Susan Seubert Photography in Antarctica

I just returned home from just over three weeks in Antarctica on board the National Geographic Explorer, an ice class expedition ship, where I served as the National Geographic Photography Expert.  It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.  Words cannot begin to express the vastness of the continent. Here is a link to a gallery of images from the two expeditions that I attended.  I hope you enjoy the images of the three brush-tailed penguin species, the Weddell seals, the incredible ice formations and the most elusive of creatures, the mighty Emperor Penguin.  More to come about this adventure in later posts.  Thank you and season’s greetings!

The National Geographic Explorer parked in Cierva Cove, Antarctica

The National Geographic Explorer parked in Cierva Cove, Antarctica

Gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island, Antarctica

Gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island, Antarctica

Iceburgs, Antarctica

Icebergs, Antarctica

Emperor Penguins on the Fast Ice, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Emperor Penguins on the Fast Ice, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Chinstrap penguins on Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands, Southern Ocean, Antarctica

Chinstrap penguins on Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands, Southern Ocean, Antarctica

Here is a time-lapse from Cuverville Island, where people and gentoo penguins go about their day.  Enjoy!

Susan Seubert Photographer: Learning by Observing

Four American Robin Chicks in their nest outside our kitchen window

Four American Robin Chicks in their nest outside our kitchen window

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.

American Robin, nesting in a camellia bush in Portland, Oregon with 4 chicks

American Robin, nesting in a camellia bush in Portland, Oregon feeding her chicks blueberries

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.

The Kitchen Window Blind: Baby Robins in their nest in a Camellia bush

The Kitchen Window Blind: Robin chicks in their nest in a Camellia bush

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.

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

A mother American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of her chicks

An American Robin removing the excrement from the bottom of one of the chicks

 

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.

The last to fledge

The last to fledge

 

Portland Photographer Susan Seubert shoots 2013 Chicken Coop Calendar

Last year I worked on my first calendar project with Amber Lotus Publishing.  The topic was something I was vaguely familiar with: urban chickens and their coops.  I’ve done a fair amount of assignment work photographing various gardens and a few stories about people who have urban farms, but this was the first time I’ve worked on a project specifically for a calendar.  The 2013 version is now available either directly from the publisher or on Amazon.com.  I’m sure you might run across this in garden stores too!  It was great fun working with each coop owner as every chicken coop had wildly different personalities.  It was also wonderful meeting the ladies, who turn out to make not only great pets, but also great eggs.  I’ve posted a few photos from the shoot on my stock photography site and will add more in the near future.  This is the perfect gift for anyone who keeps chickens as the coop ideas featured in the calendar are all very original.  We photographed the 2014 calendar this past summer and it was neat to be able to show those coop owners the ideas that are featured in the 2013 calendar.

City Chickens and Their Coops 2013 Wall Calendar featuring photos by Susan Seubert 🙂

Lydia Hess, the art director, and yours truly working on the perfect light for those glorious eggs

Canon 7D with the 70-300 f4/5.6L IS USM at high ISO: Hummingbird in the evening

We have a summer resident female rufous hummingbird that often visits the feeders and plants that we place for them on our deck.  As their migratory season comes to an end, which sadly means we’re entering into the early throes of autumn here in the Pacific Northwest, I thought I might test out my Canon 7D with the 70-300mm that I’ve been using on assignment lately.  I bitterly complained about the auto-focus when I first purchased the camera and, as usual, it was trial by fire.  I knew that I needed to have a higher fps than my Canon 5D Mark II cameras, so I decided to go with the 7D.  Now that I’ve been shooting it for a while, (and after reading a bit of the manual :-),  I am now really loving the autofocus system and, although the camera is noisy at the higher ISO’s, it’s still pretty darn good.  The other night we were out on the deck and the female rufous came by to check out the salvia and other flowers.  She hung around long enough for me to get a few snaps.  These were all made at iso 6400 shooting in aperture priority.  I processed them in Adobe’s Lightroom using some capture sharpening and luminance noise reduction and I must say I’m impressed.  The focus is tack sharp, the shutter speed was fast enough to stop most of the movement and the colors look beautiful.   I do enjoy birdwatching and although it’s only a simple hobby that I do at home, it’s fun to use this as an opportunity to practice outside of assignment work.  I hope you enjoy these little snapshots of the wee bird.

female rufous hummingbird perched in a Western Cedar tree in the Marquam Greenspace in Portland, Oregon

Female rufous hummingbird investigating the salvia on our porch

Female rufous hummingbird investigating the salvia on our porch, showing off her diminutive gorget

multimedia photographer Susan Seubert and the birds

The sound that wakes me most mornings here on Maui comes from an introduced bird species called the Gray Francolin.  They are quite common in Hawaii, particularly around the beach where many hotels have unwittingly provided the perfect habitat in which they thrive.  There were a pair sitting in the tree, just outside the lanai, and I was fortunate to be able to capture them calling out.  Enjoy!

Multimedia Photographer Susan Seubert films birds in Australia

A few years ago, my husband and I went to Noosa Heads in Queensland for a holiday.  It was our first trip to the island continent and we had a marvelous time.  After spending just a few days in Sydney, which I later photographed for a feature story for National Geographic Traveler, we boarded a plane bound for Maroochydore where we then rented a car and drove north to Noosa Heads where we had rented a condominium.  Our first evening we heard what appeared to be quite human-like laughter.  It was only after consulting my bird book that I realized that we were surrounded by Kookaburras.  It didn’t take long to discover that they are quite tame and enjoy being photographed.

From Wikipedia: Kookaburras (genus Dacelo) are large to very large (total length 28–42 cm/11–17 in) terrestrial kingfishers native to Australia and New Guinea, the name a loanword from Wiradjuri guuguubarra, which is onomatopoeic of its call.  Kookaburras are best known for their unmistakable call, which is uncannily like loud, echoing human laughter — good-natured, but rather hysterical, merriment in the case of the well-known Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae).

We also had wild bush turkeys, currawongs, friarbirds and flocks of lorikeets.  It was wonderful and I made this little film gathered from bird activity around our deck. (apologies for the compression – makes the lorikeet practically invisible) Enjoy!

Male Rufous Hummingbird

The first day of spring was marked by the arrival of the migratory rufous hummingbird.  Since that day, the male, and now the female, have been regularly hanging around our feeders.  They defend the feeders with ferocity and our local Anna’s family is definitely distressed about these newcomers as fighting regularly breaks out.  It’s a glorious day and I am truly  hoping that the weather forecast is correct and that we will be experiencing temperatures nearing 60F.  Here is a photograph of our resident male rufous.

male_rufous_4119

I’m signing off until the rains return.

Enjoy this glorious weekend!