Friday, July 12, 2019

Wildlife photography ethics: Doing what's right!

Muskox at Renodde, Scoresby Sund, GreenlandA few years ago, I was traveling in Greenland. We landed ashore at Renodde, off Scoresby Sund, a large fjord system on the east coast of Greenland. It's rugged terrain there. Renodde is known for its muskox. Muskox are Arctic hoofed mammals of the Bovidae family. They're large, with adults averaging 4–5 feet high (1.1–1.5 meters) and weighing about 330–880 pounds (150–400 kilos), yet around humans, they're timid.

I was in the first group from our small ship to take a zodiac to land on Renodde. We hiked inland and climbed up to the top of a ridge. We noted the wind in order to stay downwind of any muskox we might encounter below the ridge. We put our cameras on silent mode and told those with us to stay low and speak in whispers.

As we slowly edged our heads above the ridgeline we were greeted by a male muskox on the large plateau below us, less than 150 feet (46 meters) away. To have one that close is a major treat. It was part of a four muskox herd. The others were about 1,000 feet (0.3 kilometers) away. The topography of the ridge made photographing the muskox difficult. Using my experience, I carefully moved to a better shooting position, bringing two others with me to the cutout where we could still remain hidden. I was able to make about a dozen images when it happened.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Photographing July 4th fireworks with your camera or smartphone

Philadelphia Museum of Art, July 4th FireworksThursday is July 4, Independence Day, in the U.S. The nation's second president, John Adams, is in large part responsible for how it's celebrated. In his July 3, 1776 letter to Abigail, his wife, he said that the day should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

The Pennsylvania Evening Post stated that in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, “The evening closed with the ring of bells and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons and the city was beautifully illuminated.”

Fireworks are extremely bright and persist for a few seconds, typically against an almost black background. Focus and particularly the exposure settings for fireworks' photos aren't straight-forward. If you're traveling in the U.S. this week, here are my fireworks' photography tips for digital cameras and smartphones.