Behind The Lens: Brooks Falls, Alaska

Behind The Lens: Brooks Falls, Alaska

Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: Brooks Falls, Alaska

“Brooks Falls” Brown bear on Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Lens @ 280mm, 1/13 second @ f/14, ISO 100.

Brooks Falls are located on the Brooks River about halfway between Brooks Lake and Naknek Lake in Katmai National Park and Preserve. The falls are best known for bear watching on the Bear Cam as salmon attempt to leap up and over the six-foot cascade on their way to their spawning grounds. Brooks Falls is also quite famous for a number of bear-catching-salmon-in-jaws photos that you’ve undoubted seen in prints, books, and all over the Internet.

I wanted to attempt something different here, a contrast between the stillness of a steady bear atop the falls and the ever moving water. The result, which you see here, has been published on numerous occasions including an appearance in my latest wildlife photography book. I’ve been been asked on several occasions if this is a composite created with one slow exposure for the water and another with a faster shutter speed for the bear. The answer would be no. Bears usually don’t move very quickly and they often just stand around looking dumb and confused. The shutter speed of 1/13 second was fast enough to render the idle bear as perfectly sharp while also creating an illusion of motion with the water.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR and Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Lens and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 


Behind The Lens: The Angel Oak

Behind The Lens: The Angel Oak

Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: The Angel Oak

“The Angel Oak” Johns Island, South Carolina USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens @ 24mm, 1/15 second @ f/20, ISO 320.

On South Carolina’s Johns Island just south of Charleston, you might find one of the world’s most formidable Southern live oak trees: The Angel Oak. It truly is a sight to behold, boasting a total height of 66 feet (20 meters), a 30-foot (9 meter) trunk circumference, and a canopy diameter of more than180 feet (55 meters). It’s exact age has not been determined but it’s believed to be about 500 years old, making it the oldest living thing in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

I composed the Angel Oak by zooming in tight on the core of the tree so there was no empty space around the edges and that the branches extended all the way out to the image frame and into the corners. I was shooting directly into the sun so I positioned myself where the sun was barely peeking behind a tree limb and then stopped down to f/20 to create a diffraction star.

I captured all of this with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. I converted this to Black and White with Nik Silver Efex Pro2 on Adobe Lightroom.

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By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 


Behind The Lens: Italy’s Cinque Terre

Behind The Lens: Italy’s Cinque Terre

Behind The Lens

Behind The Lens: Italy’s Cinque Terre

“Cinque Terre” The charming seaside village of Manarola, Cinque Terre National Park, Italy. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens @ 26mm, 30 seconds @ f/10, ISO 200.

Cinque Terre is a strand of five charming and colorful seaside villages along the dramatic Italian Riviera coastline. Colorfully-painted houses cling perilously to the sea cliffs while vineyards grace the steep, terraced landscape just above the town. One of Cinque Terre’s most scenic and photogenic villages is Manarola and I visited there in 2015 for some coastal photography Italian Style!.

My strategy for this image was to execute it during the twilight hour where the ambient blues would create a dramatic color temperature contrast with the warm lights of the village, once they were turned on. The house colors were decidedly muted during the day and I wanted this photo to really pop. Twilight was definitely the right time. Even though there were no clouds top help create some drama, the deep blues in the sky were colorful enough for me. Choosing twilight also allowed me to employ a long shutter speed (30 seconds) without having to add any neutral density filters. The long exposure smoothed out the waves and created a sweet yellow reflective glow on the water.

When traveling, I love taking along the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens, which is light, sharp, and versatile (and not to mention, relatively inexpensive) and I chose a focal length of 26mm with this lens, which was plenty wide to allow comfortable negative space along the top and the bottom. 

Even though I am happy with the result, I am already looking forward to my next visit to Manarola and Cinque Terre!

Cinque Terre can be licensed or purchased as a print here.

