Essentials of Travel and Equipment


The Art of Seeing


Lesson Info

Essentials of Travel and Equipment

we packed everything up and it usually takes a couple of weeks show to figure out what to bring the last minute accessories than the way things before we get to the airport because the restrictions with airline travel are becoming amore amore draconian nothing can weigh more than seventy pounds or fifty pounds and I've got it down to a fine art we show up with bags at the airport there are sixty nine points five pounds and airline personnel marvel at it and then they have a little portable scale because his veil that help us kind of adjusted wait in case we need to make any amendments some stuff goes from one back to the others chris is the queen of travel arrangements so she figures out all the logistical solutions and then once we get to a location than they have to repack things again typically we leave all the hard cases in a hotel room someplace and then we traveled to softer luggage that is more conducive to doing the field work chris is a background there's a staff writer for na...

tional geographic she doesn't need a lot of stuff to travel with a couple of notebooks by knox pens that is the extent of her kit before she switched to becoming a videographer now she's on part while not quite on par with me but let me go to africa for a project there's a lot of stuff that goes videos so to give you an idea ah big three parts for the heaviest lenses that gimbal tripled tripod head that enable a five hundred or six hundred millimeter lens to be more balanced then smaller tripods for chris's video camera brackets that I can use from the side of a vehicle backpacks that fit on the back seat of a of a vehicle soft cases for certain lenses is by knocks and tons of other accessories and then there's of course people in camp who support us believe typically before some rice because the magic light iss half on hour before sunrise and in africa the most interesting behavior is also what you see right than night gives way to the day and vice versa but from also today not much happened we have all these preconceived notions about how dramatic things are when we look at television documentaries which are a compressed version of reality most of our colleagues spent months and months sometimes years to accumulate the kind of footage and images that give people a compressed sense of the behavior of animals so we spent a lot of time catching up on our sleep in the middle of the day our driver radios to other people to find out what might be going on in another place on dhere be you see the kind of customized vehicle that we like to use this is an old land rover but a cutaway side that enables me to use a lower vantage point and it makes a difference very you're four feet off the ground over ableto lie flat in that vehicle and you're only two feet off the ground it stills details that matter you sit there for hours but a family of cheetahs and they sleep to for hours and hours in the middle of the day and then something like this happens her attentions called by something and you have thirty seconds before they go back asleep but thirty seconds is what you need the editors were happy now you might wonder you know I'm not working for national geographic I don't have money it's time I don't have all this gear what can I do when I go to africa well don't despair you khun do very interesting things even then you're on a budget even then you only have two weeks but you have to temper your expectations don't go looking through the pages of national geographic or looking through these classy coffee table books and think that you can do the same thing in your once in a lifetime safari for ten days or two weeks so minimize your expectations and be really focused on the kind of things you bring along with you I find these kind of clamps are very useful too to applying connection been um honorable tripod head they clamped to teo to the lug a track of a vehicle and I find these things also very useful this's a device called a group win part stands for a ground roof window part that I could deploy ida on top of a vehicle on the ground or it fits right in the groove of a of a window and then I have a very stable platform out of the side of the vehicle and you want to go to africa and you go with a group or you go by yourself and you've never been there you've really want to scope out the company or the outfitter to which you entrust your safari and you want to look at pictures of a vehicle so you so you know what you end up in there's lots of different vehicles some of them are totally enclosed others have these kind of roll up canvass windows and that makes a difference and notice that these photographers have bean backs and that's probably the simplest most practical you know accessory to bring bitch you've and you go on a safari it enables you to stabilize your lens here's another kind of vehicle this is the vehicle style that is more typical in southern africa it's wide open it can be a little bit daunting than you see a pride of lions walking right past you and you wonder why don't they jump into the vehicle well I can't ask answer the question why they don't but it really hasn't happened yet yeah because they told me when I was there in south africa it's because lions see in silhouette on the size of the vehicle make it thinks they think it's some sort of huge thing and they're not going to get not going to approach it so thanks for that that is an interesting explanation I'm sure it's not true but nobody's ever nobody's ever asked a lion better that's true so we make up all these things have on animal behavior but