Australian Geographic Magazine July Issue Cover Shot and Iceberg Feature

The July / August 2020 issue of Australian Geographic magazine features one of my Emperor Penguin photographs on the front cover as well as one of my Iceberg photographs (Fortress) from Antarctica as a double page feature spread. Although I have had work published before in Australian Geographic magazine this is the first time I have scored the cover. Scoring the front cover of any Geographic magazine is always a real thrill and I am really happy to have added this to my portfolio of magazine covers. The magazine includes a special feature on Antarctica and can be downloaded via the Australian Geographic APP in either the Apple or Google stores. The magazine is also available to purchase in traditional paper format.

Gerlache Strait Antarctica

Photo of the Month March 2020 – Yellow Eyed Penguin

The photograph of the month for March 2020 comes from my recent expedition to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica (Read the Trip Report). The photograph was actually taken at Enderby Island in the Sub Antarctica islands on our way to the Ross Sea and is of a very rare and highly endangered Yellow-eyed penguin. I watched this penguin for a long time in trying to figure out how I wanted to photograph it and what it was I wanted to try and say about the Penguin and its environment. In the end, I opted for a very shallow depth of field with a 400mm f2.8 lens that really put emphasis on the striking yellow eye but still maintained a sense of the environment in which the penguins live. It is estimated that there are now fewer than 8000 pairs of Yellow-eyed Penguins left in the world; making them the worlds most endangered penguin.

 

Ross Sea Antarctica and Sub Antarctic Islands Report 2020

In January and early February of 2020 I guided a small group of photographers to the sub Antarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia that included Enderby Island, MacQuarrie Island, Campbell Island and Snares Island on a twenty-eight day voyage that subsequently took us on a planned expedition deep into the southern reaches of the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. This unique itinerary also provided us with the opportunity to visit the historic hits of Scott and Shakelton. This expedition was a joint co-operation between my company Wild Nature Photo Travel and Heritage Expeditions from New Zealand.

By way of some background; tourism in Antarctica has grown exponentially in recent years and this year the Antarctic peninsula will receive in excess of forty-thousand visitors alone (mostly by boat from Ushuaia in Argentina and Puerto Williams in Chile). By comparison, the Ross Sea region of Antartica will receive fewer than four hundred visitors this year. This makes the Ross Sea region of Antarctica incredibly special and an area that is a real privilege to travel to and experience. This region of Antarctica is very remote and requires a considerable commitment in time to reach – hence the requirement for a twenty-eight day expedition.

Our journey began from the port of Bluff in Invercargill in the South Island of New Zealand. From here we boarded our ice-class ship (the Spirit of Enderby) and set sail into the Southern Ocean for the highly protected sub-Antarctic islands. It was our plan to first visit the Snares group of Islands but the weather conspired against us with 35-50 knot winds and swells that exceeded thirty feet – welcome to the Southern Ocean! The Snares islands (home to the endemic Snares penguin, the Tom Tit and Fern bird) would have to wait for our return trip.

With Snares off limits due to the inclement weather we instead set our sites on Enderby Island where we safely landed on two different locations. Enderby Island is home to the rare and endangered Yellow-eyed penguin (the world’s rarest Penguin) as well as the New Zealand Hooker Sea Lion and is also the nesting place for Wandering and Southern Royal Albatross. We were able to photograph all four species during our landings. Enderby is also home to a great many other birds including the flightless Teal, the Snipe and Pippit; all of which are endemic to the island. There were also several sightings of Falcon during our first landing (although I personally did not see it).

From Enderby Island we set sail south for MacQuarrie Island (Australian territory). It is a full days sailing from Enderby to MacQuarrie across the notoriously rough southern ocean and thankfully we had far more cooperative weather for the crossing with only light winds and a small moderate swell. At MacQuarrie island we also landed twice – once at Sandy Bay where we photographed the thousands of Royal and King Penguins that call the island home and once at the islands base where we toured the facility and photographed the Gentoo Penguins, Giant Petrels, Skuas and elephant seals.  All of our landings at Enderby and MacQuarrie were several hours in length that gave us plenty of time for contemplative photography. We were mercifully blessed with heavy overcast skies and light drizzle during our time in the sub-antarctic islands which made for wonderfully soft light.

