Galapagos Day 10/Morning, July 15: Punta Suarez, Hood Island « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Galapagos Day 10/Morning, July 15: Punta Suarez, Hood Island

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This Waved Albatross was performing the bill-clacking portion of its intricate courtship dance. The image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/7.1. A vertical pano crop was chosen to eliminate it’s dancing partner from the left side of the frame.

Galapagos Day 9/July 15, Afternoon, Punta Suarez, Hood Island

The morning landing at Punta Suarez, Hood Island (Espanola) is always one of the photographic highlights of a good Galapagos cruise and this morning would be prove to be no exception. Several years ago the (Galapagos) National Park Service began offering the best itineraries to the larger cruise ship lines with their 90-100 passenger groups and foreign crews while effectively punishing the smaller, successful boats with local crews by eliminating some of the plum locations from their itineraries to make them available to the big boys. As it turned out, the park service’s action led directly to the development of the two week trip BAA Photo-Cruises that now ensure that participants will get to visit all of the prime photographic locations.

As always at Punta Suarez the Waved Albatrosses were the stars of the show with their courtship dances, small to medium-sized chicks, and incredible flying abilities. Did I mention that they are amazingly tame and accepting of humans? Hood is home to all but a very few (in some years) of the world’s breeding population of this species. In addition we had some good chances with Swallow-tailed Gull, Red-billed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Boobies nesting on the white sand paths, Nazca Booby, and Marine Iguana. We finished the morning off with a completely tame adult Galapagos Hawk that let the entire group approach for head portraits.

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This photograph of a banking Waved Albatross was made with the handheld Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops of the light gray sky: 1/1000 sec. at f/7.1 set manually.

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This Waved Albatross sat placidly on its single chick flanked by a phalanx of colorful Marine Iguanas. I used the 70-200mm handheld at 200mm with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 2/3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. After framing carefully, the trick here was to set an exposure that left a very few easily recoverable flashing pixels on the head of the albatross. Doing that ensured maximum detail in the dark skin of the iguanas. The look-back head turn was an added bonus.

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This image of a banking Swallow-tailed Gull was created as a vertical original with the handheld 400mm f/4IS DO lens and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering plus 1 1/3 off the white sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 set manually. If you are trying to photograph birds in flight in horizontal format but the birds keep getting too big in the frame when they bank it is time to turn the camera on end and go for the vertical bank shot.

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This adult Galapagos Hawk bird was the icing on the cake that was our 5 1/2 hour Tower walk. The image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X II TC, a 25mm Extension Tube to allow for closer focusing, and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/7.1 set manually. With that large very dark head filling the center of the frame I needed a bit of negative exposure compensation to keep from burning the light yellow bill.

After lunch, a short nap, and a snorkel we grabbed our gear for the wet landing at Gardiner Bay still on Tower Island. This spot with its 1/4 mile long white sand beach is the premier location in the world for photographing Galapagos Sea Lion; more than 200 of them can be found dozing and swimming and arguing and playing most days during July.

Shopper’s Guide

Here is the gear that I used on our great morning at Punta Suarez:

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
Canon EF 25mm Extension Tube

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head

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 complete Shopper’s Guide.

6 comments to Galapagos Day 10/Morning, July 15: Punta Suarez, Hood Island

  • hallo, im from spain so my english knowledge isnt that awesome. Please dont blame me. I try to read online journals to make my english better and i just want to say that your blog was perfect readable for me, because the english is really clear-thinking and all the article are perfect readable. I will come back, to improve my english even more. Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Harlan, Thanks for your kind words. When I taught elementary school in NYC I learned the importance of being clear and concise in both speaking and writing 🙂

  • Hello Arthur. I always enjoy your posts. There are usually lots of useful info in them.
    I think that there is a “fading” instance of the tail just behind the actual tail in the
    banking Swallow-tailed Gull image. Is this a processing error during some kind of
    cloning procedure?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Ah, thanks a ton. You have sharp eyes. This image was created from two consecutive frames. The tail was perfect in each. Robert O’Toole optimized the image for me and in the course of doing some erasing came up with a faded impression of the tale. I will try to run the whole story in a Bulletin soon. Thanks also for you kind words.

  • Your Galapagos posts have caused me to put Galapagos on my “Bucket List”.

  • denise ippolito

    I have really enjoyed all of your Galapagos posts they are very informative. Thanks for taking the time to post them.