it's in our own minds we project ourselves into their into their heads but take a good look at this vehicle you have these roll bars to rest you cameras on but this is where those clamps are very useful and this gives you an idea of the kind of gear that a group of photographers brought along when I joined us for a safari in botswana where we take small groups every year and everybody's in a good moved because we've had a wonderful time there for a couple of days in one of the best camps in the okavango delta now let's remove the people and take a look at this stuff there's a lot of gear their gear is fascinating everybody online and what how you travel when you explained about the weight limits acceptable I think this is the bit where people really are going to get in intrigued so this is a five hundred millimeter lens and this is my two hundred four hundred millimeter lens that's christmas video camera christine also takes drones who hit her which gives her a new perspective on dh so that's the accessory she uses for seeing what the drone sees here's one of my beam backs here's a couple of my shorter lenses here's a seventy two two hundred millimeter lens and then look at all the other kit here there's a big flash bracket mohr beam backs the's soft cases are really excellent for using as uh as protective gear for the long lenses and these go inside a big duffel or inside a big heart case maybe travel from america to africa and back again matisse soft cases are the ones that I use in the field they're made by a company called agora gear and in my opinion there the lightest best packs on the market of and you have to lug your own kid around they open on both sides the really beautifully designed and very well made and very importantly they're very light so you're not carrying a lot of dead weight around with you which is really important when you're facing weight limitations in aircraft and their designed so that they fit in the overhead very easily so what else could we see you we see amon upon which is also a very good device when you're thinking of going to africa because you can't really use a tripod in a vehicle but amon a pot may give you some extra stability so I recommend if you do go on a safari bring at least a beam back and consider bringing him on a part are there any questions from the from the audience great questions coming in on dh she one question I'd like to point at this point we just saw a cover from national geographic and obviously that's something you've been associated with for a long time we did have a question from nathan and several people have voted on this is how you developed and shared your portfolio that originally attracted the eye of national geographic I started photographing for smaller publications initially for a natural history magazine in the netherlands called rasta knew which doesn't exist anymore and I did a picture story about a very humble subjects shorebirds and in fact I will show some pictures from that very early story in one of our next segment so you have to prove yourself you can't knock on the doors of national geographic and expecting editors to embrace you on and the key for me of us to not think of myself as the big hero but instead to develop a kinship with the editors never dare to solve a problem not solve a problem or dare to serve the readers you ever dare to come up with stories that the readers find of interest for you you know for their lives so if you practice to find out of storytelling with pictures you stand a much better chance to get your photos published in magazines and maybe ultimately national geographic will take a look at your portfolio now in terms of the questions I have a question from a studio reasons just a second but lots of people are asking about batteries and how you recharge you're in the middle of nowhere how do you cope with all of that and downloading on your images at the end of the day shoot bring rechargeable batteries with me for my camera's thes days in most safari camps in africa you know there is power sometimes just at the tail end of the day if they use generators s so I bring in a couple of extra camera batteries and then for my strobes on dh you know I bring rechargeable batteries as well to minimize the amount of waste and in hotel rooms of course there's usually no problem but it helps to figure out beforehand what the situation is that your that you may find yourself in so I bring you know adapters because different countries have different kinds of electrical systems and so on you talk about doing stories with pictures but for national geographic there's also the story so who is writing those I know chris's you said she's a writer but who writes the story that goes that your pictures go with or that goes with your pictures on the stories are assigned by other editors at national geographic the text editors and the photography is assigned and managed by the photo editors their separate departments with their own requirements of course you know the writer's talk that the photographers and the editors talk to each other but it's not like the photographer has to illustrate a writer's words nor is the writer's job to you know write text that surrounds the pictures in some cases that does happen but more typically the magazine's editors rely on the creativity in the problem solving capabilities of their writers and photographers to come back with the best material that stuff let's get going of course ultimately this is what you hope to see in front of you and adorable situation made a mother cheetah and a young cub licking her butt it's not just those kind of images that appealed to me I'm just a ce