Testing a New Lens – The Things You See…

Today I took some time in the late afternoon to test a new lens – the Canon 400mm f2.8L IS MKII (I have long wanted to add this exotic piece of glass to my arsenal for both its super fast aperture and superb bokeh). Camera (1DX MKII) and lens (400mm f2.8L IS MKII) in hand, I grabbed a portable hide and wandered down to the local park where Eastern Grey Kangaroos often frequent the open grass areas at dusk. Finding myself a secluded spot just inside the tree line I set up the camera and crawled inside the hide expecting a rather long wait…

From my concealed position I could see a group of Kangaroos out in the field ahead of me; perhaps at 800mm+ range, but too far for anything more than a record shot. They were not particularly active and were grazing in the shade of a large gum tree. A few moments later from around the corner on the walking path comes a lady walking her German Shepard. She spots the Kangaroos, stops and looks around to see if anyone else is around or watching her (she doesn’t see me concealed in a blind inside the tree line). Satisfied she is on her own she lets her dog off the leash and points for it to chase the Kangaroos. Of course, the dog charges off for the Kangaroos, startles them and they scatter. One of the smaller Kangaroos bolts in my direction and I snap off some frames from my hidden position. It was just about perfect with the Kangaroo coming almost directly toward me at full tilt.

Of course, the dog had no chance of catching the Kangaroo and it quickly tired of the chase when it realised it was outclassed. Satisfied the dog had done well the woman called back her dog and went on her way, none the wiser that I had observed the entire fiasco. In fact, neither the Kangaroo, the dog or the woman ever knew I was there. Despite the fact her behaviour was inappropriate the woman had inadvertently set up a great shot for me with exactly what I had been hoping for – a Kangaroo at full gallop coming almost straight toward me. Just about the perfect test for this lens – ISO400 f2.8 1/2000th of a second.

Major Workshop / Expedition Update 2017 / 2018

With August almost behind us (just where is the year going?) I felt it time for an update on workshops and expeditions for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 (with a sneak peak into 2019).

In a little under two weeks time I will be heading north to Greenland for two back-to-back expeditions to the remote east coast of Greenland. These expeditions into the remote and wild Scoresby Sund fjord system have been in planning for more than two years now and I am really looking forward to setting sail from Constable Point in Greenland to start our photographic expedition. Both of these expeditions have long been sold out, but I will be returning to Greenland in 2019 and will have more details on that expedition later this year.After I finish in Greenland I am heading down to Antarctica for my White Nature expedition. Timed as the first of the season we have planned our expedition to take advantage of dramatic and variable weather as well as giant icebergs and lots of snow and ice. I have been travelling to Antarctica annually for many years now and have found early November to consistently offer the best photographic experience for all aboard. I recently published a full guide on how to choose the right photographic expedition to Antartica and it can be downloaded for free HERE. This expedition is sold out.

