I am always increasing the number of my images that you can buy, direct from my website, as wall art for home or office. So I thought it might be useful to break down the steps, from selecting and image all the way to getting the final print delivered. So the first thing is to head to https://www.colinmunroimages.com
Currently I use professional photolab Bay Photo Lab, in Santa Cruz, California, USA, as my primary print producer. I consider them one of the best print labs in the US, with a long history of supplying exceptional quality prints and an excellent service to professional photographers. If you use the automated ssyetm on my Colin Munro Images website (detailed below) the prints will be made and delivered by Bay Photos. They are also part of the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Programme, and actively working to minimise their environmental footprint. They will also ship internationally. If you are outside the US the shipping will be calculated on my website (see example below).
UK, Europe and Asia.
I also use excellent printers in London, UK, and Bangkok, Thailand. If you are in Europe or Asia, please email me with the photo code, the print style and the size, and I will arrange for it to be delivered from either London or Bangkok. If you are elsewhere in the World, and would really like a print, drop me an email and we’ll see what I can work out.
Clicking on the Buy Photos button will take you to the next screen, where you will have the option to chose between Wall Art and Digital Downloads.
So, let’s assume you are looking for a photography to have on your wall, maybe a framed canvas print or acrylic on metal or an aluminium print.
So let’s say you chose Acrylic Metal. The sidebar will change to a menu of sizes and prices. As you scroll up and down you will see also that the highlighted area of the image will change as the aspect ratio of the size selected changes.
And the process is pretty much the same which ever media you select.
At the next screen you will be able to change the selected area of the image to be made into the final print. The white border can be cropped in or moved out, or re-positioned (depending on the aspect ration chosen).
You will then proceed to the checkout process, where you also have the option to chose the currency.
The next screen allows you to submit your billing information. You can chose to pay with most major credit cards, or with PayPal.
Hopefully that’s fairly straightforward. Don;t forget, you can always email me with queries about prints if I haven’t answered your question here.
Orca are hugely impressive animals. They have come to symbolise power, intelligence, grace and – sometimes – ferocity. Often known as killer whales, largely due to the way they would attack harpooned baleen whales, or harry and gradually wear down larger whales in a similar fashion to wolves on land, they are in fact large dolphins. Few of us will not have seen the BBC footage of orca powering on to beaches in Peninsula Valdes in Patagonia to grab unwary elephant seals. The power of these animals is quite awe-inspiring. Large individuals may weigh up to 11 tonnes, and females may life to be at least 80 years old. We now think of orca as a highly variable species, or species complex, with up to nine different types recognised. Advances in science may eventually split these into sub-species, or possibly separate species.
I took this photograph a few miles off the coast neat the southern tip of New Zealand South Island. We were sailing from Stewart Island, the small, rugged island to the south of South Island, heading towards the city of Dunedin. It was a perfect evening in mid-November, summer in the southern hemisphere, around 8.30pm. The sun was already almost touching the horizon, creating deep shadows in the troughs of the ripples pushed along by the light breeze. The orcas approached our bow from the northeast, then passed close by on our port side. This was going to be the best shot I would get, before he disappeared towards our stern. However the low sun was directly behind him, casting his curved back and giant dorsal fin almost in silhouette. I had a couple of seconds to decide. I could ramp up the camera ISO and expose my shot to bring out the details on the orca’s back, but doing so – shooting straight in to the sun – would blow out all detail in the water around him, or… I could do the opposite. I could aim for silhouettes and shapes, patterns and texture on the water. If this were a studio shot it would be termed ‘low key’; but of course this was not a studio, there would be no posing, no running around with a hand held light meter, no test shots. I dialled down the ISO, ramped up the shutter speed, quick check of the viewfinder light meter …. focus… and click, click, click. And that was it. I watched as the dorsal fin slipped beneath the water, to reappear several minutes later, far behind us. The sun was dipping beneath the horizon, and the light was gone.
