African Wildlife Photography Seminar

Calgary, Alberta Canada, November 18th 2014

Hey guys! I'm super excited about my photography seminar next week with +The Camera Store. I'll be talking about my most favourite stories of wildlife encounters and photography techniques while I was in east Africa. I really like energizing other photographers and had a pretty fantastic time last time I did this. If you know of anyone who lives in Calgary who would like to come to something like this, please share, there are a few spots left!

P.S. The photo below is real and elephants are the most incredible creatures to watch, I'll go into detail on this photo and more in my talk!

You can find out more here:

The Northern Gannet portrait


Ile Bonaventure, Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec, Canada I'm very used to seeing exotic and beautiful bird colonies out in some of the farthest reaches of our world. But this afternoon I spent time in my own country, the gaspé peninsula in a small and picturesque quebec town of Percé, Canada. After enjoying some fine french cuisine of arctic char for lunch I couldn't believe my eyes that after a short ride over to the island I was surrounded by thousands of beautiful white patterned Northern Gannets.  The first thing I noticed as I wandered through the forest is the pungent ammonia and fish like smell of a typical bird colony "they smell just like penguins" I thought. Then the cacophony of calls from the gannets filled the air as the landscape of the colony broke through the trees, the brown colony floor perfectly spaced and dotted with gannets, like they were dollops of icing placed down by some divine gingerbread house maker. It was remarkable to see how each gannet was just one "beak peck" away, as if they hate each other but have to be close enough because of safety in numbers.

I wandered around the colony where there was a wooden observation platform looking down on the gannets. I leaned over the railing and to my surprise just a couple meters below me there was a gannet staring up at me with curiosity. He didn't fidget, or look at me with concern, just sat there as the rain and fog beaded up on his head. I never had such a fantastic viewing angle from a such a beautiful bird like this before.

Photographic Details Because I was using a 400mm Telephoto lens, I had no choice but to actually lift my camera up as high as I could, farther away from the Gannet. These lenses have a   minimum focusing distance and I was actually too close to photograph this bird. I had to hold my camera away from me the way one might hold a baby away from them after they just filled their diaper: you would never drop what's in your hands but you want it as far away from you as possible. I put my camera into the very rarely used live view mode so I could see where the camera was focusing, and shot multiple photos like this. I had to use a high shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second as these birds were constantly looking around shaking their heads and my own hands weren't the most stable platform to be shooting from. I was very happy with the results and to get a shot like this without disturbing this beautiful bird was fantastic. I can't wait to see more places like this in my own "backyard" of Canada. The artistic quality of creating a vertical line from the bottom left to the upper right is what I was going for, I also wanted to express the subtle but beautiful yellow hues this bird has in it's pristine pelage. Focusing on the eye is the standard for a photo like this but the emphasis is in the strong diagonals this bird presents.

Camera Settings Canon EOS 7D ISO400 f5.6 1/1000 sec Canon 100-400mm lens

#birdpoker #birding #gannet #canada #wildlife #birds #quebec #FineArtPls curated by +Marina Chen , and #yisforyellow  curated by +Lucille Galleli and +YisforYellow

Also I'm back! I know you have seen many posts relayed to google plus by my wonderful helper +Kathryn Bechthold while I was away, hence the third person, but rest assured I'm back now and will be glad to answer your questions!

African Worlds Photo show


I know there are so many people watching my work from so far away but if you happen to be in Calgary I'll be putting on my latest photo show, African Worlds. A beautiful presentation of photos and fun stories from my adventures in Kenya and Tanzania. Please help get the word out and share as some of the proceeds for this show goes towards the Calgary Zoo conservation outreach program, benefiting the wildlife and the lives of people who come in contact with them!

When: Tuesday, June 19th 2012 7:00-8:30 PM

Where: Esso Theatre at the Calgary Zoo

Admission: $20   [button size="medium" full="false" link="" bgColor="#ff9900"]Order tickets online[/button]

Portions of the proceeds goes towards the Calgary Zoo Conservation Outreach Program.

Ensure your entry and Order tickets online at now!

[button size="large" align="center" full="true" link="" color="blue"]Click here to find out more[/button]

Google Currents App


Stay inspired on the road For those of you who like reading my photo stories and would like to be able to read them in a very nice simple mobile format you will have to check me out on google currents!

