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.

Departing for Greenland and Finland 2019 Expeditions

My whirlwind stop at home in Melbourne, Australia has already come to an end (yes, I really do live here!) and as soon as I finish this post I am heading back to the airport to start the long haul north back to Iceland then onto Greenland for my two back-to-back expeditions to the East Coast and Scoresby Sund with Daniel Bergmann. Honestly, it feels like my feet have not even touched earth here in Australia and I am definitely not fully recovered from my Faroe Islands jet lag (Read the TRIP REPORT). Despite the fading case of jet lag I am really excited to be returning to Greenland. The massive icebergs and rugged landscape of Greenland are a a dynamic paradise for photographers. In particular the East Coast may just be my favourite place on earth to photograph.  Check out the Adobe Spark Presentation HERE.

After I finish in Greenland I will be having a few days off in Helsinki before I start my Autumn workshop in the north of Finland for Wolves, Wolverines and Bears. Autumn is a gorgeous time to photograph in the forests of Northern Finland and with a little luck we will have some fantastic photographic encounters during our time on the Russian border. Finland is in my experience one of the most underrated wildlife destinations on earth. Not only does it offer up Bears, Wolverine, Wolves, Otters, Pine Martin and more, but it is also home to White-tailed Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, Siberian Jays, Black and Spotted Woodpeckers and a host of other Arctic and Sub Arctic birds.

Packing for the East Coast of Greenland and Finland in Autumn presents a minor challenge. Although both will be similar in terms of temperature, they require quite different photographic approaches. With the emphasis in Greenland on landscape and the emphasis in Finland on Wildlife it requires quite a bit of thought on what equipment to actually pack in order to avoid taking absolutely everything.  All of the below fits in my new Gura Gear Kiboko backpack (just!). Although I generally prefer a roller bag for airports (that I can then re-pack into a backpack) on this occasion a backpack makes more sense as I need to carry all my equipment from the airport at Constable point to our point of embarkation on our boat.

2 x Canon EOS 1DX MKII Cameras with 2 x Spare Batteries

1 x Canon 8-15mm Fish Eye

1 x Canon 11-24mm

1 x Canon 24-70mm F4L IS Lens

1 x Canon 100-400mm F3.5-5.6 IS MKII Lens

1 x 600mm F4L IS MKIII Lens

1 x 1.4 TC MKIII Teleconverter

1 x Lecia 10 x 42 HD Binoculars

If I had the space I would love to take a tilt shift lens or two with me as well as I find these really useful when working from ship. The keen eyed amongst you may notice I am not taking the EOSR or a tripod. Greenland is an active and dynamic place and I have found in the past a tripod is often more of a hindrance than a benefit; especially when things are happening quickly (such as icebergs rolling over). I will shoot handheld for these expeditions (or on a bean bag for my long lenses). For Finland I am packing my Sachtler fluid head to mount the 600mm inside the hides.

If you missed out on a place on the 2019 and 2020 expeditions but would like to travel to the East Coast of Greenland to photograph this amazing region then I will be repeating this very special ‘Winters Cusp’ expedition in September of 2021 (some places and cabins already spoken for). Full details are now available for download from my website at www.jholko.com including a complete PDF itinerary.

Lastly, there is no internet access during my time on the East Coast of Greenland; so if you contact me via email please be patient and I will get to you on my return as soon as possible. See you in Greenland!

 

Mystical Faroe Islands Workshop Report 2019

In August of 2019 I led my first landscape workshop to the Faroe Islands; a series of remote islands south of Iceland (north of Scotland) that offer some of the most rugged and beautiful sea cliffs I have been fortunate to experience and photograph. The Faroe islands archipelago is actually an autonomous country of the kingdom of Denmark. The islands cover a total area of approximately 1,400 square kilometres with a population of just 52,000 people. The climate is sub polar oceanic and such the weather is renowned as wet, windy, cloudy and cool (not what we experienced). Temperatures average above freezing because of the islands location in the Gulf Stream.

The landscape (specifically the sea cliffs) of the Faroe Islands is about as spectacular as one can imagine. Dramatic and plunging cliffs that rise sharply (at some points greater than 800 feet) out of the ocean make for a very dramatic back drop for photography.

Prospective photographic suiters should arm themselves with the knowledge that the Faroe Islands is ripe with locations and vistas you cant simply drive up to and photograph. You absolutely must be prepared to walk and/or hike; and often over some fairly uneven terrain at distances that can exceed ten or more kilometres. Additionally, many of the local land owners have now gated (due to the recent and steep rise in tourism) their properties and are charging admission to hikers and photographers. This currently unregulated practice means that there is quite a variation in entrance fees depending on where you choose to visit. Some locations are now closed to the public without a local guide. We had pre-scouted all of the locations for our workshop and as such avoided any nasty access surprises.

