Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Caminé al mirador, ya era algo tarde para captar la luz del alba por estos lares tropicales. Quería hacerles llegar el amanercer del 25-12-2012 como lo tenía planeado. Pero me hizo falta el sueño y antes de salir, a Simba no se le pasó reclamar su desayuno y con un miauuuuuuuuuu en sostenido, que haría morirse de la envidia a cualquier soprano, me urgía a complacerlo antes que los vecinos derpertaran creyendo que teníamos una ambulancia dentro del apartamento.

En un corto tiempo, que no alcanse a ver, la calina se apoderaba del valle mientras caminaba a la cumbre del cerro. Las calles estaban vacías, solo me encontré con unos parientes de Simba rompiendo bolsas de basura para asegurrarse su desayuno navideño. Quería un valle despejado con su atmósfera limpia entre cerro y cerro, pero las actividades pirotécnicas de la noche anterior, junto al húmedo transpirar nocturno de las plantas, que se evaporaba por el calor del sol mañanero, pintaron de un blanco azulado todo, enfriando el aire mañanero.

Pero como no hay caraqueño, que no suspire al ver sus montañas de lejos, aquí les dejo mi amanecer de una Caracas en silencio, con una belleza que todos admiramos sin importar como se nos presente.

Que tengan un buen día y repartan abrazos y besos, pero por favor no se olviden de ver a los ojos a los suyos, cuando le digan TE QUIERO.



Monday, December 24, 2012


DIGITAL CAMERA ADVENTURES: NOTAS DE CAMPO: APRENDIENDO A VER LOS MOMENTOS CLI...: Estoy preparando un artículo para la Revista Exclusiva que va a tratar sobre las maravillosas joyas voladoras los colibríes, como atrae...


Estoy preparando un artículo para la Revista Exclusiva que va a tratar sobre las maravillosas joyas voladoras los colibríes, como atraerlos y fotografiarlos en nuestras casas. Esto me llevó a escribir esta NOTA DE CAMPO. El trabajo de un reportero naturalista requiere, como cualquier trabajo para una publicación, un tiempo dedicado a la investigación, que en caso de la naturaleza, requiere realizar un trabajo de campo para investigar in situ, el objetivo que nos ocupa.

En esta entrega, les voy a hablar de una acción que toma fracciones de segundos y que para lograr el objetivo, que es fotografíar colibríes, es clave para tener éxito en su ejecución.

Estar preparado para hacer en una fracción de un segundo, click, hace la diferencia entre el éxito y el fracaso en la fotografía de acción de la vida silvestre. No hay manera de crear una metodología sin observación y trabajo. En la imagen superior, un colibrí Orejivioleta Grande es el objetivo de la fotografía. Después de días de observación y de un sin fin de clicks aprendí, que todos los colibríes tienen una DISTANCIA CLICK.

¿Que es LA DISTANCIA CLICK? ES la que nos permite congelar, en fracciónes de segundo, el momento JUSTO de lograr congelar al ave en vuelo, mientras hacen, lo que las diferencia de todas las demás, pasar de una altisima velocidad de vuelo a cero, para mantener un vuelo sostenido, que son capaces de realizar con una presición milimétrica.

Una vez parados en el comedero el MOMENTO CLICK pasó y para poder capturar la imágen, que se capta a 1/250 avo de segundo, hay anticipar la acción.

Cual es el MOMENTO CLICK de los colibríes... Les cuento, que hay mucho sobre lo cual escribir de estas fraciones de segundo, pero eso, es para la entrega final.

No se pierdan el artículo en la primera edición de Exclusiva del 2013

Reciban un cordial saludo.

Leopoldo García Berrizbeitia
Naturalista / Fotógrafo de la Naturaleza

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


DIGITAL CAMERA ADVENTURES: WOW, MY CAMERA HAS A TELEPHONE!: CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO ENLARGE THEM When people ask me what is the best camera there is? I often reply, the one you have! When t...



When people ask me what is the best camera there is? I often reply, the one you have!

When they ask me, what is the best way to become a good photographer? The answer is very simple...Take a lot of pictures.

When they ask, how can you take a lot of pictures, I tell them, carry a camera with you all the time.

