While the remote Okavango Delta hasn’t offered an abundance of cell service, it’s more than made up for it with multiple, quality leopard sightings, all in day one.Read More
Ok, it’s time for the annual 2014 wrap up and a glimpse of what’s happening in 2015, so here we go.
2014 had me spending more time in Africa and on the road than I did at home, at least it seemed that way. The year kicked off in February with one of my favorite Thomson Safari adventures in Tanzania – the wildebeest calving. This time of the year is always an exciting because we are able to witness and photograph the births of literally thousands of newborn wildebeests. We also see the numerous predators that follow the herds of newborns and their parents, hoping for an easy meal.
Shortly thereafter I found myself in Namibia with Andy Biggs and Joshua Holko photographing the incredible landscapes in the oldest and tallest dunes in the world. This was my fourth trip to Namibia, and when it comes to desert landscapes, Namibia is absolutely numero uno! I will be returning in March 2015 to lead another Namibian landscape experience.
June found me back in Tanzania for the wildebeest rut safari, again with Thomson Safaris – and if you ask whether I like the calving more than the rutting, well, I just couldn’t say because both are incredible! With predators following the herds as they migrated across the plains to Kenya, we were afforded plenty of photographic opportunities then shared wonderful stories around the campfire as we recounted our daily adventures. I will be repeating this trip again in the May-June time frame of 2015.
August found me leading a photographic expedition to Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Trying to describe the landscapes of this island is simply beyond words. Check back after the first of the year for a new collection of photographs from this adventure. If Iceland is on your bucket list, I will be leading another expedition (or two) to Iceland in 2016 so stay tuned and let me know if you are interested.
In September I returned once again to Tanzania for the incredible great migration. During this trip we witnessed multiple wildebeest river crossings – always a spectacular event – and had numerous opportunities to photograph lions and leopards. The energy that surrounds the chaos of a river crossing must not be underestimated and it is one that must be experienced first-hand. As the wildebeest cross the Mara River, it is truly survival of the fittest as they face rapid river currents, angry hippos, and hungry crocodiles. Many of the wildebeests do not survive the mayhem.
October put me in Ethiopia photographing the tribes of the Omo Valley. This was one of the most humbling experiences of my photographic career because of the challenging roads, logistics, weather, and the people. However, I also am excited to repeat as soon as I can, so again, stay tuned. I can’t begin to describe what it was like to photograph these wonderful and caring tribal people of the Omo as they went about their daily lives. Being given unrestricted access to these people and invited to photograph and take part in their daily rituals made memories that will be with me for a long time. I can’t wait to return to work with these tribal members again, and I need to give special thanks to Piper MacKay for introducing me to these seldom-visited areas.
From October to late November I led two safaris into Botswana and co-led another safari with Grant Atkinson. As always, Eyes on Africa provided expert logistical support for two of the safaris and a new provider, Unlimited Safaris, provided the support for my first private camping safari. All three safaris produced wonderful photographic opportunities for leopards, lions and wild dogs. The highlights of these trips were seeing the gorgeous leopards and the packs of African Painted Dogs in full action as they hunted with the precision of a well-trained military unit. It was intense, high speed photography as we followed the dogs on chase after chase.
My third Botswana safari as co-leader with Grant Atkinson started in Maun with 17 of us taking a bush plane flight and landing at Nxabega. Our two days at Nxabega were filled with dogs and dogs and dogs. The African Painted Dog is a formidable killing machine. Usually hunting in both the morning and evening, they sport an 80 percent success rate in their chase to kill ratio. On our last morning before taking another bush flight to Sandibe, we witnessed the dogs make 7 antelope kills in 2 hours. They only missed once when they tried to chase a large kudu. I will be returning to Botswana next October for another photographic adventure sponsored by Muench Workshops.
A big highlight of the year was being invited to join the team of Muench Workshops, a small collection of very experienced professional photographers that lead workshops throughout the world. I think their tag line “one-of-a kind photography workshops at the coolest places on the planet” says it all. I am honored to be affiliated with David Muench, Mark Muench, and Andy Williams, and their wonderful team of photographers.
2015 will be another full year with highlights that include two safaris to Tanzania and Botswana, the landscapes of the Palouse, and the chimpanzees and mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda. I also will be joining Joshua Holko in July as we journey far north into the Arctic to photograph polar bears. In addition, I am currently planning a very small expedition-type adventure into Ethiopia’s Omo Valley in November, once again to photograph the seldom-photographed Suri Tribe. Details and booking information on all of these trips can be found on my website blog. If you don’t see me leading a trip to an area that interests you, please drop me a line and I will share with you what I have planned for the future. Likewise, if you are interested in one of the trips that are fully booked, I will be happy to place you on a waiting list – you just never know.
As for equipment, I am still shooting Nikon and Hasselblad and recently invested in the Profoto B1 portable flash head for my work in Ethiopia. I also invested in the new Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL series lens and man, what a beauty it is!
Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2015.
