Evie and camera on Explorer

DAY 3 — PHOTO 101

Be aware of camera angles, says CT Ticknor, our photo instructor aboard Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Explorer.   “Get low, get high,” she suggests.  “Let your images tell a story. “

“Pull the person into the moment you are sharing… make the story richer…get in close,” she suggests.

That’s assuming you know how to use your camera. B&H Photo Video in New York has lent me a brand new Canon Rebel EOS T3 and a long lens— easy to use but I’m still struggling with all of the buttons.  Photo instructor Mike Nolan starts tell us we need to take the camera off auto or risk overexposing our images. Gulp!  “One of the biggest challenges is how to make more steps forward in your photo journey,” he says.  I’m trying.

Because of Lindblad’s partnership with National Geographic , there is now a new Expedition Photography Initiative, which means that there are certified photo instructors aboard all ships in the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet who can help take our photography skills to the next level, from composition to proper exposure. There are special sessions for kids too.

There is also a National Geographic photographer onboard every voyage on the National Geographic Explorer. On our trip, that is Chris Rainier, considered a leading documentary photographer whose pictures are in numerous permanent museum collections. He is co-director of a team producing the Cultures Program at National Geographic and has long specialized in indigenous cultures.

Rainier, who has a five year old son, believes that wherever a family travels, “photography can enhance the experience.”  Even better, you can see places through a child’s eye.  “Photography can make more than images—it can project the experience,” he explained.

“Taking the pictures isn’t just about the image,” he continued. “It is the journey to the image and seeing the world through a child’s eyes with beautiful innocent clarity.”

Be focused… be in the zone. …You never know when something will happen — like seeing an arctic fox carry some of her kits across the tundra on the first hike of our expedition.  “Smaller than I thought,” one in our group said. “He’s moving so much faster!” said another. “Gorgeous says our guide.”

If only I felt more in my comfort zone as I’m trying to manage layers of clothes and an unfamiliar camera.

“Average isn’t bad,“ photo Instructor  Mike Nolan reassures us about our pictures. “We just want you to improve.”

Look at the way your kids see, he adds.  “When you have kids along, everything is interesting to them… their minds are so much more open.   We could all use that child like wonder and the camera makes you look at things in a way you haven’t in a while.”

“Kids have no fear at all when it comes to technology,” he adds. “They don’t feel the boundaries that we adults fight against.”

I see 9-year-old Evie Plunkett lugging her grandpa’s camera and long lens all over the ship, getting tips from CT Ticknor on how to compose her images and how to make sure they aren’t over-exposed or under-exposed. She seems to absorb the information like a sponge while I feel like it goes in one ear and out the other.

Evie took part  in a special “junior” photo clinic taught by  CT Ticknor who taught  her how to better frame a photo – how to get in close and how to leave space and divide the image in thirds.

She plans to take photos of her bear wherever she goes and make that part of her story of the Expedition—a great idea, I think, wherever a family goes on vacation.

“Everyone sees something different in a photograph,” Ticknor tells Evie and 12-year-old Henry Douglas.  “That is the magic of the image. It tells a different story for each person who sees it.”

Evie’s grandfather Bill Plunkett is an accomplished amateur photographer and it pleases him immensely to see Evie begin to share his hobby. “It’s nice to have something special with her,” he says.

There are important life lessons to be learned too. “You can’t just snap a picture and walk away,” Plunkett says. “You need to have patience and you need to wait. You have to think about what you are doing.”

All that, and having fun too, I think, watching Evie photographing all she sees.

Next time, Mike Nolan suggests, let the kids lead the  way—camera in hand .

Remember, says Chris Rainier, “It’s not the size of your lens but what’s in your heart

Next:  Polar Bears!