Now, if you are in a huge gathering of people and you are allowed to get their undivided attention ask them, how many of you own a cell phone with a camera, blue tooth and/or WI FI capabilities. I am sure, the hands up count will be the highest in the group. To most people it is quite common to have a cellphone with a camera. To us photographers, the question should be: How many of you have camera-phones and some hands will come up, while the rest may remain clueless, not because they do not have the equipment, but because they may not be aware that they are photographers by default.

Photography and videography are sweeping the market like a storm. Today, it is expected for still cameras, in all their categories and shapes, to have video capabilities, and lo and behold, the smartphones will be rendered DUMBPHONES, if they do not meet these requirements. The cameraphone influence is huge, it is so large, that in 2011 the sales of compact cameras fell 30% across the market affecting all the camera brands regardless of their popularity. So, who got the benefits of the 30% pie? Why cell phone making companies. Suddendly, names like Apple, Samsung, Research in Motion, LG, Sony, Nokia and a bunch of other less known brands were taking a bite from Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony's compact camera market with their cell-phones. Soon the sensor/megapixel ratio became an issue in camera-phones and the war between the CCD and CMOS sensor went over the camera borders into the cell-phone turf. A new era was in shape, and tough the camera-phone birth was in the 90s, in 2012 the camera-phones are here to stay.

What does this mean for photographers, how does this change our picture taking. There are a lot of "PROS" that look at camera-phones with disdain. In the other hand, there are quite a few that are seen the change in paradigme as a wonderful event. This year, wi-fi enabled cameras are becomeing a trendful thing. Why, because more and more people are opting for cameraphones. Furthermore, the applications developers, are racing to have the next most popular app in a market where millions of users of cameraphones are waiting for the next PHOTOSHOP app for Android or IOS, that will render camera-phones, the must have gadjets in the world. I know some may think I am exagerating, but time will tell what will happen. Specially, when huge companies like TV stations are placing importance in the immideatness of the news. Soon waiting a few hours to get "the pictures" will not be sufficient, and the speed of communications technology and imaging research and development will converge to enable future photographers to do unthinkable feets with gear, that we would think unattainable today.

So camera-phone photography is here to stay. Now, I am a nature photographer at heart, and I was one of the diehards, who looked with disbelieve at camera phones as a need to have thing. However, reality, has the kick of a mule and a hard awakening was in the making to make me do a turn to a new reality. If I preached that the best way to become a good photographer is by training the eye taking as many pictures as time would allow. I would have a total lack of congruence negating the very thing I was preaching. The wonders of camera phones came into my life with one of the top players in the field, an Iphone 4S. And I cannot deny, how happy I have become when I became aware of its full potential. So allow me to hint some of the newly acquired merits that a camera-phones have for the"serious phographer"

The camera-phones have "APPS". These range from GPS, Altimeters, sunrise and sunset/moonrise and moonset times, photographers ephemeris to plan our shoots according to the sun's position anywhere on the earth, panoramic and HDR capabilities, instant access to internet, Wi-Fi wireless connections that enable your camera-phone to become a remote live view trigger for your DSLR, bluetooth connections, tele-banking, well, I could fill pages with photography applications that would make any DSRL wish list look like a dictionary. So what kind of photography justifies the purchase of a cameraphone? Any that meets your hearts desire, as long as you understand its reach and limitations.


Photographing the tropical cloud forest is a great challenge. High humidity, an ever changing cloud cover, sudden changes of light, steep angles at ground level, very slippery ground, can be some of the things a photographer has to face to make a shoot in of earth's most biodiverse environments. It was in a little mountain flower growers hamlet called Galipan where I put the IPhone and myself to test.

I like to take multiple frames with my DSLR to do composite high resolution mosaics. This requires to work on MANUAL and to take each frame with the same settings. Thus enabling, the photographer, to stich a large number of high resolution images together where the detail of the entire photo surpases that of a single frame wide angle picture. Well, I took three frames of the clouds flying through the forest with the Iphone. This camera-phone works in automatic, jpeg, and it can be difficult to handle, as the thin frame body and small buttons to operate and click the pictures are much smaller than a compact camera or a DSLR. Nevertheless, once one get over these issues the outcome was very pleasing. The jpegs were merged in Photoshop CS4 and the result was the picture above.