fascinated by this sensation of space in another fragment I talked about that you know capturing space even without seeing an animal in your frame then you're looking at the serengeti plains in this image I tried to make the cheetah part of the landscape this was a female she had a cubs hidden in that rock outcrop there and she was very carefully approaching that place to make sure no lions or hyenas were seeing her this's a cheater stretching early morning exercise before she went off to work this is not a very dramatic image but you know I like this one justus much as that previous adorable image of the mother and the cup it's a counterpoint and if you're interested in the inside of cheetah behavior and in their lives than these images belong together and then there the glorious moment cheetahs normally do not climb threes but some males probably never read the textbooks that say that so my not climate victory because they do get a better vantage they're uh this was one of the males in a trio of males that became quite well known very successful in kenya's masai mara they've ruled that part of the masai mara for years and when I saw that cat climbed that three I maneuvered myself in a position and then I opened up my uh my aperture to fight in the sky so that I got a more graphic image but this was also part of the story that I was there a cover because there are a lot of visitors who come to the maasai mara to look for the same cheetahs cheetahs a very popular and that isn't always good for the animals but there's cheetahs in areas where there very few people I went to iran to find the last handful of the fabled asiatic cheetah which is on the verge of extinction national geographic asked me to do that haven't our video scientists and american scientists who works for an organization called pantera and yet good relationships vit iranian scientist but you can imagine it took quite a bit of diplomacy for me to get permission to come to iran this is a couple of years ago when there was a lot of animosity between iran and other countries especially the united states so official letters of introduction written in farsi and already knew that I needed to bring a lot of equipment that I could leave their camera traps endless negotiations had our iranian counterparts figuring out where to go getting permission to go there mohr negotiations with local officials you have to give them time to get used to you and you have to explain what you're after so did you develop a relationship with them and they become your allies but you can see there a little bit skeptical about me but ultimately you know I did develop friendships there and we headed off into the desert on foot to look for places where I could find cheetahs periodically of it dig these pit blinds and none of it stayed there for a day nothing happened never saw a cheated so I built these kind of rock piles as camouflage for camera traps which are very sophisticated installations that consists of a camera that an infrared sensor that triggers the camera and then the cameras connected it's tropes or no matter that it is day or night I get a picture it took a whole team to build that installation and by the time it was done it looks like this is if nobody was ever dare well you can still see the camera in a way and he also left smaller camera traps that were just kinda small boxes with passive infrared cameras these are the kind of simple camera traps that anyone can buy and deploying their backyard or in their local park but see what happened when I deployed one of those in iran in the middle of the night out of darkness comes an animal that begins to look like the creature that I was after these are all separate frames the camera's triggering frame after frame to see the cheetah is approaching and then it spooked even though there's no shutter going off there is no flash going off its senses thie camera in it veers off the trail it was very difficult to get even a single frame of an iranian cheated so I trained local people to use the camera traps to monitor them to retrieve the card and it took us a year and a half before I got six pictures of the iranians she did and this is one of us published in a magazine a cheetah poise have pausing in front of a camera on the mountain pass and here's one of the problems that they face you have one of their last habitats is bisected by a highway that runs from tehran to pakistan and periodically they get killed and that is the same problem that mountain lines air faced bit here on the west coast in california in a senate cruz mountains kind of ironic we have just about the same number of mount alliance in the senate cruz mountains as iran has cheated us and for the last couple of years I've been documenting them we didn't question online franz if you're working with christian she's actually shooting video and you're not able to get human she wanted with your camera do you ever use stills from the video yes we can use uh frames of video coverage who do you think you so this is a local situation and um yeah I'd like to project back yeah to that question that was raised earlier you know what do you do if you can't travel you know how do you find inspiration how can you get motivated to do something local evil I would argue that there are always interesting local situations and eh so I started covering the fragmentation of habitat in the place that I've been calling home for more than thirty years and I treated just like a national geographic assignment this is where chris and I live we live in a house that is surrounded by natural habitat surrounded by parkland so we have an opportunity to put up our camera traps there