Photography@Google Presents Rick Sammon

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 25.10.2011

>>Female Presenter: How many of you guys are familiar with Rick's work?
Awesome. Awesome. Well, the thing about Rick is his
work is amazing, but he is the best teacher and he makes
things so accessible. He's such an inspiration and he's
such a giver, and the more you get to know him, you
realize he's not -- he's one of those people that
doesn't allow fears to hold him back, and he's just
awesome person. And, and he makes beautiful, beautiful,
beautiful photos no matter what the conditions. So
without further ado. >>RICK: Okay. Thank you, world-famous Katherine
Hall. [Clapping]
>>RICK: Thank you so much, Katherine, and thank
you all for coming. This is the second time I've spoken
at Google. It is an honor, it's a pleasure to speak
here and it's very exciting. I know this is broadcast
all around the world and it's going to be be archived so
it'll be on YouTube so this is really, really exciting.
And right after this, I'm getting my Google+ T-shirt. I
couldn't get to the gift shop before, so right after I'm
definitely getting my Google+ T-shirt. This talk is
going to be about travel photography. Now, I like to
make my talks interactive so please ask questions during
the talk. If it requires a long answer, well, I'll
answer it afterward. If it's a short -- you know, like
we were talking about polarizing filters before. What
does a polarizing filter do? I'll answer it during the
session. But please, you know, ask questions, make it
interactive. It makes it more fun for me and makes it
more fun for you. And Cliff, do you want to say a few
words before we get going? >>CLIFF: Oh, sure.
>>RICK: Come on in. The world-famous Cliff, who arranged this whole thing.
>> CLIFF: All right. Okay. >>RICK: Oh. He's getting out his notes. Rick
Sammon is the Canon explorer of light. >>CLIFF: Yeah, I'm really mean now.
>> RICK: Okay. Here we go. >> CLIFF: I'll have to speak in the mic. I
mean, we really -- Rick as you already started talking
we just really want to welcome you back to Google. It's
always great to have a return visit. And as you all
probably know Rick is very active on Google+, too. So
it's really becoming the nexus for photography online
and we're really grateful for your -- for your use of
the product, and for your sharing these great images.
And he is an explorer of light. And with that, go ahead
and continue. >> RICK: Okay. And actually one more person
wants to introduce me -- no. I'm only kidding. So this
presentation is about travel photography. I'm basically a travel
photographer. The difference between the travel photographer and the photojournalist -- we
were talking about photojournalism before -- a photojournalist
goes out and usually shoots just what's there;
I spend a lot of time making pictures. There's a big difference
between taking a picture and making the picture although
I do have some photojournalistic-type pictures
in here. So I'm going to start out -- everyone wants to
be a travel photographer. Oh, man, I would love to travel
the world. I've been to more than a hundred countries.
People say I would love to be a travel photographer. Well, I'm going to start out with a travel
story, and you might want to reconsider how great it
is being a travel photographer. [chuckles] This is one
of my favorite pictures from Antarctica. I've been to Antarctica
twice. This looks just like a polar bear. This is
amazing, right? You can see the eyes, the ears, the
mouth, the paws, it's on its back with its knee and its
foot up in the air. Well, this is my favorite picture.
I took this picture on my first trip to Antarctica about
four years ago. And the thing about my work is. I lead
a lot of workshops around the world. I leave a lot
of -- lead a lot of travel photography workshops. So
the deal is, I get a free trip in exchange for teaching
the people how to take pictures. It's kind of cool.
But listen to this: There's no such thing as a free
lunch because, [chuckling] you know, people knock on your door at
9:00 o'clock oh, can you help me clean my sensor? I
can't find out what custom function 42 does, and things
like that. So it is a lot of work. It's a lot of fun,
but it's a lot of work. Also, it doesn't really matter
what type of camera you have. I shoot with digital SLR,
some people shoot with smartphone cameras -- I think the
mic just went out -- but it doesn't really matter for
this talk because the tips I give really apply to all
different types of photography. So let me tell you
about my first trip to Antarctica. It was amazing. You
fly from New York to Buenos Aires, and then down to
Ushuaia, which is the southernmost-most city on the
planet. From there, you go across the Drake's Passage.
Three days. You're on the ship for three days over what
can be the roughest seas in the world. They can have
60-foot seas here; this time we were lucky, but you can
get seasick. They can give you a shot to put you out if
you want to be out for three days. But are there any
people of a medical background here? Because there are
two stages, clinical stages of being seasick. The first
stage is you feel like you're going to die; the second
stage is you wish you were dead. [Laughing]
>> RICK: And this is true, because I have been
seasick on some of these cruises. But I went to
Antarctica to photograph -- to photograph all the
beautiful animals, the penguins, you know, the seals,
all this stuff, but I fell in love -- I fell in love
with the blue ice. The blue ice down there is
incredible. Here, I'm using a 15-millimeter fish eye
lens on my Canon 5D Mark II, which is a full frame image
sensor camera. And again, if you guys have any
questions about like where were we just standing, I was
actually wearing my Wellington boots standing in the
ice. I was moving around. If you have any questions
like that during the presentation, please ask. But you
know I was at the bottom of the world and I thought
maybe a 15-millimeter full frame fish eye lens would
help tell the story about being at the bottom of the
world. I'm also going to throw in some technical tips
here. You see that everything in this scene here is in focus from the
ship in the back to the foreground here. To get
everything into scene and focus, what you want to do is
use a wide angle lens, set a small aperture, and focus
1/3 into the scene. Now that may sound backwards. You
might think oh, that's so far away. I want to focus 2/3
into the scene. You focus 1/3 into the scene. That'll
give you the -- a maximum amount of the scene in focus.