It is clear to me that a camera-phone was designed to accomodate the communications end of the device. So one can expect that its ergonomics had to be compensated for the use of the camera. A good deal of design was made to allow the photographer in us make the best out of the device. I most say that the thing that kept me a bit tense was the fact that the front and back of the camera-phone are made aout of glass. I do not want a beautiful devise that can break and be rendered useless if it falls accidentaly to the ground. One thing that Apple did well is to enable the volume + button to work as a shutter. To work around the awkward position of the camera lens, that big handed people have trouble with, as their fingers get in the way, one can reduce the problem by placing the camera-phone uside down to make your pictures, however, this does not work all the time.

Taking in consideration that the camera-phones were no designed for Photography alone, the handdling low light conditions worked well. So, by mid day, I was one happy photographer, so I desided to keep the Canon gear in the backpack and continue with the camera-phone my pictures of the day.  


Nature reporting with the Iphone can be done, especially over the net. Capín Melao / Molasses Grass is an African native that was introduced as pasture for cattle in many tropcal regions of the world. It does so well, that it dominates the landscape where it gets stablished and 60% of the local flora cannot compete with its rapid growth. As it is in bloom, making the huge savanna patches on the mountains look pink, a lot of people love this time of the year and there are many artists that make this time of the year special to place on their canvas the beautiful landscapes that these grasses enhance with their colors. I made a few pictures with the Iphone to document the bloom, and they turned out well.

The mountain hamblet lives of agriculture, so the cloud forest has been cleared to make way for flowering plants that make their way to florists in Caracas. If by any chance, a garden is abandoned, the molasses grass will overcome local pioneering plants and once it takes a hold of an area it becomes a nuisance that has to be treated with chemicals harmful to wild plants as well.

Here is a blue Agapanthus plantation (An introduced ornamental) separated from the molasses grass by some pines. The fog is covering the landscape that used to be one of the most biodiversed of the world and now, it ies devoid of its trees, epiphytes, ferns, mosses and wildlife it use to sustain. This shows that if there is a demand for flowers, the cloud forests in national parks can be cut down to sustain a precarious life of farmers, whose product cannot compete with the cheap imports from the industrial flower growers of Europe and Colombia. This little story has been documented with photos from a camera phone.


To finish the photoshoot I took a walk around the garden. The mix of gum trees, heliconias, bromeliads, cobblestone road and fog coming and going had set the mood. Once again, two for one. I knew the frame I wanted, the Iphone could not deliver because of its screen size. Well, once we can have the digital foresight to plan your photos for pos-production, all one has to do, is to go for it, and let Photoshop or any other stiching program, put your final image together. Once again, the light was even. Overcast days are great for that. So I took two pictures of my host's house and the final result is quite pleasing. All I can say from these two shots is that, in even light, one can push cameraphones to do things DSLR can manage with, and get away with it. However working in a bright tropical day, cameraphones may not do as well.

Back light / Close up

Back Light is a beautiful way to show highlights and shadows. Alternating overexposed, underexposed and well exposed areas in a photo helps to increase the sense of depth in an image. Mastering backlight in natural settings is a very taxing job on its own. This kind of light brings magic to your subject nad helps it stand out in its setting. Seen light and recording it are two different things, and placing what you see in a digital photo will depend on the sensor's capability. Therefore, it is very important to learn your cameraphone's sensor limitations and take your pictures accordingly.

This backlit bromeliad bract is a classical example where shadows and lit places play in a balance where the colors and the composition work well together. The cameraphone worked very well, and its size enabled me to get up and close to the subjectto make the most of the light and the composition. So the Iphone got a few more points.

I've been told, that water, glass, silver and gold are hard objets to photograph well, as rendering their true colors can be very hard. Well, once again a shinny spider web covered by backlit water droplets test the cameraphone's sensor. It did well, and I know that having this new gadget in my pocket will allow me to explore a new dimesion y photography and writing a blog.

