Thursday, December 03, 2015

10 Tips for a Great Photo Presentation

Getting up in front of an audience to deliver an entertaining and inspiring photo presentation is one of my favourite things to do - right after being outside shooting photos. I've had a chance to present to groups of all kinds, from a dozen people in a church basement to keynotes at large venues with a thousand people. Each time, it's equally fun and exciting! Here are 10 tips that I've used over the years to deliver presentations with impact:  
  1. Start your presentation with a bang - a great joke or compelling story to capture the attention of the audience.  
  2. Tell personal and/or humorous stories that convey your passion. The audience wants to be entertained as much as they want to learn a few tips.   
  3. Create a point form outline, but don't script your entire show. Use a few key speaking points to illustrate each of your segments or concepts. The more you get to know your presentation, the better it will flow. Your goal is to deliver a fluid and engaging talk that comes across more naturally and less scripted.
  4. Use minimal text on your slides (I can't stress this point enough)!  If the crowd wanted to read, they would have stayed home and picked up a book.  
  5. Include photos of yourself in action. It makes your content more real and personal.
  6. Show, don't tell. Comparison images are the best way to demonstrate concepts and techniques. For example, to show the effect of using a filter include photos taken with and without it.   
  7. Bring some relevant gear with you or interesting props. We're camera nerds and love to see the gear you use! 
  8. The ideal length for a presentation is 45-55 minutes plus a few minutes for questions. Keep it short and punchy. Leave the audience wanting more. 
  9. Vary your pace. I use a ton of photos (200) in a typical presentation. At times I'll breeze through a series of images and sometimes I linger on slides.
  10. Don't take any questions until the end, then take 3-5 questions out loud and stick around to mingle personally. You don't want to hold up the entire crowd with endless questions. 
I hope these tips help you with your next presentation! If you have additional tips, please feel free to share them in the comments. Thanks!

Ethan Meleg 

Note: This article is copyright. Feel free to share the link, but do not save/copy the text and repost elsewhere without permission. 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Photographing Spirit Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest of B.C.

Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 1D mk IV & EF 500mm f/4 IS II
When John Marriott called and asked if I could fill in for him to lead a Spirit Bear photo tour in British Columbia during September, it was an easy decision.  I mean, how can you turn down a chance to photograph bears at close range, especially Spirit Bears!

If you're wondering what a Spirit Bear is, they're a Black Bear that is white (actually cream-coloured) as a result of a double recessive gene. A small percentage of the black bear population is white in a concentrated region of the central British Columbia coast, now called the Great Bear Rainforest.

Our week was based from a live-aboard 71 ft sailboat called the Ocean Light II, which specializes in coastal adventures and wildlife tours. There were 6 photographers, plus myself and the crew of 3. We sailed out of Kitimat ready for an adventure!

There were two primary benefits about being based on a sailboat (aside from the fact that's it's just a cool experience: 1) we saw/photographed all kinds of marine life and great scenery right from the boat and 2) we were able to stay very close to the areas where the Spirit Bears were, which greatly minimized our travel each morning. 

During autumn, the bears spend most of their time feeding on salmon which are spawning on small creeks. The bears walk up and down the creeks looking for fish, or will stake out a productive set of rapids. Our guides worked cooperatively with bear guides from the Git'gat First Nation (stewards of the bears) to find out where the bears were most reliable. Each day we'd boat to shore, walk to the best locations and spend the day waiting along the creek - with cameras ready - to capture the moments when the bears would come by.

And come by they did! We had many opportunities to photograph Spirit Bears and black bears, sometimes at very close range as the bears fed on salmon and paid little attention to us. Absolutely amazing photo opportunities!

As if the bear photography wasn't incredible enough, we also had extraordinary experiences with Humpback Whales. Between them spy-hopping near our boat, or breaching, we all captured some incredible images.

To say it was an epic trip seems to barely do it justice. Being surrounded by coastal rainforest was awe-inspiring. Each of us left with great memories, new friendships and superb photos. 

Please scroll down to see some of my photos from the trip. Thanks for looking!

Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 1D mk IV & EF 24-105mm
Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 500mm f/4 IS II
Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 1D mk IV & EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Black Bear in old growth forest, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Black Bear charging salmon, Great Bear Rainforest.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 500mm f/4 IS II
Humpback Whale breaching, central coast of British Columbia
Canon 5D mk III & EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Ocean Light II sailboat, our base for the Spirit Bear photo tour.
Canon 5D mk III & EF 16-35mm f/2.8L IS II

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Snapping Turtle stare down!

