Photo of the week

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

Coburg island incognito


Coburg island, Canadian Arctic The arctic can be one of the most desolate environments. The landscapes have a way of amplifying loneliness and introspection while still keeping you in awe of the harsh reality of this cold northern desert.

The cool arctic doesn’t hold much moisture, therefore it doesn’t snow very often, giving many places in the north the same amount of precipitation of the sahara desert. So when the fog rolls in I was sure to relish this sight as this dramatic island is shrouded in a blanked of mist.

These cliffs are homes to many species of birds who depend on the steepness and hostility of these cliffs to protect their eggs from land dwelling predators. Many birds lay pear shaped eggs ensuring that if an egg was to roll, it would roll back into the nest instead of the cliff. Being one of the most important sites in the arctic it’s home to over 220,000 pairs of nesting birds.

Photographic Details: Taken in the early morning it was somewhat dim out, I had to use a relatively low shutterspeed of 1/160th of a second, handheld from a ship that was bobbing in the ocean, where a tripod wouldn’t be much of an aid. Canon 5D 1/160s f/7.1 ISO100 100mm


[button size="large" link="" linkTarget="_blank" color="blue"]Order Print through Smugmug[/button]

Arctic Kittiwake Iceberg


Canadian Arctic The deep blues in this ice is a result of the light travelling through the dense ice long enough for the red and warm tones to be absorbed by the ice, leaving behind only the cool colours for our eyes to see. There is still quite a lot of white being reflected by the ice, and they act like big reflectors. This white ice extends under the water allowing the light to bounce back out of the water to be coloured even more blue by the water, as water is much more dense it’s power to change the colour of light is much more intense.

Kittiwakes rest on the top of this berg, peppering it with character. If I had to choose I would always have some animal on these things, it visually proves to me that as hostile as these places are every corner of our big beautiful world harbours life.

Photographic details: This overcast light was quite dim, having to use a slow shutterspeed of 1/100th of a second and f5.6 to let in as much light as possible. Driving the zodiac it’s difficult to manoeuvre, as boats don’t have brakes a steady hand on both the tiller and camera is required.

Canon 5D 1/100s f/5.6 ISO50 100mm

[button size="large" link="" linkTarget="_blank" color="blue"]Order Print through Smugmug[/button]

Zebra migration


Tanzania, Africa Being on safari is always full of surprises. While the keen photographers and enthusiasts expect I always know what’s going to happen, it all comes down to being as prepared as possible for when the action happens. While being surrounded by a herd of zebra and wildebeest, we were stationed where there was as much action as possible: by the river. These animals would stop to get some much needed water, but they are always nervous as there is an ancient threat that lurks in these waters, the crocodile.

A crocodile was lurking in the water, we wanted to see some action, but at the same time, we didn’t. We were wondering why the crocodile wasn’t paying any attention to the pedantic animals looking for refreshment at the shore, when the crocodile went to a log pulled out a long dead zebra under it and began to snack. Oooh, well he was full because he already had food in his pantry! It’s likely this croc won’t have to eat for months, given that they are cold blooded and thus don’t use food energy to maintain their body temperature, a very efficient way of living.

Nevertheless the zebra would get their fill of water until paranoia set in and one would bolt away from the shore in fear, setting off a chain reaction. The once crowded shore would be instantly vacated as all the zebra and wildebeest fled for their lives. After a few seconds or so one thirsty animal would slowly make it’s way to the shore and drink as more animals came in, and the cycle of spazzing at the shore would begin again. This gave us many opportunities to get these running action shots.

Photographic details: I intentionally used settings that get a lot of motion blur, normally something that people find undesirable. But it’s this sense of motion that makes the viewer feel what it’s like to be there. 1/100th of a second was guaranteed to get a blurry photo, as I followed the motion of these beasts as smoothly as I could. The incredible amount of dust in the air provided or a fantastic backdrop and a beautiful red cast on the image. CANON 7D 1/100s f/16.0 ISO100 330mm

If you like this, do me a favour and share!