From the sub-antarctic islands we set our waypoint south for the three plus day steam to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. To help give you an idea of how remote this area of the world is there was only one other ship on our radar during our time in this region – our sister ship that operates with us for safety in a ‘buddy’ system (there was also an American Ice Breaker ‘The Polar Star’ treading water near McMurdo after cutting a channel through the ice for its re-supply ship). By comparison there were more than forty-five ships operating on the Antarctic Peninsula.

During the crossing south we had sightings of Orca, dolphins and whales (including Minke, Fin and Humpback) as well as countless albatross that followed in the wake of our ship as we made our way south. Antarctic Petrels, Snow Petrels, Wilson Storm Petrels, Prions and Diving and Cape Petrels were also present from time to time. As we pushed through the pack ice we had many sightings of Crab Eater and Weddell Seals; as well as many Adelie Penguins on open drift ice. We also had our first Emperor Penguin sighting. Although we searched hard, the elusive Ross Seal alluded us the entire expedition. We spotted our first iceberg early on our fourth day south as we set our sights on a landing at Cape Adere. Cape Adere is hope to the largest colony of Adelie Penguins in the world and is also home to Carsten’s historic hut. We landed at Cape Adere and spent some time photographing the penguins before a zodiac cruise amongst the ice and our subsequent return to ship. Cape Adare was also a continental landing for those who had never traveled to Antarctica before.

From Cape Adare we travelled south where we hoped to land at the Possession Islands. Thick ice surrounding the islands prevented us from approaching and a potential landing so we turned our attention further south again for the 300 nautical mile steam to Terra Nova bay.

At Terra Nova bay we landed in perfect conditions late in the evening in great light at Gondwana where we photographed Adelie Penguins and South Polar Skuas. With perfect conditions we worked well into the early morning hours before relocating to inexpressible island. Local catabatic winds delayed our landing until after 4am, but we landed briefly.

From Inexpressible Island we relocated and visited the Italian Antarctic research base where we were greeted with some wonderful hospitality including good coffee, biscotti and pizza (God bless the Italians and their penchant for coffee). Although I personally find these type of landings at Antarctic bases to be somewhat banal it was nevertheless appreciated to have some time on terra firma to stretch ones legs and enjoy some hospitality.

Continuing south we landed at Franklin Island in near perfect conditions with soft morning yellow light on the horizon. Franklin Island is home to a huge Adelie penguin colony and we spent several hours photographing the penguins porpoising in the glassy water against beautiful morning light.

After Franklin Island we continued even further south past Beaufort Island, passing Mount Errabus and Mount Terror bound for Ross Island and McMurdo. We cruised the ice edge of McMurdo Sound before photographing large pods of Orca and an Emperor Penguin before landing at Hut Point late in the evening. Mount Errabus is still an active volcano with clear and open caldera that puffs smoke on a slow but steady basis. McMurdo was the furthest south we could reach with a position of 77.5 degrees south. Dense pack ice prevented any further travel south.

From McMurdo we travelled north to Cape Evans where we visited the historic Scott hut. This was a highly emotional and powerful experience for me. I remember as a young boy watching the movie, Scott of the Antarctic and later reading about his adventures and final ending in Antarctica only eleven kilometres from shelter and safety. The hut itself has been immaculately restored with thousands of artefacts still in place. The dark room still includes all of the chemicals, trays, aprons and materials used to process the film from the parties expedition. This was an absolutely fascinating location to visit and a real time warp. The hut and contents are near perfectly preserved in the sub zero temperatures. Surrounded by a protective asper the entire area is heavily managed and controlled with no more than eight individuals (including guide) allowed in the hut at one time.

After our landing at Cape Evans we repositioned to Cape Royds where we landed ashore in the afternoon to spend some time visiting the restored remains of Sir Ernst Shakelton’s hut. Like Scott’s hut, Shakelton’s hut has been immaculately restored and offers a first hand glimpse into what life was like for the early explorers. Shakelton’s socks still hang from a clothesline inside the hut.

From Cape Royds we made our way slowly out of McMurdo sound to the Ross Ice shelf. It was my hope that we would encounter a great number of cetaceans of whales in this area as we cruised the impressive ice shelf (I was particularly hopeful for Blue Whales), but it was not to be. We did however have large numbers of Killer Whales cruising the edge of the ice pack on several occasions as well as a large pod of twenty or so Minke Whales as we began our journey north. Crab Eater seals and Adelie penguins were also in abundance.

