In this B&H article, guest writer Susan Seubert discusses how she prepares for her travel assignments, and what equipment she brings with her.
For the first time, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to watch a robin build a nest, incubate eggs and have a successful hatch just outside of our kitchen window. The American Robin is one of the most common birds found in urban settings and will often nest near, or on, homes throughout North America. I’ve learned a lot about the behavior of Turdus migratorius by observing, and photographing, them almost daily since the babies hatched around the beginning of this month.
I read that the the incubation ranges from 12 to 14 days, which was spot on for this mother of 4. Now we are eagerly waiting for the babies to fledge, as it appears that they are very crowded in their nest and their wing feathers look like they are well developed.
With so many chicks in one tiny nest, I wondered how the nest stays so clean. It turns out that in addition to feeding the babies worms and berries, the robin also “changes the babies’ diapers” by removing the waste directly from the bottoms of the chicks. This may not be the most appetizing topic, but I was amazed at how efficient the bird is at keeping house. Below are some photos from the last week. I built a “blind” in the kitchen in order to keep our peering eyes mostly hidden so as not to disturb the nestlings. There was plenty of glare which the blind reduced, but it was still challenging photographing through dirty glass. All of these pictures were made with the Canon 7D Mark II which has a beautiful sensor and a fabulous frame rate, which is what allowed me to capture such a fast and intimate moment. The RAW files were processed using Adobe Lightroom.
It has been an illuminating experience to watch how quickly these cute little birds grow and I will certainly miss them when they leave the nest.
Update on June 13, 2015
This morning, three out of the four nestlings fledged! There is still one in the nest and it looks very ready to leave. It’s preening and standing up to stretch its legs. What a wonderful experience this has been.
Update on June 13, 2015
The last robin fledged this evening. Sniff.
April 2015 is “Photo Month” in Portland and to celebrate I’ve mounted an exhibition at the Froelick Gallery entitled, “The Fallacy of Hindsight.”
“Looking back, all of us could have made different choices that would have affected our lives today. A job taken or not. A relationship pursued or not. A relocation at a pivotal moment. Susan Seubert’s small, evocative photographs at Froelick Gallery spring from her past, documenting choices she made over the past 25 years.”
The work addresses notions of hindsight bias and memory. In conjunction with the Photolucida Events, I’ll be speaking at the gallery on April 25th at 11am. The talk is free and open to the public and I hope to see many of you there! The Froelick Gallery is located near the intersection of NW Davis and Broadway at 714 NW Davis in the DeSoto Building.
Following is the press release:
“In her solo exhibit, renowned photographer Susan Seubert will exhibit two distinct bodies of work on the subject of hindsight bias. 100 Memories, a series of 100 5″ x 5″ photographs recreating moments from the past 25 years of her life, alternating between literal depiction and emotional interpretation of events. Through these she examines her own choices and biases. The High Arctic is a series of photographs taken in June 2014 in the archipelago of Svalbard, where “the vast fields of broken ice sheets demonstrate global warming in the most literal of lamentable illustrations”. Entwined, a stand-alone work, shows its subject holding a large ball of twine which wraps around her face, conjuring feelings of being bound by one’s own thoughts while also possessing the means to control them.”
Here is a glimpse of the installation:
Please join me in New York City on May 3rd and 4th for the first annual OPTIC event! This is a free, 3 day conference taking place in venues around B&H Photo in Manhattan. OPTIC is sponsored by B&H and Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions. OPTIC stands for “Outdoor Photo/video Travel Imaging Conference.” I’ll be there alongside some of my friends and colleagues: Dan Westergren, Ralph Lee Hopkins, Art Wolfe, Cristina Mittermeier, David Middleton and Bob Krist, and am also looking forward to making new friends.
I’ll be giving two lectures over the course of the three day event. You can see a detailed list of times and venues here.
On May 3rd, I’ll be giving a presentation about how to build a travel story. I have been a contributing features photographer to National Geographic Traveler for 11 years. Drawing from that experience, I’ll offer tips on how to best cover a travel story through photography. This lecture is designed for anyone, from the casual point-and-shoot photographer to the advanced amateur or pro. I firmly believe that we can all learn from one another, so I hope to elucidate by sharing my experiences as a professional travel photographer.