More on my photo safaris:

[button size="large" link="" linkTarget="_blank" color="blue"]Order Print through Smugmug[/button]



Ghosts of South Georgia


Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctica The edge of the harbour that is home to 25,000 breeding pairs of king penguins. The sea is the key to life here, where penguins can bring krill and fish back to the mouths of their hungry chicks. This place was called “Gold Harbour” by whalers given it is full of large elephant seals and numerous king penguins. They were easy to capture and kill to be boiled for their blubber and oil, which was worth a lot of money in this last haven for whalers. In addition a lot of pyrite or “fools gold” had been found by Filchner’s German Antarctic Expedition in 1911.


Photographic details: I wanted to create a ghostly image with a lot of mood and drama, the long exposure technique works very well for this. With the extreme brightness of the mid day sun filtering through the overcast sun the longest exposure I could get was four seconds. In order to get the long exposure I wanted I had to mash 20 four second exposure images together to create a total of 80 seconds.

ISO50, f18, with a 5 stop ND filter, 20 4 second exposures combined into 80 seconds If you like this, do me a favour and please share!

Learning to read icebergs


Antarctic Peninsula Look at this iceberg now, then look at it after reading this and you will actually be able to read this iceberg.

There are so many stories in this photo alone I don’t know where to begin. I should start with the fact that a quick glance at an iceberg can tell us a lot about it’s history; mother nature etches a story in every crack, layer, texture and curve.

First of all this iceberg is in mostly in the same orientation it was when it first broke off the glacier it came from. The horizontal lines are the layers of snow that have been compressed into ice while the glacier was flowing down the mountain, as well the surface had an edge of snow, still built up from high precipitation, this tells us the ice is still mostly upright.

Once this huge chunk of ice was set free into the ocean, it began to melt faster than it would as a glacier. The currents and movement of the salty sea water begin eroding the bottom of the iceberg but in a smooth pattern, turning hard edges into soft curves. The “shoreline” on the iceberg is where the lapping of the waves on the surface erode the iceberg the most, creating the indentation in the middle where the smooth ice ends and the rough untouched ice begins.

As the iceberg melts and chunks fall off, the balance changes. As you can see the lower right portion of the iceberg used to be underwater because it’s smooth, it’s now above water with the new weight distribution.

This iceberg is now peppered with Adele penguins. It may be a lot of penguins who are two years old and younger; essentially spinster penguins not yet mature enough to breed. They have no obligation to be in a colony and get to spend the first two years of their life feeding and enjoying themselves. The cape petrel flying on the top right creates a point of interest in the most perfect spot, further illustrating how icebergs can be mother natures “rest stops”.

But there is more! Ice creates a mini ecosystem that krill and small copepods and crustaceans tend to cling to. Small slivers of grey dot the lower left of the iceberg betraying the presence of Antarctic Terns fishing for these small creatures. These waters are rich with life, and as desolate as an image can seem, a trained eye can see an abundance of wonderful creatures.

Take a look at the ice again, do you see what I see?

If you like this, do me a favor please share!

Survived the sunset on a glacier


Peyto Glacier, Banff National Park, Alberta In continuation of my other photo from Peyto glacier this shows us just reaching the top as the sun sets behind the mountain. Thank goodness we made it! To traverse and avoid crevasses (big cracks in the ice) at night with headlamps would be a risky affair. The possibility of walking in circles in the great white expanse on this glacier while snowshoeing blind would not only be disturbing but would do a number on our morale. We were full of joy at this moment just reaching the edge of the glacier and taking our snowshoes off and unroping for the final small stretch to our warm cozy Peyto hut. Hot soup, delicious food, good company and a toilet with a view would greet us in a few moments!

Photographic Details: Even though I violated my beloved rule of thirds I still love what this image has to offer, I had to keep the horizon in the center in order to show that beautiful portion of sky that was lit by the last moments of daylight, but I had to keep our group in there for context. All of this was taken with one exposure: while the sky was initially blown out, and the foreground dark, I was able to recover those details by shooting in raw and adjusting the image in Lightroom.

