The Northern Migration – Whale Watching off Sydney Heads

I’ve been really lucky over the past couple of weeks to have been out whale watching from TWICE from Sydney – yes TWICE 🙂

Both days were warm and sunny and we were SO lucky {and grateful} to see some ‘Humpback’ whales heading north during their annual migration.

Each year – around May, Humpback whales leave the cold waters of Antarctica and swim north to the warm tropical waters of Queensland, Australia, to mate and give birth to their young.

They are such amazing creatures…We spotted our first couple of humpbacks not far off Sydney heads..

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These majestic creatures can grow to an average length of 12-18 metres and weigh as much as 45 tonnes.

The two whales travelled along together for a while, diving and giving us a glimpse of their tails – {click, click, click went my camera :)}

Whale Tail

Humpbacks are VERY acrobatic {considering their size} and one of the two whales we were observing really decided to put on a show…

Breaching is said to be either purely for play, to loosen skin parasites or it may have some social meaning. Check out the splash he made when he hit the water!

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He then ‘spyhopped’ {poked his head out of the water for around 30 seconds} to check out what was going on.

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Again this was followed by a playful ‘splash.’ 🙂

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Finally, he waved good-bye…and they continued on their journey north…

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Then just to top off a fantastic day, an albatross flew past {for anyone that knows me, I LOVE albatross.}

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Our second day out whale watching was completely different…it was two weeks after the first trip and the whales seemed to be more intent on heading north as quickly as possible….

We just observed them for a while before we headed back to Darling Harbour…

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I can’t wait to photograph them again when they head south down the East coast. Have you seen any humpback whales this season? I’d love to hear your stories. Please let me know in the comments below 🙂

bye for now,

Chris 🙂

Early morning photography at Mahon Pool, Maroubra

I love getting out and about with my camera and particularly enjoy starting the day early, photographing a sunrise 🙂

Last Saturday we discovered a brilliant spot for photography – Mahon Pool, Maroubra Beach Sydney.

The first part of the morning I used my ND {neutral density} filters to create slow shutter speeds and movement blur in my photos….I love the effect the slow shutter has on the water – each photo is so individual…the swirling water looks like mist and gives the image an ethereal look.

So, what is a neutral density filter and what does it do?

As you all know {well I’m hoping you do} to SLOW DOWN YOUR SHUTTER SPEED you need low light….
So at dawn, dusk or night time, it’s easy….
But during the day {when the sun is shining :)} even if you set your camera to a small aperture {like f20} and your ISO way down to 100….sometimes the shutter speed is STILL NOT SLOW ENOUGH to record movement and blur within a photograph.

So, in comes the neutral density filter {ND FILTER.}

There are several different types of ND filter on the market. Circular threaded screw-on ND filters are the simplest to use, but have the disadvantage that stacking them together soon leads to vignetting issues.

A more recent innovation are variable Neutral Density filters, which screw onto the lens but have an adjustable outer ring, which you rotate to adjust the density depending on the light conditions and the effect you want.

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Variable Neutral Density Filter

Slot-in filters require you to first attach a filter holder to your lens via a ring adapter {the same size as the diameter of your lens – in my case – 77mm}, then insert square or oblong filters into the holder – the chief advantage is that, once set up, it’s easy to swap filters, stack them or add different kinds of filters to the mix. Slot-in filters are usually the most expensive option when purchasing ND filters.

Here’s my Lee slot-in filter set up below.

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Lee adaptor and holder attached to the front of the lens

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Lee .9 ND filter inserted into holder.

It’s SUPER easy to use the slot-in ND filter system.

I have 4 filters –

.3  – reduces the s/speed by 1 stop.

.6 – reduces the s/speed by stops.

.9 – reduces the s/speed by 3 stops.

‘The little Stopper’ – reduces the s/speed by 6 stops.

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So, how do they work?

Lets say you meter a scene at f22 and the s/speed is 1/250 sec in Manual mode.

Now, insert the .3  {1 stop} ND filter into the holder on the front of the lens. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/125 sec – 1 stop slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .3 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .6 {2 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/60 sec – 2 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .6 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .9 {3 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/30 sec – 3 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .9 filter from the holder.

See how it works? You can also stack the filters in front of one another in the holder – eg
I could insert the .3, .6 & .9 filters into the holder and reduce the shutter speed by 6 stops -{1 +2+3 = 6 stops.}

Another really cool thing about ND filters is that they enhance the colours and will create more contrast in your image.

So, experiment with ND filters and different shutter speeds to achieve some really cool effects in your images:)

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

The second half of our shoot I experimented with FAST and SUPER FAST shutter speeds. Using the Canon 70-200mm zoom lens in AV mode, I raised the ISO to 640 and varied the aperture from f5 to f7.1. The shutter speeds ranged from 1/800 second up to 1/5000 sec. Don’t you just love the frozen action of the waves?

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

If you have any questions about ND filters, please email me at bernasconiphotography@gmail.com

Chris 🙂

P.S If you would like to connect with me on Instagram – click hereFacebook – click here & Twitter – click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Sydney & all those beautiful lights….

Spending a night out & about in our beautiful city with my camera is like gold to me 🙂

Recently, I spent the evening with a couple of ‘like minded’ photographers and set off to Mrs. Macquaries Chair for sunset and then onto Luna Park for the bright lights.

There is always so much to see and photograph…

I absolutely love our city at night – stunning isn’t it?

Enjoy the pics. Click on the first image to view all the pics as a slideshow.