We left Antarctica in the evening of the 29th of February with a waypoint set for the Bellini Islands; a distance of some 400 nautical miles. The Bellini islands offered a chance for Chinstrap penguin sightings as well as possible landscape opportunities. On arrival we had our first Chinstrap sighting on an ice flow, which was followed by a zodiac cruise of the glacier face for landscape work. One of the chinstraps took the opportunity to hop aboard one of the zodiacs as it cruised the glassy seas!

After the Bellini islands we set our course north for Campbell island; a three and a half day steam that provided some fabulous birding opportunities from the rear deck of the ship (especially as we left the Bellini islands and approached Campbell island).

On arrival at Campbell island we landed in good conditions and hiked up to a large Southern Royal albatross colony where we spent several hours photographing the birds as they preened, displayed and soared overhead. This was a magical experience for those with an interest in birds as there are few places on earth where one can get so close to Southern Royal Albatross. I had hoped we would see the Yellow-eyed penguin again at Campbell Island but it was not to be. We did however site both the endemic Snipe and flightless Teal.  Strong winds outside the protective bay prevented us from zodiac cruising the western side for Southern Rockhoppers.

With time running out we set a waypoint north for the Snares series of Islands – home to the rare and endemic Snares Penguin. This was a big hope of mine as I am now closing in on photographing all eighteen of the worlds Penguin species. Landing is forbidden at Snares and conditions must be near perfect for zodiac cruising due to the granite islands exposure to the ocean. There is no safe harbour at Snares and no anchorage. Given we had missed the Snares on the way south my hopes were high we would pull off a close encounter with the Snares penguin on our return.

The weather gods were on our side and on arrival at the Snares islands we put zodiacs in the water at sunrise for an early morning cruise of these jurassic like islands. Landings are strictly prohibited on Snares, so all photography is from zodiac. Honestly, this makes it extremely tough to photograph the Snares Penguin. Ideally, one could land and take the time to choose clean backgrounds; but with the inability to land and the penguins resting on rocky shores there are very limited opportunities for clean backgrounds. Nevertheless it was a wonderful experience to see and photograph this endemic penguin species.

All up we spotted and photographed a amazing total of ten different species of Penguins on this expedition that included: Gentoo, Adelie, Emperor, Royal, King, Yellow-eyed, Southern Rockhopper, Chinstrap, Snares and a vagrant Fjordland Crested penguin we found at the Snares Islands.

The Ross Sea region of Antarctica offers breathtaking landscape, wildlife and experiences. It is not without its difficulties however; extensive days at sea, highly variable wind and weather and of course the unknown of wildlife sightings. However, for the intrepid explorer / photographer, the Ross Sea region of Antarctica offers a very unique experience that few on the planet will ever undertake.

Departing for New Zealand, The Ross Sea and Antarctica

My few days at home in Australia (where a large part of the continent is currently on fire) after my recent Canada winter workshop for Snowy Owls (Read the Trip Report) have already come and gone and in a few minutes I will be leaving for the airport again to start my thirty-day photography expedition from New Zealand to the sub Antarctic islands (MacQuarrie Island and Snares Island) and the remote Ross Sea region of Antarctica.

I have been wanting to visit the Ross Sea region of Antarctica for many years now and am really excited about what experiences we will have during our voyage. The Ross Sea region of Antarctica is an area rarely visited by people and is by any stretch extremely remote. Emperor penguins on icebergs are a real possibility in this region of Antartica and would make for fantastic photography should the opportunity arise. I am also really excited at the chance to photograph the Snares penguin on Snares Island – one of only three species of penguin the world over I have not yet photographed (I still have to chase down the Galapagos Penguin and the Humboldt).

I was hoping I would be able to lay my hands on the newly announced Canon EOS 1DX MKIII in time for this expedition, but regrettably delivery of the new camera will not be until after the conclusion of this expedition (although I have tested a pre-production sample – initial impressions online). As a result I will be packing both my 1DX MKII cameras. I did toy with the idea of taking my mirrorless EOS R but ultimately decided against it as I just find myself reaching for the 1DX MKII every time.  This may well be the last outing for my 1DX MKII bodies (assuming delivery of the 1DX MKIII is prior to my 2020 Arctic Fox expedition), which have served me reliably and without failure for the four years I have been shooting with them all over the world. I have not bothered to regurgitate the specifications of the Canon EOS 1DX MKIII here on my blog since that information can be found across countless websites. Suffice to say, I am very excited about the new auto focus enhancements and am very keen to get my hands on one and test it out in the field.