As many events may present themselves by pure chance, those who learn how to make the best of their cameraphones will enjoy a new face in digital photography. There is room for new areas of exploration and not adapting to change, will render diehards into oblivion, as change is perpetual, innovation will dictate new paradigmes and chance, and opportunity, will make newcomers grow into different fields of photography.

The slow moving slug, a creature vulnerable to desiccation during the day hours caught my eye, after I took the picture above. The humidity provided by the constant fog in this altitud, allowed it to forage out of harms way during the early hours of the day. Chance enabled me to document the event and having a camera with you all the time, will likely help you come upon things where the ordinary will become the extraordinary, sucha as a nocturnal animal feeding during the day.

So opening new windows of opportunity will brig cameraphone users better photographers, and who knows, cameraphontography me carve its own niche in the world.

For now, I am making the comitment towards CAMERAPHONTOGRAPHY, and Didital Camera Adventures will have a segment dedicated to this subject.

Thanks, and I'll see you in the next article.

Best Regards

Leopoldo "Leo" García

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Cuando me preguntan ¿cual es la mejor cámara del mundo? mi respuesta suele ser... La que tienes. 

Luego, pueden preguntarnos como se hace para aprender a ser un buen fotógrafo y contesto...Haciendo muchas fotografías. 

Y como se hace eso de tomar muchas fotos...Cargando una cámara todo el tiempo.

Afortunadamente, hoy día, muchas personas cargan en sus bolsillos o carteras una cámara, que son las que llevan incorporadas los teléfonos móviles. Muchos piensan que esas camaritas metidas en un teléfono no sirven, o son muy limitadas. La verdad es que lejos de ser como las cámaras digitales con grandes sensores y marcas, las camaras con telefónicas, nos permiten hacer un sin fin de cosas que las compactas y las reflex no hacen.


Las cámaras telefónicas son una maravilla por las siguientes razones:

  • Puedes llamar a tus amistades y verlos mientras hablas con ellos. Eso es lo que llaman video conferencias. Además mientras conversas puedes hacer click y tomar una foto para que tu interlocutor pueda ver de lo que estás hablando.
  • Puedes hacer unas fotos y enviarlas de inmediato, a quien te de la gana en el mundo entero. De hecho, ya todos somos corresponsales de noticieros y no lo sabemos. Hoy día, la fotografía en las noticias viaja muy rápido a periodicos, televisoras y revistas, gracias a las cámaras con teléfono. Ya los dueños de canales de noticias invitan a todos, en su audiencia, a convertirse en reporteros, ellos saben que para mantener audiencias deben tener la noticia justo cuando ocurre o sealen del mercado. De esta manera, las televisoras tienen un infinito recurso de noticias, sin tener que enviar a corresponsales a otros países ni pagar por ello. Pero si sus "Ratings" se mantienen altos, los patrocinantes pagarán mucho dinero por estar en las noticias en el mismo momento en que ocurren.
  • Si quieres tener tu propia publicación, puedes armar una historía, documentarla con imágenes, editarla, corregir la gramática, mandarla por internet o subirla a una página web o blog para que la vean desde cualquier parte del mundo, como lo hice yo para esta entrega, la cámara telefónica es insuperable en esto.
  • Si le añadimos las posibilidades de realizar vídeos y hasta editarlos, pues las posibilidades para estas cámaras telefónicas serán mucho mayores.

No faltarán quienes argumenten que las cámaras telefónicas no sirven para disfrutar de la fotografía como lo hace una cámara digital. La verdad es que entender, lo que es la ruptura de paradigmas, se nos hace dificil, y los saltos cuánticos en la tecnología y sus aplicaciones van tan rápido, que a muchos, nos cuesta ver las ventajas que traen. 

Veamos realidades, el mercado de las cámaras compactas cayó un 30% para todas las marcas a nivel mundial en el 2011 y la tendencia se mantiene. Saben quien se hizo de ese pedazo de la torta...Las cámaras con teléfono. El razonamento del público responde a esta pregunta: Porque pagar entre 300 y 400 US$ por una cámara que solo toma fotografías, cuando una cámara con teléfono, ya hace fotos tan buenas como las cámaras compactas más sofisticadas de hace 2 años!!! Nadie se imaginaría que una empresa manufacturera de móviles, le iba a quitar mercado a marcas como Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olimpus, Kodak, Leica, etc. También estoy seguro que nadie se imagino que una empresa que vendía aires acondiconados, neveras, televisores y otros eléctrodomesticos, como LG y Samsung estarían compitiendo con los monstruos de la fotografía con sus cámaras telefónicas.


