Well we are finally on the last leg of the trip to the Galapagos. Have just taken off from Guayaquil. We land on the tiny island of Baltra and then catch a ferry across to Santa Cruz. Then it is up to the mountains to a tortoise sanctuary, and the adventure properly begins.
We had a great photography workshop with Jonathan Green in our charming hotel in Quito (pictured) yesterday morning. He showed us some of the amazing pictures that he had taken over the years and gave us numerous tips as to what makes a good photograph. The most important factor is the available light. Jonathan showed us how to use the histogram facility on our cameras to avoid areas of our photographs from whiting out. I am looking forward to some early morning explorations to make the most of the dawn light.
We also learnt about composition and the rule of thirds to lead the eye into the subject area of the photo. Seeing the stunning quality of the pictures that he showed us (some magazine covers and competition winners) really inspired us all. The lack of fear in the animals should give us time to properly compose our pictures. My experience of shooting (in the photography sense!) wildlife in the UK has always been a race to get the camera out, switched on and the shutter pressed in the fleeting moments before the subject takes flight.
Jonathan had asked us to bring some of our own images along and gave us some very useful pointers to achieve better pictures. I was particularly proud of a gull that I had photographed on holiday in Pembrokeshire – I was so concentrating on the subject that I hadn’t noticed that the camera hadn’t been held level – the sea in the background looked like it was being poured away to the right of the shot! He showed me how to correct this and improve the composition.
In the afternoon our very friendly guide Edison and driver Meso took us to lunch in a stunning Ecuadorian restaurant with amazing views over the city of Quito. The food was prepared from wonderfully fresh vegetables and was exceptionally well seasoned, going down a treat. Though we all struggled to finish the massive portions. We then descended into the old town for a tour and learnt about Ecuador’s troubled history with many landmarks pointed out. We had a tour of a stunning baroque church, which could have earned Quito’s acclaim as the first Unesco World Heritage Site by itself. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a covered market and the girls had great fun bartering for their purchases.
I would like to extend our thanks to the manager of the hotel, when we said that we were leaving at 6:30 the next morning she said that she would put out some bananas and drinks for us. She didn’t – she came in early to make sure that we had a breakfast before we left. This is typical of the friendliness of the people that we have met.
At the airport I attempted to upload the video footage that I had taken of the old quarter of Quito only to realise that in an attempt to save a few grammes I had only included a USB lead from my card reader thinking that it would also work for my video camera. Unfortunately it is lacking in the pins needed to download the HD footage so that will have to wait (sorry Mun- Keat!) I was going to edit it on the plane and upload it when we got to our hotel tonight. All is not lost as I have an underwater HD video camera which will also work in the air (not surprisingly!) with us as well and I definitely have the lead for that. We are all really looking forward to getting in the water to do some snorkelling and Jonathan was able to tell us some good spots not too far from our hotel.
We have managed to see some wildlife already – we had a hummingbird on a feeder in the hotel’s courtyard both mornings and I had a dove nesting on my bedroom windowsill sitting on a pair of eggs (see photo). As well as some of the local canines having a good time (see photo!)
Hopefully my next post will include some images and film of the wonderful wildlife that is now less than 2 hours away from us.