I find wildlife photography is often like this. Animals don’t appear on que, they don’t appear when you’re standing waiting with your camera gear all set correctly, they don’t appear in the right place or the right conditions and often they don’t allow you time to think through your choices and your settings. This is where practice and experience comes in. After years of taking shots in all sorts of conditions, you learn to instantly recognise situations, and dial in settings almost with muscle memory. Not that you can ever become complacent. Camera technology is constantly improving; that means that the rules that you automatically followed three years ago may no longer be the best way. Advances in technology may mean that the settings you used last year may now be improved upon by turning them on their head. So successful wildlife is a continual process of learning, practice, relearning, practice..repeat.
Art prints and downloads
The orca picture shown here is one of my images I have selected to make available as fine art prints. These are available as stretched canvas, canvas wraps, flat canvas, dye-infused aluminium prints and acrylic on alumimium in a range of sizes and crops. They can be ordered directly from my website colinmunroimages.com. Default printing is my Bay Photos professional fine art printers in California. For orders from the UK, contact me directly and these can be supplied by Loxley professional printers in the UK. It can also be downloaded as a digital file, for private or commercial use, in a range of file sizes.
An account of photographing blue sharks off Cornwall, Southwest Britain, a few years back, and a link to buying fine art prints of these amazing hunters of of the oceans at colinmunroimages.com.
On a clear July morning I stumbled out of my bunk (I was living on a boat at the time) at 5.30am, forced out my the insistent buzzing of my phone alarm. One hour, and one strong coffee later, I squeezed my dive bag into the back of Ritchie’s car and we were off. We had over a hundred miles to cover, and a boat to catch.
Charles Hood runs the best, and most successful, blue shark snorkelling operation in the UK. His boat, a large rigid-hulled inflatable (RIB) operates out of Penzance, almost at southwesternmost extremity of the British mainland, so that’s where we were headed. The boat is a fast open boat, perfect for getting us 10 miles offshore quickly, but small and devoid of any shelter from the elements. So we changed in to wetsuits on the quayside, packed our camera gear in dry bags carefully padded with towels and sweatshirts for the bouncy ride out, and we were off.
Each year blue sharks arrive off the coast of Southwest Britain, normally sometime in mid-June and remaining until mid-October. Blues are true oceanic sharks; they inhabit deep water, only infrequently venturing on to shallower, continental shelf waters. They are found in tropical and temperate oceans around the globe. However, in the tropics they tend to stay in deeper, cooler water but are often observed in surface waters in temperate seas. They feed on fast moving prey such as squid and schooling fish. Much of their feeding appears to be done in deeper waters. We know this partly from studies looking at gut contents, identifying the hard tissue remains of the prey species, and knowing where those prey species live, and partly from small data loggers, recording depth profiles, that are attached to sharks and then recovered at a later date. Below 100 metres, it seems they predate mostly on squid, in particular those belonging to the Histioteuthidae family, more commonly known as cock-eyed squid. Cock-eyed squid are bizzare creatures that inhabit the twilight zone of the oceans, so-called because their left eye is around twice the size of their right. Observations with deep water remotely operated vehichles (ROVs) have shown that they swim with the left eye facing upwards, and the right facing down. It’s believe the the huge left eye is used to pick up the faint sunlight coming from far above; the smaller right eye, staring into the depths, serves a quite different purpose. It picks up bioluminecent glows and flashes from prey (or predators below). But blue sharks are not fussy eaters. Studies off the coast of Brazil have found they eat large numbers of oilfish (a deepwater member of the mackerel family) but will also sometimes grab seabirds such as shearwaters. Those off Southern Brazil were found to be mostly scavenging on dead baleen whales. But I have digressed somewhat from our trip. Some ten nautical miles out Charles stopped the RIB and allowed us to drift. Sure we were a fair way from shore, and in pretty deep water, but still well within continental shelf depths, probably 50-70 metres, as we drifted. The 100 depth contour was still over 20 miles distant. So what tempted the blues, normally oceanic species, this close inshore? As we drifted Charles began to prepare the chum bag that hopefully would draw nearby sharks to our boat. A small hessian sack was filled with chunks of mackerel and mackerel guts, including some caught angling off the stern of his RIB. Tied just off the side of the RIB, a slick of fish oil drifted away down current. This is the clue to why blue sharks arrive in coastal waters of southern and western Britain. Mackerel also arrive around British coasts during the summer months, often found in huge shoals numbering thousands of fish. Like their deeper water relatives, the oilfish, mackerel are an oily fish, so a high energy food source for any predator fast enough to catch them. And the blue shark is just that; generally a sedate swimmer it can move with lighting bursts of speed.