Como la mejor manera de verificar un argumento, es con ejemplos, permítanme ilustrarles lo antes expuesto, con una serie de fotos realizadas con el Iphone, que me resultó ser una sorpresa muy grata, al trabajar con esta cámara telefónica, en varias situaciones fotográficas.

Esta foto es de un bosque nublado, cerca del Picacho de Galipan, en el el sector norte del Parque Nacional El Ávila que está ubicado al norte de Caracas. La imagen es el resultado de tres fotos tomadas en secuencia con el IPhone 4s y procesada en Photoshop CS4. En el Iphone, todo es automático y jamás pensé, que una camara telefónica me permitiera realizar una secuencia desde la parte baja del bosque hasta la copa de los árboles, sin que se vieran los cambios de luz. Para lograr hacer mosaicos de alta resolución, el fotógrafo debe calcular la luz de toda la imagen que pretende trabajar en pos-producción y el promedio que calcule, será con el cual realice toda la secuencia fotográfica. De esta manera, se asegura que el valor de exposición de todas las fotografias es parejo durante la sesión. Como pueden ver, en el resultado final, la foto final es más que aceptable para esta publicación y mi cámara telefónica pasó una prueba, que nunca pensé iba a lograr con ella. De inmediato, experimentar con ella se convirtió en el orden del día. Si hubiera un programa de edición para incluirlo en las memorias de estas cámaras telefónicas, les garantizo que me encontrarían publicando el blog desde una de ellas. Ahora si tengo algo claro, en muy pocos años veremos producciones completas, fotografiadas y montadas desde cámaras telefónicas y las famosas tabletas. Eso no lo para nadie.

Soy amante de las montañas y le tengo un afecto muy especial a la altura donde las nubes cobijan los bosques, la neblina y los diferentes efectos que se logran fotografiándola siempre me han movido a fotografiar ese estado del clima, cada vez que puedo. Ahora, que tengo una cámara para llamarlos y decirles donde estoy foteando, hasta nos podríamos encontrar enviandonos una foto con coordenadas y todo. ¿Que tal?


Ser capaces de documentar fotográficamente a la naturaleza casi de inmediato, lo podemos hacer con cualquier cámara digital. Sin embargo, poder enviar a una colección de fotos a un archivador de fotos montado en una nube, son cosas que mis abuelos jamás creerian. Sin embargo, algunos proveedores de cámaras telefónica ya nos proveen, dentro de los servicios asociados a sus productos, la posibilidad de enviar de cualquier sitio con covertura inalambrica o celular del mundo nuestras imágenes y textos, cambiando así, las reglas del juego en la fotografía documental. Por eso, las cámaras telefónicas, ya son una herramienta con las que los documentalistas pueden experimentar para sus trabajo. Hoy hasta los niños hacen fotos con sus cámaras telefónicas y las envían a sus familiares y amigos vía telefónica. Así que tener en el bolsillo una cámara telefónica es una gran ventaja para un amante de la naturaleza, que puede encontrarse con situaciones inesperadas que quiera fotografiar y hacerlo sin problema alguno.


