Legion Paper and Moab Feature Emperor Penguins at Photo Plus 2019

This year at PhotoPlus in New York Moab and Legion paper featured one of my Emperor Penguin photographs from my 2018 expedition (Read the Trip Report). Printed on Somerset Museum Rag paper in 20″ x 30″ this paper remains my absolute favourite and go to paper for all my printing. I was unable to attend in person this year due to my travel commitments in Cuba and upcoming travel in Mongolia; but am hoping to be in attendance and speaking at the show in 2020.

Antipodas Exhibition in Cuba Now Open 2019

Yesterday I opened my new exhibition ‘Antipodas’ here in Camaguey in Cuba with friend Paul Murray. By invitation from the Minister of Arts of Cuba, the exhibition includes a curated selection of twenty of my Fine Art Prints of Emperor Penguins from Gould Bay in Antarctica and a selection of Paul’s work from our 2018 Namibia workshop. Each of my photographs was printed on Moab Somerset Museum Rag in 20” x 30” format. Since travel from Australia to Cuba with twenty framed prints of this size was logistically impossible, we chose to display them unframed with a wall hanging system; which has worked exceptionally well. The opening was a smash success with well over a hundred people in attendance with standing room only.

The exhibition will remain on display here in Camaguey until December before it makes its way to Santiago De Cuba and finally to Havana where it will conclude at the end of February 2020. Some of these photographs will also be on display at my new Frozen in Time Exhibition opening in Melbourne Australia in June next year. You can download a digital catalogue of the photographs from the Cuba exhibit HERE.

About Cuba: This has been my first visit to Cuba and it has certainly left an impression on me. Cuba itself is like a wax museum with a pulse. It is a place frozen in time that bustles with friendly energy, street charm and that oozes character from its many cobblestone streets. It is far removed from my usual travel destinations and the sort of photographic opportunities it offers are a distant galaxy to my Polar landscape and wildlife work. Of course, the temperature and humidity here are far from my preferred environment, but one has to accept that it is the Caribbean after all.

In regards to the Cuban street photography scene – Personally, I find the sort and type of street photography Cuba offers either far too voyeristic, when executed with a telephoto lens from a distance; or far to confronting when engaging at close range with a wide angle lens (which is really what is required to produce the best work). The huge socio economic divide strikes a deep and sensitive chord that makes me at best uncomfortable; even when I have engaged with the subject and have their permission to take the photograph. I should note at this point, that in my experience, the people of Cuba are exceptionally warm, friendly and inviting. However, the socio economic divide remains an invisible and impenatrable barrier for me that I personally really struggle with. I do very much love and appreciate street photography when it is well executed, but feel no need or desire to force myself out of my comfort zone just to get a photograph. By contrast, I am quite comfortable in Nature sitting in a hide day after day in freezing temperatures, or searching the frozen sea ice in search of Polar bears – I love this process and that is what matters to me. I would much rather be face-to-face with a Polar bear on the sea ice than face-to-face with humanity in the street. Ironically, I can see great photographs everywhere as I wander the streets of Cuba, but the process of street photography is quite simply not for me. Fortunately, I can enjoy the many evocative and powerful photographs in a work such as Vivir Con * in my own time and from the comfort of my own living room.

If you are a dedicated street photographer I think you will find Cuba is just about nirvana. Between the old cars, the rustic dilapidated buildings, and the friendly faces full of character on every corner there is enough material here to keep even the most ardent and dedicated street photographer active for weeks at a time. I can clearly see why so many street photographers are drawn to the urban scene in Cuba. I can sum up my thoughts by acknowledging that Cuba may be a street photographers paradise, but I am no street photographer.

* Vivir Con by Carolina Sandretto is a highly engaging and emotional exposition into Cuban family life and the relationships between the spaces they live in. I may well review this book in full at a later date, but in short, I highly recommend you consider adding this powerful work to your photographic library.

Keynote Speaker Melbourne Portrait Conference November 2019

Scheduled to be held on November 12th and 13th at Melbourne’s Docklands, the Melbourne Portrait conference will provide two days of education by nine leading photographers. I will personally be headlining the conference as the keynote speaker and will be presenting and speaking on Wildlife portrait photography Tuesday 12th November at 9.30am. I will be showing photographs from both the Arctic and Antarctic. Attendees will get a look at previously unseen behind the scenes footage from my field work in the polar regions. The conference is open to both amateur and professional photographers. If you have not yet registered there is still some time. More information can be found HERE.

Photo of the Month September 2019 – Emperor Penguin Chicks

The photograph of the month for September 2019 is of Emperor Penguin chicks and comes from my last visit to Gould Bay in Antarctica in November of 2018. This photograph and print scored a Gold award at the 2019 Epson Victorian AIPP State awards and a Silver with Distinction at the 2019 APPA National Awards. It was also part of my winning portfolio for Nature Photographer of the Year at the 2019 Victorian State Awards. I used a 400mm f2.8L IS MKII lens to compress the distance between the small creche of penguin chicks and played with a number of different f-stops to achieve the depth of field effect I was after. The intention was to have the distant colony of penguins soft but still distinctly obvious as penguins. I lay down as low as I could on the ice in order to maintain eye level contact with the penguin chicks and to maintain as much intimacy as possible in the photograph. You can watch the print being judged in the video below.

Workshop and Expedition Update 2019

It has been more than six months since I last did a blog post on what is coming up for Workshops and Expeditions and a major update is well and truly over due. I have a crazy travel schedule to round out 2019 with both workshops and expeditions as well as personal travel (photography related) that includes the opening of my new exhibition ‘Antipodes’ in Cuba opening in November. I will also be undertaking a new scouting trip to the far wilds of Mongolia (more on this below) and so my time at home is preciously short for the rest of 2019.