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By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 


Love, Money, and the Eagles

Love, Money, and the Eagles

Short Essays

Love, Money, and the Eagles

Earlier this year, I traveled to western Mexico to photograph migrating gray whales as they spent the winter months in the warm shallow waters of Baja California’s Magdalena Bay. I planned to publish an accompanying essay, Welcome to Baja California, that would describe my experience while incorporating several not-so-subtle references to the 1970s megahit, Hotel California by the popular rock band the Eagles. I even went so far as to title each of my photos with lyrics pulled directly from the song itself: the craggy Baja coastal landscapes (What a Lovely Place?), eye-to-eye underwater encounters with the giant aquatic mammals (What a Lovely Face?) and some high-flying acrobatic breaching (Some Dance to Remember?) among others.

Then She Lit Up A Candle
Gray whale spouting at sunrise in Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon 100-400mm @ 263mm, 1/1000 second @ f/5.6, ISO 500

For my sake as well as yours, gentle reader, this cringeworthy effort was soon mercifully aborted. The jump-the-shark moment arrived as I typed out a welcoming gesture for the essay’s closing words (you can come check it out anytime you like but you’ll never want to leave?). Oh really? I stared incredulously at the computer screen for several moments, palm firmly pressed against forehead, reading and re-reading this nauseating passage while contemplating perhaps the greatest lapse of good taste and judgement of my professional life. To make matters worse, I was never even a fan of the song nor the Eagles either for that matter. My dislike, if I could even call it that, was more of a shoulder-shrugging meh than a full-blown Jeff Lebowski-level declaration of disgust. The Eagles were merely background noise in the musical soundtrack of my life, nothing more and nothing less.

Growing up, I never thought their music to be objectionable on its own merits, but the likelihood they were many of our parents’ favorite contemporary “rock and roll” band made them not only objectionable at the time, but contemptable. The real estate they occupied on the FM radio dial didn’t exactly help their rock cred either. Their agreeable soft rock ballads and soaring five-part harmonies were much more likely to punctuate an Elton John – Chicago triple play than share airtime with The Stones or Zeppelin.

Artistically – no, I’m not a music critic but simply a lover of music – I now see the band and their music as a monumental lost opportunity. Supremely talented singers and musicians that they were, the resulting body of work is less than inspiring. Rampant drug use, love triangles, power struggles and band infighting didn’t lead to creative synthesis, as it did for say Lennon and McCartney, but instead created distractions and artistic compromises, so much so that any bold or edgy musical initiatives were pulverized into finely-polished, universally-compliant, mellow mediocrities. Or perhaps they were motivated only by commercial success and record sales so once they found a formula that worked, they simply stuck to the script. Either way, many of their songs are breathtakingly predictable if not indistinguishable from one another. I’m not entirely convinced Take It Easy and Peaceful Easy Feeling are two completely different songs, are you? The Eagles were supreme gods of least common denominator rock and roll who produced inoffensive, commercially palatable music for the masses. Their lasting legacy is the undeniable fact that they sold a lot of records: no lyrical protestations or statements on social injustice (the peak of their success was during the 70s after all), no groundbreaking musical or artistic style, no risk-taking, no soul, no heart – yet they were wildly successful, commercial behemoths.

After Glow
Pied crows at Deadvlei with the sunset’s afterglow on the red dunes, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon 100-400mm @ 248mm, 1/1250 second @ f/5, ISO 2000

From time to time, I’m asked to give interviews for various websites, blogs, podcasts, even local television stations and it’s a near certainty that at some point I will be asked to offer advice for up-and-coming travel, nature, wildlife photographers. That’s a difficult request since good advice for one aspiring photographer might be useless or even counterproductive for another. Still, it’s not a question I can easily duck so my answer is nearly always the same: If you need to do this, do it for love. Do it for love. Let me repeat, do it for love. Nothing else.

