Behind The Lens: Paulet the Penguin

Behind The Lens: Paulet the Penguin

Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: Paulet the Penguin

“Paulet” An Adélie penguin welcomes visitors to Paulet Island, located on the northeastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens @ 35mm, 1/2000 second @ f/13, ISO 640.

The Eyes Have It

As a wildlife photographer, the importance of having your subject’s eye or eyes visible cannot be overstated. It’s almost essential. You always want your viewers to connect with your photo’s subject and there is no better way to help make that connection than through the eyes. As I state in my recently-published wildlife book, the eye is the wildlife portrait’s focal point and must be clearly visible and in sharp focus. There are some exceptions to this rule but those are few and far between.

Paulet the Penguin

For larger creatures, getting a clear and open look at its eyes is relatively easy. For smaller species, however, you need to get low to their level. In the case of Paulet the Penguin, I needed to lay down flat in the snow, rocks, and penguin poop with my wide-angle lens to get this eye-to-eye perspective. Paulet appears to be welcoming me with a warm hug – or an invitation to fight, I suppose. Everyone sees something a little different with Paulet’s body language here.

Paulet was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens.

Paulet can be licensed or purchased as a print here.

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Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 


Behind The Lens: Yellowstone in Winter

Behind The Lens: Yellowstone in Winter

Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: Yellowstone in Winter

“Unforgiving” Two bison in less than ideal winter weather conditions, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Lens @ 280mm, 1/800 second @ f/9, ISO 250.

Yellowstone in Winter

Yellowstone in winter can see some brutally cold, brutally bad weather. But bad weather conditions often result in the best photos. Let me repeat that for the sake of emphasis: Bad weather often results in the best photos. And so it is with Yellowstone in winter. Oh sure, heavy snow-laden trees and a cobalt blue sky make for some pretty impressive imagery too, but when I wake to find stormy skies with wind and snow blowing across the landscape, I become extra excited. Bad weather creates drama and helps tell a story.

The biggest obstacle is overcoming is your self reluctance. And inertia. That is, a body at rest and in bed will tend to remain at rest and in bed unless there’s some additional force applied to it, such as the possibility of the most dramatic photos you will ever create in your life. And if you happen to be in a popular national park such as Yellowstone in winter, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of most likely being the only other photographer with the guts to be out there.

I particularly liked this symmetry created by the two inward-facing bison and the jagged edge between the geyser basin steam and the distant snow hills. This image, titled Unforgiving, has been sold as a print hundreds of times and published dozens. Thank the heavens for bad, stormy weather.

Unforgiving can be licensed or purchased as a print here.

Join The Adventure!

By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 


Behind The Lens: Cathedral Gorge

Behind The Lens: Cathedral Gorge

Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: Cathedral Gorge

“Castles in the Sky”  Rock formations in an alien landscape, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens @ 11mm, 1/125 second @ f/11, ISO 100. Converted to B&W in Adobe Lightroom.

Cathedral Gorge

Tucked into the southeastern corner of Nevada sits Cathedral Gorge State Park, a narrow, deeply-eroded valley exquisitely carved into the surface of the high desert. At first glance, Cathedral Gorge looks like a first-rate destination for creative landscape photographers, yet I found creating compelling compositions much more difficult than expected. I needed to work long and hard for a solid week in order to come away with just a handful of images that did justice to both the location and my own personal vision. A handful of images, in this case, could be considered a success.

One of those images is the one you see above, Castles in the Sky. It’s a rather pedestrian scene, to be honest, if not for the wonderful, streaming clouds overhead. The use of my Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens at its widest focal length (11mm on a full-frame DSLR!) distorted the clouds, curving their direction mostly in a dramatic sweeping gesture from left to the upper right.

At the bottom of the image frame, there are a few random rock fragments that trail off to the lower left of the image frame. This creates the perfect counterbalance to the opposite effect in the top of the image, creating visual motion in the form of a subtle “S” curve,

Visual Motion

Visual motion is the illusion of actual movement in the image or the movement the viewer’s eye takes when exploring visual elements within the image frame. When a viewer first looks at a photograph or piece of visual art, their eyes will move throughout the image from element to element on a particular path. Those with the heaviest visual weight will command the most immediate attention followed by less significant elements, as lines, shapes, and patterns help guide the visual motion from one area to another. This is key to creating dynamic compositions as well as controlling and manipulating the viewer’s experience. Establishing visual motion in Castles in the Sky – with the abstract “S” curve – saved at least one image for me during my visit to Cathedral Gorge.

Castles in the Sky was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR and Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

Castles in the Sky can be licensed or purchased as a print here.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


PhotoWhoa Interview: Capturing The Experience

PhotoWhoa Interview: Capturing The Experience

Announcements

PhotoWhoa Interview: Capturing The Experience

Capturing the experience…. “Redwood Supernova” Sunrise through the fog in Del Norte State Park and Redwoods National Park in northern California, USA.

Richard was recently interviewed for the photo website PhotoWhoa. He talked about the importance of passion as part of the creative process and capturing the experience.

“I want to have as many apex experiences as possible where I am literally moved to tears by the overpowering beauty or the devastating sadness I see and feel. And it’s what I feel – not what I see – that’s important. That’s a strange thing, perhaps, for a photographer to say. The emotional content of a scene is the vital core around which I’ll build my image. Without it, it’s just a pretty picture. I want my viewers, who might be thousands of miles removed from the physical scene and experience, to feel what I am feeling, not necessarily what I am seeing. That is photography for me.”