On return from Greenland and Finland (I am currently in Greenland for another week or so, before I head to Finland for my Wolverines and Wolves workshop) I will have just a few days in Melbourne before I leave for the USA and Cuba. Time is working against me and I will unfortunately have just a few days in the states for a private print workshop before I make my way to Cuba for the opening of Antipodes.  I was hoping to make it to PhotoPlus in New York again this year, but time has not aligned and this will have to wait until 2020. I plan to spend just under a week in Cuba before I return to Australia for a few days (I will be speaking on wildlife photography at the Portrait Conference in Melbourne) and then make my way to a remote area of Mongolia on a new scouting trip to attempt to photograph an extremely rare, elusive and shy cat (not the snow leopard). I will be spending two weeks in this remote region of Mongolia tent camping in winter and I am expecting it to be quite arduous and primitive. I am nevertheless extremely excited at the prospect and potential this trip could yield and will have more to say about this as we get closer.

After Mongolia I will return to Australia for the Christmas period and some brief travel respite before I fly out New Years Eve bound for Canada and my Sold Out Snowy Owl workshop. Snowy Owls are my absolute favourite bird to photograph – they are simply magnificent and I am excited to be offering this workshop again for a small group of photographers in mid January 2021. You can download a complete PDF HERE.

From Canada I will return to Australia for a week before I make my way to the South Island of New Zealand where we will be departing on my thirty day Sold Out Ross Sea Antarctica expedition. This will be my first expedition into the Ross sea region of Antarctica and I am very excited to be venturing into this rarely visited area of the great white continent. Because of the duration (thirty days plus travel time) of this expedition it will likely be the first and only time I take a group of photographers into this region of Antarctica. The time commitment required precludes most people from being able to join and the significant cost of the ship for a month makes this a very difficult expedition to repeat. Nevertheless it promises to be an extremely special experience. One of the trip highlights will be the chance to see and photograph Emperor Penguins on icebergs – something I have wanted to do for a very long time (although I have photographed them on the sea ice at Gould Bay many times). By way of a forward tease – I will be offering a future Antarctica trip to the Peninsula  – likely to be October 2022.

On return to Australia I will have a week off before I head back to the far north of Iceland for my annual Arctic Fox expedition.  The 2020 expedition has long been sold out – but I am now taking bookings for the 2021 expedition. This is a ‘deep immersion’ expedition into Arctic fox photography. We will be staying in a small, homely and remote cabin that provides us immediate and incredible access to this tenacious little predator. If you want to photograph Arctic fox this is the workshop for you.  You can drop me an email to register your interest.

At the completion of the Arctic Fox expedition I will take some personal time and head to the northern region of Norway to photograph Puffins and Snow Hares in winter. This scouting trip is a precursor to a future workshop I will lead with David Gibbon for a small group of just six photographers in March of 2021 – You can download a complete PDF of the 2021 Trip HERE.

After I finish in Norway I will travel back to Iceland and onto Greenland for a Sold Out invitation only winter polar bear expedition. This will be the first time I have travelled to Greenland in winter and I am just so very excited to try and photograph Polar Bears in winter in the landscape of Greenland.  Once we finish our Polar Bear expedition we will stay on in Greenland for another new and sold out expedition for Musk Oxen in winter. It has been a lot of logistics work to put these two expeditions together into the East Coast in winter, but it should offer up some really unique and very special opportunities.

After Winter in Greenland I will return to Australia for a few weeks before I again head north for Svalbard in late Winter / early Spring. April / May is a wonderful time of the year to visit this part of the Arctic. With the sun low in the sky the quality of the light is sublime and the photographic opportunities are limitless. The birds are returning this time of year and the area will still be heavy with ice and snow.  There are now just two places remaining on this expedition before it will be sold out. Check out the Kingdom of the Ice Bear Video Below.

I will return again to Svalbard in July for my annual Polar Bears of the High Arctic expedition. (Read the report from last years expedition). The expedition runs from the 6th of July until the 15th of July and is strictly limited to twelve participants (some places already spoken for).

From Svalbard I am travelling to northern Alaska where we will depart on my first expedition to the Russian Arctic territory of Wrangle Island. This expedition is a co-operation between myself and Heritage Expeditions and promises to offer up some amazing landscape and wildlife if this years trip reports were anything to go by. Wrangle Island has long been on my destination wish list and I am very much looking forward to this expedition. You can download a complete PDF itinerary of this expedition HERE.

In September I am returning to Greenland for a sold out Winters Cusp expedition to the east coast and Scoresby Sund fjord system. For those of you who missed out on a place on the 2019 and 2020 expeditions I will be repeating this expedition again in September of 2021. Places are already limited – you can drop me an email for more information. Watch the Adobe Spark Presentation on Greenland.

I will then finish up the 2020 year with another expedition to sea ice of Gould Bay in Antarctica to photograph the mighty Emperor Penguins. This expedition to camp, photograph and live with Emperor Penguins is the only one of its kind to offer this incredibly special experience. This will be my fourth expedition to Gould Bay and I look forward very much to the incredibly special experience of living with Emperor Penguins. For the 2020 expedition I will take just six photographers (only two places remaining before it will be sold out. Drop me an email to register your interest.

For those of you who have made it this far and wanted an update on the Russian winter trip for Siberian Tigers……Well, I am afraid it is a case of no news at the moment. Things just move very slowly in that part of the world and although I am doing my best to actively drive this project forward I am encountering quite a few road blocks that are causing very significant delays. As soon as there is forward progress I will make a post update on the site.

If you want to get a peek into 2021 and what is coming up then you can check out the workshops page HERE on my website.