You're really setting the lens up for what's called the
hyperfocal point. But I fell in love with this
beautiful blue ice. Just look at these formations. Now, I'm riding around in a zodiac, which
is an inflatable boat. They don't let you get too
close to these because these things can flip over like
a moment's notice. It's very exciting to be down there
at the bottom of the world. But look at this ice
castle here. This ice castle is amazing. So we spent a
lot of time riding around in these zodiacs. Before we
got going we were talking about a polarizing filter. The
only filter that I use outside is a polarizing filter.
Polarizing filter reduces glare on water, glare on ice,
glare on windows, glare on leaves, but it could also
make your pictures look sharper because it cuts down
on the reflections of the moisture in the atmospheric
haze. It's the only filter I use outside. I used
to use gradual filters that are half dark on top
and gradually go clear on the bottom unless you hold them
upside down [chuckles lightly] and it's the opposite way, but that's the
only filter I use for my travel photography. If I'm doing
a waterfall, I'll use a neutral density filter.
When there's not a lot of color in the scene, like
you see here, what I like to do is I like to make
my pictures a black and white; I like to make a monochromatic
image. Here's another example of this beautiful ice
formation. Now, you notice the pictures are a little
stretched here on this monitor. If I go back quickly to the
first picture, you'll see that this is cropped actually
kind of like the for -- come on in we have first
class seats and business class seats right over here [chuckles]--
cropped in the HD format or the panorama format. The
first thing that I do -- I don't know about Katherine,
but the first thing that I do is I crop my pictures.
I try to get the shot, you know, perfect in camera,
but I lot of times you can't. I like to crop out, like
look at this picture. I'm on my monitor here it's cropped
-- if I go back -- on my monitor it's cropped square,
but it's stretched here. But I like to crop out the
dead space. When I took this picture here, there's boring
sky on the top, boring stuff on the bottom. Why include
that in the scene? I'm very big on cropping. There
are some photographers who say forget it. You have
to get it right in camera. What I say -- you're shaking
your head. I say to my publishers -- although I'm
not doing any more books anymore I'm only doing apps,
and E-books, and PDFs and things like that -- I used to
tell my publishers, in a nice way, I used to say crop
my pictures and you're a dead man [chuckles]
because I don't want people to crop -- you know, you spend so much
time. This is your art. Never underestimate the
importance of cropping out that stuff. So taking pictures
in Antarctica is not really that hard. You know,
it's so beautiful, you have so many different subjects,
it's overcast a lot of the times so you don't have
that high contrast to deal with. What's hard about shooting
in Antarctica is A, getting there, it takes two
days to get there; and B, putting on the Wellington boots,
putting on the long underwear, putting on the waterproof
pants, putting on the waterproof jacket, putting
on the life jacket, bringing gloves that let you operate
your camera. This is the hard part of shooting
in Antarctica. It's not really finding the subjects
or doing the -- manipulating the controls. What's
really interesting is what I was down in Antarctica,
there was scientists from Wildlife Conservation International,
National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and they're
studying the ice. If you look at this ice formation
over there, they're trying to figure out why the ice is
starting to look like penguins. They just can't figure
it out. So anyway, this is one of my favorite pictures
taken on the first trip. Here's the cropped version of
it. If you have a web site, I tell people -- oh, this
is what I forgot to say. Susan knows this. If
someone's cell phone goes off during a presentation, I
always make this -- you know what? I have to put a
slide in. I always make them come up here and do the
twist for 60 seconds, but I forgot to say it. [laughter] I forgot
to say it so it's okay. Anyway, look how nice this
picture looks dressed up with a little bit of drop
shadow, with a frame around it. First impressions when
you do a web site are very, very important. Put your
best work out there, ask your friends, you know, to help
you select your best picture, your best design, stuff
like that. Anyway, I did go to photograph the animals,
I love the blue ice, they have these beautiful Gentoo
penguins down there. When I travel, I take basically
two lenses. I have a two bodies, a Canon 7D and a Canon
5D Mark II. On the 7D, which is a crop sensor image
camera, I have a telephoto zoom, either a 100 to
400-millimeter zoom or a 70 to 200, depending upon how
far away the animals are. In Antarctica, the animals
aren't hunted to you can get as close as this, or even
closer. You could touch them in Antarctica. So I have
the telephoto lens on the crop sensor camera because
animals are far away that crop sensor doesn't really
bring you closer, but it's like you're getting closer.
And on the full frame image sensor camera what I have is
a wide angle zoom, usually a 17 to 40-millimeter zoom,
maybe a 24 to 105-millimeter zoom, and I always have a
fish eye with me, too. I don't carry a lot of lenses,
as Susan will tell you. I don't have a lot of lenses --
actually, I don't have a lot of lenses so I don't carry
a lot of lenses. You don't need, you know, a ton of
lenses. I lead workshops where people show up and they
have those belts, you know, and they have like eight
lenses here, they have their backpacks with nine more
lenses here, and they miss all the shots. I like to
have my cameras handy over one shoulder, if I have the
wide angle lens -- wide angle lens -- wide angle zoom on
my camera body and on the other -- the telephoto. Anyway, this was taken with the 100 to 400-millimeter
zoom and the background was very distracting so I'm
shooting at a wide aperture. I'm shooting at a wide
aperture to blur the background. In wildlife photography and in people photography, I do
the same thing when I find a subject. I take what's
called the environmental shot -- these are nesting albatrosses
on Diego Ramirez Island -- I like to take what's
called the environmental shot. The subject in the environment,
and then I like to go in and take the closeup
so I'm telling the story. I don't know what shot I'm going
to like best later, I don't know which one someone
may buy, but if you do it both ways, again, and having
those two cameras lets you shoot fast, you'll have what
you need. So when you shoot a subject with a lot of
white in it, this is going to sound backwards, too. Yes.
