Travel Photographer Susan Seubert in the Antarctic

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert in the Antarctic

Skog Bay, Antarctica

The bridge in the early morning hours as we head towards the Antarctic Circle

I recently returned from an epic journey with National Geographic Expeditions where we traveled to the Antarctic Peninsula, the island of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.  The seas were calm for most of the voyage, making for an excellent experience exploring this remote area of the Earth. As the on-board National Geographic Photography Expert, I have the privilege of leading the photography component of this departure. I lecture on the ships about photography and help people improve their technical and storytelling skills so that they return home with a great collection of images.  Below is a selection of some of my favorite moments from this fantastic adventure.

Please enjoy the pictures and thank you for visiting!

Watching Type A Killer Whales in the Southern Ocean from the National Geographic Explorer, a ship in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica

Watching Type A Killer Whales in the Southern Ocean from the National Geographic Explorer, a ship in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

A Crabeater Seal hauled out on the ice in Skog Bay, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

A beautiful iceberg in Skog Cove, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

A Skua flies through an opening in a large iceberg in Skog Cove, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

Sailing through fast ice, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

Adventures on the Fast Ice, Antarctica

Booth Island, Antarctica

Sunrise on our way to Booth Island, Antarctica

Booth Island, Antarctica

A Gentoo penguin colony on Booth Island, Antarctica

Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Cierva Cove, Antarctica

Two porpoising Gentoo penguins and a humpback whale feeding in Cierva Cove, Antarctica. This is a once in a lifetime image!!

Danco Island, Errera Channel, Antarctica

The remains of whaling at Danco Island, Errera Channel, Antarctica

Cierva Cove, Antarctica

Porpoising Gentoo penguins in Cierva Cove, Antarctica

Point Wild, Antarcica

Point Wild, Antarctica, where Ernest Shackleton’s men spent 137 days awaiting rescue.

Gold Harbour, South Georgia

We had a persistent rainbow at Gold Harbour as seen from our ship, South Georgia

Gold Harbour, South Georgia

A rainbow and King penguins on the beach at Gold Harbour, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

Over 500,000 King penguins at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

An illustration of the density of King penguins at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

An Antarctic fur seal pup at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

Molting Elephant seals at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

Hercules Bay, South Georgia

A Macaroni penguin shows off its crest at Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Dramatic light at Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Maiviken hike to Grytviken, South Georgia

Hiking a scree slope in the snow from Maiviken to Grytviken, South Georgia

Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

A large King penguin colony at Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

Wind gusts up to 80 knots at Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

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The colorful houses in the morning light as we pull in to the harbor at Stanley, Falkland Islands

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The classic whale bone arch in Stanley, Falkland Islands

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The quaint town of Stanley, the capital city of the Falkland Islands

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A sheep herding demonstration at Long Island Farm outside of Stanley, Falkland Islands

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Long Island Farm outside of Stanley, Falkland Islands

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Wool from the farm at Long Island Farm outside of Stanley, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

Magellanic penguins molting on Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

West Point Island, Falkland Islands

A Rockhopper penguin and Black-browed Albatross colony, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Black-browed Albatross chick being fed, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Black-browed Albatross chicks waiting to fledge, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

crew photo NGEX, Ushuaia, ARG

The amazing group of people that I work with on board the National Geographic Explorer on our last night after 3 weeks together exploring the Southern Ocean

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 Speaking at the OPTIC Event in New York City, May 3rd and 4th

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!

 

Susan Seubert Photography in 2014 : An Amazing Year, in Pictures

From the North Pole to the sands of Hawaii, my cameras and I saw many incredible places.

Here are some of the highlights.

My year began in Birmingham for National Geographic Traveler for a story about the history of Civil Rights in the city, but from a traveler’s perspective. The assignment took me to the Civil Rights Museum and the inside of the 16th Street Baptist Church, both sobering experiences.  Birmingham also has a fabulous food scene from down home BBQ to some seriously delicious high-end Southern Cuisine.  The lively arts scene was a surprise, complete with small music venues and vegan restaurants.

The Wales Window at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

The Wales Window at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

The Bottletree restaurant, which offers vegan cuisine, and music venue located in the Avondale district of Birmingham, Alabama.

The Bottletree restaurant, which offers vegan cuisine, and music venue located in the Avondale district of Birmingham, Alabama.

The next great assignment came from the Smithsonian Magazine : photographing the Von Trapp children who have made Portland, Oregon their hometown. We spent time climbing trees and jumping on rooftops with umbrellas to get some wonderful images of these multi-talented youngsters.

The Von Trapp children in Portland, Oregon

The Von Trapp children in Portland, Oregon

From there, it was off to Baja, where I taught photography on board the National Geographic Sea Bird.  We traveled throughout the Gulf of California experiencing all kinds of wildlife. Swimming with sea lions at Los Islotes, Orca whales bow riding at midnight under a full moon and huge flocks of elegant terns choosing their mates at Isla Rasita are just a few of the amazing encounters we had during our eight day voyage.  The wildlife experts on board kept our shutters flying.

Snorkeling with California Sea Lions at Los Islotes in Baja California Mexico

Snorkeling with California Sea Lions at Los Islotes in Baja California Mexico Photographed with a GoPro Camera

Elegant terns and other sea birds gathering on Isla Rasa, Baja California Mexico

Elegant terns and other sea birds gathering on Isla Rasita, Baja California Mexico

After a few loads of laundry and some face time with the kitties, it was off to Maui for the month of May, where I shot a story about Happiness for Prevention Magazine.  We had fun making smiley faces on trees in the lush, tropical forests.  We did street casting to choose our lovely models who expressed joy with their smiles and their feet. 🙂

A tree in the forest on Maui with a happy face made of natural materials.