As this is a thirty-day expedition I will be packing the following equipment:

  1. 2 x Canon EOS 1DX MKII cameras with spare batteries
  2. 1 x Canon 8-15mm F4L Fish Eye Lens
  3. 1 x Canon 11-24mm F4L Lens
  4. 1 x Canon 24-70mm F4L IS Lens
  5. 1 x Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS MKIII Lens
  6. 1 x Canon 100-400mm f3.5-5.6 L MKII Lens
  7. 1 x Canon 400mm F2.8L IS MKIII Lens
  8. 1 x Canon 600mm F4L IS MKIII Lens
  9. 1 x Sachtler Carbon Tripod and FSB-6 Fluid Head
  10. 1 x Pro Foto B10 Light

For those of you who follow my blog, I am pretty much going to be offline for most of January hereon and early February and as a result there will not be updates to my blog during this time. If you are contacting me while I am offline please be patient as it may take several weeks for me to get back to you. See you in New Zealand and Antarctica!

2019 A Retrospective and 2020 Whats in Store?

As is tradition on my blog, every year I do a “What’s in Store” post for the new year as well as reflect back, and wrap up the year that was (its a great way for me to keep a record of my travels and photography and also helps me prepare for the coming year). 2019 was a frantic year and when I look back at all the destinations and all of the photography its actually hard to reconcile that it all happened in a single year. It was a year that included many superb photographic destinations and some really incredible experiences (Cuba and Mongolia were an incredible way to finish the year).

In equipment terms 2019 was relatively quiet for me with no major changes to my camera body line-up; although I did update several lenses including the 600mm f4L IS MKII to the MKIII version and the 400mm f2.8L IS MKII to the MKIII. I had not planned to update either lens, but the significant weight savings (and redistribution of that weight) offered in the new MKIII versions was too much for me to resist. This year I did supplement my two Canon EOS 1DX MKII’s with a mirrorless EOS R for my landscape photography. I really feel that the mirrorless offering from Canon is just fine for landscape and general work, but falls well short of my needs as a wildlife tool. Of course, we are now staring down the barrel of the new Canon EOS 1DX MKIII and I expect to take delivery of this new camera early in the new year.

My gear pick for the 2019 year (I always choose something I actually own) is the Canon 600mm F4L IS MKIII. The new MKIII offers very considerable weight savings over the MKII. Perhaps more importantly though is the way in which the weight has been redistributed with the bulk of the weight now at the rear of the lens. This makes the entire lens much easier to handhold for extended periods. 2019 will be very interesting in the equipment arena.  As above, I expect to take delivery of the new Canon EOS 1DX MK3 early in the new year. I think it is safe to say that I expect the majority of new lenses Canon releases in 2019 to be in RF mount only. We are also likely to see a new mirrorless camera from Canon – either a replacement for the EOS R, or a higher specification machine. I suspect we will get a high mega pixel mirrorless offering.

Last year I am gave the nod to Inherit the Dust by Nick Brandt for my book pick of the year. For 2019 I am giving the guernsey to Vincent Munier’s  Tibet. Vincent has continued to produce absolutely superb imagery that is subtle, yet powerful. His photographs are highly emotional and Tibet contains some beautiful work that will be enjoyed across countless viewings. I definitely recommend you check it out and consider adding it to your library. Over the course of this year I also published my own favourite twelve photographs here on my blog. Please be sure to check them out and let me know what you thought.

In competition terms, 2019 was a great year for me with the overall win as the Victorian Nature Photographer of the Year. This was the third year in a row I have taken out either the Documentary or Nature category. I was also a finalist in the 2019 Documentary and Landscape categories as well we being a finalist  in the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards – Nature Photographer of the Year.  As I have written before I have stopped entering competitions that judge only the digital image and instead have focused my efforts only on print competitions.

