Sunday, November 24, 2013

&Beyond African Photo Safari Kenya and Tanzania

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — I sat upright, completely awake, vibrations and deafening noise having disturbed my sleep. Faint tremors traveled from the ground to the legs of the bed, settling deep in my chest and reverberating through my skull. My brain screamed: “Get up and run or get up and fight!” I reached for the only weapon I had, a flashlight. Rigid and still in bed, I pointed the beam side to side, up and down. I couldn’t find the source of the primal sound. I took a couple of deep breaths and calmed down a bit, remembering I was on the first night of a two-week photo safari to three camps in Tanzania and one in Kenya. I couldn’t get back to sleep. The roaring had seemed as if it were right next to my tent. The sound of fighting baboons I had heard since arriving was now replaced by an eerie silence sporadically interrupted by what sounded like a life-and-death struggle. Tips for photographing while on safari After a two-hour vigil, jet lag and exhaustion won out and I fell into an uneasy slumber. An hour later my butler woke me up at the predetermined time of 5:45 a.m. with tea. I asked about the noise and he said, “Hakuna matata. It’s only lions nearby. Their roar travels far away.” Hakuna matata? No worries? Did he mean not to worry. It’s only lions? A short time later we went to meet our ranger, Joseph, who helped us into an off-road vehicle. When our party mentioned the commotion we had heard the previous night, Joseph said, “It was probably a kill.” Then he added, “Let’s go find out.” A kill it was. We came upon about eight lions lying around the remains of a big buffalo. Not much was left except a bright red rib cage attached to some sinew and tufts of hair dangling from a scarred skull. According to Joseph, the kill had occurred only a couple of kilometers away from our camp and a number of lions had been involved. We got as close as 15 feet to a lioness still gnawing at the carcass while another busied herself with the fallen animal’s tail. The connection with Africa’s wildlife and its majestic landscape felt simultaneously intimate and primal. I never thought we’d get this close to the kings of the African predators. I had purchased a massive telephoto lens for this trip, which was too big to use in such close quarters. This experience set the tone for the rest of the trip. Each camp had its own awe-inspiring moments, from the vast accumulations of wildebeests dotting the horizon as far as the eye could see to the fleeting image of a young cheetah running toward the shelter of termite mounds. The number of wildlife I got to see and photograph exceeded my expectations. On our final day in Africa, at Batteleur Camp in Kenya, we went out one last time before catching the first of a series of small planes back to Nairobi. When I thought I spotted the remains of a kill just 50-70 feet away from the camp’s gated entrance I asked the guide to stop our vehicle. He got out first to examine the remains: massive vertebrae and a stripped down pointy skull. “A hyena kill,” he said, noting that the bone had been stripped of all the flesh and nothing left behind, no skin, no antlers. “This was probably one of the baby giraffes we were photographing yesterday,” he said, adding, “between 10 to 15 hyenas all attack at once and devour everything.” I returned from the savannah with a newfound respect for nature and a yearning to return, cameras in tow, to once more experience wild Africa. TECH STUFF: 2 CAMERA BODIES: D4 AND D3S/ 2 LENSES: 500MM F4.O AND 70-200MM 2.8 WITH A 1.4TC. THE VARIATION OF SPEEDS AND WB SETTINGS VARIED THROUGHOUT THE TWO WEEK PERIOD. TO PURCHASE ANY OF THESE AND/OR ANY OTHER IMAGE FROM THIS GALLERY PLEASE GO TO DORIAN COLOR LAB WWW.DORIANCOLOR.COM

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Watertown Manhunt

Watertown, MA 041913 Massive manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect took place in Watertown for 20 hours after a shootout was reported in the adjacent town of Cambridge. One of the two brothers was killed during a confrontation with police where more than 200 rounds were exchanged and then the second suspect was arrested while hiding inside a boat sitting in someone's backyard. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff) BEHIND THE SCENES: It is very frustrating to be thwarted by police barricades when you know such huge story is developing just around the corner. So I adhered to what I always tell my students to do when shooting: Keep in mind the best photo happening for you is the one you have right in front of you because that is all that you can control.

Impromptu memorial site in Boylston Street for the Boston Marathon Bombing

Boston, MA 041813 Days after the Boston Marathon Bombing an impromptu memorial was created by those wishing to pay their respects to the victims of the disaster. (Essdras M Suarez/ Boston Globe©) BEHIND THE SCENES: On this day my assignment was to hang out on this site and to get the best possible images of the site and those visiting the area. These included overall shots. One of these two shots ran six columns across on the cover of the Boston Globe Metro section.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Vigil 04/16/13

Boston, MA 041613 Vigil at Boston Common in honor of those who perished during the Boston Marathon bombing one day prior. (Essdras M Suarez/ Boston Globe©) BEHIND THE SCENES: I have covered so many events like this one in my two decades as a photojournalist, you would think I no longer become affected by what I photograph. Instead I find myself in a mad frenzy to keep shooting, to keep focusing on composing and finding moments just so I won't time to process the magnitude of the events I've witnessed and photographed. Echoes of Columbine, Newtown, Iraq, Indonesia and so many more are nowadays always present in my mind when I'm confronted with documenting grief. Perhaps that is why I cling so tightly to my mantra of "Keep shooting, keep moving, keep adjusting..." just so I don't have time to think on what's in front of me. TECH STUFF: Cameras D-4, D3s; lenses: 24- 70mm 2.8, 70- 200mm 2.8 with a 1.4 TC; ISO: 640- 4,000; WB: cloudy and AWB