Google has been hard at work and they've created a fantastic app for Android, Iphone and Ipad. If you check out the curators section in the library you will find me and many other inspirational photographers, I'd love to see your support on currents so please add me, you subscribe to me by following this link:

Kyle Marquardt on Google Currents The worldly explorations of a full time photographer



Supermoon, Airplane and Calgary Tower in one


Calgary, Alberta, Canada I really wanted a photo of the supermoon against something that was iconically Calgary. At the same time I didn't want to photoshop the moon to make it look bigger. In order to show a large moon I had to use a telephoto lens and be somewhat far from the tower itself. This meant mapping the path of the moon ahead of time and knowing where I had to stand to get the Calgary tower visible. After a few calculations I knew that I had to be at the Jubilee auditorium, a place I've always gone to and had a fantastic time watching Alberta Ballet or other fantastic shows.

One other problem with shooting such a bright object is that the camera can't capture the comparatively dim lights of the towers and the bright moon at the same time. This required that I take two photos at different exposure levels and mash them together to get the combined details of the moon's beautiful craters and the city's vibrant textures. I had the lucky bonus of an airplane flying in front of the moon while I took the shot, creating a cool streak across the sky.

I have to stress that the the size or shape of the moon has not been manipulated, the only "photoshopping" in this photo is the combining of the two exposures, the large size of the moon is magnified just as much as the tower is by using my 400mm lens on a canon 7D.

Exposure 1 for the city: 4s f/8.0 ISO200 400mm (Brighter) Exposure 2 for the moon 1s f/8.0 ISO100 400mm (Darker)

Just sitting by the camels


Wadi Rum, Jordan I rarely get the chance to photograph myself, but when I do I don’t do the typical one armed pointing the camera at my face with something in the background thing, for me that’s too contrived. The thing I like most about my photos is that they are shot just the way I see them, and express exactly what it was like to be there. Because of that every scene is an extension of myself and my experiences. Because of that the need to plop my face in front of the camera to express where I’ve been is moot.

However I wanted to express that after a long day wandering in the desert, I just plopped myself down and watched the camels graze. The two front legs of the animal are hobbled just like what’s depicted on the petroglyphs I posted yesterday. This ancient practice keeps them from galloping off into the sunset, and instead they graze on the sparse but nutritious grasses popping out of the sand without straying too far from “home”. Including my feet was the perfect way to express this unusual relaxation scene that I found myself in.

Photographic details: I used a higher aperture of f9 to keep things sharper, but not too sharp so the image will lose depth. Using a wide angle lens at 35mm helped to easily keep my legs in the shot. I just laid back in the soft sand, got comfortable and snapped a few shots while the camel was chewing his cud. I would have preferred the camel move a little to the left but I think that was asking too much of him on his down time. Normally I could have moved to the right to get the camel in the right position but I would end up falling off the sand dune.

Camera Settings: 1/100s f/9.0 ISO200 35mm


Petroglyphs to the Past


Wadi Rum, Jordan Written by the pre islamic people of the arabian desert and sinai areas, some of these Petroglyphs are up to 2400 years old. These "photographs of ancient times" even depict wildlife that are either extinct or do not live in the area, as over time the local climate has since changed to a more arid one. This area being famous for Lawrence of Arabia and the filming of "red planet" I can't help but think the deep history of this place is often overlooked. This is where people have lived and thrived for thousands of years, whole lifetimes written out like a story book for us to see so many years later. I feel almost like I can touch the rock and go back and time and ask these people, "What are your hopes and dreams?".

The largest petroglyph of the camel on the bottom left shows a hobbled camel, the practice of tying the front two legs together so the animal can't run far. This allows them to slowly graze without ever needing fences and is still done by the people who live here today.

Photographic Details: Using a polariser I was able to darken down the blue sky into a much deeper blue. The clouds seem to erupt from the cliffside pronouncing the deep history of these images. I didn't keep the aperture too sharp as I wanted some of the wall to blur into the distance, farther away objects fade from view just like the passage of time obscures our view of the past.

Camera Settings: Canon 5D Mark II 1/80s f/7.1 ISO100 16mm

Gateway to Wadi Rum


Wadi Rum, Jordan I had the afternoon to myself to explore the area surrounding my camp. My guide told me there was some fun climbing in the cliffs and rocks overlooking us, he sure wasn’t kidding. The inner child in me came out to play on the fantastic formations of granite and sandstone, every curve, cave and crack was a gateway to new worlds and fantastic views.