2018 will kick off with sold out expeditions to Lofoten for Winter landscapes and Iceland for Arctic Fox in winter. My last workshop to Lofoten was in 2016 and I am looking forward to returning to this incredible archipelago. The rising and precipitous mountains that climb directly out of the sea and the rugged coastal landscapes make for a photographers paradise. And of course, the chance of Aurora Borealis (northern lights) only sweetens the pot and adds that magic element to what is one of the most picturesque places I have ever been fortunate to visit and photograph.My annual expedition to photograph Arctic Fox in winter in the remote and wild Hornstrandir reserve in Iceland has also long been sold out (Read the 2017 Expedition Report). I will be returning to Iceland in 2019 for this expedition and am now taking expressions of interest from those interested in photographing this incredible survivor. I will have full details including dates and costs for 2019 soon.After Iceland I will travel to Svalbard to lead a winter expedition north of Longyearbyen in search of polar bears and dramatic winter landscapes. Svalbard in winter is an absolutely breathtaking location. With newly formed sea ice, snow and ice covered mountains and chance encounters with the worlds largest land predator in a stunning white environment this expedition rates as one of my absolute all time favourites (Be sure to check out the Expedition Trip Report from March this year). At this stage there are still a few places remaining before the expedition will be sold out. If you are interested in joining us and exploring the winter white wonderland of this Arctic archipelago you can register your interest by dropping me an email. The remaining places are filled strictly on a first come, first served basis. To get an idea of what winter is like in Svalbard be sure to check out the new Ghosts of the Arctic short film by clicking on the image below.In late April / Early May I will lead my annual New Zealand South Island Masterclass workshop. This will be the last year I offer the South Island workshop as I plan to switch gears in 2019 with a brand new Van Diemens Land Tasmania Landscape workshop that will also include an optional extension to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria Australia (more details on this to come at a future date). The New Zealand South Island Masterclass has been an eagerly anticipated workshop over the last few years. For the final year my co-leader Phillip and I are including even more helicopter time over the spectacular southern alps with doors off photography to enable us all to capture some truly stunning imagery. Strictly limited to just six participants there are now only a few places remaining before the workshop will be sold out. Earlier this year, Daniel Bergmann and I completed a brand new workshop to photograph Atlantic Puffins and other Arctic birds at several different locations in Iceland that included the remote northern Grimsey Island, inside the Arctic circle. (Read the trip Report). The workshop was a great success and as such we have decided to offer a new workshop in May next year that will take us back to Grimsey Island to photograph both the wildlife and incredible landscape of this remote island. As well as Grimsey Island we will also spend time in Myvatn in the north of Iceland – One of the best places in the world to photograph Arctic birds. Grimsey Island in particular is one of the most spectacular locations I have visited in Iceland with towering cliffs that rise hundreds of feet out of the ocean and incredible basalt columns. It is a wild and primordial landscape that is rarely visited and even less rarely photographed. If you are interested in photographing the loveable and comical Atlantic Puffin and other Arctic bird species this workshop is not to be missed. Only two places remaining before the workshop will be sold out.In July I will return to Svalbard for my annual summer Polar Bear expedition. This expedition has been designed from the ground up to provide the very best possible opportunities to Photograph Polar Bears in their natural environment. With the reduction in Arctic sea ice the Polar Bears in Svalbard are dwindling in number and the number of years left to photograph them is unfortunately now extremely limited. Late July and August are the ideal times to photograph Polar Bears north of Svalbard due to the dwindling ice around the archipelago. On this expedition we will be carrying a naturalist/biologist who specialises in locating Polar Bears and an expedition leader and captain who have years of experience in placing us in the ideal position to make the best photographs. Their expertise will allow us to approach the king of the Arctic as closely and safely as possible and make incredible photographs under the spectacular midnight sun. To get an idea of what this workshop entails be sure to read the 2016 trip reportIn October I will return to the gigantic sand dunes of Namibia for a new Desert Fire Safari. This will be my fourth visit to Namibia to photograph the ancient sand dunes of the worlds largest and oldest desert. It is the perfect juxtaposition to my usual polar landscape and wildlife photography and offers an alternate landscape of extremes. Our workshop will sea us visit the giant red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, the eerie ghost town of Kolmonskop as well as the relentless Skeleton coast and the Etosha wildlife reserve. Places are now limited. For more information please send me an email.Finally in November 2018 I will return to the sea ice of Gould Bay in Antarctica for my Emperor Penguin expedition (Read the 2016 Expedition Report). There are plenty of species the world over that are much harder to find than Emperor Penguins.  To my knowledge however, none is as difficult or as expensive to reach as the Emperor Penguin; and thats the conundrum of Emperor Penguin photography. We know exactly where they are located, we just cant get to them without great difficulty and significant expense. Living on the sea ice in remote and difficult to reach areas of Antarctica the Emperor Penguin is therefore as difficult to reach as the enigmatic snow leopard is to locate in the wilds of its mountainous territories. This expedition will see us fly to Union Glacier deep in the Interior of Antarctica where we will set up our base camp before we take smaller twin otter aircraft out to the sea ice for our advance camp where we will live with the Emperor Penguins during our time on the sea ice. Strictly limited to just eight photographers there is only one place remaining before the expedition will be sold out (Read the 2016 Expedition Report).Peaking into 2019 I will be leading a brand new workshop to the north of Finland in February in search of Golden Eagles, Hawk Owls, Wolves and wolverine (full details coming very soon). The workshop is going to include a significant amount of photography from private hides and will afford opportunities to photograph rare species not often seen and even less often photographed. I am not quite ready to start taking bookings for this new workshop but you are welcome to register your interest by dropping me an email.

A final sneak peak into 2019 includes a new workshop to photograph the landscapes of Van Diemens land (Tasmania) with an optional extension to the Great Ocean road in Victoria Australia. More details to come soon….

Wrapping up Australia and Packing for the Ultimate Puffins of Iceland Workshop

Yesterday I wrapped up a private workshop to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria with a week long extension around Tasmania. Both the Great Ocean Road and Tasmania offer some of Australia’s most spectacular landscapes across a wide diversity of topography. The Great Ocean road is known for its impressive and towering sandstone sea cliffs and sea stacks and Tasmania for its World Heritage forests, mountains and spectacular granite strewn beaches. Both locations make for outstanding photographic sojourns and I hope to share more images from this workshop over the coming months. The photograph below of London Bridge at sunrise is just a small sample of what is on offer in this part of the world. I had hoped to have some more time to process a few more images from both this trip and my prior New Zealand South Island Masterclass but I have run out of time (I will have full trip report on this Masterclass in the coming weeks) and tomorrow I am heading back to the airport to start the long trek to Iceland for my Ultimate Puffin workshop with Daniel Bergmann.The Iceland Puffin workshop is entirely focused on bird photography and as such my equipment for this workshop predominantly consists of  longer lenses with the 600mm F4L IS MKII and 300mm F2.8L IS MKII  being my main weapons of choice. Two Canon EOS 1DX MKII  bodies will suffice as my cameras for this workshop. I am also taking a wide angle for close up images as well as my 85mm F1.2L MKII for some shallow depth of field work.