Once our bag of chum was positioned, and final checks on cameras completed, all we then had to do was wait. Charles dug out his fishing rod and started supplementing our chum supply with a few extra mackerel. And we waited. There was no wind, and just a slight, rolling swell on the sea. The sun was hot and the sky a clear blue, so it was not extactly a hardship. The sun climbed to its zenith, then slowly fell westward as morning gave way to afternoon. We were woken from our torpor when, around 2pm, a group of three sunfish drifted close. Sunfish are odd-looking disc shaped fish. They feed on There was a flurry of activity as we grabbed cameras and donned fins, but they were skittish and disappeared in seconds. We settled back in to watching and waiting. At around 3.30pm Charles announced that we should start heading back to shore at 4pm. The minutes ticked by; 4pm arrived and still no blues. Charles apologised but, as we were well aware, there is never any guarantee with wildlife. He announced we would give it another 20 minutes. At 4.15 the first blue arrived. Rather than leap in immediately, we gave it time to settle and get used to the boat. A couple of minutes later a second arrived. Charles had been very clear on the safety aspect, wearing gloves, no shiny jewellery. The necessity for this was made abundantly clear when one of the sharks managed to grab to chum bag. Its razor sharp teeth ripped through it like paper, and bits of mackerel guts spilled out into the water. The bag was quickly quisked out of the sea and we gave it a minute for the cloud to disperse. Once Charles was confident the sharks were no longer likely to disappear immediatly, we, one by one, slowly slide over the side of the boat and in to the water.
Once in the water I dipped my head to check all around me, then slowing finned away from the RIB. Once around 8 metres away I stoppped finning, and started checking around. I could clearly see my three companions at this stage, floating 5-10 metres away from me. Every so often a shark would cruise in, swimming below or between us, to to check out us or the RIB. The water was clear, visibility a good 15-20 metres, but the sun was now low in the sky. When the sun is overhead, and light hits the waters’ surface more or less perpendicular, then much of that light penetrates the surface; but late afternoon, when the sun is low and its rays hit the water at a shallow angle then most of that light bounces off the surface and it becomes markedly darker just below than above. My photographic problems were two-fold. The reduced light levels made focussing a little trickier, and when a blue shark came fast out of the expanse of blue water, the camera would struggle to pick up contrast and focus quickly. I fiddled with the settings, pre-focussed using my colleagues as targets, fired off test shots and again readjusted my settings. All the time keeping looking around me. A RIB, with its large surface area above the water, will drift with wind and tide, but a swimmer, around 90% below the water’s surface, will drift with the tide alone. So as I floated I was aware that the distance between was growing. This was not a concern; conditions were perfect and I knew Charles would be fully aware of our positions. On the contrary, it gave me space around me. As I drifted I also became aware that one of the sharks had become interested in me, and was moving with me, not steadily but zig-zagging. It would pass close, then swim off , to turn and pass close again.
This was not in a threatening or aggressive manner, but rather one of curiosity. A couple of times it would swim straight towards me, only to stop maybe 18 inches in front of me. Whether it was seeing reflections in the large glass dome port of my camera housing I am not sure. Whatever the reason it provided me with more perfect photo oportunities than I could have hoped for. Thirty minutes passed in what seemed like three, and Charles was recalling us to the RIB. We may have had to wait, but performace at the end far exceeded our expectations.