The before Photo:

Giraffe Silhouette


Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa The dramatic skies of the Masai Mara were surrounding us towards the sunset hours in Kenya. After a day of seeking out cheetahs, elephants and leopards we had time to observe this giraffe browsing along the hilltop amongst the iconic shape of the Euphobia tree.

Photographic Details: Silhouettes are some of the most illustrative and powerful compositional elements in a photographers repertoire. Throwing away the distraction of colour texture and exposure you are simply left with a figure that forces the viewer to concentrate on body language, posture, and shape. With the lack of detail the viewer’s imagination is put to work perhaps causing them to linger a little longer. In addition a silhouette photo like this provides a stark contrast in detail with the perfectly exposed sky (underexposed by two stops) all the textures and beauty in the cloud formation is preserved in a hyper real fashion.

There wasn’t as much colour as I liked so I employed some colour graduated filters. I think of these as “sunglasses for my camera” that provide a colourful gradient that can enhance or even introduce colours much like putting on a pair of rose coloured sunglasses.

If you like this please share!

This is also available on my smugmug for print:

Gazelle Portrait, Laying low


Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa It was an extremely hot day in the Masai Mara of Kenya in early march. This being the dry season the temperature was reaching 35 degrees Celsius, and it was getting close to lunch. We pulled our packed lunches out under the only tree nearby. Standing alone in the plains its sparse shade was still a welcome retreat. Around noon most wildlife seeks the shade and I was surprised we didn’t find anything resting under this tree.

Click for Larger image

We reminisced about how the behaviour of the herd of Zebras earlier that day tipped us off that there was a lion kill nearby, and the incredible sunrise we were witness to. That’s when a Thompson’s gazelle appeared walking purposefully towards us. Oooh we stole his shade! It wasn’t long before he realized his spot was occupied and he just stood a good distance away, stomping every so often to ward off flies. The whole time we were there he just stared at us in hopes that we would disappear and he could get the only shade in sight.

Click for Larger image

Photographic details: This was the perfect opportunity to get a good portrait. There was nothing distracting in the background and this gazelle was practically posing. Usually it’s not safe to be outside the vehicle so I also had a rare chance to shoot this guy from a low angle. I laid flat on my belly with the camera touching the ground and my 400mm lens trained on him. I chose to compose him in the centre of the image because of the symmetry of his figure. This angle allowed me to shoot up at him and causes the ground to become mostly blurred. This creates a simpler image that focuses entirely on the animal itself.

Camera settings: Canon EOS 7D, 100-400mm L IS lens, ISO 100, 400mm, f5.6 1/400sec.

This is also available for print on my smugmug at:

For more on my photographic safaris see here!

Speeding Cheetahs, stabilizers and shutter speed

Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa All of these photos were taken in one 13 minute timespan. (with exception of the vehicle shot)

It was a fantastic morning in the Masai Mara, we were photographing mother Cheetah while she was relaxing before the sun even came up, then the golden light lit her magnificently as she looked over her four cubs. Later she stood and walked away with great purpose, indicating she was on the hunt.

Click for Larger image, Mother cheetach watching her cubs

To great protest of my passengers this is where I decided to quit photographing the cubs playing and drive off ahead of mother in hopes of catching her on the hunt, an executive decision I was worried I might regret.

Young Cheetahs still have claws for climbing 

We drove ahead and waited for mother to appear over the crest of a hill where a lone gazelle was grazing. She appeared, but way too far away even for a 600mm lens! She bolted for the gazelle and at blazing speed the two of them ran down the hill past us, the gazelle doing an inertia-defying U-turn running down towards us then right past our vehicle, click-click-click-click, the safari vehicle sounding like a mock barrage of machine guns as the two ripped past us. The gazelle did another quick turn and by then the cheetah had used up her energy burst, the gazelle got away this time. It all happened in the span of 10 seconds, and it felt like they were doing it for show given how they ran past us like that, it was incredible and everyone got such cool shots!

