OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW YEAR

NOTE:  I purposely took a much needed break from social media for a month and man, it felt oh so good.  Now I'm back and ready to go with an exciting year ahead.
 

WARNING – THIS IS A LONG POST SO GRAB A COFFEE AND PULL UP A CHAIR

 

It’s that time of the year for a summary of what has past and a look forward into the next two years. As 2015 comes to a close, I can say that the year was loaded with fun, travel and adventure.

Several trips this year made significant positive impacts on my photography and me - Ultimate Primates, New Zealand, and Svalbard. Before I get to those trips, a quick summary is in order: I led 8 trips to Africa (3 to Botswana, 2 to South Africa, 2 to Tanzania and one to Uganda/Rwanda), spent 30 days in New Zealand and Tasmania, crossed the equator 18 times, and logged some 150k actual flight miles getting to these locations. I celebrated my birthday 400 miles south of the North Pole while photographing polar bears.

In addition to the workshops I typically lead, I was recruited to join the photography team at Muench Workshops. Joining this team with such renown masters of photography like David and Marc Muench was a big deal for me and I am totally excited about the future with this team. Shortly after joining the MW Team, I found myself leading several workshops for them including Palouse, Botswana and Arches National Park. 

I kicked off the year leading a trip to Uganda and Rwanda to photograph the chimpanzees and gorillas.  Although I have trekked with the gorillas some 15 times, each and every trek is unique and rewarding.  Our time with the chimpanzees was remarkable, photographically rewarding, often challenging, and I can’t wait to return. I will be running the same trip in Feb 2017 so watch for the Ultimate Primates Adventure – soon to be released.

April put me in remote Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand. The ruggedness of the Tasmanian coast was nothing short of impressive. Of course, traveling with fellow photographers Jaime Dormer and Eva Ho kept me in constant fits of laughter – something I needed on such a long trip. New Zealand followed our Tasmanian adventure and this segment delivered challenging weather and photographic opportunities galore. I’ll be back here in April 2017 with Team Muench.

May put me back in Tanzania leading another trip for Thomson Safaris. May is a special off-season time in Tanzania when few tourists are around yet the game is plentiful and just perfect for great photos.

June found me back home leading a trip in the Palouse region in Washington State with Muench Workshops and my co-leads Andy Williams and Mike Brandt. Sponsored by Hasselblad and Glazers Camera of Seattle, the trip has us amidst the lush green and brown rolling hills of the Palouse for some wonderful landscapes. We will be returning to this area in June 2016 for another Muench Palouse Workshop.

July had me celebrating my birthday well inside the Arctic Circle in pursuit of polar bears. Based out of Longyearbyen, we used the Vessel Orgino as our base of operations to sail around Svalbard. Battling winds and ice, we successfully photographed a number of bears and some wonderful landscapes.

August it was back to Tanzania for my annual Wildebeest Migration Photo Safari with Thomson Safaris.  As in previous years we were successful in photographing several spectacular Mara River crossings, always a wonderful and rewarding photo trip.

September and October found me in Botswana and South Africa for 5 photo safaris, three in Botswana and two in South Africa with the highlights being in Savuti and Khwai Tented River Camp and, of course, the Chobe River. Leopards in the Khwai area provided exceptional sightings and wonderful photography opportunities while an elephant herd in the Chobe River was a photographer’s delight - only their heads, ears, wide-open red eyes, and trunks looking like periscopes were visible as they crossed the river.

After a quick flight to the US, November had me co-leading a landscape trip with Joe Brady for Muench Workshops in Arches National Park. Spending a week photographing in Arches National Park and the areas around it with a wonderful group of like-minded photographers was a great way to experience this incredible image-rich area.

With all of my photography trips completed, it was time for some family travel.  Joining my oldest daughter and her family in Germany for Thanksgiving and then headed to Atlanta for Christmas with my youngest daughter and her family and hopefully a brand new baby boy due on January 5, rounded out some long over due quality family time.  It was great to have everyone together once again.  The smiling faces of the children are so priceless.

As far as equipment goes, I sold my 200-400 Nikon and purchased the new 400 FL 2.8 - I must say that the new fluorite glass is incredibly sharp. I find that I am leaning more to fixed focal lengths these days because the sharpness is unbeatable. I am also happy to have my Hasselblad in my camera arsenal and recently purchased a 28mm for my Hasselblad which pretty much rounds out my medium format kit.  Hasselblad did loan me a H5D50c for use on my Polar Bear trip and wow, it is a killer sensor!  Shooting higher ISOs on a medium format camera has opened up a whole new world for me.  I am simply amazed at what I a can do with this this camera system.

So what’s coming in 2016

Highlights for 2017 – Stay tuned as details will be released shortly after the new year

  • February – Ultimate Primates of Uganda and Rwanda
  • April – New Zealand
  • June – Palouse
  • June – The Polar Bears of Svalbard
  • August – Greenland
  • August – Iceland
  • September – Great Migration in Tanzania
  • October – Masai Mara
  • October – Slovenia
  • November – Power Botswana (a surprise location)
  • December - Potential Surprise Location (think water and cold) 

NOW FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHS – SIT BACK AND ENJOY

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Remote NW Tasmania

As I sit here with the family about to start the food prep for Thanksgiving – US Army style in Germany, I am starting to process or reprocess some of my images that have been untouched since I shot them.  The shot below was taken in a remote area of Northwestern Tasmania this past spring while traveling with Jaime Dormer and Eva Ho.  Our objective was to explore the more remote areas of Northwest Tasmania.  Under the guidance of Jaime, we really saw some incredible sights.  In many cases we had to push ourselves a bit to get into the best shooting position, but it was worth it. For me, this is a must do again trip.  Next time I want to spend a great deal of time along the rocky shores of this remote area and hopefully some aerial work.


Lightroom Update

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Two days ago, Adobe released a much needed update to the import dialogue feature.  This update resets the previous LR catastrophe with an attempted improvement to the import function.  While I doubt we will see this type of situation again, I think it is good practice to UN-check the automatic update function until a number of reviews indicate that all is well.  Thanks for the early Christmas present Adobe.

 

Botswana Safari: Chobe River, Day 8

Our first full day on the Chobe River was nothing but pure excitement. Following a very early rise, we found ourselves in African fish eagle heaven!

We were surrounded by the sound of the fish eagle's unique calls, which have been dubbed the "sound of Africa." As they throw their head back, their loud squawks can be heard over very long distances – and there is no other call like it. 

We gained a deep appreciation for their unbelievable accuracy while hunting. We watched them make calculated dives to snatch their prey right off of the surface of the water (the fish they catch can be up to two pounds and swimming as deep as five inches below the surface). 

Harry Mills took the image below; he used a Nikon D810 and the new 300mm fluorite lens. Man, this baby is sharp, and I will soon own one!

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Botswana Safari: Chobe River, Day 7

We took our last bush flight to Kasane and settled into Chobe Savanna Lodge along the banks of Namibia. After border crossing and customs, we were ready for our first afternoon on the river. 

The Chobe River is all about birds, and occasionally catching elephants swim across the river; today was no exception: elephants were everywhere, and there were birds galore! 

I’ll give you more details on our sightings along the river soon but first, check out this photo taken by my client, Jim Guerard at our last camp. Jim caught the evening light falling on a large male leopard – a great shot!

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