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Explorers of Light
by Bill Porter


What is an “Explorer of Light”?
In the mid 1990’s, Canon USA began assembling a group of the most influential photographers in the world. Today this prestigious program includes a total of 78 leading photographers who are willing to provide inspiration and education to other professionals and photo enthusiasts throughout the United States. These photographers represent a variety of creative interests and disciplines including advertising, aviation, fashion, food, nature, photojournalism, portrait, sports, travel and wedding photography. They share their knowledge and experience through personal appearances, gallery showings, published materials, seminars, and other events. You might recognize some of their names: Art Wolfe, Bruce Dorn, Clay Blackmore, Darrell Gulin, Fran Reisner, Hanson Fong, Jim Brandenburg, Lewis Kemper and Monte Zucker are but a few. Also, Explorers of Light have committed to using Canon EOS photographic equipment. If you ever have an opportunity to see an Explorer of Light in action, be sure to take advantage of it!

Photo Tips
We spent a few hours taking photos with Darrell Gulin. Here’s a sampling of some of the tips he shared along the way. Remember, it’s all about the light . . .

Harsh sunlight + water = glare. You can often cure that problem with a circular polarizer filter. Darrel recommends that you always have one in your camera bag. The quality of the filter you choose is also very important. You really don’t want to use an inferior quality filter over the amazing optics of a high performance lens just to save a few bucks! And remember to always clean that filter in a circular motion.

Don’t forget to use your flash! Natural light is great, but in tropical forests and many other settings your image will look so much better with a fill flash to bring detail to the darker areas. Try your shot both ways so you can decide later which one has the effect you were trying to achieve.

Hot spots. Often times the opposite problem prevails – too much bright light in only one area of your photograph. Our little journey began in the morning, but by the time we reached the waterfalls there was a lot of harsh light on the surrounding rocks and foliage. Darrell talked to us about using the histogram on the camera to check out the distribution of the light on your photograph. When viewing this graph you can see if your image is too saturated with light and lacks in detail. If your image is exposed properly, the graph will resemble a bell curve.

Backlighting. Darrell worked with Angela to encourage her to capture some great images of taro leaves using the sun as a natural backlight. Go in close to let the leaf fill the frame and you’ve got a beautiful photograph with interesting detail.

Waterfalls. To achieve that dreamy cascading effect you’ve got to slow down your shutter speed. Darrell suggests that shutter speeds between 1/45 to 1/90 of a second just look too plain. We shot most of our images at 1/20 of a second.

Steady . . . To get those stunning photos you will need a tripod, but if you don’t have one just use a rock, tree branch or whatever else is handy!

Be creative! Don’t always center your subject or take the shot just standing up. Get on the ground. Shoot towards the sky. Climb under that bush. Closely follow that honeybee! Maybe position some foliage in the foreground for perspective and depth. Put people in the photo and don’t make everything be perfectly posed. Capture action and spontaneity, if possible. Or visualize the image you want and take the time to create it. Have FUN with your photography!

While all good photographers try their best to capture the best image possible, we all need a little help sometime. We invite you to visit Darrell’s website at www.gulinphoto.com to view examples of his fabulous photographic craftsmanship and to pick up some great Photoshop tips, as well.

An extra note . . .
While visiting Hawaii, we learned that “Aloha” and “Mahalo” mean a lot more than simply “hello” and “thank you” respectively.

  • Aloha: 1) A greeting, farewell or salutation; a sentiment. 2) To show affection, charity, compassion, grace, kindness, love, mercy, pity or sympathy. 3) A sweetheart, lover or loved one; beloved. 4) To remember with affection.
  • Mahalo: 1) To convey thanks, gratitude or to thank. 2) Admiration, esteem, praise, regard, respect. 3) To admire, appreciate or praise.

So Aloha and Mahalo to our friends and business associates at Canon!

Click here to download a printable version of Explorer's of Light.

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