Fine Art Prints and Wall Art
I have made two of my images from this trip available as fine art prints and wall art. These are available to be purchased in a wide range of media and sizes directly from my Colin Munro Images website. media available include traditional giclée prints, stretched and flat mounted canvas, metal prints (dye directly infused on sheet aluminium) and acrylic, from 8 inches up to 48 inches across. My prints are produced by Bay Photo Labs in Santa Cruz, California. I choose bay Photo Labs for the excellence of their quality, with over 40 years providing printing services to professional photographers, their constant innovation, combining the latest technology and innovation with the finest traditional techniques, and their committment to the highest environmental standards using green technology. You can buy my prints directly here at www.colinmunroimages.com. If you are outside of North America, and would prefer a printer in your region, please contact me directly. I will be adding printers in Europe and S.E. Asia soon.
I am slowly moving my marine biology orientated blogs to my other blog site: www.marine-bio-images.com/blog. I may eventually remove them from this site. This article can now be found here.
Pacific harbour Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji. The story behind one of my favourite images and a link to buy fine art prints and wall art of this image at colinmunroimages.com
Some of the photographs I am most pleased with come completely unexpectedly. I found myself in the tiny settlement of Pacific Harbour, on the south coast of Viti levu, Fiji’s largest island, not to take landscape photographs but to try and capture images of bull and tiger sharks with the nearby diving operation, Beqa Adventure Divers. The dives went ahead, and were very successful, the dive operation was extremely professional and I gained some excellent shots. But that story is not what this blog is about. This is about the shot below, and how it came be.
After dinner the previous evening I had retired to my room to begin preparing my camera equipment. For every professional photographer this is a ritualistic affair, and especially so for underwater photographers where one un-noticed hair across an ‘o’ ring seal, or one grain of sand lurking in the shadows of a machined seal groove can not only result in you gaining no images whatsoever, it is also likely to spell the death of your very expensive camera and lens, rendering irretreivably seizing delicate mechanisms and shorting multiple electronic circuits. By the same token, the camera is controlled by a series of sealed buttons, levers and gears, all precisely aligned to facilitate operation through the metal housing. A millimetre misalignment in setup, and one can find oneself frantically operating a control at a crucial moment … with nothing happening and no way to resolve the problem underwater. So cleaning, assembling and checking camera systems becomes a quasi-religious ritual. Once finally satisfied with my endevours, I retired for an early night. Adrenaline was coursing in my veins however, so despite the previous days long road journey I woke early. Through the glass doors of my room I could see it was still dark, with just a slight reddish tinge low in the sky. But I was wide awake and the pre-dawn was filled with sound; frogs, insects and birds I did not recognise croaked, chirped and called, irresistibly beconing me out. So I dressed quickly, grabbed my land camera, my first digital SLR (my underwater camera was still a film camera back then, the iconic Nikon F4). I checked the settings and battery power and headed out. Padding across the dew laden grass I arrived at the edge of the lagoon in only a couple of minutes. I could see mudskippers perched on the roots of mangroves, plopping into the water below as soon as I approached. At that point I had no clear idea what I wanted to photograph. As this was planned as purely a diving trip I did not have a suitable lens for capturing small mudskippers or any shy wildlife with me. It was more about enjoying the early morning and having a camera with me, just in case. As I stood at the water’s edge, watching mudskippers and fiddler crabs feeding on the soft mud, I could also see the sky change. The sky above me lightened to a deep cyan, while just above the silhoutted mangroves and palms it turned deep burned orange while whispy clouds stood out deep gunmetal blue. And all this was reflected in the still lagoon waters. I took shot after shot. Every minute the sky would look quite different from the previous. Back then digital SLRs did not have the electronics to to produce noise free images at high ISOs, so I was shooting at ISO 125 to keep the images clean and faithful. To compensate in the low light I was shooting with the lens wide open at a 50th of a second, stabilising myself against a tree. I remained there for what seemed like an hour but was in fact no more than 20 minutes; the sun comes up fast in the tropics. As the sun cleared the trees I headed back to my room and the breakfast.