[Asking question in the background]
>>RICK: Why did I chop the legs? It looks like
I chopped the legs, but he's actually -- she is actually
sitting on a nest. So these are nesting albatrosses. Okay? So they have their nests in these little
mud -- mud piles here, so from back there it may
look like that, but they're actually sitting on the
nest but you have a good eye. So anyway, if there's a lot
of white in the picture, like here, you want to -- if
you're shooting on automatic, you want to set your
camera on plus one as a starting point. But, this may
sound backward. You know you know, hey, there's
all this light. It's so bright. I want to set my camera
on plus one? Well, you do. Because all that light,
all that bright area, fools the camera's exposure meter
into thinking the scene is brighter than it actually
is and will underexpose your picture. I shoot all
my pictures, except my flash pictures -- as you'll see
in the studio later when we move over there with Cliff -- I
shoot either on the aperture priority mode or the
shutter priority mode. A lot of my professional photographer
friends shoot on the aperture priority mode or the
shutter priority mode. If you think about it, there's
only one right exposure; right? And if you use manual
or aperture priority, or shutter priority, it doesn't
matter. I found since I've been shooting a long time
that I can just use the exposure compensation wheel on
my camera to dial in the right exposure very quickly.
And in a case like this, a case like this, a case like
this, case like this, the depth of field is the most
important thing. So why not shoot on the aperture priority mode? Set your aperture and then
as the light level changes, the camera will automatically
pick the correct shutter speed for the existing situation.
Yes? >> Male #1: What metering mode do you use?
>>RICK: What metering mode do I use? I use the
evaluative metering mode and here's why because I can
look at a scene like this and say okay, I'm just going
to set this at evaluative metering. If I just left it
on zero exposure compensation setting these birds would
be a little washed out. They look a little washed out
here, they're fine on the screen here. Okay? So
knowing that, that all this dark area would fool the
camera's meter into thinking the scene has all this dark
in it and no white, I have to underexpose a little in
camera. So I'm setting my exposure compensation for a
scene like this a little under, make a third under. The
key in all photography is learning how to see the light.
If you learn how to seen the light, then you know how
you can make adjustments on your camera, knowing again
that there's only white -- one right exposure for you.
So in seeing the light, it's all about this. It's first
seeing the contrast range in the scene. There's not a
lot of contrast in the scene, so here we don't have to
make that many adjustments exposure wise. Right? So we
have to learn to see the contrast range in the scene; we
have to learn to see the direction of light; we have to
learn how to see the quality of light, hard or soft,
it's soft; and then we have to learn -- what's the other
thing about light? Color. So we have to learn how to
see the contrast range in the scene, the quality of
light, the direction of light, and the color of light.
Once we learn how to the light, then we can make the
right adjustments with the -- inside our camera, or add
a flash, use a reflector or diffuser, wait for a
different time of day,, and then after we do that on
site, then we can go into the digital darkroom and work
and play with the light. If you think about it, every
picture I'm going to show you right here has exactly the
same main element, and that's light. So it's very, very
important to learn how to see the light, then learn how
to control the light, and we'll be talking about that
more a little in the presentation. One of my
photography tips -- one of my famous one-liners is
"The name of the game is to fill the frame." I like to
shoot tight. I like -- like here, I like to fill the
frame with the subject, yet there is something to be
said for negative space, for dead space. So when I give
you these tips, try them and try actually the total
opposite of them. But most -- we were talking about
this before when we sat down. When you're photographing
a person, when you think you're close, get closer; when
you're photographing an animal, a building, when you
think you're close, get closer. And cropping doesn't
bring you closer, but it emphasizes the subject a lot --
a lot more. This is a very basic tip, but I shoot
everything vertically, I shoot everything horizontally.
Again,on what I'm going to like, I don't know what
someone else is going to like who might want to buy the
picture. If I'm going to offer the picture to a
magazine, I don't know whether they have space for a
horizontal or a vertical. Again, a very basic tip, but
I do that. Again, here are some monochromatic images.
If the pictures don't have a lot of color, I'm going to
make them black and white. And when I go somewhere, I'm
trying to tell the story. I'm thinking as a magazine
photographer; I'm thinking if I'm putting a slide show
together. So this would make a nice ending picture for
a slide show. Try to tell the story, just don't go to
Antarctica or wherever and say okay, I'm going to take a
lot of closeup pictures of this or that. Try to tell
the story of wherever you go. So the first trip was
amazing. I had an unbelievable time. The people liked
me teaching so they said hey, could you come back? So
two years ago they asked me to come back. Now this --
this was a special trip to photograph the emperor
penguins. People save up their whole lives. On their
life list they want to photograph the emperor penguins.
The penguins are about this high, they're in remote
colonies, but they are magnificent, magnificent animals
so they needed a pro. So I said "Sure, I'll go." So the company hired me,
but this is a very short trip. It was a 12-day trip -- not
counting getting there, okay, which is like a day, and
coming It's three days going over the Drake's Passage, which
can be the roughest seas in the world, right, three days
returning, only six days of shooting. So this is a big
investment for just six days of shooting. Again, this
is a lifelong dream for people. So we leave Ushuaia,
the sky is great, it was sunny, people are cheering,
we're having champagne on the bow of the boat, the
stern, all the way around the rail. It was amazing
going there. So we're getting closer to Antarctica, we're getting closer to this emperor penguin
colony. This is called pancake ice. We start seeing
this. We see our first tiny little penguin, you can
see him up here. People are cheering hey, we're getting
closer to the colony. Now, this was really like a National
Geographic expedition. We're in this Russian ice
breaker and it's going through the ice, the ice is,
like, smashing off the bow at night when we were
sleeping. It was so noisy that you really felt that you
were on an expedition. One of my photography tips in
addition to the name of the game is to fill the frame is
to always look back. Everyone's on the bow, here's the
bow crashing through the ice, but I like to look back.
