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!

National Geographic Expedition in Alaska with photographer Susan Seubert

Being on board any National Geographic Expedition ship is a magnificent experience for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the incredible staff of naturalists.  It’s wonderful to be having a nice cup of tea and listening to a talk about whales, then glancing out the window and seeing the very animal being discussed in its natural habitat, just off to the side of the ship.  This type of expedition travel also happens to be fantastic for photography.  The captain and the expedition leader make it a priority to take us to the most beautiful places. Their keen local knowledge all but guarantees an enormous amount of wildlife sighting, which makes for fantastic picture-taking opportunities.

Last August, I was invited to be the National Geographic Photography Expert on board the National Geographic Sea Bird for the expedition to Alaska’s Inside Passage.  Every day was packed with great opportunities to see wildlife, such as humpback whales and bears, experience unbelievable landscapes and, using their fleet of zodiacs, get up close and personal to calving glaciers. Here are a few pictures from our first full day on board.  I hope this gives a flavor of what it’s like to travel with National Geographic and I encourage you to join us for one of our many adventures throughout the world.

The National Geographic Sea Bird docked in Juneau

The National Geographic Sea Bird docked in Juneau –  Canon 5D Mark III + 24-105mm

Our first glacier!  This is the South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord.  Photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III + 70-200mm

Our first glacier! This is the South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord. Photographed with a – Canon 5D Mark III + 70-200mm

The glacial ice is incredibly blue.  We were here on an overcast day and the colors were just amazing.  Photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III 70-200mm lens

The glacial ice is incredibly blue. We were here on an overcast day and the colors were just amazing – Canon 5D Mark III + 70-200mm lens

Along the steep walls of the Tracy Arm Fjord, we were treated with a small herd of Mountain Goats with their yearlings, grazing just few hundred yards from our zodiac  Photographed with a Canon 7D and a 70-300mm lens

Along the steep walls of the Tracy Arm Fjord, we were treated to a small herd of Mountain Goats with their yearlings, grazing just few hundred yards from our zodiac – Canon 7D + 70-300mm lens

I can't think of any place else that will deliver hot chocolate to your zodiac in water filled with icebergs. Photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 24-105mm lens

I can’t think of any place else that will deliver hot chocolate to your zodiac while waiting to witness calving glaciers – Canon 5D Mark III + a 24-105mm lens

As we were transiting out of Tracy Arm Fjord, we came across this black bear, foraging for food along the water's edge.  The colors of the water and foliage really stand out against the black fur of this animal. Photographed with a Canon 7D 70-300mm lens

As we were transiting out of Tracy Arm Fjord, we came across this black bear, foraging for food along the water’s edge. The colors of the water and foliage really stand out against the black fur of this animal. Canon 7D + 70-300mm lens

Later that afternoon, we did a wet landing at Williams Cove to walk through the pristine rain forest and these colorful mushrooms were everywhere.  Photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III 24-105mm lens

Later that afternoon, a wet landing at Williams Cove took us to the pristine rain forest.  These colorful mushrooms were everywhere – Canon 5D Mark III + 24-105mm lens

In a couple of weeks, I am heading next to Central America with National Geographic Expeditions, where we’ll be in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, then on board the National Geographic Sea Lion which will take us down the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and Panama to explore the parks that are filled with wildlife, and, for the grand finale, a transit through the Panama Canal.  See you on board!

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