Snapping Turtle, Tiny Marsh, Ontario. Canon 1D4, 500/4 IS II & 1.4x

I stumbled across this female Snapping Turtle laying eggs at Tiny Marsh (Ontario) and clicked a few eye-to-eye photos from a distance with my super-telephoto lens. She won the stare down!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Prairie Warbler, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Ontario

Prairie Warbler, Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The park is one of the best places to see this species on its breeding habitat in Ontario. I had an awesome morning yesterday photographing out there. The boat ride out to Beausoleil Island adds to the adventure!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Piping Plover chick - eye to eye

Piping Plover chicks are ridiculously cute! This is an endangered species and they face many challenges in the areas they nest in Ontario (popular tourist beaches), so I stayed far back, used plenty of magnification (equivalent of 1400 mm) and cropped the image about 20%. Canon 1D4, 500/4 IS II + 2x.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bird to Blooms - the manic month of June!

June is a manic month for me - nature explodes with photo opportunities and I can hardly keep up with all the things I want to point my camera at. Breeding birds and wildflowers are at peak and I keep a running list of target species - ones I haven't photographed before, haven't photographed well, or those I just want to freshen up with new images. Living in central Ontario is idyllic since the biodiversity located within a couple hours drive of my house is enough to keep me busy shooting for a lifetime! 

Here are some photos I've shot in the past few weeks. So many species, so little time!    

Golden-winged Warbler, Muskoka, Ontario.
Canon 1D4 & 500/4 IS + 1.4x.
Lawrence's Warbler, Ontario.
Canon 1D4 & 500/4 IS + 1.4x.

Mourning Warbler, Muskoka, Ontario.
Canon 1D4 & 500/4 IS + 1.4x.

Yellow Lady Slipper, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario.
Canon 5D3 & Sigma 120-300/2.8 Sport + 25mm extension tube.

Ram's Head Lady Slipper, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario.
Canon 5D3 & 100mm f/2.8 macro. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala - a photographer's dream location!

Flowers frame the view of the Atitlan and Toliman volcanoes (stacked) from the village of Santa Cruz.
I'm staring out at the crystalline water of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, rimmed by verdantly forested volcanoes, thinking that I may have found paradise. It's a bit more than halfway through my trip and I'm already dreading the thought of leaving here[-15C back home in Ontario - oh shit!]. I stumbled across Guatemala while researching central American destinations for a photo trip/winter getaway. My criteria was that it was a country I hadn't visited before, an affordable rental I could use as a base for day tripping and plenty of great subjects to point my camera at. After seeing a few photos of the stunningly scenic Lake Atitlan, the decision was easy!

Dusk falls over Lake Atitlan and the town dock in Santa Cruz la Laguna. 
Lake Atitlan is in a volcanic caldera (basin) and is approximately 130kmand 300m deep. There are three inactive volcanoes (Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro) on the southern shore of the lake which create an incredibly scenic backdrop for the deep blue water!

Small to medium sized communities surround the lake, each with their own distinct character. Mayan culture dominates the area, but there are plenty of quirky expat 'gringos' living here and some of the towns are full of international travelers. The quaint village of San Marcos is particularly entertaining - it's full of spiritual seeking, crystal wearing new agers selling beads and smoking pot. Some locals refer to them as 'Trustifarians' (disenfranchised trust fund kids) - that made me chuckle!

Sunset on the shore of Lake Atitlan at Santa Cruz la Laguna with the San Pedro volcano in the back. 
Getting around the lake is easy on the public boats that inexpensively ferry people and cargo between the communities. It's a great way to explore the villages, many of which sell hand-woven textiles and other goods. Market days are especially colorful and vibrant!

Mayan girls in the Solola market, Guatemala.
Local grown veggies for sale at the small Saturday market in Santa Cruz la Laguna. 
The small, flat-bottomed dugout canoes (called cayucos) used by local fisherman are synonymous with Lake Atitlan.

A fisherman paddles his cayuco (dugout canoe) at sunrise on Lake Atitlan.
The plume of steam and ash is from an eruption of the distant Fuego Volcano. 
A fisherman's dugout canoe (cayuco) on the shore of Lake Atitlan.