Cornforth Images

Humpback Whale Breach 220

Humpback Whale Breach 220

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 12, 2015

For the last two years, my 12′ Achilles inflatable boat has been stored rolled up in my garage. I used it a ton in Alaska between 2007-2012, but not since. I decided last fall to ship it and my 15HP Honda outboard to Lanai in order to use it to photograph humpback whales this winter. When I visited Lanai in January, I assembled it and then spent a week out on the ocean using it. My main goal was to be out well before sunrise in order to photograph a breaching humpback in golden light. I was unsuccessful, however, I did observe numerous breaches at that time of day, but they were all too far away. As the sun rose higher in the sky, I had better luck getting closer. This is a nice breach of a male during a heat run. Every five minutes or so, the entire group would pop back up to breath and this male would do a head throw or breach. That made it much easier to anticipate and with the aid of my polarized sunglasses I could see the whale about to launch above the waves a second before it happened. I created this image using my new Canon 7DmkII and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Mokolea Point Blowhole Sunrise 1

Mokolea Point Blowhole Sunrise 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 11, 2015

This past December, I attempted to photograph this spectacular location on the north shore of Kauai a half dozen times at sunrise. Most of the mornings that I visited the weather was uncooperative with pouring rain and strong winds. Fortunately, my best image which came from my first sunrise. Powerful storm waves crashed onto the rugged shoreline and washed over the lava rocks into the boiling surge cauldron as the sun illuminated the underside of the dramatic clouds. There was a ton of spray in the air, so I spent a lot of time just keeping my lens and grad filter dry. I would also like to point out to anyone that might ever consider visiting this spot that it is a very dicey location to photograph when the waves are big. I was vigilant against the larger wave sets and careful not to get knocked over by the surging waters as they completed my composition. I created this image using my 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapter, and my new Canon 16-35mm f4 IS lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC 2014, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Polihale Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Polihale Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 10, 2015

Last summer, I flew my drone above Polihale Beach on Kauai but did not create the image that I was hoping for. When I returned in December to try again, I was pleased to experience the ideal conditions which lead to this photograph. Late in the afternoon, the wind was non-existent and the clouds boiled over the rugged cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. I prepared my hexacopter for its initial flight and was ready for takeoff when the sunlight began to penetrate beneath the clouds on the horizon. Though I flew as far as 300m offshore and as high as 100m in the air, this photo was created at about half that distance and elevation during my reconnaissance of the scene. I created this image with my Sony NEX 5T camera and Rokinon 12mm f2 lens on my Tarot 680Pro hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Popular Photography February 2015 Nature By Drone Article

Popular Photography February 2015 Nature By Drone Article

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 9, 2015

My most recent article “Nature by Drone” is published in this month’s issue of Popular Photography. In my article, I share what it takes to build and fly larger remote controlled multirotors that can lift cameras that are larger than a simple GoPro. My drone imagery is featured throughout the article, but there are also several images from other professional photographers who are incorporating drones into their work. I finish by discussing some of the legal and ethical considerations that every pilot needs to know before taking off.

The double page opening image is an aerial that I created while flying my hexacopter over Puu Pehe on Lanai’s south shore last winter. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Nooksack River Channels Aerial 2

Nooksack River Channels Aerial 2

Posted by Jon Cornforth on October 28, 2014

It has taken me almost 6 months to make peace with this image and process it. Of course, a little backstory is required after a statement like that.

When I started building and flying my own drones last year, I was motivated to photograph interesting aerial abstracts during my travels without having to hire an airplane. I scoured Google Earth for interesting topography and then set out to photograph it. One of the locations where I envisioned flying my hexacopter to produce an image was above the mudflats where the Nooksack River flowed into Bellingham Bay. The satellite views showed an intricate network of braided channels that I thought looked like a painting.

So, back to the difficult part about processing this image. On my second attempt to fly over this landscape, I had secured a permit from the Lummi tribe to walk out on the mudflats. My dad joined me on a gorgeous day in May with ideal flying conditions. I was feeling confident and flew my drone farther and higher than I had ever flown before (roughly 600m out and 100m up) to compose this image. On my second flight of the day, my hexacopter unfortunately experienced a sudden and rapid descent into the terrain below. Ouch. I could see that my hexacopter was sticking out of the water, so after a lot of effort to reach it I recovered it. The submersion damaged most of the electronics and flooded my camera, but at least the memory card was recoverable and the SuperX flight controller is waterproof. Upon reviewing the blackbox data, I discovered that the reason for the crash was a loss of power to one of my motors which upon inspection showed a poor solder connection which I blame on the Chinese manufacturer.