Always look up, always look down, always look back;
This'll open up a whole new world of photo opportunities
for you. So here I look back and I see the path that
this ice breaker is just breaking through the ice. So
we get to Antarctica, the ice is so thick now the boat
is moving really slow, again, the ice is crashing all
around. The night before -- after three days of
traveling, all right, we get to Antarctica the night
before they bring out these two Russian-made helicopters. Russian ice breaker, Russian
helicopters. How cool is this if you want to talk about
being on an expedition? So they bring them out to test
them -- they're bringing them out to test them because
we're going to fly over to the emperor penguin colony
because the ship can't get close. So they bring them
out and it starts to get overcast. Now, although there
is no such thing as a bad day for pictures, everyone,
you know, they wanted that bright sunlight, they wanted
the blue sky, the penguins against the blue sky, and
also it was a lot warmer when the sun comes out. So the
captain says -- he gets on the PA system and he says,
I don't know if we're going to be able to go tomorrow
after three days on the ship, after one day of trying
to get there. So we go in, have dinner, we come out
after dinner, and the sun comes out. So everyone's
like really happy and saying I can't believe it.
This is going to be great. We go back inside and I'm
teaching photography, I'm teaching Photoshop, light
room, teaching all this stuff, getting everyone's
cameras set up. We wake up the next morning, and this
is what it looked like. It was totally overcast. Captain
gets on the PA and says, sorry, we're not going anywhere.
So this is day one. Well, on day two to four
it snowed. [Laughing]
>>RICK: So we couldn't. So we're stuck on the
ship and this was, again, a lifelong dream for people.
But it got worse. Half the ship, including me, got
what's called the Norwalk virus, and the Norwalk virus
is -- he's laughing so I guess you know what it is.
It's the most -- it's like the worst virus you
could possibly get. You feel like you're going to die.
I was calling Susan on the ship's phone, I was telling
her where the will is and stuff like this because I
really thought I was gonna die. It's so bad. So
this is day two to four. So on day five I figured I
have to get off this ship. I just have to get off this
ship so I'm taking some snapshots just walking around
the ship. And by the way, as the pro, they don't give
you -- they don't give you the best cabin. My cabin was
way up on the top left there. They give the crew the
top cabins so when the boat swings like this, you know,
we get the severest cases of being seasick. So anyway,
on day six, the last day, there was a mutiny. The
guests -- we got together actually in a theater like
this, and the guests said, we paid all this money; we
want to go. So the captain said okay, if you want to
go, we'll go. So we get over -- we get in the
helicopters, he's flying us over, but here's the thing.
We couldn't land closer than 2 miles -- 2 miles to the
emperor penguin colony because they didn't want to scare
the penguins with the helicopters. So with all this
gear -- I have a 40-pound backpack -- Cliff, you'll see
most of the gear that I have this afternoon --
forty-pound backpack, I've been sick, the guests have
been sick for all these days, we walk over the ice with
our life jackets because you're on ice so they set up
this camp there. So we're getting closer to the emperor
penguin colony and it was really cool seeing these
emperor penguins. This is how big they are. And the
thing is, they're not -- they're not hunted, so you can
get very close to these animals just like in Galapagos
you can get very close to the animals in Galapagos because they're not hunted. So this is one
shot that I took, kind of like this. This is called "Babysitting",
right. It's the adult -- it's the mama emperor penguin
with the chicks, and this is the other. You've probably
seen pictures like this on National Geographic. Beautiful blue sky, the parents, the chick,
the background's out of focus, nice framing. Well,
this isn't the original shot; this is the original
shot. As a travel photographer, if a photojournalist
was there, he or she would publish this type of picture,
but because I'm a travel photographer, I have
the license to enhance my pictures. So what I did is I just
added the gradual filter and increased the contrast
and saturation. But if there's ever a magazine
published called National Adventure and they want an
article Rick's Trip from Hell believe me -- believe
me, I am ready to write this article. And the article
would actually be called this: "The Safety of Reminiscence."
Marco Polo had a wonderful saying and the saying is "An
adventure is misery and discomfort... relived in the
safety of reminiscence." like here we're laughing about
this, I'm having a good time, I hope you're having a
good time, right? But again I felt like I was going to
die. On a more serious note, the most important thing
that we can do in our photography, I think, is buy a
camera -- no. [chuckles] The most important thing that we can do I
think is set a goal. Setting goals is so important. I
used to tell my son -- Susan and I would tell my son
this all the time. He set the goal to be the valedictorian in high school; he achieved
that goal. You guys are working at Google here. You set
the goal to get a job at Google; obviously it worked.
In photography -- in life and in photography
we must set goals. I was teaching a workshop up in Alaska
photographing bald eagles and I was on the back of a
boat -- and actually it's a funny story. I was in the
back of a boat hand-holding my Canon with a 70 to 200
millimeter F4 lens, which is less expensive than the 70
to 200 2A lens. I'm hand holding this and there's guys
on the back of the boat with $11,000 400-millimeter setups with the 400-millimeter 2A lens and
the super body and all this stuff, and I'm hand holding
shots. You don't need the world's best gear to get
pretty nice shots. If the lights were a little darker,
you'd see that this picture really pops. But anyway,
we're on the back of the boat and guys are shooting the
eagles coming down, shooting the eagles coming up, catching
the fish, and I have all these pictures here, but one
morning I set the goal to get the shot. This is the
one shot I really wanted to get. I wanted to get a symmetrical
shot of the eagle coming in to catch a fish with the
perfect reflection here. So I set that goal. So what
did I have to do? I knew I had to use a fast shutter
speed, I knew I had to set my exposure -- underexposure just -- underexposing just a little so the
white feathers weren't all overexposed. This is
actually the hardest subject I've ever photographed because
the animal's moving fast and you have really dark
feathers and dark background against really bright
feathers here. So anyway, I had to use rapid frame
advance; set the exposure right; use AI servo focus, which
is like focus tracking, it tracks the subject; and
I had to focus on a specific area. And we actually
had the captain move to boat to an area where we had
beautiful reflections. We set the goal, I got the shot.
