Copper Canyon Sunrise, Mexico
While traveling in Mexico’s Copper Canyon, I left my hotel before dawn to watch the light as it moved across the rugged barrancas and ridges of this remote region. Since many of the overlooks face east into the rising sun, I anticipated the area would be more of an afternoon shoot and wasn’t expecting much.
Wandering along the canyon rim at sunrise, I noticed a tourist immersed in the serenity of the canyon. Her silhouette framed in the branches of the tree added a human component to the distant ridges bathed in buttery light. Wanting to convey the vastness of the landscape with a human component, I shot tight, adding enough of the receding ridges behind her to place the subject clearly in the environment. The evaluative meter setting in my camera exposed for the canyons and left the person in silhouette. Although the image may look posed, she was captivated by the view and unaware that I was behind her. Being there as the light merged with her private reverie was a privilege.
Canon EOS 40D, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM, 1⁄100 sec. at ƒ/11, ISO 100
Bonaventure Island Gannets, Québec
Large bird colonies are raucous, aromatic and chaotic, and with a little patience they can yield stunning images. Each summer many thousands of northern gannets come to Bonaventure Island in Québec to mate and nest. After a brief boat ride from the mainland and a 30-minute walk across the island, I arrived at a roped-off viewing area. Beyond the rope, hundreds of pairs of gannets crowded together on their nesting grounds.
After photographing the colony with a wide-angle lens, I moved in with a telephoto lens to photograph individual birds. It took me awhile to find a pair that wasn’t stained with guano or dirt, but eventually I spotted these two at the edge of the colony engaged in their intimate bonding ritual. Wanting to isolate them from other birds, I lay down on my stomach, steadied my telephoto lens and began watching the pair. The birds were changing poses constantly, which required fast shooting, and since they weren’t moving toward or away from me, I switched to manual focus to avoid the autofocus lag time and ensure the eyes were in sharp focus.
As I studied them, I noticed certain behaviors followed in sequence, and I was able to anticipate different poses. This shot is one of those moments, representing the strong bonding that takes place between a species that mates for life. The guano stains on my elbows and knees were a worthwhile price to pay for the privilege of witnessing this intimate moment.
Canon EOS 7D, Canon 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS USM, 1⁄1000 sec. at ƒ/6.3, ISO 200