Join me on an adventure of a lifetime as we make incredible photographs along the way.
2015 Workshop / Travel Outlook –
Iceland – By Winter – February 11-18 (private safari)
Namibia – Overland Landscapes – March 12-22
Tasmania and New Zealand – April 2015 (Private Safari)
Tanzania – The Rut Migration – May 27-June 7
Washington State – Muench Workshops Landscapes of the Palouse – June 11-17 (limited openings)
Uganda and Rwanda – Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas – June 25 – 4 July 2015
Norway – Polar Bears – July 22 – 4 August
Botswana – Pure Botswana – September 2015 (FULLY BOOKED)
Tanzania – The Great Migration – September 19-30
Botswana – Muench Workshops Botswana Adventures – October 10-20
Ethiopia – Omo Valley Adventure Series – October – November (please inquire if interested – limited to 4 guests only)
2016 Teaser: Italy, Iceland plus many more.
Another wonderful day in the Okavango Delta on the Eyes on Africa trip I am co-leading with Grant Atkinson. One of our clients, Beth Stewart, captured a unique angle of a male lion, called Blondie. With this quartering head shot, Beth departed from the normal straight-on shot to emphasize the power in his muscles as he glided through the reeds. Upon reviewing this image with Beth, both Grant and I screamed BLACK AND WHITE. So, Beth sat by my side while I walked her through processing this image using Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik Software. Hats off to Beth for a great capture.
Funny thing about Blondie, he has a very short main and a short tail. As such, the females will have nothing to do with him…..poor guy. I hope his time comes.
While leading my last photo safari in Botswana we came across a young leopard cub in a tree with her mother just inches away from her. I decided to focus my attention on the young cub. At me pulled up to the sighting, I took the first photograph below. Despite the angle, I like the pose of the cub. I asked GEE, our driver, to pull 2 feet forward and turn the truck slightly to the left. Shooting from the lowest possible angle, I was able to get blue sky and more of a full body shot. Which do you like?
One of the nice things about being on a private photo safari with me is using guides that know how to get you to the right place at the right time. They are also very eager to help you on positioning the truck for your desired shot. They clearly want to be part of the solution and take pride in being part of the final image. For this event, GEE as our driver and Gates was our tracker. My hat is off to both of you for your tracking skills.
Cheers and happy photo’ing
Off again for 50 days in Africa. First stop will be Addis Abba, Ethiopia to photograph the tribes of the OMO Valley. Then I jet back to South Africa for three days of recovery, then it is a massive push into Botswana for three back to back Safaris. Grant Atkinson will be co-leading the last safari with me and I am excited to be working with him.
While in Ethiopia, communication will be nonexistent (Coogan and Alexis – if you need me call my Sat Phone), so my posting will be very delayed.
So what is in my kit this time? As much as I wanted to bring my Hasselblad for the tribal work, my weight limit just would not support it, but man did I try hard. Note that I have had to pack for two complexly different shooting conditions and requirements. This will meant leaving some equipment in JNB with Wilderness Safari folks. Having said all of this, I am very excited to be taking my new Profoto B1 with the Nikon TTL module into the Omo Valley. My light modifier of choice is a 3 foot Ocoto (left the magnum and a gird snoot on the packing room floor – darn it). My bodies will be Nikon’s D4 and D810. Again, super excited to use the D810 because of it’s ability to separate the background from the foreground matrix meetering during TTL…..what a wonderful option. Glass will include 24-70, 70-200, and the new 400mm f/2.8 florite series. Big glass for Botswana. I’m also toting my Fuji X-T1 with a 10-24 and a 60mm.
I’ll check in as often as I can so stay tuned…..
SFO below taken from the United International Business Lounge. Thanks United for the Global System Upgrade. Too bad I didn’t have the same luck with Lufthansa (flight was canceled and I was put on a SMASH box of an airplane for some 10.5 hours (Ethiopian). I have never been in such a cramped position in all of my life.
Safaris for 2014:
1. Rwanda – Gorillas in the Mist 1 Jan thru 8 Jan DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE. Trip completed, full trip report in draft.
2. Tanzania – The Great Migration – Feb 15-25, 2014 TRIP IS FULL
3. Chile – Torres del Paine – March 2014, Adventure Series Only*
4. Tanzania – The Great Rut – May 31 – June 10, 2014. Some openings remain.
5. Iceland – The Land of Fire and Ice – 10-19 Aug 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE Strictly limited to 8 participants, 4 openings.
6. Tanzania – Fall Migration – Sept 16-25, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE
7. Botswana – November 13-22, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE.
Looking forward to 2015:
Namibia – Landscapes of a Lifetime – April or May 2015- Details will be released in March of 2014.
Tanzania – The Great Rut
Tanzania – Fall Migration
Botswana – Adventure on the River
Lots More to Come So Stay Tuned.
*Adventure Series – Open only to previous clients and those who are willing to travel in conditions that require maximum flexibility as we explore new areas.