Chris 🙂

Wanna fall in love with a super cute Labrador Puppy?….Click Here…

It’s really easy to forget how cute puppies are 🙂

Last week I was asked to photograph a gorgeous Labrador puppy for Assistance Dogs Australia .

Her name was ‘Poppy’…..She was SUPER cute. She was full of energy and did all the cute things puppies do…I just smiled and smiled.

Assistance Dogs Australia are a wonderful organisation who train Labradors and Golden Retrievers to help people with physical disabilities lead more independent lives.

If you would like more information about making a donation, becoming a puppy raiser, or just finding out what this organisation is all about, click here.

Enjoy the pics. Click on the first pic to view all the pics as a slideshow.

Chris 🙂

Have you got what it takes? Shackleton needs a crew….


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Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton. A british explorer who led three expeditions to the Antarctic. He was one of the greatest adventurers of all time.

This was the ‘supposed’ ad he placed in a British newspaper looking for crew to accompany him on one of his expeditions. The authenticity of this ad is doubtful.

I love the words. Fake or not.

The men who did accompany Shackleton on his three expeditions were brave, intrepid men lured by adventure and with no concern for personal safety.

Extraordinary men in extraordinary times.

Don’t you love it? I’m gonna get this printed onto a t-shirt 🙂

 

 

 

Frank Hurley – how tenacious and valiant you were….

I spent part of this weekend ‘gallery minding’ my photography exhibition, FROZEN LENSES – a photographic journey to the Antarctic.

I spoke to lots of people, showed them maps, talked about photos and described myself as a ‘passionate photographer.’

Later on in the afternoon I had the chance to do some reading – a book I’ve recently acquired called ‘The Heart of the Great Alone  – Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography’ by David Hempleman-Adams, Sophie Gordon and Emma Stuart.

This book is beautiful. The photographs are stunning. As I was reading I came across a couple of pages dedicated to Frank Hurley – the Australian photographer who (amongst other journeys) accompanied Shackleton on the Imperial Transantarctic

Expedition 1914-1917. Hurley was hired to accompany Shackleton and his men who were attempting to cross the Antarctic continent on foot (1800 miles.) His job was to document the journey and secure photographic evidence of the trip.

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Frank Hurley, photographer unknown.

In Buenos Aires on the 12th October 1914 Hurley set sail aboard the Endurance with Shackleton and his crew. He  commenced photographing them and working life aboard the ship.

So far, this is like any other photographer. Being passionate about the job at hand, I can totally relate to this.

What happens next though in this story is ABOVE AND BEYOND.

The ‘Endurance’, on its maiden voyage was built to crush through pack ice. After five months the expedition reached the freezing Weddell Sea and were within sight of land when the Endurance became trapped in the freezing ice. Nine months later, the ship was finally crushed, leaving the crew stranded on drifting ice floes in the unforgiving Antarctic.

Hurley photographed in adverse conditions that were unimaginable. With temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celcius, he continued his photography until the ship was finally destroyed by the ice. His darkroom was the ship’s walk in refridgerator.

Cold and then more cold.

His determination and commitment to his craft were unflinching and above his personal safety. During the final disintregation of the the ship, Hurley spent almost three days out on the ice, not wanting to miss one moment of the final peril of the vessel.

He had salvaged most of his glass plates and camera equipment from the wreck, but on November 2nd 1915 he wanted to retrieve the film canisters and negatives.

In Argonauts of the South (1925), Hurley wrote:

“We hacked our way through the splintered timbers and , after vainly fishing in the ice-laiden waters with boathooks, I made up my mind to dive in after them. It was mighty cold work groping about in the mushy ice in semi-darkness of the ship’s bowels, but I was rewarded in the end and passed out the three precious tins.”

Now read that again. He dived down into the FREEZING ANTARCTIC WATERS to retrieve canisters of film to be developed to show the world his photographs?

WOW.

I understand doing whatever it takes to get the shot and preserving it for all to see, but honestly, Hurley’s story shows commitment that far surpasses many ordinary photographers.

A great deal of money had been advanced to the expedition against the rights to the films and photographs and it was well known how valuable these photographs were to pay for the cost of the expedition.

Hurley and Shackleton had the agonising task of deciding which 120 plates to keep and destroying the remaining 400 plates. This was necessary to reduce the weight of the equipment the men would have to carry across the ice.

This would be truly heart wrenching. As a photographer, I know how personally attached I am to each and every photograph. A huge amount of energy is expended taking each pic and to have to decide which ones to destroy would be an incomprehensible task.

Take a look at this shot of me (the girl in sitting down in the cream hat) photographing in the Antarctic earlier this year. Hurley and I share the same passion for photography, but I live in such different times.

I wonder what Frank Hurley would say if he saw this photo of me sitting comfortably in a zodiac, using a high end DSLR camera and lens, dressed in contemporary polar clothing?

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I am in awe of a courageous human being like Frank Hurley. What a true inspiration.

If you would like to enjoy some of these fantastic photographs, you can obtain a copy of this beautiful book here.

Hempleman-Adams David, Gordon Sophie, Stuart Emma. ( ) The Heart of the Great Alone  – Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography, United Kingdom: Royal Collection Enterprises,pages 60-62

Antarctica – from the perspective of two….

I love a long weekend!

If you’re looking for something to do today then why not check out our photographic exhibition of our AMAZING trip to the Antarctic.

FROZEN LENSES – a photographic journey to the Antarctic is now showing at Societe Food & Wine Bar – 1/9-15 Danks Street Waterloo.

So drop in and say hi to Jad and Milton, have a coffee or a bite to eat (the food is sensational) and check out the most beautiful place on earth.

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