On May 4th the title of my presentation is, “Food Photography to Catch the Local Flavor.” I’ll show how food can be a unique way to document a culture or enhance a travel experience. From technical tips about how to make food look great to documenting traditional harvesting methods as a gateway to a larger cultural dialogue, I’ll share what I’ve learned to enhance your travel experience through your lens. Like the previous day’s topic on travel stories, this presentation is designed for anyone at any experience level who is interested in improving their images.
There are 19 speakers slated for this event and I encourage you to look at the web site and tailor your days based on your interests. Also, B&H will be hosting a trade show and likely have some great deals on gear. With this arrangement, you can immediately add to your kit based on the advice from all of the speakers. I know I’ll likely be doing some shopping!
Thank you for visiting my blog and see you in New York!
We recently wrapped a few days of shooting, in sunny Los Angeles, for our client Staples. The campaign, promoting their Copy and Print products, will be released soon and we’ll share that here. Check back for those in a couple of weeks; in the meantime, here are some behind the scenes of our Hollywood adventures. Written by my rep, Jenna Teeson. :-)
I was completely taken aback when my cell phone pinged, “Congrats @susanseubert winning #NATJA gold for your photos in ‘Saving Old Bangkok’ in the Aug/Sept 2014 @NatGeoTravel.” The North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) had held its annual competition for excellence in travel publishing and I was awarded gold in the category of Photo Essay. Since I hadn’t entered, I had no idea I was even up for an award! I would like to thank my editors and the entire staff of National Geographic Traveler for giving me this fantastic assignment as well as congratulate the magazine for winning the grand prize for Travel Publications! Go Team NGT!!!!
National Geographic Traveler had assigned me to photograph a story about a small group of people in the old city of Bangkok who are actively working to preserve some of the remarkable wooden houses and other structures in the neighborhoods on Rattanakosin Island, on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. The project is being spearheaded by architect Worapan Klampaiboon, who has a small guesthouse on Samsen 5, the Samsen 5 Lodge. I spent just over two weeks wandering the streets photographing the people, guesthouses, neighborhoods, markets and temples that are all located in this area. One of my favorite places to explore was around one of the guesthouses, Baan Dinso. Everywhere, daily life spilled on to the streets. Being able to spend time walking through the narrow roads of these areas allowed me to experience what the architect saw: an architecturally important area that had fallen into disrepair but was still salvageable. I photographed a group of old wooden homes that had been transformed into an arts center by a kindly couple who happened to be friends with my translator. This ended up being one of the opening pictures along side an outdoor bathtub at a renovated guest house, the Old Bangkok Inn. You can read the story here. Thank you for visiting!
Assignments from the New York Times are always a great exercise because the turn-around time is often very short. For most other assignments, I have at least a week or so where I can research the subject, scout the location, and get a sense of what the weather will be like on the shoot date. Last week I was assigned to photograph for Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed about empathy. The subject of the story had passed away, and it wasn’t possible to cover the funeral because of the deadline for the paper, so I was asked to photograph the story subject’s brother. I arrived at the location and had a quick look around. The first image I was asked to make was of Mr. Green holding a photo of his brother. The best picture available was on a smartphone. That picture-of-a-picture worked well to show a current image of the subject, but was very literal. It served to illustrate what Kevin looked like prior to his passing.
The possibilities for making a stronger image unfolded within the hour or so I had to complete the job. The subject was a kind, gentle man who, despite his hurt foot, was willing to walk a short distance to stand in the glorious sunshine. The idea I had discussed with my editor was to place him in the context of the family farm. It was a bucolic Oregon scene: an old barn, some rusty farm equipment, and a very willing beagle. These together provided the setting for our subject. Mr. Green moved naturally into this position which suggests sadness, so all I had to do was to be sure that the focus and exposure were set properly. I think it worked well. What do you think?
The photos that were used are below.