Archives For Worskhops

During the summer of 2013 we sailed from Trinidad to Buenos Aires on board the National Geographic Explorer. Named the “Epic South America” voyage, we explored seven different countries and traveled more than 6500 miles. Along the way we taught a digital story telling workshop….

Lindblad just posted a short video about the program. Stay tuned for 2014 date and locations

I am often guilty of taking way too much camera equipment on trips and not only does that create problems when traveling, but it can get in the way of taking photographs…. The very thing I am trying to do. My iPhone has done a lot to change that, as I always have it with me, and consequently, it is the camera I have most available. While I love the shots I get from the phone, I crave for more control of the images I am creating. App’s have gone a long way to help in this respect, but the iPhone lens is also a major hurdle in creating photographs. While jpg compression is OK for photos for social media sites, I also want to have the ability to shoot RAW images and be able to process them through Apple’s Aperture to give me the best results. The camera must also be pocket sized, so it can be kept readily available. Nikon have just released a new camera that fits the bill perfectly, the COOLPIX P7800.


The new camera offers great blend of design and technology, with the aim of capturing images of your next adventure that are of the best quality and yet easy to shoot. The camera combines an outstanding 7.1x Zoom NIKKOR ED Glass lens (angle of view equivalent to that of 28-200 mm lens in 35mm format) with an extra-large backside illuminated CMOS image sensor. This also means you can shoot Full HD 1080p videos with stereo sound. The accessories available for the camera also mean you can use a Nikon Speedlight, Wi-Fi® or GPS adapter.

In many ways the camera is very similar to its predecessor, the P7700, but with the addition of an electronic viewfinder. What is does offer in comparison to its main competitors is great manual controls and an articulated LCD screen, great for street photography or shooting low/high angles where looking through the viewfinder is a challenge. I would recommend this camera who needs a compact camera for travel and adventure, but still wants to capture top quality images.

In addition to the new digital video workshops I am leading with David Wright, in partnership with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions, Sisse Brimberg (my wife) and I also often lead city based photo workshops, most recently in Paris, France. The other day we responded to a couple of questions from National Geographic Expeditions about our workshop series.

Q: What makes Paris a great subject for photographers?

A: Paris is one of our favorite city locations to shoot in, most because of the variety of subjects and light. The city offers lots of opportunities to refine your skills with street (people) photography, architecture, and food. Paris is an elegant and refined city capital, every time you walk around a corner, there is always a new tableaux or scene that unfolds in front of your camera. The light is very special as well. Its ever changing and dramatic. One of our favorite activities is shooting photos at the local markets, where we enjoy seeing and tasting the produce from France. Of course the food is displayed in in fresh and colorful ways that lends itself to strong photos. Sometimes we will focus just on the textures of the food. Over the years, Parians have become more and more open to having visitors come to their city and photograph life in the streets.

Q: What is the most important thing a participant should bring to this workshop?

A: The most important thing the participant should bring to the workshop is an open mind to new ways of shooting, as well as formulating some sense of how he/she wants to improve their photography. We really stress the importance of understanding “light” and how this impacts your photography and how you can utilize it to your advantage.

It’s also important to bring a laptop and software that you are familiar with using, we do not spend oodles of time discussing photo processing e.g. Photoshop, but you should be comfortable and quick with your editing workflow. The great advantage of this workshop is that we allow time for constructive critiques and feedback which really helps the students understand light, composition and other photographic concepts.

Q: Tell us about a favorite photo you took in Paris.


A: One of the favorite photos we recently took in Paris was this simple reflection shot taken into a window on Place de la Madeleine. Here the photograph of the model in the window display seems to be looking out into the square. Paris provides ample opportunities to shoot reflections and play with the light, and the juxtaposition of the photo and the location make for a fresh new angle.