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


Behind The Lens: Deepen The Mystery

Behind The Lens: Deepen The Mystery

Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: Deepen The Mystery

“Mirage” Giraffe reflections in watering hole at sunset, Etosha National Park, Namibia. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM @ 64mm, 1/800 second @ f/4, ISO 2500.

“The Job Of The Artist Is Always To Deepen The Mystery”– Francis Bacon

It is not the job of the photographer to make things as clear as possible for the viewing audience – or to present the photograph as to be fully comprehended or understood – it’s to deepen the mystery. The photographer’s job should be creating a sense of wonder, curiosity, bewilderment, even confusion. It should be about making things somewhat murky and not-so-obvious to the audience while obscuring vital information and clues so that each individual viewer is transformed from a mere passive observer to an active participant as they seek to figure things out.

One of the reasons the image above has been so successful is its element of mystery, particularly with regard to the blocked-up shadows where the giraffes ought to be. The temptation for many photographers would be to open up the shadows as much as possible during processing to reveal all the details. But to deepen the mystery with my audience, I’ve purposely obscured a vital part of the image (the subjects) by allowing the shadows go to black and inviting the viewer to explore and solve the visual mystery. And like a good songwriter who refuses to explain the meaning of his or her lyrics, I’ll say no more about it.

Mysteries are incredibly compelling. The job of the photographer is to preserve them. “Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – Rene Magritte.

Mirage was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR and Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens  and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

Mirage can be licensed or purchased as a print here.

Join The Adventure!

By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 


Essential Photography: The Creative Principle

Essential Photography: The Creative Principle

Creativity

Essential Photography: The Creative Principle

The following is an excerpt from my e-book, Creative Composition: Image Design Masterclass. It happens to be the very last chapter after outlining and explaining the many compositional “rules” and concepts used in photography and the arts.

The Creative Principle

Creativity is the process of making, or creating, something new and useful – in our instance here, that would be a photograph. So in order for a photograph to be creative it must involve a scene, technique, or composition that’s never been done before. But making something new isn’t enough. There are an infinite number of ways to make new or novel images with your camera – including tripping the shutter as you throw it down a mountain or firing it remotely after attaching the camera to your dog’s tail as it walks the yard. Each of the results would be new or different, to be sure, but they wouldn’t necessarily be creative. Almost all of the photos would be failures, unless you stumbled upon a random, happy accident. The photograph needs to be both new and useful, meaning it has to make a meaningful connection with the viewer. Art cannot be the product of an accident. Art must be purposeful. Composing a scene through your camera’s viewfinder is just one conscious, purposeful thing you can do as a photographic artist.

Following the composition “rules” as outlined in this book will surely lead to visually appealing images that are “useful” but they will lack the creativity you’re striving for since there’s nothing new in any of them. You must learn to break the rules in order to achieve true creative results but you also have to know the rules in order to break them. Actors are told to learn their lines so they can later forget them and improvise on the spot. The good ones do just that. Call it irony if you wish, but I prefer to call it the Creative Principle. Feel free to break this one too since there are, in fact, no rules.

It’s also crucial to understand that breaking the rules just for the sake of breaking them is not being creative either. What’s most important about knowing the rules is understanding why they work most of the time – something I hope this book has accomplished for you. Knowing why the rules work will lead to something akin to a higher state of compositional enlightenment: knowing when your photo is successful when not using the rules, or better yet, purposely breaking them. Once you get to that happy place, you will be on the path to true creative synthesis.

The last step on this journey to creative expression is actually putting The Creative Principle into action. The French artist, Henri Matisse once famously declared, “Creativity takes courage.” It takes considerable courage to deviate from the safe confines of conventional compositional rules because trying something different could lead to failure. Your art should be an intimate expression of yourself so it’s easy to take failure personally. It’s important to remember, however, that artistic growth requires experimenting and trying new things. Failures will definitely occur along the way but they’re a small price to pay for the creative breakthroughs you’re going to make by venturing outside your comfort zone. Edwin Land, the founder of Poloroid, said, “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Don’t be afraid to try something new.

So consider the rules merely as guidelines or suggestions with which to take generous liberties. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,” Pablo Picasso offered as advice to fellow creatives. When I’m behind the camera, I am not thinking about any compositional rules, guidelines, or suggestions but instead I’m working on more of an intuitive level. I don’t think too much about composition. I simply defer to what feels right. Yet the concepts in this book have helped teach me how to see and they’re never far away from the conscious decisions I’m making in real time. Later on, I often discover that I did, in fact, use one of the rules presented here (or I’ve discovered that I ignored all of them) but I’m never thinking that way at the time of the capture.

Remember, no one is born an accomplished photographer and master of composition. It’s not an innate talent. It’s not a gift. There are no child prodigies in the field of photography. Every great photographer has had to learn the rules, intentionally break the rules, then ignore them altogether. If you’re just starting out, rest assured that you are in the same place that I once was, as well as every other professional photographer. Learn the rules, adopt the Creative Principle, then follow your heart and intuition to a life of creative expression. Enjoy the journey.

You can learn more about creativity and composition in my 74-page e-book, Creative Composition: Image Design Masterclass.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard’s Email Newsletter.