So in your photography it's very, very important
to set a specific goals. If you go up to Alaska on
a trip, it's not a goal I'm going to get great shots of
bald eagles. I'm going to get a shot of the eagle with
the talons coming out. I'm going to get the shot of an
eagle, in one second, of just catching the fish. I'm
going to get a shot of the eagle taking off after it just
caught a fish. I'm going to get a nice action shot
like this. I'm going to shoot up. I'm going to shoot
down. I'm going to shoot all around. If you make like
a hit list, again, set that goal. You'll know where you're
going. Yes?
>> Female #2: So when you were photos of the eagle, were you
focusing on the white part on the eagle's head or the
darkest-- >>RICK: I was focusing on the body because
it's a very small point. So I'm actually using
the center focus point on my camera even though my camera
has 45 autofocus points -- you know, these cameras
today have all these different focus points -- I'm using
that AI servo focus and I want to focus right -- like
here, like right on the animal's body. But talking about
animal -- these shots, if you look at all these shots
they have something in common. When I'm photographing
animals and people in most cases if the eye is not in
focus, if the eye's not well lit, I feel I've missed the
shot. That's what I strive for. The reason I say most people
photography, if Marlon Brando was here and he said hey,
Marlon Brando -- it's really fun to be at Google -- --
he'd say well, Rick, most of the times that's true. But
you might remember when I shot the Godfather I used top
lighting. I used top lighting so the people looking at
the movie couldn't see into the subject's eyes because I
wanted to create a sense of mystery. I'm sure, Katherine, you like the eyes most of the time.
It's very important in portraiture and wedding
photographer -- wedding photography to light the eyes;
right? Okay. So anyway, that's the thing in wildlife
photography. So what do we do? We're actually positioning the boat so we have good light
on the animals' eyes. I was talking -- I was giving
a talk down at the California Photo Fest last week
and it was on composition. How many people here have
heard the composition technique the Rule of Thirds?
Okay. Just about everybody. How many people have heard
the composition technique Rule of Odds? Nobody.
The Rule of Odds is actually a very good composition
technique. You put odd things in a picture, they're going
to stand out. You put, you know, even things, they
don't stand out as much for whatever reason. So this has
three dolphins in here -- actually whales before
rather than -- and then four. So I had a lot of pictures
with four in them, but I liked the shot with the
three. I was thinking about that composition technique,
the Rule of Odds. Simplicity is really important, too
so right here we have just one animal. Now, I have
these beautiful patterns here. I'm using that polarizing
filter that we were talking about before to cut through
the glare on the water. If you're shooting in water,
around water, over water, next to water, you want to
bring a polarizing filter. Yes? >> Female #3: Do you like a circular polarizer
or do you just like the sheet for a polarizer?
>> RICK: Well, the circular -- we used to have
what's called the linear polarizing filter before you
probably got into photography. Now they had to develop
what's called circular polarizing filters for the
autofocus cameras; the linear polarizing filters didn't
work. But I -- that's what I use. I like to use the
circular polarizing filters. And again telling the
story. I'm trying to tell the whole story of the whale
so I'm doing the whale's tail. This picture might look
a little confusing, but what's going on here is I was
pretty lucky. These whales come up and they were eating
the krill. The reason it looks kind of weird is because
the jaws come -- they distend and they like open like
this to the side so they can get the maximum amount of
krill. It's pretty cool. Again, telling the story, watching the background.
You know, if I took -- this picture could have been
taken off Long Island not too far from my house. This
picture looks like it was taken in Alaska. We want to
take pictures that have what's called a sense of place.
This picture's nice, this picture's nice; the closeups,
they're nice, but they could have been taken anywhere. . So think about that when you're
taking pictures. Think about how can I take a picture that has a
sense of place? Another tip I want to share with you
I learned from my friend Dr. Dick Zakia, he where to
wonderful book called "Perception and Imaging". "Perception
and Imaging", Dr. Dick Zakia. In that book he
has nothing about F-stops and shutter speeds. It's all
about -- or raw, or JPEGs, or image sensors, or anything
like that. It's all about -- what he talks about -- what
he talks about is why we like pictures, the perception,
and how it relates to imaging. But one of his best
tips is use your camera like a spaceship. I teach a lot
of workshops. We were doing a workshop last week
down at the pier, the pier in San Luis Obispo actually,
I forget, in Cayucos, not too far from San Luis
Obispo. Everyone shows up with their tripods and their
cameras are like this at eye level. When you start
using your camera like a spaceship, you could come up
with all new different composition techniques. Here I'm on the back
of the boat, I'm holding my camera probably about
6 inches above the water with the [chuckles] strap
on to make sure I didn't lose it. But I wanted to have this feeling
of speed that our boat is like cruising up through
the water up in Alaska. If I was up like this, it wouldn't
have the same effect. So use your camera like a spaceship;
tilt it up; tilt it down; tilt it to the left;
tilt it to the right. If you think about that spaceship technique,
you'll see that you that you will come up with different
pictures. As far as the composition technique, another
one, leading lines. Here we have these leading lines or
leading shapes that are leading the viewer right up to
this mountain in the back. There are a million different composition techniques. I only have
time really to share a few with you with you, but
contours, contours are another form of composition.