Camera Settings 

Photographic Details: A photographer has two major decisions to make in a situation like this: Either try and freeze the action so that every part of the cheetah is captured perfectly still, or to create a sense of motion so that most of the cheetah is clear except for her legs and background which is blurred with motion. I chose the latter.

You can get very close in Africa!  

It all comes down to shutter speed: I knew the Cheetah is capable of running at 120km/h, and after a lot of practice with moving horses and vehicles I knew that an extremely slow shutter speed of 1/160th of a second would be a great point to start. This is considered a very slow shutter speed while using a 400mm telephoto lens (like the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens I’m using). If you use a setting like shutter priority then all you needed was to set your shutter speed and you’re almost done.

Going after the Gazelle 

I would be tracking the movement of the Cheetah and following her exactly as I panned from right to left. For those with image stabilization a slow shutter speed and panning motion could cause the stabilization system to try and compensate for the panning, resulting in a blurred image. If you have an advanced lens that allows you to go into a secondary stabilization mode use it, in the canons mode 2 is made for panning shots.

Also note how dirty, dented scratched and chipped my lens and camera is, that’s the mark of a dedicated photographer ;) 1/160th of a second, F7.1 shot in RAW, ISO 100.


The final great shot! 


This was taken on my last photo safari, I have two more coming up in 2011 check them out here!

Additionally this print is available on smugmug.

Shooting landscapes with wildlife lenses


The Spires of South GeorgiaSouth Georgia, Antarctica

After one has gone to South Georgia, it is easy to talk about how dramatic of a place it can be. With seemingly calm weather that can turn hostile in a moment, to the great stories of exploration and survival that haunt the mountain sides, it’s a combination of history, geology and abundant wildlife that contributes to the grand atmosphere it exudes.

Photographic Details: This photo is no exception, with shafts of light piercing the clouds and mist settling in the valley this little scene stood out from the distance but in the grand scheme of things was only a small portion of the overall view. I had to zoom with a big (400mm) lens to get the scene as I saw it. Our eyes and brains are good at filtering out the things we aren’t interested in and instead, focusing in on the things we find attractive. In order to express what I felt photographically I had to zoom in. Traditionally scenery photos like this are taken from up close to the mountains with a wide angle lens, it just goes to show that the type of lens doesn’t necessarily restrict it to the type of photos a photographer can make with it.

The photo processing exactly emulates my film darkroom process. Dodging and burning (darkening and lightening) areas of contrast to bring the areas of detail to light, I pay homage to the days of silver images in my digital darkroom.


If you like the work I put into this, help me out by sharing it!

To see the colour version or get a print see my smugmug here:


In album The Master Collection (64 photos)

Google+: View post on Google+

Post imported by Google+Blog. Created By Daniel Treadwell.

Peyto Glacier,


#mountainmonday Peyto Glacier, Banff National Park, Alberta

Snowshoeing up Peyto Glacier, our group is wearing harnesses, the rope you see is connected to myself and the next person behind me and so on, trekking up in single file in order to stay on a path that has been tested as safe by the leader.

As the glacier flows down the mountain, it bends and cracks, as a result crevasses large enough to swallow a human can form in the ice, but not before a thin layer of snow can cover the tops, creating the illusion that there is solid ice all the way up. The leading man pokes the trail ahead and walks with care, should the surface break away, the rest of the group can put on the breaks and haul him out on the rope.

It took quite a few hours, and due to a few obstacles like the bridge being washed out we almost had to abort our trip, as climbing the glacier would be too hazardous without being able to see where we were.

 Photographic Details: I don’t think a plain scenery shot would have been interesting here, I wanted a photo that would tell a story of adventure and place their viewer in the photographers (snow)shoes. Taken with a wide angle lens I get the scenic view and the dramatic perspective of the rope attached at my hip. Also take note of the slight rainbow effect of the ice crystals in the sky, and clouds.