We had planned to schedule our daily activities around the often highly variable weather that the Faroe Islands is known for. As it turned out we experienced weather that could perhaps be said to be ‘too good’ with many warm sunny rain free days that were also mercifully low on wind. In fact, the only rain we experienced during our entire stay was our last morning as we made our way to the airport to say our farewells. I never touched my cold weather clothing the entire trip and lived in a light base layer with the occasional mid layer and light weight wind proof jacket.

Our daily itinerary for this workshop took us across several of the islands and included quite a bit of hiking to reach the best vantage points. The longest of these hikes was out to Drangarnir Arch and Tindholmur; a fairly arduous hike with a superb and highly rewarding vista. If you are planning to visit the Faroes please be aware that access to this location is now closed without a local guide.

We also visited the island of Mykines where we photographed the Atlantic Puffins that nest on the sea cliffs. I have been fortunate to photograph Atlantic Puffins at two of the best locations in the world in Iceland and was pleasantly surprised to find Mykines was just about as good as any of them. The Puffins are very approachable and one can sit quietly near the cliff edge and photograph them as they come into land with food in their mouths for their chicks. Some of us also took an option hike out to the lighthouse. Although the Puffins are quite approachable the island of Mykines is a tourist hot spot and you do have to contend with a great many day trippers also keen to attempt to photograph the puffins with their smart phones (an unfortunate reality of life these days).

Some of the other locations we visited during our workshop included Traelanipan Cliffs and Bosdalafossur Waterfall and Sørvágsvatn Lake. We also visited and photographed the iconic sea stack Trollkonufingur as well as Gasadalur and Mulafossur waterfall. We also took the ferry to the island of Kalsoy for a walk and scenic photograph of the lighthouse as well as the seal lady at Mikladur. We also visited the Islands of Kunoy, Bordoy and Vidoy and hiked the hillside for amazing views over the fjord and photographed the the Risin & Kellingin sea stacks.

Generally speaking the distances between locations in the Faroe Islands are short and the road conditions mostly excellent (although the roads are very narrow in parts). Tunnels connect some islands whereas others require ferry or car ferry access. In the case of ferry access, you absolutely must either pre-book or arrive very early (in cases where booking is not possible) to avoid disappointment. The Faroes has become very popular in recent years as a photographic destination and as such it is rare to have any of the iconic locations to yourself.

Due to my travel commitments I have not as yet had the time to process many of the landscape photographs I made during our time in the Faroes (and I am leaving for Greenland and Finland in just a few days), but I hope to share more of these beautiful islands over the coming months as time allows. 

Greenland East Coast 2019 & 2020 Expeditions Sold Out!

Both my back-to-back 2019 and 2020 expeditions to the remote East Coast of Greenland on the cusp of Winter are now SOLD OUT.  If you have not travelled to and photographed the Scoresby Sund region of Greenland then you absolutely must put it on your bucket list. The East coast of Greenland is one of the most spectacular locations on our planet. Speaking candidly, if I could only photograph one place for the rest of my life it would be Scoresby Sund and the East Coast of Greenland.  It is absolutely miraculous on every level.

If you missed out on a place on the 2019 and 2020 expeditions but would like to travel to the East Coast of Greenland to photograph this amazing region then I will be repeating this very special ‘Winters Cusp’ expedition in September of 2021 (some places and cabins already spoken for). Full details are now available for download from my website at www.jholko.com including a complete PDF itinerary. Dont forget to also check out  the Adobe Spark Greenland Presentation.

Faroe Islands Workshop 2019 Packing List

With time marching ever onward my brief respite at home in Australia after my recent Svalbard High Arctic expedition (Read the Trip Report) has already come to an end and early tomorrow morning I am heading back to the airport to start the trek back north (via London and Copenhagen) for my 2019 workshop to the Faroe Islands with good friend Martyn Lucas.

Packing for the Faroe Islands is a bit of a compromise for me. Although the primary emphasis on this workshop is definitely landscape, we will also be taking the opportunity to photograph Atlantic Puffins and the many sea birds found along the Islands precipitous sea cliffs. As such, I need to pack some wildlife kit as well as my usual landscape equipment. Although I could probably get by with just my 100-400mm lens for the Puffins the reality is that I know I will miss the 400mm 2.8L IS MK3 and as such this lens is a must take for me. With that in mind, my equipment for this workshop as follows:

– Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera with RRS L Bracket (and spare batteries)

– Canon EOS RF to EF Adapter

– Canon 16-35mm F4L

– Canon 24-70mm F4L IS

– Canon 100-400mm F3.5 – 5.6 IS MKII

– Canon EOS 1DX MKII (with spare battery)

– Canon 400mm F2.8L IS MKIII

– Nisi Filter Kit including Graduated ND Filters, ND Filters and Circular Polariser

– Gitzo Carbon Fibre Tripod with Arca Swiss D4 Geared Head

– Cable Release

The Faroe Islands have long been on my list to photograph as part of a workshop and I am really excited to get underway with a small group of passionate attendees. See you in the Faroes in a few days! The below photograph courtesy Martyn Lucas.