This is just a closeup of this. Basically I'm doing the
same thing I did with the pictures of the nesting albatrosses
in Antarctica. I'm shooting wide and I'm shooting
close, and if I do this, I have enough pictures to
illustrate all these different composition techniques.
And here's one more. I'm photographing this glacier,
this beautiful glacier up in Alaska. Fish eye lens,
15-millimeter lens, one of the widest lens you could
buy, and then I'm using my 100 to 400 to capture this,
to tell the -- to show the details. Details help to
tell the story. We can tell the whole story -- not the
whole story. We could tell a broader story by using
this wide angle shot here and then a closer shot. And
speaking of details, here's a nice shot of an iceberg.
Kind of boring, but look what happens when we move in
for a closeup. This is taken with a 100 to 400-millimeter lens. I'm looking for patterns.
Patterns are yet another composition technique. This is
an HDR shot. You guys into HDR? Anyone here into HDR?
Just one? Two? Three, four, five. HDR is where it's
at, our eyes, speaking about -- yes, right? [audience member replies] Our eyes
have a dynamic range of about 11 F-stops. The best
digital camera on the planet has a dynamic range that
can see five F-stops. So with HDR we can get back to
that 11 F-stop range and even go beyond it. So what's
going to happen is we can create images, you know, so
this scene looks, you know, in our image like it looks
to our eyes. Here we can see deep, deep into the
shadows here, yet the ice and the clouds outside -- ice
and the clouds outside are not overexposed. I'm going
to jump out of this show for just one second. Yeah. >>
[Male asking question in the background] >> RICK: Well, actually I have it here. I
don't have to jump out. How do I compare HDR to
the zone system? Well, the zone system was developed
by -- did you ask -- was developed by Ansel Adams.
>> Male #2: Yeah, I know it. >> RICK: Right. And for those of you who
didn't -- don't know -- and what Ansel Adams -- if you
want to have fun, do a Google search. Right now you
could some have fun. Tell me how many pages come up "I
hate HDR." You're going to find 50,000 -- maybe not.
>> Male #3: 2.1 million. >> RICK: 2.1 million?
>> Male #3: Only >> RICK: Only?
>> Male #3: In .30 seconds. [laughter]
>> RICK: Okay. So that's how good Google is. But anyway, I love HDR. Ansel Adams, he used
the zone system to find out what the different exposures
were in these different zones from very dark to very
light, and he created HDR images using burning, and dodging,
different papers, different chemicals, different exposure times, then he would dry his pictures
in the microwave oven, as you may know. But what
HDR does is it -- what these programs let us do today
is a matter of minutes. So here's a good example of HDR for
you guys who are not -- who are not into HDR. Okay.
So this is an HDR image, high, high dynamic range image.
Here is the original shot. Here is the middle exposure for HDR
in this case I had to take five exposures from the dark
-- that I captured from the darkest area to the brightest
area, I had to take those five exposures and then
process them. Actually, here I used HDR Efex Pro, by
Nik Software. You can do a search on this. Actually,
if you go on my site, RickSammon.Info you can get a
15 percent discount on it. But anyway, without HDR this
is what the scene would look like; it looks terrible.
With HDR, this is what the scene looks like. It's kind
of magical. But the key is, the key is you have to
take -- you have to take enough exposures, again, to
capture that dynamic range. So anyway, on my site, if you go to save on creative plugins,
you'll see a bunch of tutorials on this. Let's see how
fast you can find this. Go on >> Male #4: RickSammon.Info?
>>RICK: .info. >> Male #4: Oh. Okay.
>>RICK: And then type in the search window "HDR
must-know info". So if you go in this -- Yeah. HDR
must-know info. So if you want a nice little --
actually, it's a long tutorial on HDR, you'll find that.
It's probably about a thousand words, about eight or 12
different examples of HDR but HDR really is amazing.
Yes? >> [Male asking question in the background]
>>RICK: Okay. This is a very good question. So he's saying I'm up here talking about like
I know what I'm talking about; right? [chuckles]
But how about the person who wants to learn about light? Okay. Well,
I don't have a picture of a histogram up here now,
but does anyone not know what a histogram is? Okay.
So on the back of your camera, you have a histogram.
What that histogram is telling you, is it's telling
you about the bright areas and the dark areas. If you have
a lot of dark areas in your picture, you can look at
each -- like you mentioned the zone system. You can look
at your histogram like you have a pile of bricks over
here, and if you have a picture like this with some
dark areas going to have bricks piled up like this way
on this side of your histogram for the dark areas. For
the highlights over here, you're going to have
bricks piled up like this. If you have a picture just taken
on an overcast day without a lot of highlights or
shadows, you're just going to have what looks like
an even mountain range, like this. When I talk about
light, I do talk about what I said before, that we have to
learn how to see the light, the contrast range in the scene,
the direction of light, the color of light, the
quality of light, but the histogram is your light meter,
so this is actually a very, very important thing. I don't
use a light meter. A couple of my friends still
use light meters, but -- you don't use a light meter,
right? You use a histogram.
>>Male #5: Or a spot meter. >> RICK: Or a spot meter in your camera. The
histogram what you want to do is when you're shooting,
you want to move your histogram over to the right. If
you do a search on this, move the histogram to the
right, let's see how many pages you get on that, this is
the key because in your -- if this is your histogram
here, most of the information -- more than half of your
information is captured over here. If you have a
histogram with nothing over here when you try to pull
stuff out of the shadows over here, it's going to be
very noisy. This is why the basic tip -- how many
pages? >> Male: #6: 2.2 million.
>> RICK: 2.2 million. Pretty soon you're not going to need speakers at Google anymore,
just do searches move to histogram to the right. So
anyway, you want to move the histogram to the right. You
don't want that spike. If that spike is right to the
edge here, you're going to lose detail. This is the most
important thing -- I think I have to stand over here
for the mic. This is the most important thing I talk about
when people ask me questions like when you talk
about light, what's the most important thing? Expose for
the highlights. You want to expose for the highlights.