2019 was also another massive year for me both with destinations visited and the huge number of international miles travelled. The year kicked off in mid January with a winter scouting trip for Snowy Owls to Canada (Read the Trip Report).  This scouting trip proved extremely fruitful with fantastic photographic opportunities of these magnificent owls in a winter setting. As a result of this scouting trip I will be leading a sold out workshop to this part of Canada early 2019 (I am actually leaving for Canada December 28th).

At the completion of my Canada trip I had a few days at home before I made my way up to Finland for my winter wildlife workshop (Read the Trip Report). Winter in Finland is an absolutely wonderful time of year to visit and photograph in this region of Scandinavia. On this workshop we had really fantastic encounters with Golden Eagle, Otters, White-tailed Eagles, and more. One afternoon alone we spent several hours photographing wild Otters as they played and fished in the partially frozen lake. This was a shoot none of us are likely to quickly forget as it was extremely cold with temperatures hovering around -35ºC as we lay on the frozen lake.  We also took advantage of the snow covered landscape.

From Finland I travelled to Iceland to lead my annual expedition to photograph Arctic Fox on the north-west peninsula in Winter (Read the Trip Report).  This was the third time I have taken a small group with me into the nature reserve as this is an area very near and dear to my heart. During the expedition the participants made between ten and twenty thousand plus photographs per person which gives you a really good idea of just how many incredible opportunities and encounters with Arctic Foxes we experienced during our time in the Nature reserve. Many of our encounters lasted several hours and on multiple occasions we had the luxury of choosing our backgrounds and angle of view for our photographs.

From Iceland I travelled north to Svalbard for both a small group snow mobile expedition to photograph Polar Bears and other wildlife on the sea ice in Winter (Read the Trip Report) and to subsequently lead my annual winter workshop in search of Polar Bears, Arctic Fox, Reindeer and dramatic Arctic landscapes (Read the Trip Report). For the Snow Mobile expedition we spent around a week exploring the archipelago of Svalbard in winter via snow mobile in temperatures as low as -30º Celsius in search of Polar Bears. As well as our encounters with Polar Bears we also photographed Arctic Fox and Reindeer.

From Svalbard I travelled much closer to home and lead two back to back workshops to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and onto Tasmania (Read the Trip Reports). Both of these workshops were structured to provide outstanding and varied opportunities for landscape photography as well as the opportunity to see and experience the wild coastal region of the Great Ocean Road and World Heritage Wilderness areas of Tasmania. Both of these locations offer world class landscape opportunities, yet both remain relatively unknown on the world stage (at least for now). We photographed the fantastically varied landscape of these two locations and also enjoyed the fantastic fresh food and produce both of these locations are well known for. To those of you who have enquired about future Tasmania workshops – the short answer is ‘yes’, but not in the next couple of years.

After Australia I returned to Svalbard for my yearly expedition north of Longyearbyen to photograph Polar Bears living and hunting on the sea ice (Read the Trip Report). With our small group of just twelve photographers and our ice hardened expedition class ship we were perfectly prepared for ten days of Arctic photography under the midnight sun and it turned out to be an absolute gem of an expedition. July and August are just a fantastic time of the year to visit Svalbard. With twenty four hours of daylight (the sun never sets this time of year) the opportunities for photography are literally non-stop and we took advantage on many occasions to photograph late into the evening and early hours of the morning. This was the first time I witnessed an actual Polar Bear kill and it was incredibly exciting. The stalk and kill happened right in front of our ship as we were parked alongside a large ice-flow. It was a magical moment rarely witnessed and even less rarely photographed.

After a short break I travelled to the Faroe Islands (Read the Trip Report) where I led my first landscape workshop to this wonderful series of remote islands. The Faroe Islands offer some of the most rugged and beautiful sea cliffs I have been fortunate to experience and photograph. During this workshop we explored many of the islands and hiked many kilometres as we explored the region. We also took the opportunity on several occasions to photograph Puffins along the cliff edges. 