The rest of the day was a frenzy of activity. The shark dives can wait for another blog, except to say that I did indeed flood the housing of my underwater video (but not my stills camera) through some carelessly missed specs of grit in the seal. Only the third time in my life I have done that after around a thousand dives. So my video camera became a beautifully machine piece of Sony engineering reduced to scrap metal and glass. It was almost a week later I was finally able to download and start to go through the images I took at dawn. Although many were extraordinarly beautiful, the one shown here, for me, was the stand out. I photograph dawns and sunsets rather a lot, and often in quite remote and magnificent locations, but I have never since observed a dawn quite like that morning.
Fine Art Prints and Wall Art
If you like the image of Pacific harbour Dawn, it is available to purchase in a wide range of media and sizes directly from my website. These include as traditional giclée prints, stretched and flat mounted canvas, metal prints (dye directly infused on sheet aluminium) and acrylic, from 8 inches up to 48 inches across. My prints are produced by Bay Photo Labs in Santa Cruz, California. I choose bay Photo Labs for the excellence of their quality, with over 40 years providing printing services to professional photographers, their constant innovation, combining the latest technology and innovation with the finest traditional techniques, and their committment to the highest environmental standards using green technology. You can buy my prints directly here at www.colinmunroimages.com. If you are outside of North America, and would prefer a printer in your region, please contact me directly. I will be adding printers in Europe and S.E. Asia soon.
I’ve recently bit the bullet and created a Fine Art America website to allow a wider audience to view and purchase my photographs. what’s great about FAA, apart from the ease of use, is the wide range of print styles (canvas, framed, metal, acrylic etc.)and sizes available. They also offer images as greeting cards with personalised messages. but rather than me waffle on, you can check out my new FAA website here.
I have recently made a number of my photographs available on the Fine Art America website. Fine Art America has grown markedly over the past couple of years; this is probably due to the ease of use of the website – both for selling and buying artwork, and the wide range of sizes, materials and finishes available. I am particularly impressed with the 30 day money back offer if you decide you are unhappy with the artwork once you receive it. I think this is a great way to inspire confidence in the buyer when buying prints online. My photographs are available on Fine Art America as:
stretched canvas prints,
framed prints (with a vast range of frame styles to choose from)
acrylic prints (printed directly on 1/4 inch clear acrylic sheets, ready to mount)
metal prints (printed directly on 1/16th inch aluminium, surrounded by a wooden frame),
greeting cards (5 x 7 inch, your own personalised message added)
Below you can see a few examples of the images I have for sale as prints on Fine Art America.
The Cobb, Lyme Regis, at low water. Lyme Regis harbour. Image 1415, available as a canvas wrap framed print through my Etsy store.
A blue shark passes close by.
Sunrise over the Navua River near Beqa Lagoon, Viti Levu, Fiji
The Three Sisters of Glen Coe, Glen Coe, Highlands, Scotland.
The Three Sisters, Glencoe, Scotland.
The Three sisters are three steep-sided ridges forming part of the mountain complex Bidean nam Bian along southern side of Glen Coe. These ridges are Gearr Aonach (Short Ridge), Aonach Dubh (Black Ridge) and Beinn Fhada (Long Hill). The summit of Bidean nam Bian lies at 1150m (3773ft) making it the highest mountain in the former county of Argyll (regional boundary changes in recent years means Argyll no lnger exists as a county). Bidean nam Bian is popular with walkers and Munro-baggers (Munros are Scottish mountains over 3000ft) summer and winter. The most popular route passes down through the col (low gap between two peaks) between Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach, more commonly known as the hidden valley or lost valley. The name derives from it’s reputation as a hiding place for rustled cattle taken by the Clan Macdonald in earlier times and the fact that the valley is all but hidden from view until one is in it.
Glen Coe is an awe inspiring landscape of looming mountains, the soul of which is most clearly seen on darky and stormy days. It is sometimes known as the ‘Glen of Weeping’ in reference to the Massacre of Glen Coe in February 1692 when Thirty-eight men of the Clan MacDonald were killed in the night by soldiers from the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot who they had accepted in as guests. Many more died of exposure on the hills as their homes had been burnt down. The soldier in command of the Foot Regiment was Captain Robert Campbell of GlenLyon; this fact, allied to an existing history of feuding between the Campells and MacDonalds and attempts by the Government of the time to deflect blame and have this seen as no more than inter-clan feuding. The orders for the massarce were in fact signed by King William II (King Willaim III or England).
