Commercial Photographer Susan Seubert Photographs the Oregon Solar Eclipse

Commercial Photographer Susan Seubert Photographs the Oregon Solar Eclipse

Greetings fellow Earthlings!  The eclipse on August 21, 2017 was the first eclipse to pass over the entire continental United States in more than a century, and millions of people donned their safety glasses to witness the event.  Because I live in Oregon, the path of totality was less than 50 miles from my home, so off I went, iPhone in hand.  “Leave taking pictures of it to the professionals,” my wise father advised, which I did, except that I didn’t.  I have a small GoSky spotting scope with an attachment for my iPhone so with a little planning, I made a very easy setup that included a tripod and some solar mylar, courtesy of the Oregon Tourism Board’s glasses that they had distributed for the event.  After all, our great state was the first to get a glimpse of this celestial event, so why not make sure everyone can watch?  Thank you, Travel Oregon! Unbelievably enough, the weather was perfect for viewing in the Willamette Valley.  It was a spectacular sight to see the moon block out the sun for a total of 1 minute.  I, along with the small crowd that had gathered at Linfield College, was stunned at the beauty of it.

Below are a few photographs of my simple but effective setup, along with some images of the event.  I hope you enjoy the photos as the next one that we’ll have a chance to see here in Oregon won’t happen until October 5, 2108. For more photos, follow me on Instagram! Thanks for visiting.

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The GoSky spotting scope, iPhone, iPhone attachment plus mylar glasses to use as a filter over the camera lens, set up on a tripod.

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I had to make up a dark cloth so I could see the screen in order to get the camera and scope in the proper position.

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The action begins!

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Totality!!!!

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This phase is known as the “Diamond Ring” effect, as the glare from the surface of the moon looks like its namesake.

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Photographer Susan Seubert speaks for National Geographic Seminar on The Travel Assignment

Lower Vieux Quebec, also known as Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Lower Vieux Quebec, also known as Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada          image copyright © 2014 Susan Seubert

Public speaking, for me, was once a terrifying prospect.  Standing on stage in front of an auditorium full of strangers, lights low with maybe a dim spotlight on me, huge images projected on the screen behind me: this scenario was petrifying. Yet over the years, it’s become much easier for me to stand in front of an audience and speak.  Perhaps it’s from practice or maybe it’s simply the passing of time, but either way I am now much more familiar with myself and what I do than I was when I gave my first formal lecture.  It was to the Society for Photographic Education’s Conference at Evergreen State College in Washington.  I was 22 years old and had to excuse myself after the first sentence came out of my mouth as I thought I might pass out.

Thankfully, that was not the case these past two Sundays when I had the opportunity to speak alongside National Geographic Traveler’s Director of Photography, Dan Westergren.  I had been asked by the National Geographic Seminar program to prepare a day long talk about “The Travel Assignment”, something with which I am now familiar.  The day was broken up into several segments in order to address the subject in as comprehensive a manner as possible in under 6 hours.  Dan and I took turns speaking depending on the subject. Occasionally we would interject a relevant story or address a specific audience member’s question during the other person’s presentation.  My subjects were the following: “How Portraiture Can Inform a Larger Narrative;” “What I Carry in My Daily Camera Bags and Why (using pictures to illustrate not only the gear, but also examples using different lens lengths, hello Canon and Think Tank!! );” and finally to present two stories shot on assignment for the magazine.  Dan’s topics were: “Photos We Love and Why;” “Histogram, White Balance and Composition;” “Mirror-less Cameras;” “Using Light;” and “Essence of Place.”

A highlight of the program for me was Dan’s opening sequence of, “Photos We Love and Why.”  November 2014 is National Geographic Traveler’s 30th Anniversary, and I am humbled and pleased to have one of my images included in their 30 Greatest Travel Photos in 30 Years.  Because these were the images Dan chose to show as part of the program, I was able to explain the behind-the-scenes of my image chosen, and Dan described the criteria he and his editors use in the selection process for the photos published in the magazine, and how those criteria had changed over time.  Considering that over 30 million images have been submitted to National Geographic Traveler and of those, approximately 34,000 have been published in those 30 years, I feel very fortunate that one of mine landed in the chosen 30.

