MARCH 2013 BACK ISSUE
by Jay Dickman
I love what I get do do. The job of the photographer is to capture that moment in time, and create an image that
resonates with the viewer. And, the scene in front of the photographer is forever changing. This is what still drives
me after photographing for so many years: due to the fact that nothing is ever the same, no moment will ever be
exactly replicated means our photographic possibilities are endless.
In the past few years I've been working with National Geographic on their Expeditions. This entails a lot of travel to
some pretty amazing parts of the world. In 2012, I was on a Geographic Expedition to the west coast of Africa, visiting
17 countries over 5 weeks, from South Africa to Morocco. In 2012 I was also in the South Pacific, the Inside Passage
of Alaska as well as South Georgia, the Falklands/Malvinas and Antarctica.
Whether shooting professionally or for yourself, the importance of capturing those moments as powerful photographs
has never been greater. Today, we have the most visual society ever, and with the constant bombardment of
extremely high quality imagery, the requirement to make strong images has never been greater. Looking through a
National Geographic or looking at websites, it's been proven that an audience will give an image less than a second's
worth of attention, unless that image is powerful and engaging. And, don't all photographers want someone to spend
time with their images?
We get to be the ‘eyes’ for our audience, defining how we saw and interpreted a scene. As visual creatures, our
memory recall is a still image, we don't think in a rolling video clip. This is what I love about what we do: a good
photograph/photographer can be the creator for that memory of an event. What a cool business.
On a National Geographic "Around the World by Private Jet" Expedition, we were in Cairo to photograph the
Pyramids. On a short time schedule, we went to a classic overview of the site. I noticed this gentleman of to the
side, so I asked if I could photograph him. A bit of negations went on, finally he agreed, but the tension was a bit
high as I asked him to hold his place for a few minutes as I wanted the road in the background to be free of vehicles,
so the picture would be "timeless," as any cars or other traffic on that road would have dated the photo.
As a Geographic photographer, I'm often asked, "What is my favorite place?" A tough question, as so many places
have become "favorites" under different filters: landscape, culture, food, and experience. I just recently was on a
National Geographic Expedition to the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, South Georgia and the Antarctic. I've had the
fortune of having visited Antarctica several times, but it was my first time to sail the Grandidier Channel. Pushing
through ice, the beauty of the place increased as dusk neared. A cloud cover obscured the sun, but with minutes left
in the day, an opening appeared and a shaft of sunlight played on this quite large tabular iceberg.
An earlier trip to Antarctica provided this incredible photographic opportunity. Sailing in the Weddle Sea, we came
upon a large iceberg, noticed first a few miles away. Using a 180-500mm lens with a 2x extender, I photographed
these two Adelie penguins as they waddled across the ice face. The super telephoto helped to "compress" the
scene, putting everything on the same plane of interest.
Antarctica, near Brown Bluff along the Antarctic Peninsula. A group of Adelie penguins charge off into the frigid
waters of the sea.
In the spring of 2012 I was on a National Geographic Expedition that went to 17 countries on the West Coast of
Africa, from South Africa to Morocco. Our stop here was in Senegal and the historical "Ile de Goree" slave trade
island off the coast of Dakar. While walking through old structures of this small city, I noticed this beautiful young girl
with her family. I asked permission to make a photograph, her eyes did the rest.
On a "West Coast of Africa" Expedition for National Geographic, one of the places visited was the country of Benin.
About an hour's drive outside the city of Cotonou, I photographed a local Voodoo leader and his followers. These
ladies are part of that group: I love the intensity of the woman's gaze.
In the desert of the Western Sahara, along the west coast of Africa, indigenous woman dancers of a Berber tribe
perform traditional dances.
In the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, a green sea turtle swims through a school of fish.
Penguins are entirely too cute. Waddling on the land, looking as silly as one would hope, the birds become
magnificent flyers in their element, the ocean. On a Geographic Expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, I
photographed these Gentoo penguins near the shore of Mikkelsen Harbor.
I'm starting to see a penguin theme here! On the Falkland Islands/Isla Malvinas, on New Island, a Rockhopper
penguin checks out my camera. Shot with an Olympus OM-D with a 9-18mm lens, I was able to put the camera at
ground level using the "live" mode screen to frame the photo.
Visitors to the Taj Mahal in Agra, India line past the historical site. This was shot while on a National Geographic trip,
"Around the World by Private Jet," my position on the Expedition was "National Geographic Expert," not only
lecturing, but providing my expertise on photographic possibilities on the trip. Of which there were a ton!
Sea of Cortez, Mexico. On the remote is of Islas Rasas, a protected avian community, a huge group of birds take
flight due to a raptor flying over the island. Shot with an Olympus 50-200mm (35mm lens equivalent of a 100-400),
and shooting at maximum telephoto range, I was able to "compress the perspective on this mass of birds.
Magdalena Bay, Mexico. I've had the fortune of visiting this area a couple of times, and it has never failed to impress!
Motoring into the bay in a small ship, then offloading to Zodiac rafts or panga boats (small, wooden high-sided boats)
one moves slowly into the waters of the bay. During calf season, the mother gray whales "push" their babies to the
surface, and I can't think of any other reason than to introduce them, in some form or other, to the visitors. I think the
whales have short memories, as they certainly don't remember the destruction done to their numbers by the whaling
Following a marine iguana underwater, and shooting with an underwater housing, I loved how this reptile looked so
prehistoric. In these waters, I use a 14-28mm equivalent lens and a corrected port, so I can work very close to my
subject. Photographing underwater brings it's own set of rules…such as the ability to photograph about 1/5th the
distance you can see, as the fast shutter speed of a still camera will "freeze" all that particulate matter, making the
visibility effectively less than what you can see.
The Galapagos Islands. Snorkeling there with a friend, Mike Greenfleder of Lindblad Expeditions, I photographed
Mike here with a large school of small fish. Olympus E620 in underwater housing, 7-14mm lens.