Larches of sunshine Valley before and after RAW processing


larches of sunshine valley, before/after

Sunshine Valley, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada.

I will show you the before and after of my RAW conversion, it’s my hope to demonstrate why a camera requires a photographer and without human direction, the photos they take aren’t accurate, and hardly representative of the experience it captured.

It was a spectacular day in the Sunshine Valley. I was sick as a dog but the beautiful sight of the larches kept my mind off of it. As my mood improved the weather worsened, as if mother nature was trying to offset my enjoyment. The wind began blowing and dark clouds started rolling in as a wall of rain headed towards my direction. The view of the lake was soon framed by the dark clouds and now the plain vista behind the lake was the dramatic view I was looking for.

In real life these clouds had the drama I was looking or, and as my highly evolved human eyes took in the scene I could see the darkness in the sky, and the subtle highlights in the trees. Most people don’t realize how much of a gift our vision is, until they see how the camera sees the world. It’s limited range of view compresses the highlights in the sky so that they are almost white. I look at the camera and think, “that stormy sky is not white, I’ll be able to bring that back later”.

What we don’t realize is the sky is always super bright to the camera, and even though the camera shows a white sky, shooting in high quality RAW my camera has secretly stored the details of that dark sky in there for me to coax out in my RAW processing.




This was all accomplished in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, with the brush and graduated filter tools by selectively decreasing and increasing the exposure. This process is called dodging and burning, and has likely been applied to every professional photograph you’ve ever seen. This technique has been around since the days of film, largely unchanged, it’s just done on computers now. Every photo needs to be calibrated with a human eye, and this is how you show others what it really feels like to be there.

Glacier in the sun


Glacier in the sun Antarctica

It was an ultra windy day, too windy to do any landings to explore other areas. Luckily in the shelter of this ice shelf we were able to get our zodiacs out to explore this bit of area amidst the whipped up ocean. We still had to get out into the weather to get here, after being soaked from the surface of the water being carried by the gale, this little part of the ice shelf felt like a calm piece of heaven. Fine snow was being blasted off the glacier by the katabatic winds, giving the edges an etherial feel. You can see this fine dusting in the sun star, it was like a frozen mist.

Photographic Details: Those who have been following my photography know that I’m not afraid to shoot into the sun, something a lot of people have been taught not to do. And like my other sun shots I used an aperture of f16. This employs more aperture blades, and the more blades used, the more points you see in the sun star. The high image quality of proper RAW exposure and processing ensures that even the shadows have details, all with taking only a single exposure, an important skill to learn while in a moving boat.

For more antarctic photos check out my antarctic worlds gallery:

The Skua, Lay down for your wildlife shots


The SkuaAn inquisitive animal is an intelligent one Gold harbour, South Georgia, Antarctic island.

The Skua is one of the most visible predators of penguins in the Antarctic, but also the most intelligent. I parent penguin will often chase after a skua to defend it's egg or chick, but unfortunately for the penguin, the Skua will work in teams. While the parent is distracted the other bird will come in, and they will get to feed. A penguin egg or a baby chick is a high reward for a Skua, I know it might be terrible to watch, but the skuas need to eat too (and their chicks are cute!).

Photographic details It was a joy to get a shot like this, it's times like these that carrying two cameras really comes in handy. I was watching the King Penguin colony, ready to shoot close up shots of penguin behaviour with my telephoto when the skua flies in right in front of me. I pulled out my other camera with my wide angle lens (16-35mm f2.8) and managed to get a few of these shots while the Skua pecked at my polariser. [lightbox id="2" size="small"] While this happened by accident, I maximised my chances of interacting with wildlife by laying down flat on the ground. In this position not only do I have the best viewpoint, I'm also not considered a threat and more of a curiosity to wildlife. Laying down I have had elephant seals snuggle me, penguins walk on me and of course, skuas investigating my lens. I also chose to keep a lot of the background and penguin colony in this shot, keeping this bird in full context of it's environment.