The dramatic scenery of Glen Coe has formed the backdrop for many big budget films; these include Highlander, Rob Roy, Braveheart and, more recently, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In the summer of 2003 vistors to the glen occasionally stumbled across Hadrig’s hut nestly behind the Clachaig Inn.
The picture. I took this image at 16:45 on the 31st of October 2013 (Hallowe’en). I was on a brief walking and camping trip with my ten year old son during school half term. It was a wild day; storm force winds were battering the west coast. The wind was literally howling down through the glen driving needles of rain before it and forcing me to keep one hand on my camera tripod at all times lest it was blown over. At 15 minutes to 5pm the sun had just set, though this was not obvious through the thick black cloud overhead, but an already gloomy day was darkening rapidly. As light was disappearing I dispensed with the polarising filter I had been using earlier but kept the gradient nuetral density filter. The image is a composite of three seperate exposures, ranging from a 1/60th to a 1/15th of a second duration, to capture detail in both the dark mountain shadows and the clouds overhead. Between each exposure rain droplets had to be carefully dried off the filter in front of the camera lens and the entire camera covered by my jacket (taking care not to accidentally jostle the camera or tripod) until the next brief gap between squalls allowed another image to be taken.
As a rule I don’t do standard portraits. It’s not that I have strong feelings against them, they have there place of course. It’s simply that they don’t interest me greatly. I have always preferred working with light and shadow. It’s about creating shapes and outlines, creating a certain atmosphere. This applies also to many of my landscape images but is particularly true of images of people. Simply put, images where the eye cannot see everything, and one must deduce what is there from a certain shape or pattern of light, are much more interesting to me.
with landscapes I am particularly drawn to combining colour and shadow; or maybe I am drawn to sunrises and sunsets, which naturally means colour and shadow. We often think the quality of light is the same whether it is dawn of sunset. It is not. At dawn the air is much cooler and generally less dust laden.
Sunrise over the Navua River, Viti Levu, Fiji
This tends to produce more subtle colours, such as the pastel shades of sky and cloud in the above images from dawn in Fiji. The intense blood reds skies are more likely to occur at sunset, as blue light is scattered when the low sun’s rays pass through hot dusty air.
Pirogue fishermen at senset, Senegal, West Africa.
But it is the human face, and the human figure, where light and shadow are most compelling. The curves, angles and textures that we all recognise so well are most strikingly captured in stark black and white, like pen and ink drawings.
The grace and elegance of a dancer, the beauty of youth, the lined and weathered face of experience are all best painted by selective shafts of light. Photography is often considered to be painting with light; this is only half true for it is also the selective absence of light that differentiates an artistic portrayal from a passport photograph.
I’ve been taking a few split image shots recently, where the image recorded is partly above and partly below the waters’ surface. These are sometimes termed over under shots, sometimes half anfd half shots.
Over under shot of a girl in a blue patterned bikini swimming front crawl in an outdoor pool. The shot is half above and half below the waterline.
The technique can be quite challenging when working with fast moving subjects. To ensure crisp images the subject must be very close to the camera, in the above case the girl’s hand was around 10-20cm in front of the camera dome port at the time of the shot.
Over under shot of a girl in a blue patterned bikini swimming front crawl in an outdoor pool.
Keeping the port clear of large water droplets often involves dipping the entire camera housing below the surface, then raising it at the last moment thus ensuring the image is recorded before droplets can form. Needless to say this normally involves a lot of luck and a LOT of takes to get the right image. However, when it works well the effect can be quite dramatic. I will be making this image, and some others, available as fine art prints. They can be printed on a range of art media, canvas or 300gsm art paper, up to 24 inches across. So if you are interested in a print for your studio, office, fitness centre or lounge, please get in touch with your requirements and I’ll get back to you with a quote.