Photographic Details: This is another great example of framing. When I’m out and about I search for something (usually trees) to use a real world object to frame a scene or subject. In the case of the desert it’s the rocks themselves. Not only does this frame show us what the rocks looks like up close, but you can see the very cliffs they make in the distance; It’s a two in one shot. In addition the multiple angular lines made up of the rock is pleasurable for the human eye, providing many paths for the eye to follow, like a visual roller coaster guiding your view over every stone and texture in the image.

Camera Settings: 1/160s f/7.1 ISO100 50mm

Via Camel


Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan The warm unmoving desert air was stifling, a day riding these four legged beasts felt like riding an oven with square wheels. Never the less I enjoyed it! Spending the day wandering across the desert free of the sound of any vehicles, journeying our way to a place where there is shade and water before the heat of the high noon sun arrives. It was actually slightly overcast, the thin clouds above acting like a giant blanket keeping all the heat of the day in, instead of letting it escape into space.

Photographic Details: These camels had a lot of attitude but of course by now we were used to each other. This guy was laying down and in the clean soft sand it was easy enough and really comfortable to lay down as well. I wanted to get a unique perspective, this is a classic example of a photographer either getting as low or high as possible but not at eye level. Because of his incessant chewing of cud his jaw looked unusually blurred, I had to use a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second to freeze that motion.

Camera Settings 1/250s f/5.0 ISO200 70mm

Sunset in one shot


Ndutu, Tanzania, Africa The sun was shooting towards the horizon, here I desperately searched for a giraffe to put in my silhouette shot, alas I did not find one in time. I have tried stalking giraffe as the sun sets in hopes of getting them in one of these shots, but even then the giraffe would not cooperate, I think they know what I'm trying to do. The funny thing is that the other safari vehicle got a similar shot but with the giraffe! They were listening when I told them I wanted giraffes in a sunset.

Photographic Details: This was shot on the way home, I used a high shutter speed simply because we were driving and I didn't want any motion blur. I took just one shot and processed it in lightroom 4 to bring out the details. This is something that may look like HDR but is nothing like it. To the unprocessed before shot look below:

Before raw processing


Camera Settings:1/800s f/4.0 ISO100 73mm

Processed in lightroom 4 see the before and after at

Egret on a wing


Serengeti Tanzania This was taken moments after some of the previous Egret shots I have shared with you. After getting used to the way these birds fly so I could anticipate their movements, I got into photographing them as they fly. I chose this image because the painterly like Serengeti background is still somewhat recognizable as the iconic Acacia trees stick out of the horizon and the horns of the wildebeest populate the bottom.

Photographic Details: The important part here was freezing the motion so I could have the wings and the birds still. For this reason I used a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, which is usually fast enough to capture most birds.

Camera settings: 1/1000s f/7.1 ISO160 400mm

Eye of the beholder


Client shoot, Calgary, Canada I was on a product photo shoot the other day, and we managed to finish quite quickly. Enjoying our time we ended up taking fun portraits when I noticed how well my reflection was showing up in her eyes. We were shooting tethered directly to my mac pro in order to make sure the details looked good and came up with this fun shot in a few minutes.

I had to adjust my client's head positioning exactly so she wouldn't fall out of focus, I smiled brightly and thought this one best captured the fun little moment we had.

1/200s f/16.0 ISO100 100mm Macro lens

Framed Giraffe


Ndutu, Tanzania, Africa

When you are out on safari you would think that you’d be able to see a giraffe from miles away the same way you would see the Eiffel Tower in Paris long before you got to it. For some reason in Africa it seems the bigger the animal is, the stealthier they are. Driving through the trees of Ndutu we kept on getting surprised by these random giraffes popping out from every direction. We would sit there in silence and poof one would be 10 feet in front of us only to dash away after it got a quick glance at us. I felt like I was in some kind of arena as puppeteers in some safari control room was launching random giraffes in our direction, laughing at our surprise as they monitor us with secret tree cameras. Like an African hunger games except instead of fighting to the death I’m just trying to get a decent photo!

