.

The Most Amazing Wildlife Experience I’ve Ever Had

1Humpbacks_

On our DPD (Digital Photo Destinations) 2018 Fly Antarctica Cruise The Polar Circle voyage, we’d spotted many humpback whales, from a distance. But late in the trip, we came face to face with them. Having seen, far in the distance, a whale breach high in the air, we moved our zodiacs closer to explore them further and found three whales relaxing and playing together.  We watched curiously as they spouted water into the air, made low rumbling noise as they exhaled, flapped their fins, rushed each other, and spun pirouettes to avoid collision at the last moment. Often, they would dive, leaving whirlpools behind them, as they disappeared from our sight. We’d continue searching for them with anticipation. We’d glimpse the flash of a white fin under water and then lose sight of them until a dorsal fin or two or three, and sometimes a tail, broke the surface once again Surprised to see where they would surface next, we were never disappointed, as they continued to return again and again.

Gradually the whales grew more curious about us and turned their attentions to us, coating us in spray (the slightly oily whale breathe smelling like old krill), waving their fins in the air, poking their noses above the surface and sometimes their eyes.  At one point, two whales, side-by-side, having just created a wet cloud that drifted onto us, lowered their noses just below the surface of the water and blew enormous bubbles. It was clear they were playing with us now.  They began rushing us, drawing closer and closer to the surface of the water, and finally one twirled its massive body, lifting its fin out of the water, inches away from our boat. It’s wake rocked us, but it didn’t touch us. I was so focussed on making photographs to bring home to my family that I failed to realized that if I had just extended my arm, I would have been able to touch the whale and he or she could have touched me.

In the end, it was us who left them, as we were called to return to the ship, which none of us wanted to do. It was one of the finest wildlife experiences of my life.

Learn more about my Antarctica photography workshops.
Download our ebook Antarctica Two Visions.
2Humpbacks_ 3Humpbacks_  5Humpbacks_  7Humpbacks_ 8Humpbacks_ 9Humpbacks_  11Humpbacks_   14Humpbacks_ 15Humpbacks_

Benjamin Grant: "Overview: A New Perspective of Earth" | Talks at Google




“Inspired by the “Overview Effect” – a sensation that astronauts experience when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole – the breathtaking, high definition satellite photographs in OVERVIEW offer a new way to look at the landscape that humans have shaped. Benjamin Grant, creator of the Instagram project Daily Overview from which the book is inspired, discusses how the project and book came about.”
Follow the Daily Overview on Instagram here.
Find the book Overview here.

The Top 20 Photography Books That Influenced Me

Influential Books of John Paul Caponigro

“Enjoy this collection of photographic books that have influenced me during some of my most formative years.”

– John Paul Caponigro

Find out more about my influences here.

Megaliths by Paul Caponigro

#1

Paul Caponigro’s Megaliths.

Watching the production of this project from start to finish had a profound effect on me. The book was the culmination of decades of work on so many levels.

Alfred Stieglitz

#2

Alfred Stieglitz Portrait Of Georgia O’Keefe.

These portraits and nudes set the highest standards for me. Deep complex emotional connection. The variety of Stieglitz’ printing was eye opening. Meeting O’Keefe was interesting; I still wonder what it was like for her as an older woman to produce a book on her younger self.

Eliot Porter's Nature's Chaos

#3

Eliot Porter’s Nature’s Chaos.

Fortunate to see my mother design many of Porter’s books, this one confirmed my feeling that he saw a deeper order in nature before we more fully understood complexity in the sciences.

Christopher Burkett's Intimations Of Paradise

#4

Christopher Burkett’s Intimations Of Paradise.

Formerly a Gnostic monk, Burkett renounced his vows of poverty so that he could afford film and continue to faithfully transcribe The Book Of Nature. There are so many ways to live life in a sacred way

Dune / Edward Weston And Brett Weston

#5

Dune / Edward Weston And Brett Weston collects works, many never before printed, by father and son showing how similar and how different each artist’s vision was. Working with Kurt Markus to produce this book was eye-opening.

Ansel Adams / The Making Of 40 Photographs

#6

Ansel Adams / The Making Of 40 Photographs.

It’s wonderful to read how an artist works and even better to see them in action; I was lucky to do both. I do wish Adams wrote more about why he made each image and what it meant to him.

Jerry Uelsmann's Process & Perception

#7

Jerry Uelsmann’s Process & Perception.

It demonstrates how process changes perception – and the process you engage is a personal choice. The inside is just as important as the outside.

Edward Burtynsky's Manufactured Landscapes

#7

Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes.

While Eliot Porter didn’t want to beautify trash through art Burtynsky turns an unflinching eye towards industrial impacts on land crafting a complex statement on land use and ultimately identity.

Minor White Manifestations Of The Spirit

#8

Minor White Manifestations Of The Spirit.

No other photographer is as articulate about the inner experience of making art. His essay in equivalence is seminal.

Wynn Bullock's Revelations

#9

Wynn Bullock’s Revelations.

Bullock’s marriage of science/physics and art
became as much a philosophical statement as a celebration of beauty.

Kenro Izu's Sacred Places

#10

Kenro Izu’s Sacred Places.

Izu tries to photograph the spirit of ancient sacred places. When he talks about atmosphere he means more than weather.

Chris Rainier's Keepers Of The Spirit

#11

Chris Rainier’s Keepers Of The Spirit.

If Edward Curtis met Joseph Campbell you’d get Rainier’s survey of spirituality in world cultures.

Sebastiao Salgado's An Uncertain Grace

#12

Sebastiao Salgado’s An Uncertain Grace.

Salgado sets the bar high by bringing out the dignity within his subjects no matter how undignified their circumstances.

oyce Tenneson's Transformations

#13

Joyce Tenneson’s Transformations.