Look at this scene. What's the brightest part of the
scene? Might be the reflection on the water right here.
Here we have detail here, it's a little washed out
because the lights are on but that's okay because we're
all here to learn. But I'm always exposing for the
highlights. Did you ever shoot slides? >> Male #7: Oh, yeah.
>> RICK: Oh, yeah. when you shot slides, Katherine? She used
to shoot slides. Your exposure had to be right on,
dead on, because if they were over, they were gone.
Now, with digital, if your highlights are overexposed
by more than a stop, you can get them back, I mean, under
-- just about a stop. If they're over more than a
stop, you're not going to get them back. So it's very important to
expose for the highlights and move your histogram to
the right. As far as people photography goes, and travel
photography, I always like to put a person in the scene.
This picture taken out in Laos early one morning,
I love the clouds, I love the setting, but if we take
the person out of the scene -- this is taken a few minutes
before -- it doesn't have, you know, the same kind of
feeling. Now, some people here -- Ansel Adams probably
would like the scene because he didn't include people
in the scene, but I like to put people in the scene.
Both are valid. It's up to you and shoot it -- shoot it
both ways. When we were talking before someone said
they wanted to do people photography. Who said -- right.
So here's an example. Let me see where this other shot
is here. Might be -- yeah. Okay. When you're photographing a person, my No. 1 thing is
this, to think about this: The closer you are to the -- I
don't want to get too far away from the podium -- The
closer you are to the person, the more intimate the picture
becomes. So when you think you're close, get closer.
This is over in Laos. We were there last year. Kind of
a boring shot, but it's kind of cool. The monks get out
early in the morning and they walk down the road
barefoot, and they get the alms from these people giving
them rice, and candy, and stuff like that. But it looks
like a snapshot. If you just get a little closer, you
feel more intimate; you feel like you're more part of
the scene. So again shooting close gives a picture a
greater sense of intimacy. When you think you're close,
get closer. But something else is going on there. I
used a slow shutter speed to add a sense of movement to
the picture. Here, these guys, the monks could have
been standing still. And actually here they were kind
of standing still, but you want to add a sense of motion
to your pictures. This is one of the things we have to
do as photographers. We're shooting stills -- we're
shooting stills, but we want to add a sense of motion to
our pictures. So play around with shutter speeds, play
around with aperture. So anyway, Laos is an incredible
place, northern Thailand is an incredible place. This
is one of the temples, an HDR shot. Without HDR, you
wouldn't be able to see these beautiful paintings on the
background. And it's -- you know, traveling's such a
great education. You learn so much. Here's the inside
of the temple. You can see all these beautiful paintings over here. So some of the paintings
depict a scene like this, if you're good in life, the
afterlife will be nice. Okay. Here's another scene,
again, if you're good in life, when you die everything
will be nice. Well, if you're not good, they show
this is what happens. This is what happens if you drink
too much, okay, and then you die, this is what happens
to you. All right, this is if you're a murderer what
happens to you. So again, traveling is a great education.
So they bring the kids to this temple -- these temples
to show them hey, this is what can happen. But if
you want a great place to go, I've been a lot of places,
I've said this before, more than a hundred countries,
Laos is like Thailand was like 50 years ago. It's
still very remote. We went on this beautiful river ride
here. This is a daylight fill-in flash picture here.
I think I told you the only time I use a flash in
the manual exposure mode is if I'm taking a flash -- or
a flash shot. All my other pictures are on either
aperture priority or shutter priority. But it's so
remote there, people are still fishing with nets. I like
this shot because it's balanced. When you're taking
a picture, another thing that you want to think about,
yet another thing you want to think about is balance.
So the net here falling on the water, and the fisherman,
it has some action, but it's balanced. Think about
how you can balance your pictures. Now, these aren't the
fish he caught, but one of the things that's really
fun to do in remote countries like Laos, Thailand, Cambodia,
some places in Central America, is like to go to
the markets. Here this man was preparing our lunch. Katherine,
is this the kind of lunch we're going to have
tomorrow, Katherine, before the photo?
>> Katherine: I hope not. >>RICK: You hope not? Anyway, you see, you
learn what's going on in different cultures. You know,
we have so much here, we really do have so much here and
what we have to do to survive is a lot different from
when a lot of other people around the country -- around
the world have to survive. And one more thing on
traveling is such a great education, this is just a
snapshot, but I took this shot and the next few shots
because they're these unexploded fuel tanks here as
decorations around the village. You see it here, you
see it here, and you see it in this shot. Again, these
are just snapshots, but again getting back to this
education thing, during the Vietnam War when the pilots
would go up, you know, on their bombing raids and they
couldn't land with full fuel tanks, right? They had to
get rid of them otherwise their planes could explode if
they didn't land correctly. They just dropped these
tanks like over beautiful villages like you've just seen
before. So you learn this stuff. This is part of being
a travel photographer. Getting back to that shooting
horizontally and vertically. This is Angkor Wat in
Cambodia. Nice enough shot, right, shooting horizontally, but here's a vertical shot,
an HDR shot. We can see the white clouds aren't overexposed
and washed out, yet we can see into the shadows.
Now, one thing on HDR is this: We can open up all the
shadows, right? But when we open up all the shadows
our pictures look flat. I want you to remember this when
it comes to shadows. Shadows can be your friend; shadows
add a sense of depth and dimension to a picture;
and my friend Frank Doorhof has this expression, "Shadows
are the soul of the picture." So, you know, just because
we can open up the shadows, it doesn't mean that we have
to open up the shadows. Another thing we have to do is
add a sense of depth and dimension to our pictures. We
see the world in three dimensions: Height, width,
and depth; our cameras only see two. Here this is a side
of one of the temples in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Here's
another side of one of the temples. If you shoot at an
angle, you can shoot sense of depth. If I'm going to
photograph this room right now here at Google, it looks
very flat shooting straight on like that; if I go over
here, it's going to have a much greater sense of depth.