A mediados de Diciembre, el Parque Nacional el Ávila se viste de rosado bajo cielos de singular claridad. El color se debe a la paja llamada Capín Melao (Melinis minutiflora) que entra en flor pintando de rosado las laderas de las montañas que conforman el parque. La transición del rosado al amarillo del Ávila nos habla que esta paja se prepara para otro ciclo de vida que realiza año tras año. Rosado representa la llegada de las futuras generaciones en forma de flores. Y cuando se visten de amarillo todas las sabanas de la montaña cubierta por esta paja, el color nos anuncia que se está secando y preparándose para un evento que nos quita el aliento, los incendios del parque. Esta graminea aguanta el fuego, de hecho, lo necesita para sobrevivir y conquistar nuevos espacios y además, lo hace muy bien. La candela reduce a ceniza la paja seca justo antes de la lluvias y acaba con las plantas que compiten con ella dejándole el suelo abonado con ceniza y libre de competidorers, a las semillas que van a germinar con la llegada de las lluvias. Otra cosa ocurre cuando el fuego llega al borde, entre la sabana y el arbustal o el bosque, éste enciende fuegos más calientes, ya que la madera se quema a temperaturas mas altas que la paja, esto mata o debilita a los arbustos y/o árboles abriéndole campo y espacio al avance de esta paja invasora, que nos encanta a unos y son motivo de grandes problemas alérgicos para mucha gente en el valle.

La cámarita teléfonica es una herramienta muy versatil para documentar eventos si no disponemos de nuestro equipo reflex con nosotros. En la foto de arriba, los cultivos realizados por el hombre se encuentran con el capín melao mostrando como el hombre cambia los ecosistemas para hacer espacio para cultivos que le permiten lograr un sustento precario. Una frontera entre Agapanthos (Lirios), pinos y la paja dominante Capín Melao muestran una lucha sobre la cual el hombre lleva todas las de perder. Este es un buen ejemplo de saber escoger el medio y el equipo para el destino que van a tener las fotos. Si tenemos claro el objetivo del uso de nuestros equipos fotográficos y como queremos usar las fotos, escoger la herramienta adecuada se nos va hacer fácil.


Mientras, Gandalf, Frodo, Boromir y Aragorn miraban el mar desde una casa dentro del bosque mágico, aproveche de hacer este mosaico de dos fotos unidas para ubicar al entorno natural de la casa con su estructura. En el morral llevaba 10 Kg de equipo y en el bolsillo, ni sentía mi centro de telecomunicaciones la camarita telefónica. Solo había que sacarlo, observar donde la luz permitía que la pantalla capturará la mayor información posible, y acto seguido, disponerme a realizar las fotos que mejor ilustraran la historia que quería contar.

Hay veces, que se hace complicado fotografiar las cosas de cerca. Esto se debe a que el tamaño de una reflex no lo permite, sin embargo, este contraluz de la bromelia fue bastante fácil de hacer. La mayor complicación es acostumbrarse a disparar la cámara telefonica con el botoncito para aumentar el volumen de teléfono, que es la manera más natural para un fotógrafo de hacer click para tomar sus fotografías.

La neblina le fastidió el día a la araña y ésta, se retiró adentro de una bromelia a pasar el mal tiempo, ya que la naturaleza había suspendido los vuelos por lluvia, niebla, poca visibilidad y temperaturas por debajo del nivel de actividad de ciertos invertebrados voladores (su comida).

Sin embargo, la humedad era optima para que las babosas, que prefieren comer de noche para evitar el peligro de morirse por causa del sol, salieran a comer flores durante el día, y el minusculo lente de la cámara telfónica, captó bastante bien la ocación. Como naturalista/fotógrafo estoy conciente, que la mejor manera de captar todo lo que la naturaleza nos expone, requiere que cargue una cámara conmigo todo el tiempo. En la actualidad las opciones de cámaras sin espejo son un atractivo indiscutible, sobre todo, cuando se puede comprar un adaptador que nos permita, usar nuestros lentes de la reflex en cámaras más pequeñas. Podría pasar horas escribiendo las razones por las cuales tener una camara a disposición todo el tiempo es importante para nuestra formación. Es por esto que en adelante, voy a publicar más entregas realizadas con mi cámara telefonica, la cuales, voy a usar, para asumir retos fotográficos que me permitan mejorar como fotógrafo y compartir con ustedes estas experiencias

La innovación está a la orden del día y cada ves, la fotografía encuentra nuevos espacios a través de la tecnología. A todos nos quedan dos alternativas, quedarnos en el pasado o acoger los nuevos medios y hacer con ellos lo que nos apasiona. Me califico como tecnófilo y descubrir y compartir experiencias con cámaras telefónicas va a ser como abrir una ventana cerrada en el tiempo para ver hacia afuera, la infinidad de oportunidades que la tecnolgía nos provee.