and by working with biologists and buy carefully looking for signs that mountain lions leave behind I've been able to come up that spots there I can leave the traps at a reasonable chance that sooner or later something interesting may happen cats are very predictable they like to say take the same path time and again sometimes they leave scrapes certain trees they use to leave their scent marks on and this is one of them but there's a lot of other creatures that passed through his l a little gray fox and then a coyote comes through and then a bobcat comes by with her kitten and the deer comes after dark and a big old feral pig and then at long last the one of us after it took a year and a half of experimenting with different situations different vantage points in different techniques before I finally achieved this that was stunning black and white but I also have cameras set up who've that capture color this was an early image of a deer and an early image of a of a mountain lion in an area about fifteen minutes away from where we live but as I understand the patterns mohr I could become your arm or ambitious in the way I framed the subjects and in the way I illuminate him so what I did three years ago has now been replaced by doing this you see it's a more interesting situation the camera is set at a wider angle and there's more strokes going on going off and there's to dear passing through and in the in the exact same spot this cougar went the other way the cameras are still sitting there they've been there for over three years now beginning the interesting picture maybe every couple of months so I think I'll be there for another couple of years but I've got time so those are some glimpses behind the scenes from working with big animals far away from home or close to home now let's take a look at what we're going to see this afternoon because last week I've been out that two students including one who is here with us today to explore the wonders of a coastal wetland in california's monterey bay a place called elkhorn slough and this is what it looks like from the air very intricate pattern of river channels and coastal marsh but it is not quite as romantic as you might think because it's a busy industrial harbor there's a power plant there's agricultural fields there's break borders yeah there's fishing boats there's a busy highway highway one crosses elkhorn slough so it's not quite a pristine landscape but there are a lot of animals that come into alcorn slew every day animals like sea otters and sea lions that like the protective orders of the slough and yet other animals for whom this is totally their home so this afternoon we're going to see the results of that field trip going to look at some video coverage and we're going to look at some stills as well and we're going to hear my commentary here's some pictures that give you a sense of what you can expect harbour seals haul out on the mudflats there's flocks of cormorant and goals and the buildings are right behind the animals so what do you do that that's kind of juxtaposition do you make it part of your picture what do you try to screen it out it all goes back to what I mentioned earlier this morning they attention to your background and decide on your perspective and here too curious harbour seals that are looking at me but so I think that's enough of a sneak preview of what we're going to see this afternoon perhaps there's some more questions before we finish this session yes we do I mean great question came in actually from somebody who starting off in the photography there actually currently now photographing humans they're doing a lot of portrait photographer etcetera but they were asking how they could make that transition and any of the principals from the other types of photography that they do could be applied to any hearts in their nature photography when working with animals so this uh photographer is going from photographing people to photographing nature or the other way around it's going from people he's he's actually from philippe and welcome felipe and he's saying they're currently in the main mainly does portraiture of people police is interested in working with animals I think the same principles of composition and the principles of light applying and the most important principle of thinking about what you want to accomplish with your image you know what do you want to express that is the same no matter better you're focusing on people over you're focusing on animals and I would go a step further I think you can work with animals in the same way that you work with people you have to be polite you have to show respect and it helps to have a relationship with your subject instead of pulling out your camera and pushing it into the notes of somebody you don't know it's better to let that person get used to you and you figure tha figure out a few things before you start taking your pictures so that's the advice I would give that's great advice nana in a very similar subject or jo ellen is joining us and joanna's saying off the schools I've spoken to about wanting to focus only on nature and wildlife photography they keep trying to sell me on all other types so they're wanting do you think that learning product for portrait photographer etcetera is going to enhance her abilities to be a good nature photographer well should she start out out in several niches and build into one that she wants to specialize in I think it's a good idea to develop your skill set by trying to make photographs of different subjects and doing product photography taking pictures of things in a studio setting will really teach you a lot about different