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One hundred years ago yesterday marked the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal.  The building of the canal has a long and interesting history and represents one of the major engineering feats of modern man.  France started work on the project in 1881 but stopped work because of the high mortality rate from tropical disease.  The United States took over the project in 1904.  The canal took an entire decade to complete.  The canal cuts through the Isthmus of Panama and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea via 48 miles of water and a series of locks.  Last December, I was on board the National Geographic Sea Bird as the National Geographic Photography Expert for the Costa Rica and Panama Expedition.  Our final adventure in Panama was to pass through the entire canal, including spending some time on Isla Barro Colorado at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.  Our route took us through the canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean.  It was a truly remarkable experience.  Here are some  pictures to illustrate our transit.  Enjoy!

Panama city as seen while Transiting the Panama Canal, Panama including views of Frank Gehry's colorful Bio Museum

Panama city as seen while Transiting the Panama Canal, Panama including views of Frank Gehry’s colorful Bio Museum

Entering the canal by passing under the Bridge of the Americas near Panama City

Entering the canal by passing under the Bridge of the Americas near Panama City

After being at sea and experiencing the world of tropical jungles, it was a jolt to suddenly be in the middle of an industrial area, which is itself surrounded by dense forest in some areas.

After being at sea and experiencing the world of tropical jungles, we were jolted  to suddenly be in the middle of an industrial area, which is itself surrounded by dense forest.

Panamanian officials joined us in order to ensure safe passage through the locks system.

Panamanian officials joined us in order to ensure safe passage through the locks system.

Barro Colorado Island, a site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests owned by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Panama Canal and is part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument.

Barro Colorado Island, a site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests owned by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Panama Canal and is part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument.

How big are the trees?  Very big. :-)

How big are the trees? Very big. :-)

You definitely will feel like swimming because of the heat and humidity, but you'll be taking your chances with the wildlife.

You definitely will feel like swimming because of the heat and humidity, but you’ll be taking your chances with the wildlife.

A very cooperative Spotted Ant bird was sitting very still for a portrait.  I quickly learned that it was because I was standing on top of its prey, which were making themselves quite at home on my shoes, then pants, then, eeek!!!

A very cooperative Spotted Ant bird was sitting very still for a portrait. I quickly learned that it was because I was standing on top of its prey, which were making themselves quite at home on my shoes, then pants, then, eeek!!!

Our ship, the National Geographic Sea Bird, tethered to one of the trains that guide the ship through the canal.

Our ship, the National Geographic Sea Bird, tethered to one of the trains that guide the ship through the canal.

Most ships that transit the canal are huge, industrial type vessels.

Most ships that transit the canal are huge, industrial type vessels.

We arrive at the Caribbean Sea!  Such an amazing experience.

We arrive at the Caribbean Sea! Such an amazing experience.

 

 

 

 

 

The published image in the New York Times of Rick Goff

The published image in the New York Times of Rick Goff

This week I was assigned by The New York Times to make an environmental portrait of a man in Yamhill, Oregon for a piece written by Nickolas Kristof, one of the Op-Ed columnists for the paper.  My assignment was to cover a story called, “Inheriting a Hard Life,” and Rick Goff was the subject on which the premise of the article was based.  My missive from the photo editor was to, “think Dorothea Lange in color.”  The late Dorothea Lange is famous for her work as a FSA photographer, most notably for her image, “Migrant Mother.” So with some ideas swirling around in my brain, we hopped in the car and bee lined it to Yamhill because the deadline was virtually the same day we had to shoot.

We arrived at the location and Rick was ready for us. He had apparently already received a copy of the story and was prepared to start shooting.  We spent about an hour working on trying to make some images that best illustrated the point – an attractive portrait in an environment that was a working man’s setting.  Rick was in charge of expression.  He already knew that this wasn’t necessarily a happy story. He was really good at facing the camera which made our shoot go very smoothly.  We worked in several locations and as we were wrapping up, I noticed these great windows.  Since the picture had to be in color and Ms. Lange’s images are all black and white I decided to work with the window area because the colors were very muted.  The wood facade, the window frame, the background and Rick’s posture all came together.  I instantly knew that this was the image they would run.  It’s in today’s New York Times, and although it’s color, it’s very monochromatic.  I’m pleased with the way the image turned out and, as usual, extremely happy to continue to receive interesting assignments from the Times.  Here are a few outtakes as well as some behind the scenes pictures.