Los espero para la próxima aventura en fotografía digital abriendo ventanas con instrumentos nuevos.

Feliz Navidad a todos y le dedico esta nota a mis mentores y les estoy sumamente agradecido por todo lo que han hecho por mi.

Hágance Mentores y disfruten, facilitándoles a otros herramientas, para que desarrollen y compartan sus pasiones y sueños.

Sunday, December 16, 2012



Its been quite some time since I used a Kayak. It started long ago at the Hillsborough River Park, in north Tampa, Florida. My reason to learn how to paddle a kayak was to explore the Florida rivers and waterways, to photograph wildlife and nature. This kind of boat was godsend, as it was quiet, stealthy and it could navigate very fast and with little effort over 10 inches of water. Another great thing about a kayak was that I did not need a partner to cruise around, as I would  to efficiently paddle a canoe . Needless to say, paddling a kayak can get you to some unique places in nature. However, I've never dreamed how these boats would evolve over the years, and after using them in the US, I used it in Venezuela on some of its coastal lagoons and rivers, unil it was stolen after 10 years of use.

Now, there are all kinds of kayaks, some are for long trips in oceanic waters, others for flat inland waters and rivers cruises, some people use them for white waters and some extreme sports lovers, dare navigating down waterfalls, in what most of us would judge, as an insane sport. Well, this article is about a white water and extreme kayaker who has done some very wild things in the Lost World region of Canaima National Park in Venezuela and currently runs a white water tour operating in Barinas state.

The Photoshoot was a random thing. It was not planned, and it happened during a recent trip to Margaria Island, where I was to give a workshop, on how to use photography to promote tourism in social networks. As it turned out, one of the speakers in the event was an extreme sports, safety instructor, and tour operator Alejandro Buzzo. He needed some pictures to promote his workshops and I had taken my equipment with me to the island. So one thing led to the other, and the resuslt was: I was to photograph Alex using a white water kayak to run waves! This was a Great subject for Digital Camera Adventures and a new photo experience for me to share with you.

As my gear was for land use, I needed to get as close as my camera and lenses would allow, while staying dry from the breaking waves during the shoot. And Alex needed a beach with waves high enough to demonstrate his skills and the  versatility of a white water kayak to run the waves. I needed a chrash course on Kayak figure making, 180s, helicopters, esquimo roll, the parts of a white water kayak and what to look for during the action shots in order to make the shoot as good as the conditions allowed.

I used a 70-300 f/3.5-5,6 zoom for most of the shoot. The camera was a Canon EOS 7D.The shutter was set at H, the focus to AI and the camera ISO was set at 400. All the photos were shot in RAW. During this job, I followed the instructions of an action photojournalist with whom I worked on a previous shoot. He recomended the following: Its best to edit each photo series in the camera, erasing the pictures that did not come out well. At times, when 3 or more pictures of a series do not come out as needed, it is best to erase the whole set, unless you've got a shot that is outsanding. Yes, It consumes battery, but saves pos-production time,and when you just a a few shooting hours out of a 4  day workshop program, every minute in a workflow counts. Furthermore, as a Canon owner here is a little trade secret that he shared with me. In Canon cameras, that have the AF-ON button on the back of the body, one can use it in conjunction with the shutter buton to shoot action series really well.First, one most set the camera focus to AI. Then, as one presses the AF-On button located at the top right backside of some EOS cameras, simultaneously, with the regular shutter. One can take as many in focus photos as your buffer will allow. The lag associated for the regular shutter trying to maintain the image in focus, is reduce to zero with this tecnique. This allows for a larger number of keepers in the action series. Try it, it really works!

The Location

There was a beach about ten minutes away from our lodge. So we got up to an early start to see if it would work for our shoot. The cool morning and slow winds were good enough for a few hours of work, as we had to be in the auditorium in three hours. This beach was in the winward part of the island, however, the winds were not bad since it was early in the morning. It was safe to work without worrying about sea spray and sand getting into the cameras. The coast had a sandy bottom and no underwater surprises for Alex. The beach had a jetty that enable me to go into the surf without risking my equipment. So, as I got the camera ready, Alex worked his way paddling out to where the waves were more promising.