kinds of lighting you become very aware of the effect of front back and side lighting or flat lighting and that makes you more sensitive to to kind of lighting that you confined in natural situations so I don't think that you're just focusing on nature by itself is thie is the only vital improve your skills when it comes to becoming a good nature photographer personally I get just is inspired by looking at images made by commercial photographers fashion photographers news photographers and painters that was actually another question so thank you for answering head of time people asking what inspires you to have a question from the audience you've discussed a lot of equipment but light meters never come up for you doing all in camera light metering in the old days men camera light meters were not so good a lot of photographers carried external like meters with him these days I totally trust the light meter in my camera most of the camera said we're using now have three different settings you can eider expos you're you're seen in matrix metering mode or in center waited mode or in spot metering mode andi I prefer to use my camera in a matrix metering mode because it it incorporates you know the algorithms from many different images so I only switched to spot metering motor then I need to get a very specific reading about a detail in the distance anything else in the room because we have more questions online okay I'll try this one here from also so hand up there from doug yesterday scrapping mike for you hi doug good to see you um looking at uh the pictures you had of your camera traps and noticing that that started looked on the on the animal's faces have you noticed when you're using the auto focus on your camera that some animals can sense that spook is your question better animals are spooked by the autofocus yeah apparatus carol send out a beam in a bounces back that's how it's it's the auto focus that's interesting I've never noticed that for saying but you could see that this very shy cheetah in iran did react to this infrared it's um camera trap him about camera traps that are coming in on a deal is asking how do you set up the camera tracks and what cameras do you use within the traps and then how many times do you check them and how do they actually trigger the simplest camera traps that uh that you can try out on you you don't even have ah separate camera inside everything is contained in the same little box they could be this small they're made that companies like rick connick's of bushnell and there's a whole variety of them the smallest model started one to two hundred dollars and then the more sophisticated become they more sophisticated models go up to a thousand dollars you can set him up with batteries that can last for several weeks so you can leave them alone in remote settings you can also clamp um two trees in a way that makes them bear proof or vandal proof the ones that are close to my home I check every two or three weeks the models that I use for these sophisticated pictures off of cougars and also of cheaters in iran those are much more complicated those are customs uh yeah custom systems that you can't really buy at a at a store you have to piece the systems together the wiring is quite complex now question coming from robin on dh robin's asking during one day of shooting how many stills do you typically take and how many then I actually used a client that's a good question oven I was uh capturing images on film I had a rule for myself if I succeeded in shooting more than ten rolls a day I declared it a margarita day I would celebrate at the end of the day and that didn't happen all that often these days my marguerite did they bench marcus a thousand frames today so you can see the effect of pixels being free you could get a little bit more careless transformed everything now I'm not sure to save l j me lis I believe this is is asking franz would you say you are a photographer with an interest in nature or a naturalist with an interest in photography I may I am both and depending on you know what I'm doing at any particular moment no one gets more emphasis than the other and I would throw in the the conservation dimension is well my background is in ever mental economics I studied environmental economics at the erasmus university in the netherlands and my goal was to come up that methodologies tevin enable decision makers to better evaluate the significance of nature and then I realized that I was on my way to become a very unhappy economies teo switch to nature photography and somebody online actually earlier asked that they asked him when when you realized you were a failed economist is a personal decision no fair enough

Class Description

Join world-renowned National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting for two days of instruction and inspiration that will change the way you look at photography and what you can do with your own camera.

With experiences from three decades of work in wild places – from the Amazon to Antarctica, Frans will introduce you to new ways to capture the wonders of the natural world with a camera. His class includes presentations about creative ideas and technical skills, and also features landscape and wildlife photography instruction during special field workshop sessions at prime photographic destinations along the California coast — Frans’s home ground for the past 30 years. The course will conclude with a critique of images submitted by viewers.

If you’re passionate about nature photography and want to improve your own photographic vision, you will be inspired by this unique course from a master photographer and teacher.