This is a blog post originally posted on, If you like this be sure to check out the Antarctic Worlds gallery!

Porcelain Adélie


One sunny antarctic day was standing on a rock at the entrance to a penguin colony in Antarctica, watching them zip around underwater with joy. One of the coolest things is that they tend to jet out of the water onto land, but I don't think they look before they leap. Every so often one would fly out onto my rock only to be extremely surprised to see me standing there, immediately and frantically trying to back-flap their way into the water. This Adélie was particularly entertaining!

Luminous ice


This beautiful iceberg was grounded by the low tides in Antarctica outside Cuverville island. The water being so crystal clear and free of sediment that light travels down without reflecting much back making it appear black. In addition the bright overcast conditions and high reflectivity of the snow and ice forces me to let in less light in the camera, darkening the water down even more. It's this contrast that gives the image a sense of drama.

Lately I have been very active on Google+ and have found the community to be very engaging, for that reason I have been premiering a lot of my content on my page here first. So I feel compelled to post some extra info derived from conversations on this article as well.

Thomas Russ Arnestad asks: "I'm curious about one thing though, there are some grey/black spots/shaded in the blue ice; is this a result of pollution?"

I was very careful to keep those spots in there, as they aren't artificial (nor are they dust spots on the sensor). I'm delighted you noticed them because they tell a fantastic story about the formation of these icebergs. I think it's safe to say these icebergs are pretty much geological in origin, as all icebergs start off as glacial ice formed by the compaction of snow on the mountain slope. This ice slowly flows down the mountain, and in doing so it grinds away at the rock, creating gravel and silt and carving U shaped valleys in the mountain side. When some of these pieces of ice finally make it into the ocean, they may have picked up lots of debris and rocks, some can be extremely dirty, huge boulders can even be found in icebergs. You can even go diving in the antarctic and find large "erratics" deposited by rock carrying icebergs.

The older the ice, the more likely it is to be at the bottom of a glacier where there is an extreme amount of pressure, this pushes out air bubbles and causes the ice to become more translucent, and this in turn can make the ice bluer, hence the wonderful colours in this ice and the high amounts debris trapped inside.

Technical photo details: This was shot hand held while driving a zodiac (like the image atop) , then tonemapped in HDR software Photomatix. Later printed on metallic paper the colours really shine and shift, much like the ice does in real life! Approximate location here.

Antarctic underwater iceberg


Sometimes a little forethought turns a concept into reality, a brief making of this photo: Ever since I first found out I was really going to Antarctica, I’ve had this shot in mind. I didn’t know for sure that I would be presented the chance to do this but because the concept existed in my imaginary portfolio it was ever-present in my mind.


To prepare for this I made a small investment in an ewa-marine underwater housing, It’s essentially a waterproof bag that will fit anything roughly shaped like an SLR camera.

How it looks  Canon 10-22mm lens at 14mm (equivalent 22mm) ISO 200 shutter priority 1/125 of a second 

Months later I was driving a zodiac boat outside the Lemaire channel in Antarctica, when this somewhat small piece of ice was floating by me. My imaginary photo flashed before me as I positioned the zodiac just right for the shot. I leaned over the side of the zodiac dipping my camera and lens half into the water. The camera is on shutter priority mode, so I don’t have to worry about managing any settings on my “camera-in-a-bag” in the -1°C water. This being on an ultra wide-angle lens I zoomed out to 14mm (full frame equivalent 22mm) which allowed me to capture a wide enough angle to encompass both the immediate foreground and the background. The underwater part of the image loses a lot of light compared to the above water portion, I had to significantly brighten the water with the original raw image. I expected to get this shot after nearly a hundred tries, but as luck had it this was about the 7th shot I took. Needless to say after I retrieved my camera and rinsed the salt water off the housing I was delighted with the results, and I hope you are too!