From the Faroe Islands I returned to Australia to re-equip before I returned to Iceland where I led two back-to-back expeditions to the East Coast of Greenland with Daniel Bergmann (Read the Trip Reports). For these two expeditions we flew by private charter flight from Reykjavik in Iceland to Constable Point on the East Coast of Greenland where we boarded our sailing ship, the Donna Wood. For both our expeditions we chose to sail north to the rugged and scenic Bjørneøer Islands (Bear Islands) where we made landings at both sunset and sunrise for contemplative landscape photography. Along the way we photographed many of the gigantic icebergs that drift as giant sentinels silently through the fjord system. For our landings in this area we were blessed with a magnificent iceberg with a full arch that was grounded against a stunning mountainous backdrop and we spent many hours in this location with the late afternoon and early evening light. The landscape topography in these islands is a landscape photographers paradise with beautiful boulders and stunning back drops in every direction. The East coast of Greenland remains, in my experience, one of the most incredible locations on earth for landscape photography. I will be returning to the East Coast of Greenland in both Winter and Summer 2020 and 2021. Look for  more details on my website at www.jholko.com

From Greenland I travelled to Finland for my October 2019 Wolverines and Wolves of Finland workshop. This workshop was dedicated to the photography of Wolves, Wolverines and Bears. I arrived a week early to pre-scout many of the locations I wanted us to try to photograph in order to ascertain which hides (and in what locations) were having the most activity and at what time of the day. By pre scouting I ensured we had the best possible opportunities with the most action for our time in this beautiful part of Finland. This was well worth the effort and time as everyone who participated in this trip came away with a spectacular portfolio of photographs. In particular, we had absolutely outstanding opportunities with a wild wolf pack and I will be sharing some of these photographs over the coming months both here on my blog and in the Finland portfolio on my website.

After Finland I travelled to Camaguey in Cuba to open my new exhibition ‘Antipodas’ with friend Paul Murray.  Thanks to Paul’s and our curator Juan Carlos’s extensive preparations the opening was a smash success and the the exhibition has now moved into its next phase and location in Santiago de Cuba. From Santiago de Cuba the exhibition will move to Havana before it concludes late February 2020. This was my first visit to Cuba and I found it a fascinating melting pot of cultures and an absolute street photographers paradise.

I then wrapped up the year with a personal trip to Mongolia to photograph the Pallas Cat (Read the Scouting Report). This was most likely the most difficult shooting of my career with extreme cold and many hours and days spent searching for this elusive wild cat. During the two plus weeks I spent searching the vast lunar-like landscape of Mongolia in winter I had less than half a dozen photographic opportunities with the Pallas Cat. Nevertheless, I was able to capture some photographs that I am extremely happy with and I will be sharing them online here over the coming months.

All up I led a total of twelve separate international workshops and expeditions in 2019  spread across the globe (not including personal work such as my trip to Cuba and Mongolia as well as one-on-one Print workshops). A quick count tallies up well over sixty plane segments and over sixty thousand exposures (not all keepers unfortunately!) It was a fantastic (although frenetic) year and I just want to thank all of you who I was fortunate to meet, travel and photograph with throughout the year. It was real privilege to share in such remarkable destinations with so many fantastic passionate photographers – thank you.

2020 is ready to get underway and I am really excited about whats in store. In late December I will be returning to Canada to lead my sold out workshop to photograph Snowy Owls in winter. This workshop has long been sold out, but there are still a couple of spaces left for 2021 if you are keen to join me to photograph this beautifully majestic owl in a winter setting.

From Canada I return to Australia for just a few days before I leave for the South Island of New Zealand where we will depart on my thirty day sold out Antarctica Ross Sea Expedition. During this expedition we will also be visiting some of the sub-Antarctic islands including Snares Island (home to the Snares penguin) and MacQuarrie Island. This will be my first visit to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica and I am really excited about what opportunities we will have during this expedition. In particular, it is my hope that we may encounter and have the opportunity to photograph Emperor  Penguins on icebergs!

After the Ross Sea I will have a few days at home before I head north for Iceland and my annual Arctic Fox expedition to the Hornstradir Nature reserve. For this expedition we will be staying in a small remote cabin that is rustic, but functional and clean and we will have up to 10 hours of good light during the day with which to photograph the Arctic foxes. With luck, we may also see and photograph the spectacular Northern lights. The 2020 expedition has long been sold out, but there are still a few places on the 2021 expedition – just drop me a note to register your interest.

From Iceland I will travel directly to the east coast of Greenland to lead two brand new SOLD OUT expeditions via snow mobile for both Polar Bear and Musk Oxen in a stunning winter setting. I have been utilising snow mobiles in Winter in the Arctic for quite a few years now and have found the opportunities afforded by exploring via snow mobile to be truly unique and very special. This year I am moving my operations for Snow mobile from Svalbard to Greenland specifically to take advantage of the opportunity to photograph Musk Ox in winter.  Due to the continued expressions of interest I will likely have a similar offering for 2021 – details to come soon.