The satellite picture from Google Earth comes handy to explain the location, for those of you, that do not know where Margarita Island is. Its location is in the north eastern coast of Venezuela's Caribbean coast. The arrow points out our location on the windward side of the island, where the Northeast Trade Winds hit the islang broadside all year round.

The picture below is of Guacuco Beach, where our shoot took place. The position of the sun, direction of the ocean currents and waves and the time of the day, we chose to take the pictures, had a role in our equation, as these conditions always have an effect on the scenario where the action was going to take place. If you do not have time to scout your location, its best to talk to the locals and use the next best thing to gather info of far away places, in our case, Google Earth. You can research the net the night before, get the time of sunrise, the weather and tides info, all of which will make you have some foresight on the geographical location of your shoot and how to prepare yourself for the unexpected. When we got there, it was ovious that the morning sun would proviede us with some beautiful backlit pictures on the south east of the beach, while in the northeast part, the jetty would have a beautiful low fill light to highlight the colors of the waves and the ocean water.

It was early morning and the waves were small, as the winds had not picked up speed from the hot tropical sun, but they were good enough, for Alex to show us how a white water Kayak is used to ride them. So we started to work. We had no communiations, therefore, I had to guess, what would be the next move he was going to do, and I was lucky to get e few sets of pictures to tell the story.

When photographing an objective that we are not familiar with, it is best to learn the most about it. However, if we happen to be an unplanned thing, that is happening at the right time at the right moment, and our knowledge on the subject is limited, well, it is possible to use common sence and allow ourselves to make the most out of the experience.

The photo below was taken from the jetty in the north part of the beach with the sun on my back. Here all the colors of the water were in view. The shades of greens and blue contrasting with the white crest of the waves are very pleasant to the viewer.

The next photo was taken from the jetty right into the sun. The kayak coming through the wave is enhanced by the white water, and most of the blues and greens of the water, are reduced to a minimum.

Bellow, the siluette of the lady surfer, watching Alex running the waves, is framed by an excess of sunlit waters, that turns most colours into high contrasting whites and shades of bluegreen. The two tones bring the girl's profile in detail making an interesting image. These three photographs show, how a turn of the camera into or away from the sun, while one stands in the same spot (the jetty) allows you, to get very different results. 


Photographing the surf can be easy, if we can learn to determine how the waves will break, get an idea of the frequency that the kayakers choose to ride them, and plan ahead when to start the sequence. I feel, that the photographer's intuition plays an important role on desiding where to do his work, when to do it, and choosing the right moment when to take your shot.However, nothing beats getting to know your subject.

When the object is too far for the lenses, knowing the crop factor and the amount of cropping you can push the images in post processing can be a good thing. I know that a lot of professional surf photgraphers use lenses that range from 400 to 600 mm to take their photos from the beach. Well, that is a big budget in camera gear, and some of us do not have that kind of money. Thus, one has to make do with what you have. So knowing, how to circurvent our limitations is the creative way to go.



Alex paddles hard to go over the crest of the wave and the kayak splashes, as the left paddle is sumerged to steer and use the required leverage to make a sharp turn.

Once the turn is completed the wave, chrashes down, but Alex remains on top as
he would in the rapids of a river.
Staying on top requieres both upper strength and fast hip movements to go through the wave and wait for the next one.



In this series, half the kayak is in the air as it is steered towards the white water.

Here Alex is preparing to do a spin by sinking the froont end of the kayak into  the wave.

However, the wave overturns him and this, does not seem to disturb him!


He goes into an Esquimo Roll, and it is just part of the fun. Mind you that when you are upside down, in the bottom you are surfing on is a coral reef or a rocky ledge, you will have to include in the equation a lot more than most.


Once, the kayaker has hone on his skills in white water rivers, it seems that running waves with a kayak may be a lot of fun.



Well I hope you enjoyed this article and keep in touch for more photo adventures in Margarita Island Venezuela.

These photo adventures were done with the support of the Arismendi Especial Events Office and its Tourism Bureu in conjunction with Digital Camera Aventures.