Following my exhibition opening in Hamburg, I flew off to central Africa. For eight days we endured 110 degree heat; there was no way to escape it, and I was drinking nearly two gallons of water per day. Re-entry to chilly Seattle has been a shock to the system.
For months we planned the logistics of this trip – do we take drones or not? Hire planes or not? While in Hamburg we received word from the U.S. Ambassador to this central African nation that it was not advisable to take the drone, so we scrambled & FedExed the equipment home.
This turned out to be good advice since it was almost impossible to find the elephants from the ground, and we would have needed to locate them before we could send the drones into the air. The elephants are very nervous for a reason; herds in this region, as all over the continent, have been under attack by poachers. However, the African Parks personnel believe they may be calming down just a bit after a couple years of fairly successful anti-poaching enforcement.
We ended up hiring the plane that had dropped us off at the beginning of the trip and had the back cargo door taken off. We flew over the herd, which had divided into two. By the time we departed the park the herd had split into several smaller groups. It was good timing since capturing pictures of hundreds of elephants at once are highly unlikely in the future.
If you are interested in traveling to Africa with me, I am leading a photo journey in Namibia in September of 2018. Add your name to the pre-registration list now!
After witnessing the amazing percolating crater of Nyirangongo Volcano and Virunga’s mountain gorillas, we flew to one of Tanzania’s most remote and rarely visited parks, Katavi National Park. Here in the dry season the Katuma River slows to a trickle and becomes the only source of drinking water for miles around. Wildlife in unbelievable densities is forced to converge on the riverine pools. Already the most dangerous animals in East Africa, hippos erupt in territorial disputes and crocodiles lurk nearby in an uneasy truce. This is one of the few places I have been where so many huge, dangerous animals have been so concentrated. In the midst of it all, an annular eclipse occurred, which seemed a sideline to this gritty wildlife spectacle. To answer your question: the crocodile did manage to wriggle away to safety.
This past week I made my way to Africa and my first stop was Mount Nyirangongo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The flight up the side of the volcano was hair-raising, with high winds jostling our rise to the mountain top as well as clouds that significantly hampered visibility. Our pilot had never made this trip before. Thankfully, he was an obvious professional, as we made it safely through the precarious trip.
The top of the mountain was chillier than anticipated at an elevation of 11,380 feet regardless of the roiling lava-filled caldera below us. I got the shots I wanted, with fortuitous timing as a vent began spewing lava just before dark and ran its course about the time we settled in to sleep.
I now head back to Tanzania for the second time in recent months, this time to visit Katavi National Park. Stay tuned for more photos from the next leg of my trip! I love the adventure of these exotic locales, but I’m also looking forward to being state-side and seeing those of you who’ve signed up for my Photography As Art seminars in L.A., Denver, New York, and Indianapolis in the coming month or so! Each trip I take brings a new wrinkle of discussions to add to my presentations, and there is still time to sign up for the remaining 2016 dates.
There are also still spots available in my Mystical Myanmar workshop in December for those of you anxious to avoid yet another cold winter in the states. Trade in some of those dark wintry days for the exotic allure and warm weather of eastern Asia!
Our helicopter pilot perches precariously on the edge of Nyirangongo crater, balancing the craft with the skids only half on solid ground.
My recent trip to Tanzania included a visit to Lake Natron, where I hoped to capture the colonies of lesser and greater flamingos who rely on the area as one of its few consistent breeding grounds in East Africa. As you’ll see from the slide show, our subjects did not disappoint! The salt water lake is home to organisms that manage to thrive in the high salinity and ultimately give the water the rich and varied hues, providing a beautiful backdrop for our shoot.
Pelicans and other birds also made an appearance, and zebras kicked up dust as they traveled through the same region. As mentioned in my previous post – this trip was short but satisfyingly productive and well worth the aggressive travel schedule. I feel this is my strongest work yet in this region, and I hope you enjoy these images!
I have just returned from a short, but very productive, trip to Tanzania. First up: photos from Ngorongoro Crater, which is the world’s largest inactive caldera covering an area of 100 square miles. The crater is a highly productive grassland, home to thousands of large animals, including wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, rhinos, lions, servals, and hyenas.
To call this trip an adventure is an understatement. In early December I traveled with several friends to the northern region of Ethiopia with Erta Ale volcano as the ultimate goal. Fellow traveler Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape was a wonderful travel companion and he has written a very good travelogue. Needless to say, we did not make it to the volcano for a variety of reasons. In forty years of photography I can count on one hand the number of times I have been sick or just plain stymied on a trip, so I count myself supremely lucky.
The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal and Africa’s most endangered cat. Uniquely adapted for speed, the cheetah is capable of reaching speeds greater than 110 kilometers per hour in just over 3 seconds, and at top speed their stride is 7 meters long. With its long legs and very slender body, the cheetah is quite different from all other cats and is the only member of its genus, Acinonyx. The cheetah’s unique morphology and physiology allow it to attain the extreme speeds for which it’s famous, and is often referred to as the greyhound of cats.
I last photographed in Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania for my Y2K project The Living Wild. In the intervening years it seems the chimps have become even more nonchalant around people, brushing past like a person would on a crowded street. There is a definite mental connection, but when they come that close you want to be careful in your movements and eye contact. They are incredibly powerful animals and powerfully intelligent so R-E-S-P-E-C-T is in order.
Lake Natron is a soda lake in the Rift Valley of Tanzania that I have photographed many times. But each time it feels like a new experience. The light, patterns, colors, and textures vary immensely from year to year, even hour to hour. These photos are from my latest trip in October.
As a juxtaposition to my September trip to Wyoming, I just returned from a great trip to East Africa, which included Amboseli, Lake Natron, Mahale. So, I begin with these photos from Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Enjoy!