Tenneson’s images remind me of what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Arnold Newman's One Mind's Eye

#14

Arnold Newman’s One Mind’s Eye

Beautifully constructed portraits from the father of environmental portraiture.

Harry Callahan

#15

Harry Callahan

The rest of his wrestlessly inventive work intrigued me but his deeply honest extended portrait of his wife set a standard I hope for in all others.

Sugimoto

#16

Sugimoto

It’s minimalism that isnt shallow or evasive; the collection reinforces the concept, creating a context for itself. It asks so many questions? Enough? Not enough? Do all the world’s oceans look the same? Or is it just one ocean? Is it the camera or the artist who makes them look the same? Is it the way we look? How is it that by looking at them long enough I begin to see myself?

 Richard Misrach's The Sky Book

#17

Richard Misrach’s The Sky Book

Pleasant as it is this minimalism ordinarily wouldn’t be enough for me. But then he adds the titles of time and places in many languages with a history. Together they grow stronger and placed within his life work as one of many Desert Cantos they grow stringer still. Rebecca Solnit’s accompanying essay is excellent. I learned a lot from looking at this – about art and myself.

Witkin

#18

Witkin

I find Joel Peter Witkin’s work profoundly challenging. I can’t say I love it; I can’t say I hate it. I can say it continually crosses back and forth between self-indulgently expressing his individual perversions and courageously looking unflinchingly into a universal heart of darkness.

Michael Kenna's Night Work

#19

Michael Kenna’s Night Work

Kenna’s elegant minimalism is laced with a quiet spirituality that comes less from tradition and more from being in the moment, growing most emotional when he’s in the dark.

Huntington Witherill's Orchestrating Icons

#20

Huntington Witherill’s Orchestrating Icons

It’s musical for its flowing compositions and exquisite tonalities. Extraordinary separation in extreme highlights and shadows, no one prints quite like him in.

_

For more reading material, go to:

http://johnpaulcaponigro.com/creativity/reading/

Make The Time You Need To Develop Depth

RevelationXXXVI_425

Revelation XXXV

In 1996 I completed a series of new images – Revelation. Impossible symmetries drawn forth from desert landscapes, they were unlike anything I’d seen before. Looking at these images, day after day, was like having a dream that never faded. They reminded me of the artifacts I liked so much from the sacred traditions of many primal cultures – totem poles, figurines, costumes, masks, and paintings – not just from the cultures I was exposed to as a boy growing up in New Mexico. The series was good and stood on its own, but I knew then that I still had much more work I wanted to do.
The series has been ongoing for more than twenty years. The series was on my mind when I first went to Antarctica in 2005; I started shooting deliberately for it on a return voyage in 2007; material slowly accumulated in subsequent voyages in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015; and then in 2016 it all came together. It wasn’t so much that the material I had gathered that year was just right, what really made the difference was the special point I had come to in my life and work.
These more recent images have an added quality, not solely because they were drawn from a different location, but also because of the passage of time and all the things that happened during it.
In part, this comes from sleeping on it; the subconscious offers many rich and fertile territories.
In part, this is the result of a significant amount of conscious thought; studying craft and composition were only the beginnings for preparing this ground; related reading and viewing enriched me further; having more special experiences with land planted more seeds; digging into my deepest thoughts and feelings about the subject and my approach helped me cultivate them.
In part, this work waited so long is that there was other work to do, including a harvest of related bodies of work (Inhalation and Exhalation). Making that work influenced this work.
In part, this is the result of my inner state now; contrary to what some have suggested, I’ve found this isn’t something to overcome no matter what the current conditions but rather something to be nurtured. These images would have been different if I finished them earlier – because I was different.
While one needs to guard against procrastination, one also needs to guard against rushing through experiences and not developing the necessary depth to fully engage them and do your best work. To reach its full potential, a great wine needs time, neither too little nor too much.
So when is the best time to move forward? This is a question that is best approached with awareness and deep contemplation. Though there are repeatable patterns and common tendencies, there is no one definitive answer to this question for all situations. I’ve found some work gets produced very quickly, sometimes a whole series is made in one shoot, while some work gets produced very slowly, over decades. Ultimately, you have to go with your gut. This doesn’t rule out the possibility and potential benefits of a great deal of research and forethought before you do. The two working in concert together often yield the most powerful combination. However, the single most important ingredient is, not mere spontaneity, which can be short lived, but a true effervescence of spirit, and it’s particularly important to pay attention to this quality if it can be sustained over longer periods of time. You need to be alive to your work to make it come alive.
In our increasingly fast-paced societies, there is a tremendous pressure to produce more and produce it more quickly. This can create a pace that is unsustainable for most creatives, at least when it comes to releasing work with real depth. However well-crafted or clever, there often seems to be something missing in the final results. Good fully developed work takes time … because much like creating deeper relationships with people, it takes time to develop a deeper relationship with your work and your self. Make that time. Savor it. It can make all the difference in the world.
Questions
How many ways can you enrich yourself before you move forward?
At what point does preparation become procrastination?
What signs suggest that this is or isn’t the time?
Find out more about this image here.
View more related images here.
Read more of The Stories Behind The Images here.

Why You Should Shoot Raw

jpegraw
If you want to create digital photographs with the highest quality, set your camera to create Raw files.
What are the upsides to shooting in Raw? Raw files contain the widest color gamut (saturation), highest bit depth (gradation), have flexible white balance (color temperature), offer the greatest opportunities for rendering highlight and shadow detail, are free of compression artifacts, and can be reprocessed indefinitely (even with tomorrow’s software) with no loss in quality. There are some downsides to shooting in Raw. Raw files are larger and require post-processing before presentation. They take up more room and they take longer to use. But the higher quality they offer are worth the effort.
Read More