Tomorrow I will be heading back to Melbourne airport for the long-haul journey up to Oslo and onto Longyearbyen for my 2022 expedition to photograph Polar Bears on the pack ice north of Svalbard. This expedition was originally scheduled to run in 2020, but was subsequently delayed until 2021 and then 2022 due to the COVID pandemic.
It has been a little over two years since I was last in Svalbard in the Arctic summer (I was there in April this year for my Winter expedition – Trip Report) and I am super excited to be returning to the land of the midnight sun and the opportunity to get back to photographing Polar Bears in their natural habitat. I have been watching the sea ice chart with a high degree of interest and am hopeful we will have some incredible encounters during this expedition.
For this expedition, I will be packing the usual assortment of cameras and lenses including 2 x Canon EOS R3 cameras along with my RF 600mm f4L IS, RF 400mm f2.8L IS, RF 70-200mm f2.8L IS, RF 24-105 f4 IS and RF 14-35mm f4 L IS. All of the above fits into a combination of my SKB hard case and Gura Gear Chobe camera bags (just!). Whilst it might seem excessive to travel with both 400mm and 600mm prime lenses, experience has shown me that having both on hand really ensures opportunities can be made the most of. Of all the above lenses, the 14-35mm has actually proved the most versatile to date – offering a do-it-all wide-angle lens for landscape that is incredibly sharp corner to corner. I really fell in love with this lens in Africa, photographing Elephants and Cape Buffalo from the overnight hide (See trip Report). I will also be packing the new Canon RF 85mm f1.2L
I will be offline for the duration of this expedition – from the 6th until the 15th of July. If you contact me during this time please be patient and I will get back to you on my return to Longyearbyen.
If you are interested in photographing Polar Bears in their natural environment – on the pack ice, then I will be offering two expeditions in 2023. Details included below. Just drop me an email for more information or to register your interest. See you in Svalbard in a couple of days.
Two days ago I presented my free webinar for BenQ on processing RAW images with ice and snow. The feedback received has been absolutely fantastic – thank you. Due to so many requests, there will be a future webinar (date TBA) as follow up to the Lightroom processing webinar.
I talked briefly at the beginning of the webinar about the importance of colour calibration and working on a calibrated display. More information on this is also included below:
I have just published Episode #46 of my Wild Nature Photography Podcast. This podcast episode includes Part One of an all-new extended series on shooting in cold climates. In this first part, there is a discussion on the different types of cold environments, how to dress for different activities, active wear vs. non-active wear, layering clothing, and keeping your feet warm when photographing in cold climates.
I have just published Episode #45 of my Wild Nature Photography Podcast. This podcast episode includes a brief update from my recent workshop to Africa as well as information on the Finland Wolves, Wolverines and Bears workshop this October and the upcoming BenQ webinar on processing images with ice and snow. Episode #46 will be published within the next week and will be extensively covering how to deal with photographing in freezing climates.
In May of 2022, I ran an all new workshop to an exclusive private game reserve in Zululand, South Africa (about three hours drive from Durban). The purpose of this workshop was to provide unique and unprecedented opportunities to photograph African wildlife from luxurious ground level photographic hides as well as to experience more traditional African game drive safaris. There are of course many locations throughout Africa that offer the opportunity to do daily game drives with luxurious accomodations, but to my knowledge there is currently only one location that offers overnight ground level hides of this calibre.
As a specialist polar photographer it might seem unusual be running workshops to Africa; but I have actually been running trips to Africa every other year (pre-covid) for some time. The wildlife and landscape (Namibia) opportunities in Africa are obviously very appealing – even to a Polar photographer! And there are surprisingly many similarities to the mono chromatic nature of the worlds polar regions and the deserts of Namibia for example. Likewise, photographing apex predators such as Lions requires a similar degree of caution to working with Polar Bears.
The main draw card of Zululand is the nine private photographic hides on the reserve, including two Bird Bath Hides or Reflection Hides as well as two overnight hides that are fully equipped with bathroom facilities, a kitchenette for meal preparation, and beds for sleeping and resting. These are the most advanced, comfortable, and sophisticated hides anywhere in the world. They facilitate photographic opportunities simply unavailable elsewhere. See video included below for a tour of one of the overnight hides.
During this workshop we divided our time between the private hides and more traditional African sunrise and sunset game drives. Some of these game drives included the opportunity to get out of the vehicle and walk with and photograph Cheetahs at ground level – an incredibly unique and special experience. The video included below shot from my iPhone from just a few feet away at ground level.
A typical day on this workshop began at 6am with either a private game drive or a personal drop off at one of the ‘day hides’ for a morning session of photography. A typical game drive or hide session is approximately three hours and usually concludes around 9am (depending on sightings). There was then a full ala’carte breakfast, followed by down time to download and review photographs. A light lunch was served at 1pm, and game drive or overnight / afternoon hide sessions began from 2pm. For those staying in the overnight hides, a full dinner was prepared along with drinks of choice for a night in the hide. For those returning to the main lodge we had a full catered three course meal in lodges fantastic dining facility.
The opportunities we experienced during this workshop were both unique and special and as a direct result of the success of the 2022 workshop I will be returning again in May of 2023 with a small group of photographers. This will be an intensive wildlife masterclass with unparalleled and unique photographic opportunities. This will be a full camp take over meaning that there will be many more opportunities in the overnight photography hides than normal. There will also be ground-level walking with Cheetah photography as well as opportunities with all the big African five – Lions, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, elephants, and giraffes. There is also the chance for more elusive cats including Leopard and Serval.
This exclusive workshop is for a strictly limited number of just fourteen participants (nearly half the places already spoken for) plus a leader and is dedicated to photography of African wildlife at ground level. Although the camp can accommodate many more, we are limiting the number to just fourteen to ensure the best possible experience. Additionally, there will be extensive photographic tuition on how to get the best wildlife photographs including how to get the best photographic results at night from the overnight hides. There will also be multiple hide visits for everyone in the group without the usual restrictions as well as more opportunities for one-on-one tuition in the field.
As we are based in the one-game reserve for the duration of the workshop there are no restrictions on how much equipment you can bring – so bring what you need! If you are excited by the idea of photographing many of Africa’s incredible species at ground level from luxurious private hides then now is the time to register your interest. Places are extremely limited and once spoken for that’s it. Drop me an email for further information including a detailed PDF itinerary. To get an idea of the sort of photographs you can make on this masterclass be sure to check out the high resolution photographs in my South Africa Portfolio.