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath

Boston, MA 041513 Two explosions spaced apart by seconds tore through the finish line at the 117th Boston Marathon in Boston. Authorities confirmed three dead and more than 100 wounded. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe staff) BEHIND THE SCENES: On this day I had been assigned to be on the women's elite media truck ahead of the female runners. I got to Hopkinton close to 7:00AM. The race itself was the predicted outcome: A Kenyan runner pushed forward and won. Once I arrived at the finish line I saw no reason for me to stick around there since we already had two staff photographers on site. I went back to the office, filed and went home to see if I could catch some well-deserve shut eye. This was shortly after 2PM. My wife called me a bit after 4PM as I was taking a shower and she asked, "Why are you home and not out there shooting the bombing? I told her I had no idea what she was talking about. She told me what happened and I immediately tried to get back into the area I had just left a couple of hours prior. The city was shut pretty tight so I ended up parking my car a couple of miles away from the epicenter of the blast. I walked in and spent the rest of the day while not being able to get images of the scene aftermath itself. I kept trying to tell the story of how the City of Boston had changed at a moment's notice by showing the heightened security and the reaction of those I encountered. Thus, the two friend embracing after a couple of hours of not knowing each other whereabouts. The firefighters on this picture were first responders on site. Off the record one of them told me what he saw and how he helped the people. The only thing he told me before being off the record was, "See my pants, that is blood and skin all over them."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Uncommon Images from Common Circumstances: A bit on the thought process and more

I made this image yesterday and it was used large on the cover of the Boston Globe's Metro section. I had previously called my office and asked my editors if they were looking for weather features for which I got a resounding Yes! from them. I've been around long enough doing my job as a newspaper photographer that I know weather is always considered to be "news." Especially here in New England where the weather patterns are so fickle. Afterwards, I did what I always do when I'm looking for features and hoping to stumble upon something unusual: I got out of my car and walked. Yesterday, I was already ahead of the curve because I happened to have just finished shooting an assignment near the Boston Common which is a favorite gathering spot for those enjoying the weather. This meant I didn't have to go searching for a visually-rich environment since I was already there. However, there were so many people sun bathing or just simply lounging around that at first it was visual overload. The scene immediately reminded me of what a couple of my Boston University students recently said to me during a photo trip to Cuba: "There is so much going on I don't even know where to begin or what to shoot?" No worries, this is a feeling commonly shared by beginner and seasoned photographers alike. Instead of yourself become overwhelmed, you need to step back in your mind and assess what's in front of you. Compartmentalize what you see in segments and then asses these based upon what's in them and for their photo potential and uniqueness. Then you go back to a bit of circular logic: Why am I here: To make photos. And not just any photos but good, better than average photos, and hopefully even great photos. If you don't take the time to compose and capture interesting imagery you are not doing your job: What is your job? Your job as a visual communicator/ documentarian is to see and document the world from a different perspective. To see beyond what the average person sees. Allegedly we do what we do because we think we can see better than the rest. We need to strive to prove this to ourselves every single time we press the shutter. And not all the time will we succeed but if you make trying as hard as you can a common routine you are bound to get better at it. And then others will start noticing that you indeed can see better than they can. Remember: You want the reader to look at your images and to do a double take. Your goal is to make them spend just a little more time looking and analyzing the images you create. You want the viewer to spend just a bit more on your photos than the other thousands of other photos the average person gets exposed to on a daily basis. You want to create images which move people, images which make people react one way or another. This we achieve by choosing our subject matter, and then capturing moments, interactions, altering angles, perspectives and paying close attention to composition. Going back to the above image: Yes, we all have seen people lying face down with their feet up out on a park, on a bench, at the beach etc. But if you photograph this scene from a standing point of view, then my friend you have just succesfuly managed to bore the living daylights out of your readers. This is how I strive not to do this. I follow this mantra every time I have a camera to my eye: "keep shooting, keep moving, keep adjusting..." These are interchangeable actions and their end result is that you force yourself not to take things face value but to go beyond what is in front of you. And then I don't stop shooting this subject or situation until I feel satisfied that I have explored every possible permutation or possibility of the situation at hand. Your images have to be interesting otherwise you are not doing your job and you are wasting people's precious time. The worst thing that can happen to you as a photographer is for your photos to be ignored. TECH STUFF: ISO 100, WB sunny, Spee 1/640th, Aperture 2.8.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snowy Owls at Boston's Logan International Airport

Boston, MA 011713 Snowy owls have been spotted at Logan Airport including and recently there was a sighting of a female owl who was captured, tagged and released last winter and who is now back at Logan. This specific owl's GPS recording showed she had traveled over 7,000 miles.(Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)/ BEHIND THE SCENES: After you have been a photojournalist for almost two decades it is great to every once in a while get an assignment which gets you excited about your job. Especially if its one you haven't done before. I have photographed many raptor species throughout the years but never a snowy owl so I was truly looking forward to get out there and see them. I was not disappointed. A USDA officer who patrols the wildlife in the area and an Audobon Society guy drove the write and I to the area along and between the Logan's landing strips. It was truly an amazing experience to be so close to these planes taking off and landing. These two guys were amazing at spotting the owls. Had I been out there by myself, I probably would have confused the white fuzzy things with snow piles. These two guys would look into the distance with their naked eyes and immediately spot the not-so little guys. The below images are of two different owls but as luck has it, we didn't get to see on this day the female with the GPS tracking device. TECH STUFF: DSLR with a 600mm 4.0 lens and a monopod. ISO 800. WB: Cloudy (it was so windy out there I eventually had to give up the monopod and lay flat in a sniper-like prone position just to get the lens to stabilize.) Even though the 600mm is a powerful and portentous lens it was not good enough for this assignment. Given the choice again, I would opt for an 800 or longer lens.