At the conclusion of the snow mobile expeditions I will lead my SOLD OUT annual winter ship expedition in Svalbard in search of Polar Bears, Arctic Fox, Reindeer and Arctic landscapes. The main focus of this expedition will be Arctic winter light, landscape and wildlife. In April the light conditions in Svalbard are magical. The 2020 expedition is long sold out and places are already limited for the 2021 expedition. If you would like more information or would like to reserve one of the remaining places for 2021 please drop me an email at any time.

After I finish the winter season in the Arctic I will have a few weeks break back in Australia before I head back north for my midnight sun Summer Svalbard expedition. We will depart from the small town of Longyearbyen and sail up to the edge of the permanent pack ice where we will spend our time searching for and photographing the king of the Arctic. With 24 hour daylight under the midnight sun we will have hours and hours of light for photography.  Whilst Polar Bears and other wildlife are the main attraction on an expedition such as this it needs to be said that the landscape opportunities in Svalbard are nothing short of breathtaking. Soaring bird cliffs, plunging glaciers and dramatic mountainous scenery means there is quite literally something for every photographer. If you have never been to Svalbard you should absolutely put it on your bucket list. There are still a few places available if you would like to join us.

From Svalbard I will return to Australia for a brief respite before I head to Russia for my first expedition to Wrangle Island. I am really excited about the opportunity to travel and photograph in Wrangle Island. Reports from expeditions earlier this year included sightings of up to fifty Polar Bears on several expeditions.  I will be offering Wrangle Island again in 2021 from August 16th until August 30th 2021 and details will be on my website very soon. Drop me an email for further details or to register your interest.

After I complete Wrangle Island I will head back to Australia and onto Greenland where I will lead a ship based expedition to Scoresby Sund on the East coast of Greenland.  This expedition is a ‘fly-in, sail out’ trip that will depart from Reykjavik via charter plane and land at Constable Point in Greenland. Flying to Greenland saves us two days sailing across open ocean and means we have more time for exploration and photography. We will then sail back to Iceland at the conclusion of our expedition. This 2020 expedition has long been sold out, but there are still a few places available on the 2021 expedition. Be sure to check out the Adobe Spark presentation HERE.  Just drop me an email to register your interest. You can check out a portfolio of photographs from Greenland on my website at www.jholko.com

After Greenland I will return to northern Finland to lead my new workshop for Wolverine and Wolves in a fiery Autumn setting. I first scouted this trip in Autumn two years ago and found it to be an absolutely superb time of the year for both Wildlife and Landscape photography in Northern Finland. At this time of year the Wolverines and Wolves are active and the bears have not yet begun to hibernate. Additionally the Autumn colour is in full swing which makes for outstanding backgrounds. This workshop is for a small group of just five photographers – only two places remaining before it will be sold out.

 In November I will again return to Union Glacier, deep in Antarctica to lead a sold out expedition to photograph Emperor Penguins. This will be my fifth expedition to Gould Bay and it remains one of the most amazing and incredible experiences I have had anywhere on earth.  I was last in Gould Bay back in 2018 (Read the Trip Report) and next years expedition will be my fifth sojourn to Union Glacier and the remote sea ice at Gould Bay. This is a region of Antarctica that is extremely remote and that is home to one of the largest Emperor Penguin colonies in Antarctica.  It is an absolutely incredible place to visit and photograph these remarkable birds. Due to rising costs this may well be my last expedition to the sea ice of Gould Bay.

And finally to round out the 2020 year I will return to Mongolia in December to lead a small group of just five photographers on an exploratory expedition in search of the enigmatic Snow Leopard.

For those of you that have managed to make it this and would like a hint of what else is further down the track: I am working on a new expedition to South Georgia in October of 2021. At this time of year there will be heaps of snow to photograph the King Penguins, the Elephant Seals will be fighting and importantly the pesky and ferocious fur seals will not yet have arrived en mass. I am not quite ready to start taking bookings as yet, but you can pre-register (no obligation) now if you want to secure a place.

Lastly and certainly not least, I want to wish all of you a very safe and happy New Year and may 2020 be one of amazing light and experiences for all of you. See you in the New Year!