Another one of my faves

One of my faves

Another one of my favorite outtakes from the shoot

Another one of my favorite outtakes from the shoot

Loving my 50mm f1.2 - trying out super shallow depth of field

Loving my 50mm f1.2 – trying out super shallow depth of field

On assignment for the New York Times, using a log chair.

On assignment for the New York Times, using a log chair.

The best images come from working in odd spaces

The best images come from working in odd spaces

Thank you for visiting my blog!  Have a great day!

Yours truly in Baja on board the National Geographic Sea Bird.  Photo copyright © 2014 Ralph Lee Hopkins

Yours truly in Baja on board the National Geographic Sea Bird. Photo copyright © 2014 Ralph Lee Hopkins

Tomorrow I will board an airplane bound for Oslo and then on to one of the most fascinating archipelagos on Earth, Svalbard.  It is located about halfway between Norway and the North Pole.  I am excited to be the on board National Geographic Photography Expert on the National Geographic Explorer - a beautiful, ice-class expedition ship.  I’ll be on the expedition, “Land of the Polar Bears,” until the end of June teaching photography, giving lectures about being a photographer for the National Geographic Society and joining the guests in exploring this incredible environment.  During this trip we will have opportunities to explore the Svalbard archipelago both on land and at sea.  There are a few types of megafauna that call Svalbard home, the most notable being Ursus maritimus, commonly known as the polar bear.  Other marine mammals include several species of whales, including the Narwhal of unicorn legend, along with seals, walruses and many migratory and endemic sea birds.  Having never been this far north before, I’m thrilled at the possibilities for photography.  This time of year the wildlife will likely be searching for food as this is the Spring season and the sun will not set.  We will be traveling through 24 hours of daylight which should make for magnificent lighting possibilities.  You can follow my travels on my new Facebook Page.

Here’s a sneak peek at my camera kit

Lots of Canon Glass for this trip!

Lots of Canon Glass for this trip!

Other news on the home front 

I’m proud and thrilled to now be represented by Jenna Teeson!  Jenna and I met ten years ago when she was a photo editor at National Geographic Traveler Magazine.  As the years passed, she moved on from the Geographic back to her hometown, Boston, and has since been working as artist representative for Heath Robbins, a very talented food and lifestyle photographer.  Jenna has worked on global campaigns with some of the country’s top advertising agencies and I’m excited for what’s next for us.  I know we can go far together as Jenna brings greater exposure to my work and the opportunity to collaborate with new partners.  Jenna is one of the most well organized and pleasant people I have had the privilege to work with, so when we reconnected, I jumped at the chance to work with her again.

Here’s Jenna!

Jenna Teeson Represents Susan Seubert

In my absence, please contact Jenna for assignments.

She can be reached at jennateesonreps(at)gmail(dot)com

or by phone at 202-302-7384

For stock requests, please visit my stock site here.

Thank you for visiting!

Adopt a Pet Month

seubertphoto:

Our kitties are on the cover of the Healthy Cats Calendar! I was interviewed by Amber Lotus about their story.

Originally posted on Amber Lotus Publishing:

In Honor of Adopt a Pet Month we wanted to feature the story behind the kitties on the cover of our Healthy Cat Calendar.

Healthy Cat Calendar

2015 Healthy Cat Calendar

We interviewed Susan Seubert, the cover photographer for The Healthy Cat Calendar, about her adopted furry family.

Q AL – Where did these beautiful cats come from?
SS – These kitties were part of a litter of 3 that a stray cat gave birth to in a friend’s backyard. The momma cat and one kitten disappeared, leaving two tiny kittens behind. They had just opened their eyes when my friend found them.