A tree in the forest on Maui with a happy face made of natural materials.

pink flowers with a happy face in the grass with bare feet, Maui, Hawaii

pink flowers with a happy face in the grass with bare feet, Maui, Hawaii

From Maui, I flew directly to Quebec City for National Geographic Traveler where I spent ten days on assignment.  The European vibe and French speaking Vieux Quebec made me feel as though I had crossed two oceans.

Street scenes from Vieux Quebec, the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, Quebec City, Canada. Rue Saint Louis lighting up at dusk

Street scenes from Vieux Quebec, the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, Quebec City, Canada. Rue Saint Louis lighting up at dusk

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

In June, I headed to Svalbard to work as the Photography Expert for National Geographic Expeditions on board the Explorer, a beautiful ice breaker.  We sailed among the ice sheets, spotting polar bears and photographing the most incredible blues I’ve ever seen.  The landscape around the North Pole cannot be properly captured in pictures, but we all did our best.

A polar bear with her cub on the pack ice in Svalbard, Norway

A polar bear with her cub on the pack ice in Svalbard, Norway

Austfonna Ice Cap on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, Norway

Austfonna Ice Cap on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, Norway

Ice floating in Svalbard, Norway

Glacial Ice floating in Svalbard, Norway

Teaching photography has been a focus of 2014. In July, I taught a group of aspiring young photographers through National Geographic’s Student Expeditions program in San Francisco.  We explored Muir Woods, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the streets of San Francisco and magnificent Big Sur.  Later in the year I taught two one-day seminars in L.A. and Portland for National Geographic on “The Travel Assignment.”

Our group portrait with all of the National Geographic Student Expeditions at the Sutro Baths, San Francisco, CA

Our group portrait with all of the National Geographic Student Expeditions at the Sutro Baths, San Francisco, CA

Our dusk shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge with Student Expeditions where we experimented with light writing and a group portrait

Our dusk shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge with Student Expeditions where we experimented with light writing and a group portrait

After wrapping in San Francisco, I photographed for several days on beautiful Bainbridge Island in Washington.  The subject?  Chickens.  Chickens and their coops for Amber Lotus, a calendar and card company.  Keep your eyes peeled for the 2016 edition of City Chickens and Their Coops!

Chickens and their Coops Calendar coming out in 2016, but it's not too late to get your 2015 copy!

Chickens and their Coops Calendar coming out in 2016, but it’s not too late to get your 2015 copy!

It was off to Switzerland in September for two weeks covering 1000 miles of Swiss bliss.  Every village and mountain peak was as picturesque as one would expect from this iconic country.  One of the many highlights was visiting a small creamery in the Alps that makes Alpkäse, a traditional cheese made entirely by hand.  I also hiked around the mountains, explored the country by train, car and boat, and (how could I resist?) sampled lots of chocolate.

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

What could be better than this? Crete. I flew directly there from Switzerland and was met by my husband — and my fixer.  We proceeded to spend just over a week shooting the western half of the island.  The food, people, landscape and architecture were outstanding. That story has already hit the newsstands in the Netherlands for the Dutch edition of National Geographic Traveler.

Street scenes in Chania, Crete, Greece

Street scenes in Chania, Crete, Greece

Evening street performers in the village of Paleochora on the southern coast of Crete, Greece, Europe

Evening street performers in the village of Paleochora on the southern coast of Crete, Greece, Europe

After Crete it was off to another island, our home on Maui, where we spent October and November surfing, stand-up paddle-boarding and, of course, making more pictures.  This time the assignment was for me: to explore the underwater world with a Canon 7D and an SPL water housing.  I photographed turtle after turtle, had a few octopus encounters and enjoyed a beautiful moment with a very large spotted eagle ray.

A spotted eagle ray at the reef at Black Rock in Kaanapali, Maui

A spotted eagle ray at the reef at Black Rock in Kaanapali, Maui

A large, male Hawaiian green sea turtle swims peacefully over the reef at Kaanapali, Maui

A large, male Hawaiian green sea turtle swims peacefully over the reef at Kaanapali, Maui

Thank you to all of my clients for sending me on such remarkable journeys.

You’ve made 2014 marvelous!!!

 

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 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

Canon 5D Mark II Error 01 Message Follow-up

I have gotten tons of traffic to my previous blog post about my experience with the Canon 24-105mm lens problem.  Basically, if you get an Error 01 message on your camera and you’re shooting with a 24-105, it is the lens, not the camera.  I now have two of these lenses that I travel with: one new one and the old one which has been serviced.  It seems like there is no rhyme or reason to the failure, it happens spontaneously and without notice, leaving whoever is shooting with that lens stranded.   Canon has been very responsive to all of my problems – their CPS program is top notch.  But it is indeed irritating to be on location and have equipment failure.  On the other hand, I’ve had my fair share of purely mechanical failures before the popularity of shooting digital.  My Hasselblad has fallen apart more times than I care to think, but because it’s mechanical and the problem is usually due to normal wear and tear that a professional would bestow upon heavily used equipment.  This issue with the Canon 24-105mm lens is vexing, but I haven’t been notified of a recall.  If I am, I’ll be sure to post about it and if I get any insight from Canon as to why this problem seems so prevalent, I will share whatever information I can.  All I can say is that if you are going to get the lens repaired, send the body in to a Canon Factory Service Center with it and have everything inspected and cleaned at the same time. If you are a serious pro shooter, apply for the CPS program.  The technicians know their stuff and do a great job with repairs and cleaning.  Happy Shooting!