I hope that you agree that this is an exciting application of technology used to produce a beautiful image. I just wish that it had not cost as much as it did to rebuild my drone and then there is the bigger bruise to my self-confidence. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding 201

Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding 201

Posted by Jon Cornforth on October 16, 2014

Over the last decade, I have focused much of my travel and photography on Alaska. However, my only trip up north this year was in early August when I lead a small group tour in search of my favorite subject, humpback whales bubble-net feeding. There were some ups and downs associated with this particular trip that I do not need to get into, but it was definitely my most productive tour photographically for bubble-net feeding. I told my clients that they should be proud of what we accomplished. The exhilaration of photographing over a dozen humpback whales cooperatively hunting and feeding on schools of herring never gets old. It does get frustrating, but never boring. This image shows a very close encounter where I had to zoom back to 70mm as the whales erupted above the surface with their mouths about to slam shut. If you look in the mouth of the whale on the right, you can even see a silver herring flying through the air about to be engulfed. I created this image using my Canon 7D and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Canadian Wildlife September 2014 Cover

Canadian Wildlife September 2014 Cover

Posted by Jon Cornforth on September 23, 2014

One of my underwater Steller sea lion images is featured on the cover of this month’s issue of Canadian Wildlife. Scuba diving with these curious pinnipeds is one the highlights of my entire photography career. Over the years, I have had a lot of success publishing these images from my January 2009 dive trip to Hornby Island in British Columbia. (Doesn’t that seem like a long time ago?) It’s nice to see that an “older” image that I created using my original Canon 5D is still valuable and publishable.

Sooke Sea Otter 1

Sooke Sea Otter 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on September 17, 2014

During my recent week in the San Juan Islands, I came across this adorable sea otter. Doug Perrine and I spent an entire day cruising all over the Straits of Juan de Fuca trying to locate wildlife. In the process, we underestimated how much fuel we needed to motor all the way from Friday Harbor to way beyond Victoria. Fortunately, the weather was amazing and the seas dead calm. By the time we refueled and got back on the tail (pun fully intended) of the transient orcas, it was getting to be late afternoon. We eventually located a small pod near Race Rocks, but they were very inconsiderate by not only doing nothing photographable, but they also kept swimming further away from where we started. Being photographers in pursuit of wildlife in epic light, we of course stayed with these whales even though that meant that we were going to have to motor a long way back to San Juan Island in the dark. After several frustrating hours and just as the light was starting to get good, they lead us around a corner and right to this otter resting on her back. I had never seen an otter this close to Seattle, and was immediately more motivated to photograph her than the orcas. From my experience with otters in Alaska and California, I knew that it is hard to photograph them with puffy, dry faces like this. She also was not fazed at all while we scrambled for our longer lenses while trying to maintain our boat’s position in the current. We were quite frantic trying to get this shot as the light dipped towards the horizon, but we worked together with this cooperative subject and came away with some very nice images. I am especially pleased with this cute yawn as she brought both of her paws up to scratch her face. I created this image using my Canon 7D and Canon 300mm f2.8L IS II lens with my Canon 2X III tele-converter attached. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Gulf Islands Orca Sunset 1

Gulf Islands Orca Sunset 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on September 13, 2014

I spent the week after Labor Day in the San Juan Islands photographing orcas with my good friends Stuart & Robin Westmorland and Doug Perrine. We experienced incredible summer weather and saw a lot of wildlife, including transient orcas, humpback whales, and even a sea otter, but never saw the resident orcas who promptly returned the day after we departed. This is one of my favorite images from the trip. I would like to point out that not only did I perfectly line this orca up swimming towards the setting sun, but I was also steering the boat while shooting. Not many photographers have the ability to do both at the same time. I created this image using my Canon 7D and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens with my Canon 1.4X III tele-converter attached. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Coleman Glacier Sunset Aerial 3

Coleman Glacier Sunset Aerial 3

Posted by Jon Cornforth on September 12, 2014

I hiked up to the Coleman Glacier on Mount Baker several times over the past month hoping to fly my remote controlled hexacopter. Earlier this week, all the conditions that I had hoped for finally aligned. The clouds suddenly and dramatically parted just as the sun set on the western horizon and there was almost no wind. I only had a few minutes to get in the air above the glacier and photograph this dramatic perspective. I created this image with my Sony NEX 5T camera and Rokinon 12mm f2 lens on my Tarot 680Pro hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.