Someone Else's Favourite Photography?

June 21, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Adelie penguin at Brown Bluff, Antarctica. Canon EOS-1D X with EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X.


Hopefully some readers have seen the Tales By Light episode on the National Geographic Channel last Sunday night. And hopefully they enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making it. Well, really all I did was wander down to Antarctica on Aurora's Polar Pioneer with Abraham Joffe, his wife Jen and second camera Blake Castle. They did all the hard work and then Abraham's team from Untitled Filmworks handled all the amazing post-production.

What I find fascinating is what other people select as their 'favourites'. This photo at Brown Bluff, for instance, was very popular with everyone during production and promotion. I produced around 50 finished images, most of which appeared in the program, but out of these 50 which I love, there are some that are more popular than others. Why?

With the Adelie penguin above, I could be criticised for having the subject bang in the middle of the frame, yet the chaotic background of icebergs and the pose of the penguin seem to hold it together. In fact, it's the positioning and pose of the penguin that makes the shot, with the penguin appearing to eye-ball the viewer.

This is pretty much a full-frame shot. I was using Canon's 200-400mm with its 1.4X built-in extender, which effectively gave me a 200-560mm zoom. This was taken at the maximum focal length and really, it's the perfect lens for wildlife as long as you don't mind the weight. I've also been playing with Canon's new 100-400mm zoom and, while not in the same league or price bracket, it is very impressive.

In the Tales By Light episode, produced in partnership with Canon Australia, Abraham and I were effectively shooting side-by-side as a number of penguins approached us from out to sea, jumping from iceberg to iceberg as they neared the shore. The advantage Abraham has with moving footage is you can see the icebergs rocking from side to side as the penguins jump along. The advantage I have shooting stills is I can focus attention on the penguin by tonally adjusting the image (darkening the surrounding areas). I know why photography is captivating, and I can also understand the same appeal for cinematography.


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