So try to create a sense of depth and dimension in our
pictures. So it's almost 4:00 o'clock and I think we're
going to start our studio session kind of soon after
that. Let me see if I have anything else I can show
you quickly here before we take any -- well, I'll
tell you this. How many people were at my presentation
last time? Okay. Two. So I'm just going to end
with this quick little story. So I teach a lot of workshops
around the world. This is a workshop in Botswana, one
of my favorite shots. This picture illustrates a lot of
points in photography. One, the name of the game is to
fill the frame; Number 2, light the eyes; Number 3, have a
plain background; Number 4, use a wide aperture to blur the
background if it's distracting; and getting back to my
friend's -- my new friend in the front's comment about
light, I'm looking to expose for the highlights, the
brightest part of the scene first, which is right here.
I don't want that overexposed and washed out. So
this -- and you want a little bit of expression on the
animal's eyes; he's looking for something. So this
picture illustrates a lot of different -- a lot of
different techniques. Here we see -- excuse me -- what
simple cropping can do. I not only cropped this
picture; I increased the saturation. How many people
sharpen their pictures here? Okay. The key to
sharpening the picture is using selective sharpening.
Rarely do you want to sharpen the entire picture. You
want to sharpen just the most important part of the
picture. So here I'm sharpening the animal's face. I'm
sharpening the body, but not as much as the face.
There'd be no reason to sharpen around this animal
because I want the attention to go to the animal, plus,
if you sharpen the dark out-of-focus areas, that
increases the noise. Always sharpen selectively, unless
you're taking a picture of a rose, then you want the
whole thing very sharp. But also I use a technique like
Ansel Adams used. Ansel Adams had a great expression.
He said, "A picture's not done until I darken the
edges." Renaissance painters did the same thing, they
darkened the edges. So I darken the edges to draw more
attention to the -- to the main subject. If you go on
safari, having a good guide is the key. We're driving
around in the jeep -- or the Land Rover, and the guide
says, "Man, look at that lion. I can't believe that,"
and he's pointing to the lion. Well, we can't see it.
This is why you want to go on safari because if you look closely, you'll see that -- with
a good guide, you'll see that there's a lion hiding
in the shadows right there. One thing, by the way,
if you're into photographing birds around here, or owls,
or any kind of wildlife around here, if you want
a better chance of finding the animals rather than
looking left to right, like most of us read, search the
scene from right to left. It slows you down and it's
really a much better way to find the animals. You'll see
if you're outside searching for a subject if you move
like this, you're going to go faster than going like
that because you're used to going like this when you are
-- when you are reading. Okay. So I'm just going to end
with these couple of pictures. On safari with this guy,
we're in this little plane, a light plane, we're landing
on this runway, the guides on the bottom on the runway
are shooing the animals off the runway, the elephants
off the runway. So we come down on the runway
and the guide whips open the door and says "Quick, quick.
These lions are mating. You have to come. You have to
see this." So because I'm ready, like I told you I was,
with my wide angle lens on one shoulder, my telephoto lens
-- telephoto zoom on the other, I'm in the jeep
in one second, the land rover in one second. This
guy's fumbling around getting his stuff out of the
bag. I said, I can't believe we're might miss this
thing. The guide's saying, "Hurry up! This doesn't
happen too often. Lot a lot of people get to see this."
So here's the male lion. He really wanted to mate. Here's
the female -- this goes on for three days -- she
didn't want to mate any longer, okay? But I really wanted
to get a shot. I wanted to get this shot. I call this
the Love Bite. Here's the female biting the lion trying
to keep him away. Here I used a 500th of a second
shutter speed to freeze the action, but here's the story.
You see these twigs here? Well, there were some twigs
right in front of this scene right here. Well, before
we got in the vehicle the guide says to me, he says,
"Whatever you do, don't stand up. Don't move in the vehicle."
Again, this is been going on for three days; the
animals haven't eaten; who knows. You don't want to
distract the animals. Well, I forgot what he said and
I was so interested in getting this shot I stood up.
As I stood up, the lions stopped what they were doing
and they started coming toward the vehicle. So you've
seen this on National Geographic where the lion's crouched
down like this, and they're going through the grass
and they're coming closer and closer and closer.
And as the guy's -- the guy's saying to me as they get
closer, first he said, "Don't move," then he said,
"Don't move," then he said, "Don't move," then he's just
going, "Don't move," like this, because they're coming closer,
and closer, and closer, and closer. Anyway, they
come right up like as close as you two guys are right
here. They look up, and this is what happens. Though
they didn't jump up and kill me, they were so hot and
tired they were just looking for some shade. They lied
down in the shade of the vehicle.
[Laughing] >>RICK: So listen, I want to thank you all
very much for joining me here at Google. I hope
you learned a lot; I hope you had a lot of fun. Everyone
who comes to my seminars or workshops is a student for
life so if you want to send me questions, it's just Rick
-- well, actually, my Google address is
RickGodfatherSammon@google. Trey Ratcliff, who actually
introduced me to Cliff and my friends here at Google
gave me that title Godfather because when I met him he
says, "Man, Rick, you're one of the oldest guys I know
that's still into photography." [Laughing]
>> RICK: So anyway, and you can contact me through my site . So thank
-- yes? >> Male #8: Do they allow that name on Google+?
>> RICK: Pardon? Do they allow that name Godfather? Oh, I guess so. I've had it for
a few months. So thank you very much. I hope you
had a good time and learned a lot.