As you know by now, I am a great fan of Ripple Training’s tutorials. They have just released a brand new iPad app version of their Final Cut Pro X course. Right now it’s available in the iTunes store for $1.99. I would hurry and download it, as I did, since the price is expected to rise to $19.99 sometime in the near future.

I am now using an iPad mini for my editing work, and now have access to these great tutorials all the time. Very often an editing question will pop up and with this app, you can quickly jump to the answer, and keep on working.

I strongly suggest you buy your copy soon.

Here is a link to the article on

Cotton Coulson, Copenhagen, Denmark

One of the challenges can be capturing good sound when you are out shooting by yourself. Especially if you are using a DSLR. With wildlife, one solution is to record sound after taking your shots and mix the two together during the edit. There are some excellent digital recorders on the market from companies like Zoom (read a review)

But many of us have the technology in our pockets and don’t even realize it. By simply using our smartphone’s free recorder or by downloading an inexpensive app’ you have the same technology in you hand.

We are involved with shooting a film on walrus for the BBC in Alaska but recently had the pleasure of visiting the featured biologist at her home base in California where she works with three captive animals. It turns out these walrus are no strangers to cameras as they were featured in the Adam Sandler movie 50 First Dates. But even more fascinating is that when the producers of Jurassic Park needed sounds to recreate the roar of a dinosaur, they turned to these animals. So when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as the T-Rex roars at the camera…. it is actually a walrus.

The range and depth to the sound is quite astonishing and I thought this would be a great test for the iPhone and a handy dedicated microphone from MyMyk.

The guys at MyMyk have created both a compact directional microphone and small adapter so that you can connect straight to your camera or to your smartphone or ipod. To complement this, they have also designed a simple, but elegant phone app to that acts just like expensive stand alone recorders. You can use this set-up with your camera to have a back-up sound system, or as I was doing,  just record the roar and then mix this sound into a video later.

Walrus make an incredible range of sounds but you will recognize this one from Jurassic Park-  Roar

Another of the common sounds produced by the male is a clicking or knocking sound, it provided another great work-out for the microphone- Click : Knocking

If you get chance, try to play these sounds through a good amplifier and sub-woofer to get the full range recorded by the MyMyk / iPhone system. A few of you may want to even download the roar as your new ringtone!

So remember if you are out shooting, capturing sound for your movie, or even a slide show, is not that hard and really makes a huge difference. For more information about MyMyk visit their website or check out this helpful video which demonstrates the benefits of using a gun mic for your next project

Introducing SmartMyk from MyMyk on Vimeo.

Photo credit- Holley Muraco

The last thing you want is to be in one of the world’s most spectacular places and not have the right equipment to capture your adventure or not know how to get the best images from your camera.

That means one of the biggest challenges is preparing for a photo or video shoot. The same goes for when we go on a shoot for a client like National Geographic or you join us on board the NG Explorer for an expedition with organized by Lindblad.

After many years of working for clients like National Geographic, in some of the world’s most difficult locations, we are sharing our secrets of the trade to help you get a head-start so you know what equipment to bring and how to use it.

Over the next few weeks we will be releasing a series of videos to get you started and sharing invaluable tips to make sure you are well prepared for your trip.

Episode One- Introduction

Booth Island, Antarctic Peninsula

This morning we had an amazing encounter with two very playful humpback whales who expressed their curiosity by coming up right next to us in our zodiacs, sometimes even swimming under the boats and giving us a gentle nudge. The zodiacs sat motionless and the whales swam from boat to boat, much to delight of the guests.

I chose to shoot stills today, as did my wife, Sisse Brimberg, giving us very unique and different perspectives. Normally we suggest carrying a long lens for shooting whales, but today, the wide-angle was the right choice. Never have we had such up close and personal encounters with these magnificent creatures. The skillful Linblad naturalists did an amazing job driving the boats, giving us great photo and video access, at the same time, without disturbing the animals behavior.

Photos by Sisse Brimberg & Cotton Coulson, ExpeditonWorkshops