Anyways, these giraffes have a few things working for them that help keep them nice and quiet. Larger animals are simply a lot more graceful because they are so heavy, they tend to look like they are walking in slow motion because the shear mass of their limbs slows quick movements. Because they are so large they don’t have too many predators (mainly lions) this negates the need to run around in a constant panicked like state, and verbal communication is unnecessary .

Photographic Details: I often say, never centre your subject, but in this case I was able to frame this giraffe down with this tunnel of trees as she popped out. Framing is a great compositional tool, and if you can find something interesting to surround your subject in a centered subject isn’t so bad. She turned and stared at us for a few moments, then quickly made her way again. You can see how her front leg is poised to take off again, a really cool demonstration of body language is plainly depicted here.

Camera Settings: 1/250s f/2.8 ISO100 160mm

Google Drive and Dropbox for photographers


Google drive currently isn't available to me so I thought I would tell you about how I use dropbox which works on all phones and operating systems, those of you lucky enough to have google drive will likely use it for similar things that I do. As a photographer, I have a macbook pro, a desktop mac pro and an android phone, all with files that are important for me to use but sometimes I only have one device at my disposal.

You may have been watching me share my photos on my website and google plus, this requires a lot of planning. My database of photos is terabytes in size, and I sit down weeks ahead of time selecting which photos I want to share with you. I do this all on my desktop machine and eventually I export the final sharable photo onto my dropbox. I have a Lightroom preset that puts the photo exactly where I need it on my dropbox, and instantly the photo is also on my laptop and phone. When the time comes to share the photo I just log on with any device and the files I need are always there.

Other things I do is backup my books and paperwork to my dropbox. Instead of using a "documents" or "my documents" folder on my computer I moved it to the dropbox, which essentially makes all my computers the same as far as contents. The database for my invoices is also instantly backed up. If a client needs another copy I can whip out my android phone and quickly find the document I need and email it out, or if a partner needs a copy of my logo or press kit I've always got those important things on hand, this has saved me many a headache in the past when I find myself without a computer.

I'm very excited about the prospect of google drive and will be checking it out once it's available to me, I'll be glad to share with you how I use it.

You're invited to join Dropbox! Bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere! Any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones, and even the Dropbox website.

Google Drive

Baja Desert Racers


Rural Mexico, Baja California Peninsula So I've tried my hand at a very different kind of "wildlife". Recently I've had the great opportunity to ride and drive some of the much famed baja racers. Cactus wipping past my head, crazy desert vehicles bouncing on the "woop-de-doos" and adrenalin pumping through my veins, it was an incredible experience to see what these races were all about, and to learn how to drive a stick, hahaha.

Photographic details: I really wanted to get a photo that expressed the speed of these machines, this quickly led me to use a slow shutter speed. It's in cases like these that motion blur is actually desired, I wanted the cactus blurry enough to create a sense of motion, while sharp enough to still be recognizable. I entered shutter priority mode and used an incredibly slow 1/50th of a second exposure, letting the camera choose the rest. Not much time to fiddle with settings so shutter priority mode allows me to choose just one variable without me having to think of the rest! Photography buffs can see my camera chose a good aperture to achieve this in the bright desert sun.

Camera settings: 1/50s f/22.0 ISO160 35mm

I ended up popping a tire and breaking the axle and other parts I didn't even know existed, does that count as a non 4 wheeled vehicle for #transporttuesday given how determined I was not to keep them? Curated by: +TransportTuesday +Mike Masin +Gene Bowker +Steve Boyko +Michael Earley +Joe Paul

King penguin hangout


Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctica Photographic details: These penguins were all standing in a stream of glacier runoff, as penguin feathers and other lovely things floated by. I wanted to capture how still these penguins can be, with the exception of the occasional turn of the head and a moment to preen their feathers.

I sat down with my tripod in the water and wanted to get the slowest shutter speed possible to get the maximum amount of motion blur. This was an easy technical problem to solve, let in as little light as possible by closing down my aperture to f16, decrease sensitivity with an ISO of 50. This gave me an acceptable 6 second exposure. With these settings the water looks smooth and icy as if frozen over with the passing penguin feathers streaking by. I cropped the image to keep the line of penguins on the top third, emphasizing the strange etherial space that makes up the stream they are resting in. My hope is to express what penguin watching can be like in some areas of the colonies, they may simply stand there and molt, only moving every so often to satisfy an itch, or take a look around.

