It’s an odd thing, but I’ve had some good wildlife sightings when just standing still and, uh, relieving myself. Mostly owls peering down at me, but just last month I was in the Great Bear Rainforest attempting to photography the Spirit Bear and just when I took a break, one ambled by.
I first photographed these white-phase black bears way back in 1990, long before this region of British Columbia’s coast was designated as global treasure. Now, working on my magnum opus wildlife book, I headed back to this rich temperate rainforest in hopes of seeing this ghostly bear again. We had only four days and the waiting was long. To pass the time I taught a quick class in how to take abstracts; after all, there is always something to photograph, especially when the main objective is proving elusive. We were visited by spawned out salmon, Steller’s jays, American dippers, and a very curious, very black, black bear. Spirit or Kermode bears are merely a color phase of the American black bear. They just happen to carry two alleles of a gene that turns them a creamy white, but they are not albinos.
So when the spirit bear appeared for the first time, I zipped up and grabbed my camera. That session lasted a total of fifteen minutes. My fellow travelers implored me hourly to pee again, but that charm wore thin as did my stream. The next day she regaled us with another 15 minute appearance. Half an hour in four days and we all felt very lucky. That is the nature of wildlife photography.
Following our trip to Namibia (Photos here if you missed them!) our group moved on to Botswana to capture an abundance of wildlife. Lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, a plethora of birds, and much more! Not only was this a great opportunity to capture a wide variety of different animals – it was also a chance to explore various animal behaviors as well. Enjoy the photos!
Namibia is always a thrilling experience! The landscapes are jaw-dropping and the wildlife is too. We spent chilly mornings at Deadvlei, photographing the world’s tallest dunes before heading north to Etosha National Park. I had a small moment of terror when the wildlife congregations I had talked so much about failed to materialize. But that’s why we have expert in-country guides! They immediately were able to radio and locate where all the animals had gotten to and it turned out to be one of the best days of pure, exhilarating wildlife photography!
I am planning another Namibia workshop for August 2023. To be the first to hear about this opportunity, sign up for my newsletter!
A great way to break up the ennui of flying is to play around with aerial photography. Get yourself a window seat, a camera, and enjoy all the amazing landscapes Earth has to offer. I’ve recently been doing this more and more and I am loving it! Google Earth, step aside, Wolfe Earth is now a thing.
But seriously, you can get some great abstract shots and fancy yourself a spy from time to time. This last trip took me over the pole so I was able to get some images of ice break up in the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland, Russian farmlands, the east coast of the Caspian Sea, and the Alborz mountain range in Iran. While on the plane I do set my clock to local destination and try to get some sleep, but it can be very difficult, so I find this to be a very absorbing and intriguing distraction.
Hard to believe we are fast approaching the final quarter of the year! So far the 2023 slate of U.S. workshops is shaping up to provide a lot of variety, with many popular locations making their return. Save a couple hundred bucks with early bird pricing and lock in your spot today and visit some of the most breathtaking locations in the US.
Each time I return to lead these workshops it’s always exciting to share what I’ve learned on previous trips, and to explore alongside our participants to discover something new. Come along, make some new friends and have a blast with us this spring!
It was probably inevitable with the amount of traveling I do, but COVID caught up to me back in May keeping me grounded at home just when I was about to head out the door to begin our Madagascar Photo Journey. Luckily Gav was able to go, and the shots I saw posted on social media from that trip’s photographers were fantastic!. They only strengthened my resolve to get to the island myself as soon as humanly possible.
Fortunately I was able to arrange an impromptu trip there this past July, fitting in more than enough of the island for a variety of the unique wildlife that inhabits it. Leaping lemurs, lizards in camouflage, iconic baobab trees, and much more – enjoy!
This trip had originally been planned for July 2020, then COVID happened. I am eternally grateful that folks hung on to their reservations for two years and we were able to have an amazing trip!
Our focus was cultural, though we did have a very few wildlife sightings including a critically endangered saiga antelope that galloped past us in a flash.
We were able to stay with and photograph the iconic Kazakh eagle hunters and even crashed a wedding. Near Khovd we went to a traditional festival called a nadaam, with dusty, spirited horse races, and beefy wrestlers who made short work of soldiers who were attending. Finally, as part of the group split off to photograph the endangered takhi (Przewalski’s horse) I was able to meet with shamans. In the Soviet era, Shamanism (and Buddhism) were repressed, but the ancient cultural traditions are making a resurgence.
The vast steppe and arid mountains of Mongolia are magnificent. It is awe-inspiring to witness a rainstorm sweeping across the land and passing clouds dapple the hillsides. It is truly one of the last places where one can feel so small yet invigorated by nature.
A very famous French diver once called Indonesia’s Wakatobi an underwater Nirvana. I am not going to quibble with Jacques Cousteau. Last week I traveled with very good friends and serious underwater photography gearheads (which I am not) to this island archipelago. My friends endured lost luggage and had to rent equipment, and I, a fish out of water doing underwater camera work, battled against stronger-than-expected currents, a leaking mask, and balky SD cards. Fortunately on the last couple days of shooting things worked themselves out and I managed to get a few really nice photos that will fit very nicely in the huge new wildlife book coming out next year!
One of the more challenging aspects of photographing underwater in this and similar locations are venomous fish – in this case, scorpion fish. On top of managing the underwater camera system while trying to stay steady in a difficult current and not scaring away my subjects, I also had to keep myself from disturbing the sea floor. At one point my underwater guide and myself were balancing ourselves on a tiny wooden dowel stuck into the sea floor to try to stabilize ourselves. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it – enjoy the photos!
I used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera with an EF8-15mm f/4L FISHEYE USM lens in a Nauticam underwater housing.
Wildlife Wednesday on World Rainforest Day? Great timing!
The first leg of a recent trip took me to Brazil, with one subject in mind – the Harpy eagle. This is a massive bird at the top of its local food chain, distinct by its double-crested head feathers that spring to attention whenever the eagle is on alert. I came away thrilled with the photos I got, and included below is also a bit of video we shot from the blind.
I was traveling much of March and April and let me tell you – it was challenging for me and my staff, what with changing testing protocols for health on every leg of the trip! From Seattle I went to Brazil to photograph for my upcoming wildlife book and came away happy happy with photos of Harpy Eagles. Stay tuned for some video from that location!
After that, it was off to Morocco to lead a tour of one of the more culturally diverse locations you can visit, where the cultures of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East come together. Today was like Christmas in May as I excitedly unpacked a sculpture I purchased on this leg of the trip. It took a while to get here, but It’s always nice add objects from my travels to my home. Live like an artist!
From there it was on to Spain to join some dear friends for Easter celebrations, and ended up in Jerusalem for the holiday itself. Well worth it to acquire necessary photos for my upcoming book with a subject of international religions and beliefs.
I am finally getting some photos up, in no particular order – So let’s start with Morocco!
This is a stunningly beautiful country, mountainous and full of architectural wonders. Spring was just starting to show itself with the budding of fruit trees in fertile valleys. What did we photograph? Cats, lots of ‘em (I must have been missing my kitty back home), but also the endangered Barbary macaque, camels, and shepherds and their flocks. Snow crowned the Atlas Mountains and winds swept the Sahara as we traveled through high passes and verdant river valleys. The architecture is phenomenal and instantly recognizable as countless productions have been filmed in its adobe cities and desert landscapes.
Enjoy and stay tuned for more photos and footage from this huge trip!