In both Los Angeles and Portland, our audiences were terrific!  Everyone was engaged, positive, asked great questions and seemed pleased to have spent an entire Sunday in a darkened room, looking at pictures with Dan and me.  In fact, one of the winners of the 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photography Competition was in attendance at our Portland seminar. One of the many benefits of attending these seminars is that we allow a good amount of time for questions where anyone in the audience can ask and we are right there to answer.  Our goal is to be there to not only provide insight and information about the world inside National Geographic Traveler Magazine, but also to tailor the day for interaction with participants.  I always dine with the guests so we can possibly continue talking during lunch. Participants also received a handout which has not only the information we address during the seminar, but also a list of resource web sites for Travel Photographers.

I look forward to my upcoming speaking engagements. I will discuss my work during Portland’s upcoming Photolucida. I am scheduled to give a talk to the students at the Pacific Northwest College of Art during one of their “Career Chat” programs and also at the Froelick Gallery where I’ll be having a show of my work in April. I will be giving another seminar for the National Geographic Seminar program this coming spring. As the schedule becomes available, I’ll be posting about it on my social network pages as well as on this blog.

Presenting my portrait images at the Skirball Auditorium in Los Angeles for National Geographic Seminars, "The Travel Assignment"

Presenting my portrait images at the Skirball Cultural Center Auditorium in Los Angeles for National Geographic Seminars, “The Travel Assignment”

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

Canon 5D Mark III Error Message 70 Followup

Greetings!  In an earlier post here, I wrote about a brand new Canon 5D Mark III body shutting down with an Error 70 message.  My home town camera store replaced the body because it was DOA. I then purchased a second 5D Mark III body plus the 70-200 f2.8 L Series II lens, as well as all new CF and SD cards that are dedicated to these cameras.  I chose to use the Sandisk Extreme 16GB, and those seem to work well with all of my bodies.  I have a separate set of cards for my two Canon 7D bodies and this system seems to work well.  So far, the cameras have performed beautifully.  One of the new features of the Mark III that I like the most is the silent shutter mode.  It really makes a difference when shooting in many situations.  It seems that if people are less aware of the noise of the camera, they are much more natural and relaxed.  I also like the HDR option on these bodies for when I’m shooting architecture that would otherwise require merging to HDR in Photoshop or Lightroom.  I haven’t taken the 5D Mark III cameras into any seriously extreme conditions yes, but when I head to Svalbard in June with National Geographic Expeditions, we’ll see how they hold up to the arctic.  Right now I use my 7D cameras for wildlife and underwater, which is really great.  I enjoy being able to have 8 fps when photographing subjects like sea lions or surfing.  The 5D Mark III cameras perform well for most editorial and commercial purposes.

While snorkeling at Champion Islet we encountered some very playful sea lions who had no problem posing for the camera!

While snorkeling at Champion Islet on an expedition with National Geographic in the Galapagos, we encountered some very playful sea lions who had no problem posing for the camera!  Photographed with a Canon 7D with a 10-22mm lens in an SPL under-water splash housing

editorial photographer Susan Seubert and the Canon L Series 50mm 1.2 USM lens

This year, I broke down and purchased a Canon 50mm 1.2 L series USM lens.  It is spectacular for portrait work because of its amazing bokeh.  There is a lot of chatter out there about the spectacular price difference between the 1.2 and the Canon 1.4.  I also own a Canon 50mm 2.5 macro which is instrumental for me for shooting details of things from food to flowers but for portraits, the 1.2 can’t be beat.  Here are two examples.  One is a portrait of my husband, which I dropped into a film frame for effect – I’ve long been lugging around an analogue Hasselblad with a beautiful 80mm lens, which I’ve used for years as my primary portrait lens. It’s also fantastic combined with a few extension tubes. However, now that I’m moving into an almost exclusively digital workflow, I had to find a lens that I was happy enough with to leave my Hasselblad behind when going on assignment.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love working with film, but the practical side of my business has forced my hand on this one.  I’ve been taking the d65 wokrshop every other year to keep current on the latest digital workflow which has led me to adopt working almost exclusively in Adobe’s Lightroom.  That software combined with the Canon 5D Mark II’s and lenses I work with give me a great way to process thousands of images in a relatively short period of time, without sacrificing any amount of quality. (This year’s processed tally is almost to 13,000 client delivered images).  My digital library is now more organized than ever – I can find any image with just a few clicks of the mouse.  I hope you find this information useful!

Portrait shot with the Canon L series 1.2 50mm USM lens, dropped into a Hasselblad film frame using Photoshop CS5

my cat, photographed on the couch using the Canon L series 1.2 USM lens, processed using Adobe's Camera Raw and Photoshop CS5