Egret and Wildebeest


Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa Out in the Serengeti we were hunting with our lenses, hoping to snap a view of something unique and special. Of course we got the basics under our wing: many photos of the beautiful white Egrets flying, and a whole whack of the wildebeest. On their own they can be interesting shots, but it’s when I saw the white figure balancing on a wildebeest far ahead I knew I had to get an egret on top of a wildebeest. Once I knew what to look for I noticed it was happening everywhere, I just needed it to happen near me! Patience awards us with a few of the Egrets posing calmly on the back of the beasts. But as the photographic process always goes, you always try to outdo yourself. That’s when I realized I could do even better with a photo of the Egret just landing on a wildebeest with their beautiful outstretched wings. This is where I tell myself it’s time to sit back and observe the Egrets, watch from their body language so I can tell when one is about to take off, and one is about to land. I taught myself to pay attention to my peripheral vision so I could anticipate the landing vector of the Egret and have my camera ready on the right wildebeest for the landing shot. This is where you become a naturalist and not a photographer, you learn about the animal in a more intimate way and you can be where you need to be to get the better shot.

These heron and wildebeest have established a symbiotic relationship, the insects swarming around these odiferous beast are removed and the egrets get their fill of food!

Egrets aren’t exclusive to feeding in wildebeest herds, they like to feed on small insects, frogs, and earthworms in most environments in the Serengeti. But once a herd of wildebeest comes along, the commotion and dust disturbs grasshoppers and other insects which makes for a great selection of meals. When the herds show up it’s kind of like going to the grocery store when your favourite items are finally in season and everything is on sale and the store is ultra in stock! The Egrets can’t help themselves when the savings are so stellar and it’s so convenient, you just stand on the back of an animal and window shop with minimal effort!

Photographic Details: The Main setting I was worried about was the shutter speed, I wanted it fast enough to freeze the motion of the wings, if I wanted to be safer with the motion blur I would have used 1/1000th of a second for the shutter speed, but these Egrets were relatively slow and I got away with the slower shutter speed of 1/500th of a second.

I like how the wildebeest the egret is standing on is merely shown by the texture of his side, and the telltale horn on the bottom left corner. He’s too busy to do anything else but keep eating, as if he’s merely a structure for the Egret to stand on. The other wildebeest staring at the Egret helps complete this, photo, seemingly staring in disbelief and this sudden pairing of Egret and Ungulate. I wanted the background to fade out with the horizon still in the shot, expressing the impressive expanse of the Serengeti.

Canon EOS7D, 100-400mm L Lens, 1/500s f/7.1 ISO100 180mm

Cat Skiing


Monashee Mountains British Columbia, Canada "Cat skiing", that is riding this massive snow crawling machine called a caterpillar up rare and fantastic mountains to ski in the most untouched powder one has ever seen.

Sometimes I joke that we just strap cats to our boots, hence this is why ski hills need lots of groomers :P

Photographic Details: I know that the first thing many people will say is "wow is that an HDR (high dynamic range) shot?" or "did you photoshop that?" The answer is no to both. The secret here is RAW photography. Getting the most optimal exposure that covers both the highlights and the shadows in an exposure that is picked with such precision there is no room for error. In Lightroom I'm able to edit the raw file to coax out the details I want in the shadows and the flecks of light on the highlights while preserving the textures where they are needed most. This way I don't need a tripod, I can quickly snap off shot and move on my merry way knowing it will only take a minute for me to process this photo for presentation.

In addition one might wonder what created that fantastic star of a sky, shooting at F16 I employ the most aperture blades in my lens which makes bright objects shine in this wonderful pattern, sunny F16 is a rule for shots like this!

Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35mm Lens 1/160s f/16.0 ISO160 16mm

Ice and Sky


Antarctica The ice whips off the continental glaciers of antarctica, carrying with these torrential winds a fine dusting of ice crystals. These give the edges of the glacier an etherial feel, looking like a continental sized thermos of liquid nitrogen as condensed air flows from the edges.

Photographic details: A lot of people think it’s wrong to point their camera directly into the sun, I say keep your lens clean and shoot directly into it! The sun was just above the top of the image and the way the light lit the edges of the glacier and fine ice crystals was perfect. If you think something will be difficult to photograph, give it a try, the result may surprise you.

1/125s f/9.0 ISO100 35mm