Q AL – When did you get them?
SS – My friend posted photos of them on her Facebook page in hopes of finding a home for the two of them. We had just lost our cat of 17 years and had decided that we didn’t want to go through…

View original 520 more words

Beautiful clouds mimic the breaking waves at Neakahnie Beach in Manzanita, Oregon

Beautiful clouds mimic the breaking waves at Neakahnie Beach in Manzanita, Oregon

One of the best places on the Oregon Coast is the town of Manzanita.  It’s only about two hours from Portland and Neahkahnie Beach, which fronts this beach town, is one of the best beaches in the state.  The beach is 7 miles long and very flat, making it ideal for walking, throwing a Frisbee, or finding a nice piece of driftwood on which to sit and watch the gorgeous and powerful Pacific Ocean.  It never feels crowded here, yet there’s always someone walking a dog or playing with their kids, or even riding horses! The town of Manzanita has an amazing grocery store with a fantastic deli for a picnic lunch as well as a marvelous bakery where you can get hot cinnamon rolls and a great cup of coffee along with hand-made bread. On top of all this there’s the Cloud and Leaf book store, so if you are there on a rainy weekend, you can pop in and find a good read.  With its Bed and Breakfasts and lovely little restaurants, for a weekend getaway at the ocean, Manzanita is hard to top.  I was very excited when I received this assignment because I have spent many weekends and day trips here, so I know the place well.  However, being able to frame my adventure with a photo assignment gave the trip an added dimension.  Since the story wasn’t simply about Manzanita but part of a larger story about Great American Beach Towns, it was a way for me to demonstrate my Oregon pride.  I moved here from the Midwest in 1988 and never looked back, largely because of the natural beauty Oregon has to offer, from its grand beaches like Neahkahnie, to the Cascade Mountains, the wine country, the high desert, the Painted Hills, Crater Lake and the Columbia River Gorge.  Manzanita is a perfect example of what makes living in Oregon so wonderful.  I hope that this story inspires you to visit Oregon.  You can see the online gallery of pictures from National Geographic Traveler’s American Beach Towns here.

Dennis and Peggy Awtrey entertain guests at their hillside B and B in Manzanita, Oregon

Dennis and Peggy Awtrey entertain guests at their hillside B and B in Manzanita, Oregon

Chef Brian Williams stands outside of his restaurant The Big Wave Cafe in Manzanita, Oregon

Chef Brian Williams stands outside of his restaurant The Big Wave Cafe in Manzanita, Oregon

seubertphoto:

Meeting new people is a bonus in the Maui surf lineup. Nice to meet you Ashley. 

Thank you for the shout-out! :-)

Originally posted on ashleydias:

surfwithdolphins-2 So yesterday morning when I paddled out to try to catch a wave or two, there was only one chick out in the water. She looked like she knew what she was doing so I asked for some tips. She coached me a little bit, then we got to chatting while waiting for some waves. I asked what she did, and turns out she’s a national geographic photographer. Susan Seubert , an award-winning national geographic photographer. If you know me you know this was like meeting a celebrity for me. In this photo she had just noticed a couple spinner dolphins right next to us, probably 50 yards away. I asked her questions and her opinion on the GoPro (which she says she loves the GoPro). She’s a cool chick, for sure.

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I was sent to Thailand to photograph a story about Bangkok for National Geographic Traveler Magazine.  This was my first time in Thailand and it was a wonderful experience.  Since the coverage was limited to the old area of the city on Rattanakosin Island, I spent days wandering the streets and making pictures.  Dusk and dawn were the best time due to the extreme heat during the time of year I was there.  One day it was so hot that my tennis shoes melted apart!

My photo editor included one of the images from the take on National Geographic’s “On Assignment” web site: a photograph I made at Wat Intharawihan of the 105 foot tall Buddah which is covered in gold.  I had seen many photos at this place, mainly of people at the feet of this giant statue. When I arrived, it was in terrible mid-day light and all of the people were gone so it seemed that I was not going to be able to make a good picture.  Then, one of the caretakers arrived to dismantle some banners and I lucked into an opportunity to shoot the feet with a sense of scale that normally one wouldn’t have seen published.  You can read about the photograph on National Geographic’s web site here.

 

Wat Intharawihan in Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Intharawihan in Bangkok, Thailand

The story will run in the 2014 June/July issue.  I hope to write more about the assignment when the issue hits the news stands.

Thank you for visiting my blog and have a great day!

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