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Camera Bag (Carry on Luggage)

– 2 x Canon EOS 1DX MKII bodies
– 1 x Canon 16-35mm F4L Lens
– 1 x Canon 85mm F1.2L IS MK II Lens
– 1 x Canon 70-200mm F2.8L MKII IS Lens
– 1 x Canon 300mm F2.8L MKII IS Lens
– 1 x Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII Lens
Gura Gear Chobe (Carry on Luggage)
– 1 x Apple MacBook Pro 15″ Retina (I plan to upgrade this to the new 13″ model early next year)
– 1 x Apple laptop charger
– 2 x USB 3 2TB external portable Sandisk SSD Drives
– 1 x  Thunderbolt CFast card reader and CF card Reader
– 1 x Sunglasses and sunglasses case
– 1 x Leica Ultra-vid 10×42 HD Binoculars
– 1 x iPad Pro 9.7″ Tablet

See you in the Iceland!

New Zealand South Island Experience and Victoria’s Great Ocean Road

In a few short days I am heading back to New Zealand for a workshop tour of the magnificent South Island with my friend Phillip Bartlett and our group of participants. The South Island of New Zealand is an incredible part of the world and boasts spectacular mountain alps which run down the spine of this amazing country. These mountains plunge almost straight into the sea on both sides of the country. It is the only place in the world I know of where alpine mountains plunge straight into temperate forest that directly hugs such a rugged and wild coastline. I was in the South Island of New Zealand only a few weeks ago completing a week long commercial assignment and I very pleased to be returning again so soon. On this trip we will be circumnavigating the South Island and taking in the best of its many iconic locations as well as visiting some of its hidden treasures and lesser known areas. We will be chartering a helicopter with doors removed for photography over the alps and enjoying a private boat charter for playful Dusky Dolphins and Sea Lions off the coast of Kaikoura. If you want to get an idea of what this tour is going to be like be sure to watch the short tester video below.

Packing for this trip is somewhat of a challenge for me as I am quite keen to take my newly acquired Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII Lens (why own it if you don’t intend to carry it) as well as the 200-400mm F4L Lens – for both Sea Lions, Dusky Dolphins and Albatross in and around Kaikoura. I plan to carry these two lenses to both Iceland and Namibia in March this year so this trip to New Zealand is an ideal opportunity to see how they travel together on international flights. These two lenses add up to a not insignificant amount of weight, but perhaps of more immediate concern is the sheer bulk and space they require inside the camera bag. With both of these lenses in my Gura Gear camera bags there is little room for much else. Nevertheless it never ceases to amaze me just how much gear can be squeezed into the Bataflae 32L bag. So, after some trial packing I will be carrying the following on this trip: (I know this is a ridiculous amount of equipment but I am a person who prefers to carry it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.) Just as a side addendum to this; I used to think I carried a lot of equipment, but then I worked with a video guy last year in the Arctic who redefined what it meant to carry a lot of gear!)

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Camera Bag

  • Canon EOS 1DX
  • Canon EOS 1DS MKIII
  • Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII (Lens hood goes in the checked luggage bag)
  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS MKII
  • Canon 24-70mm F2.8L MKII
  • Canon 24mm F3.5L TSE MKII
  • Canon 17mm F4L TSE
  • Canon 1.4 TC MKIII
  • LEE Filter System including Graduated ND filters and Polariser
  • Cable Release and other accessories

Gura Gear Chobe Camera Bag

  • 15″ MacBook Pro, back-up hard drive, card reader and accessories
  • Canon 200-400mm F4L IS with inbuilt 1.4 TC (incredibly this does fit in the Chobe!)

North Face Rolling Thunder Duffle *

  • Clothes and Personal Items
  • Really Right Stuff Tripod, BallHead and Jobu Gimbal Mount

* I really like the North Face Rolling Thunder Duffle as a travel bag. It is extraordinarily tough and copes very well with the rigours and violence that checked luggage is exposed to (I really have no idea what baggage handlers do behind the scenes but I am sure it involves some sort of contact sport with people’s luggage). The only downside to this bag is it weighs eleven pounds or five kilograms empty. On flights with a 20 kilogram luggage limit that is one quarter of the limit before you start putting things like clothes in it. Thankfully many of the airlines I travel with these days have more reasonable 25 to 30 kilogram luggage limits and I can usually get close enough to these limits to avoid excess luggage charges.

Victoria – The Great Ocean Road

Just before I depart for New Zealand later this week I will be leading a private three day trip down Victoria’s spectacular Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road is home to some iconic Victorian scenery including the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, The Wreck Coast and more. It has been nearly a year since I last photographed this part of Victoria and I am looking forward to spending a few days in the field in my home state and sharing these amazing locations with my first time visitors. I am offering further one-on-one private workshops here in Victoria by appointment and based around my existing travel schedule both this year and next for anyone who would like to experience the best of this part of Victoria. Please contact me to discuss timing, cost and availability if you are coming to Australia in the near future.

Australian Geographic Desk Diary 2014

The 2014 Australian Geographic Magazine desk diary was released a few days ago. Featuring photography from many different artists,  the diary is a week to a page, hard cover, spiral bound with a ribbon marker. Photographs are taken from around Australia and Antarctica and feature classic Australian landscapes, flora and fauna. The 2014 diary includes more than ten of my own photographs from Australia and Antarctica and can be ordered online from Australian Geographic.