finished writing and assembling my newest ebook project, a second edition of my Great Smoky Mountains: Behind the Lens. So how is this version different from the first?

– More content (80 pages versus 42)

– Optimized for mobile devices and retina screens (hi-res, horizontal format, sized to fit the iPad)

– New locations, new essays, and more images

– Map of the Great Smoky Mountains with marked locations

– Same low price of $7.95. Wait, that’s not different.

For more information and how to buy your own, follow this link.

Just like the first edition, this ebook chronicles many of my favorite images from the Great Smoky Mountains. With each image there is a personal essay that gives some insight with regard to the photographic process I used, my personal experience when the image was created, or information and history about the location. You’ll learn more about landscape and wildlife photography, you’ll have a better understanding of the Smoky Mountains, you might cry, you might laugh, you might accidentally spit coffee all over keyboard.

Below is a sample of the book’s 80 pages. It’s really really hard to read so you might want to buy and download a full-sized copy for yourself. Enjoy!

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Favorite Images of 2014

Yes, it’s that time of year again. This is when I catch my breath during the holiday season, sit down at the computer with a strong drink and look back on my work over this past year: the boneheaded mistakes, missed opportunities, and several hundred things I would do differently if I had the opportunity to replay 2014 all over again. Oh well, there’s always 2015 to make amends.

These ten images are my personal favorites, not necessarily the most popular or successful. Each is a favorite for a different reason but mostly because I didn’t do one of the above while something fantastic was happening in front of my lens. Following each image is a brief stream-of-consciousness commentary. Enjoy – and Happy New Year to you all!

 

Radiance: Arches National Park, Utah, USA (April 27, 2014). Lucky shot in a lame location. Not a whole lot of skill or vision was necessary to capture this scene. Still, I can’t help but laugh each time I see this image because of the humerous circumstances surrounding the shoot with some of my workshop students. Let’s just say you just had to be there…

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM @ 50mm, 1/60 second @ f/7.1, ISO 400

 

Phantom’s Gaze, Mountain Lion, Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada (September 8, 2014). A haunting image of a once-in-a-lifetime encounter in the wild. A moment I’ll certainly never forget.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT @ 560mm, 1/500 second @ f/5.6, ISO 1000

 

Namib Riddle: Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia (May 29, 2014). I’ve been asked more than a few times about the title of this image. “What’s the riddle?” people would inquire, looking for a profound, hidden meaning. “And what’s the answer?” There is no answer and there is no riddle. It just looks like a giant question mark to me.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT @ 560mm, 1/80 second @ f/11, ISO 320

 

Hide and Seek, Ibra Market, Sultanate of Oman (April 2, 2014). This one just makes me smile. The people of Oman were so fun and friendly. More images of Oman here.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM @ 105mm, 1/80 second @ f/8, ISO 200

 

Light Flight – Flying Zebra: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania (June 24, 2014). This image represents the biggest commercial success of any other in 2014. It’s been either licenced to or published in over a half dozen magazines all over the world (not too shabby considering it was captured in June) and some of these magazines you might have even heard of.

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM @ 400mm, 1/640 second @ f/8, ISO 640

 

Mantled Howlers: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica (December 1, 2014). Strong backlighting, edge-of-your-seat drama, and the cuteness (awwww) factor in an exotic place. It’s a tough combination to beat.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II, EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM @ 280mm, 1/640 second @ f/5.6, ISO 640

 

Into the Light: Fez, Morocco (February 5, 2014). The man lurking in the shadows looks like a hooded medieval executioner about to exercise his duties on some poor soul. It gives me the creeps yet I can’t look away.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM @ 22mm, 3.2 seconds @ f/5.6, ISO 500

 

The Grand Strand, Etosha National Park, Namibia (June 3, 2014). Another fantastic moment in the wild but I had to make some decisions on how it was going to be presented, i.e. processed. Try as I might to preserve details in the shadowed middle ground, I eventually opted for the version above. It tells the same story while infusing just a touch of mystery too.

Canon EOS 7D, Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM @ 78mm, 1/250 second @ f/7.1, ISO 200

 

Cordillera Light: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile (March 17, 2014). Here was a set of circumstances where I thought everything would come together perfectly: a composition I really liked and approaching light at sunrise. The light, however, never really happened. This was taken moments before the light should have erupted over the scene, a faint blush of alpenglow on the upper peaks and clouds, but quickly faded to grey.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM @ 25mm, 2 seconds @ f/16, ISO 100

 

Essential: Deadvlei, Namibia (June 15, 2014). It’s no coincidence that three of my top ten favorites in 2014 come from Namibia. This country is a photographer’s paradise. Can you believe we still have a few spots open for my Wild Namibia photography tours in 2015?

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM @ 94mm, 1/15 second @ f/13, ISO 100

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Vignettes from Namibia: Sossusvlei and Deadvlei

The Sossusvlei and Deadvlei areas of Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft National Park are true photographer’s paradises. I know this sounds like hyperbole and many locations are referred to as such, but in this case the claim really is true. The largest, most majestic sand dunes in the world reside here, as well as a surreal forest of dead camel thorn trees and a modest amount of wildlife too. Here are a sample of images from this area captured in May and June of this year. By the way, openings for the Wild Namibia Photo Tours 2015 are still available.

“Sweet Spot” Deadvlei, Namibia. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM @ 93mm, 1/15 second @ f/11, ISO 100. Multiple exposures taken at various distances and focus stacked in Adobe Photoshop CC. As darkness fell over the Deadvlei pan, I caught the last bit of light on the dunes while using one tree as a frame for another.

“Sossusvlei” Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM @ 200mm, 1/320 second @ f/10, ISO 320. These dunes are the biggest in the world and yes, they are just as impressive in person.

“Casting Shadows” Deadvlei, Namibia. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM @ 16mm, 1/60 second @ f/20, ISO 125.  Shadows create powerful radial lines across the hard clay pan of Deadvlei.

“Halloween Trees” Deadvlei, Namibia. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM @ 105mm, 1/50 second @ f/11, ISO 200.  When the dunes throw their shadows over the pan, the trees are transformed into frightening, nightmarish figures.

 

“Clean Cut” Namib Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT @ 560mm, 1/80 second @ f/11, ISO 320. 560mm? Who ever said that super telephoto lenses were only for wildlife?

“Black Backed Jackel” Sossusvlei, Namibia. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM @ 33mm, 1/160 second @ f/14, ISO 125, fill flash. 33mm? And who said wide-angle lenses were only for landscapes?

“Isolation” Deadvlei, Namibia. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM @ 70mm, 1/30 second @ f/11, ISO 100. Complex compositions are visually engaging and challenging but sometimes simple delivers a stronger emotional punch.

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