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!!!

 

Behind the Scenes with Susan Seubert and National Geographic Traveler

Aloha!  While I was on assignment last August in Honolulu for National Geographic Traveler Magazine, I was fortunate enough to have a few things that had to be photographed either from or in the water.  One of the images I thought would be interesting to make is the classic photo of the traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe rides with Diamond Head in the background.  This has been an iconic image of Waikiki since the early twentieth century as evidenced by a story that ran in the New York Tribune in 1908.  Honolulu has changed enormously since then, however the ocean and the waves, along with the geologic feature of Diamond Head, remain intact.  When I arrived on Oahu, I decided to head down to the beach and try to figure out a way to get in the water on a surfboard with a giant water housing and surf alongside the canoe.

How Did You Get That Shot?

Outrigger Canoe rides are one of many attractions for tourists on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, HI.  Waikiki is one of the only places where anyone can ride waves in traditional outrigger canoes.

Outrigger Canoe rides are one of many attractions for tourists on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, HI. Waikiki is one of the only places where anyone can ride waves in traditional outrigger canoes.

The locals are one of the most invaluable resources to a travel photographer.  We, the photographers and journalists, get our names placed in the magazine, but I’m of the opinion that we all owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the people who are open to sharing their knowledge and expertise with us, the interlopers.  Waikiki turned out to be no exception.  I surf – a little – but not nearly enough to be able to safely operate a surfboard and camera in the crowded line up at Waikiki.  When I got to Waikiki Beach, I stood in the middle of the crowd and hung around, watching to see who was the best stand-up paddle surfer.  One man stood out immediately.  He could easily navigate the crowds, he caught wave after wave and it was clear that he knew his way around the ocean.  When he came out of the water, I asked if he’d be interested in taking me out on his SUP so that I could make pictures.  Without hesitating, he said, “sure thing,” and the next thing I knew we were off for a test run.  I had brought my GoPro with me to take a few test shots and also to see what it would feel like to sit on the front of a surfboard while making pictures.  The test shots were a success, so we made an appointment to meet up the next day and arrange with the outrigger for us to follow them while they took out their last round of tourists towards the end of the day when the light would be good.  It was a fantastic experience to ride the waves and be able to concentrate on composition and lighting while the driving was taken over by the talented local beach boy, John Paul.  Here are two behind-the-scenes pictures to illustrate the crowds and how I had to ride on the front of the board shooting with a Canon 7D in an underwater housing as JP navigated us through the crowds.

Surfing through major crowds at Waikiki, I was grateful to have a very talented driver to negotiate the waves and the surfers.

I’m sitting on the front of the paddleboard, as JP navigates us along side the outrigger canoe, all the while trying not to get into a wreck!

Me and JP coming in at the end of our photo shoot with the outrigger canoe.  Aloha!!!

JP and I coming in at the end of our photo shoot with the outrigger canoe. Aloha!!!

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