Do it because you passionately, intensely, insanely love photography and creative expression so much that your life will feel empty and unfulfilled if it’s not a central part of it. Don’t allow financial success or the illusion of a glamorous lifestyle of jet setting around the world, dating supermodels and making it rain in Ibiza be your motivation, lest you be ever so slightly disillusioned and disappointed to boot. If you follow your heart, both in how you manage your career as well as where you focus your artistic vision, you’ll discover success – however you happen to measure it – to be an organic byproduct of passionately pursuing what you love. You’ll also find a lifetime of happiness which, as the cliché goes, money cannot buy.

Meraki
Autumn lengas and Cerro Moreno in foggy weather, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon 70-200-400mm @ 135mm, 1/1000 second @ f/16, ISO 640

Another question I’m commonly asked is, “What has been the proudest achievement of your career?” Now that’s an easy one: I never photographed anyone’s wedding. No matter how lucrative the offer happened to be, I would always politely decline. A logical follow-up that’s curiously never asked is, “Why not?” Well, I’m more than happy to share that answer with you here. First, I wouldn’t want to be at the wedding in the first place and my uninspired work would probably reflect that sad fact. There’s no love in this place, only disappointment and tears. Second, financial reward would be the only reason I would even consider doing such a thing and that’s not why I chose this particular path in life. There are more conventional career paths out there designed for accumulating money and power. And third, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say the whole proposition sounds suspiciously like something called a job. Come to think of it, the whole premise reminds me of a certain overrated band I know.

LOS ANGELES, JUNE 2019

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By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 


Win A Trip To Antarctica With Omaze

Win A Trip To Antarctica With Omaze

Short Essays

Win A Trip To Antarctica With Omaze

There are some places on this magnificent planet that have attained mythological status in the imaginations of adventure travelers. When one finally encounters their idyllic location in real life, there’s often mild disappointment since nothing could ever compete with an imagination-enhanced legend. Antarctica, however, is one place where the actual experience exceeds even the most fervent imagination. It’s epic on every level!

How would you like the opportunity to take an epic 14-day adventure to Antarctica on a National Geographic expedition ship? With Omaze, you have the very opportunity!

For as little as a $10 donation, you can win the chance to experience the magic of Antarctica for yourself. All you do is donate to a worthy cause. Each donation you make supports providing life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer. That’s all you need to do to be entered for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the White Continent!

If selected, you and a friend will…

• Embark on a two-week-long adventure to Antarctica aboard a National Geographic expedition ship
• Enjoy your choice of day activities—including kayak trips, Zodiac boat rides and hikes
• Discover the White Continent alongside a team of expert travel guides, naturalists and photographers
• Get up close and personal with penguins and other wildlife, and go home with the best photos ever
• Be flown out and put up in a 4-star hotel for one night

In addition to the world-class wildlife photography and viewing on this expedition – you can see several species of penguins, seals, whales, and other bird life – there is also scenery that will take your breath away. During my December 2017 expedition, my biggest problem was that I never wanted to sleep. The endless mountains, glaciers, icebergs, and scenic shorelines combined with the extended 20 hours of sunlight during the summer conspired to keep me awake and out on the ship’s deck at the strangest hours with my camera, so afraid I might miss something.

Omaze is a global charitable giving platform that works with celebrities, influencers, and personalities to help world changers – those people on the ground doing good – raise money to make a difference and give those who donate the opportunity to have experiences of a lifetime. Since its founding, Omaze has had people from 170 countries donate over $100 million to over 150 charities all over the world.

Are you interested? Here’s how to get started. Click here and visit their website. Click the ENTER NOW button, and choose how much money to donate to the. The more you donate the more chances you’ll have to win the Antarctica expedition with National Geographic with Omaze. $10 will give you 100 entries for your chance to win! Enter promo code: BERNABE100 at check out and get 100 additional entries. Entries can be made until March 21, 2019.

All of the money raised goes to First Descents providers of life-changing, outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer. First Descents’ participants experience free outdoor adventure programs that empower them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, reclaim their lives, and connect with others doing the same. Through outdoor adventures, skills development and local adventure communities, First Descents improves the long-term survivorship of its participants.

To see more photos from my 2017 trip to Antarctica, see my Terra Incognita post.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.