Galapagos Day 4/Afternoon, July 9: Punta Espinoza, Fernandina & “The Tall Fall” « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Galapagos Day 4/Afternoon, July 9: Punta Espinoza, Fernandina & “The Tall Fall”

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This image was created just after 2:30 pm on an obviously clear sunny day with the Canon 15mm fish eye lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/11. I held the camera on the ground and used Live View to frame the image. I warmed the image up during RAW conversion, ran a reverse S curve to reduce contrast, did some color work on the blue of the sky, added a bit of canvas below and right, and cloned out an intruding photographer on the left.

Day 4/Afternoon, July 9: Afternoon: Punta Espinoza, Fernandina

We sailed about two hours to Punta Suarez, Fernandina and made a dry landing in bright sun at about 2:30. Richard Owen, who traveled with loverly wife Dot from their home in the UK to join up with friends Jim and Linda White–both IPT veterans– in Chicago, is a tall Brit who claims to be only six foot six (but looked a lot taller to me). He scared the heck out of Dot and the entire group as well when he took a header face down on the lava rock and wound up with his head underwater in the Pacific Ocean. I saw the start of the fall and could only think of a giraffe going down one section at time. What I heard next–many loud thuds and crashes–was even more terrifying than what I had seen.

After it was determined that Richard would indeed survive, Juan tended expertly to the first aid. Richard’s wounds included a gashed chin, a badly scraped knee, and a scraped elbow. Gashed would be more accurate than scraped….. According to Richard the worse damage was to his Nikon D-90 and to his pride. Richard’s demeanor immediately after the fall and during the ensuing days was simply remarkable. He was as smiling and happy afterwards as he was before, never griped for a moment, and encouraged others to poke fun at him by taking the lead himself. All, including me, joined in eagerly 🙂 I came to calling him “Sir Richard” to honor his remarkable attitude but he said with a straight face that he much preferred “Big Dick.”

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To create this image I was lying on the ground on jagged lava rock that sloped towards the water. It was painful. I rested my lens on a rock that was a bit taller than the rest. Getting a swimming Marine Iguana in the frame was nearly impossible. I tried very hard as I knew that the eye level view would yield an intimate image. It hurt so much that I had to give up after about four minutes. I did not think that I made a single good image. I was thrilled when I saw this one in BreezeBrowser. Canon 800mm f/5.6 handheld with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 250. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6.
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I love using the blue Pacific as background for head portraits of the Marine Iguanas. I went with just enough d-o-f to keep the face sharp while leaving the ocean pleasingly blurred. Algae-stained salt crystals adorn the top of this iguanas head. When working in bright sunshine, I try to remember to lower my ISO setting. And I make sure to point my shadow right at the subject to attain the most pleasing results. We noticed that when the Marine Iguanas came back from their underwater grazing and climbed up on the rocks that they would lick their chops. This made for some great photographic opportunities. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 250. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/400 sec. at f/6.3.

When I first began visiting the Galapagos six years ago Punta Espinoza was fantastic for Marine Iguanas and Flightless Cormorants with large numbers of the former and more than a handful of breeding pairs of the latter. There are still large piles of Marine Iguanas and despite the fact that Flightless Cormorants have become scarcer each year this is still an interesting and productive photographic location. The Marine Iguanas are fabulous subjects; as you see in this blog post you can make some great images of them using any lens in your bag. There are some nice stands of Lava Cactus, some Galapagos Sea Lions, Pacific Green Sea Turtles, Brown Pelicans and Blue-footed Boobies in flight, and lots of Sally Lightfoot crabs. We stayed late to take advantage of the sweet light and to try to create some iguana silhouettes.

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Here again I got flat on the lava rock only this time it was level and not as jagged. Much better. By moving slowly I was able to get very close to this Sally Lightfoot Crab. I used the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II teleconverter (handheld at 280mm) and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/9.
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I wanted a nice blue background for this tight image of a Lava Cactus cluster so I switched my 70-200 for my 400 DO and sat on the lava so that I could get the background I wanted. Handheld Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/16. With a relatively slow shutter speed I made sure to brace the back of my left wrist on my left knee so as to solidly support the lens.
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I noticed several Blue-footed Boobies roosting on an offshore rock. I was photographing the group when another bird flew in to land so I pressed the button and was lucky to make a sharp image at a relatively slow shutter speed. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II teleconverter and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/11.
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I was working with my 800 while standing on a sand beach so that I was at eye level with a Flightless Cormorant sitting on a handsome nest. (See the next image.) Suddenly one Galapagos Sea Lion was chasing another; both animals were coming right at me at high speed, at least high speed for a sea lion. I grabbed the 70-200 that was hanging on my right shoulder via a camera body strap on the MIV. Rather than try to check the exposure I fired off two frames while zooming out. (Fire first; ask questions later.) This one was created at 116mm. I was glad that I had set the exposure compensation back to zero; the exposure was perfect. ISO 400: 1/640 sec. at f/6.3.
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In the field the problem here was that with the breeze in our face the bird was sitting on its nest facing away from us. I made this image when the Flightless Cormorant turned its head a bit towards me providing a halfway decent head angle. Canon 800mm f//5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II teleconverter and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/1 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/8. The problem on the computer was dealing with the very bright but not over-exposed white branches that were part of the nest. I used Select Color Range, Refine Edge, and a 20% Linear Burn to tone down the whites. All as described in Digital Basics.
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This photograph was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens and the 1.4X II TC (handheld at 280mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/14. Because of the exceedingly bright backlight I found it easier to focus manually and listen for the beep than to focus automatically. Getting into position on the lava rock was a another painful endeavor that resulted in a sore butt 🙂 But it was well worth it.
[Not a valid template] As we waited for the panga I grabbed the 70-200 to create a scene-setting image of the small bay where many iguanas were returning to shore after sunset. ISO 1600. Evalautive metering +2 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/4. (Handheld at 78mm.)

All in all it had been a long and memorable day. Do note that I used several different lens always trying to come up with the best tool for the job.

Here is the gear that I used that afternoon:

Canon 15mm Fish Eye lens
Canon 70-200mm f/4 l IS lens
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body
Canon EF Teleconverter 1.4X II

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our Shopper’s Guide.

August 1st, 2010 | Category: 2010, Galapagos 2010

3 comments to Galapagos Day 4/Afternoon, July 9: Punta Espinoza, Fernandina & “The Tall Fall”

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