In Search of the Wolverine in Finland in Winter

Late yesterday I wrapped up six days of personal photography in northern Finland (in no mans land on the Russian border) trying to photograph Wolverine in winter. I decided to keep a daily video journal of the time I spent in the hide trying to photograph this elusive and shy animal. I uploaded the videos daily to social media via a pretty good 3G connection, but have now compiled them into a chronological time-line that I hope gives some insight into what it is like to spend day after day in a hide waiting for the opportunity to photograph rare and elusive wildlife. Peta-Pixel have now also picked up this story and have published it on their website.

I am now headed to Iceland to lead my annual expedition to the Hornstrandir Nature reserve in the North West fjords to photograph Arctic Fox in winter. I am really looking forward to returning to this remote area and the opportunity to again photograph these incredible animals with a small group of dedicated and passionate photographers. Perhaps best of all is that no hides are required in this area!

Photograph of the Month February 2019

The photograph of the month for February 2019 is from my 2018 private snow mobile expedition to photograph Polar Bears on the frozen sea ice in Svalbard. Some of you may recall from my trip report, I travelled around 3000km on snow mobile over a period of three-weeks last year in search of Polar Bears on the sea ice. During that time I was able to find just one Polar Bar – this one. Fortunately for me he was nestled nicely in amongst some pressure ridge ice.

Departing for the Arctic in Winter 2019

We are more than half way through January and well and truly rolling  into 2019 now. It feels like Christmas and the New Year evaporated under the heat of the Australian sun (and it has been very hot this summer). I know I frequently say it, but I really do feel like time is speeding up! Tomorrow I will be leaving Australia to kick off my year with expeditions and workshops to the Arctic in Winter. My first stop is northern Canada to complete my scouting trip for the Snowy Owls workshop I will lead back there in December this year. From northern Canada I will travel to northern Finland for my winter wildlife and landscape workshop. And from Finland I will travel back to Iceland for my annual Arctic Fox expedition into the Hornstrandir Nature reserve. After that I will return to Svalbard for both a personal snow mobile expedition as well as leading an expedition with clients before I wrap up winter with a ship based expedition north of Longyearbyen. Winter is without doubt my favourite time of the year to visit the Arctic and I am itching to get up into the cold, ice and snow and escape the oppressive heat of the Australian summer.

This series of trips takes in more than a dozen flights and countless lay overs, security screenings and customs clearances. Quite honestly I am not looking forward to the customs and securities formalities. Airports have become so impersonal in recent years and any joy that was to be found between actual flights has been exterminated by the overlords like something out of a George Orwell novel. There is literally nothing glamorous about airline travel these days! With that said I am trying to pack a little lighter (hilarious I know…) than I might otherwise do to try and ease my airport travel. Although I need the two big north face duffels for all my winter clothing I am trying to keep camera gear to a minimum- well, as minimum as can be. My list for these trips as below:

  • 2 x Canon EOS 1DX MKII Cameras
  • 2 x 1DX MKII Spare batteries
  • 1 x Canon 16-35mm F4L IS (Id like to take the 11-24mm.. but the extra weight and size made me remove it).
  • 1 x Canon 24-70mm F4L IS
  • 1 x Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS MKII
  • 1 x Canon 300mm f2.8L IS MKII
  • 1 x Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII
  • 1 x Canon 1.4 TC MKIII
  • 1 x ProFoto B10 AIR TTL Portable Light System & OFC Magnum Light Shaper

I would like to take my Go Pro system, a gimbal and various accessories but something has to give and this time the video equipment will stay at home.  Instead, I am taking a new ProFoto B10 Light – more on what I intend to use this for later. Time permitting, I will do my best to post some updates from the road and hopefully some photographs as well. See you in Canada!

 

Wild Russia in Winter Siberian Tigers Update

A quick update for the many of you who have registered your interest in photographing Siberian Tigers in Russia in winter. At this stage I am still trying to finalise dates, logistics and costs with my contacts on the ground in Russia. This process is taking far longer than I had originally envisaged or thought possible. Part of the reason for the lengthy delays is I am trying to get permission for us to enter part of an extensive Nature Reserve where the Tigers are being protected that is normally off limits.  How much more time this will take I do not as yet know. At this point the ball is definitely not in my court as I wait for answers, permits and final details. I will post a further update and contact all those who pre-registered once I have more definitive details. My best guess for timing at this stage based on progress to date is that the expedition will not be before December of 2020 at the earliest and this could easily spill into late 2021 early 2022. More details as they come to hand.

Hokkaido in Winter Workshop – A Visual Haiku

A late addition to my 2019 workshop and expedition line-up is a brand new Winter Workshop to Hokkaido in Japan in early December this year.  Hokkaido has long been on my list of destinations to offer a workshop and now after some extensive scouting with my friend and co-leader for this workshop, Martyn Lucas, we are excited to open this up for bookings. A different take on the usual sort of offering available in Japan, this workshop is designed with contemplative slow paced landscape photography in mind. We will not visit the tourist saturated snow monkey park or stand shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of others trying to photograph eagles or Snow Cranes. Instead it is our intention to immerse ourselves into the subtle monochromatic  and quiet landscape of Hokkaido in Winter – A Visual Haiku.

On this adventure you will experience snowy landscapes, simplicity of trees, lines of fence posts and restless seas pointing to infinity, also lakes of stillness, expansive terrain and poetic, Zen like minimalist scenes.  Such moments in time we will capture  from unique view points whilst immersing ourselves in Japanese Shinto and Buddhist culture and enjoying the tastes of authentic local cuisine.

We will have the pleasure and company of Hokkaido’s most knowledgeable and adventurous guide who will provide landscape encounters we could never be aware of on our own.  Absence of colour, majestic trees, wild settings and a reduction in colour encouraging our landscape focus – a minimalist point of view. Together, we will be surrounded by water, mountains, trees and landscapes transformed by snow and ice and we will interact and concentrate on capturing the beauty and starkness which is Hokkaido.

 

While in Kamifurano we will plan to visit the Goto Sumio Museum of Art – exhibiting some 130 landscape paintings by this iconic painter who has become a national treasure of Japan. A painter who freely comes and goes between the worlds of realism and spirituality.  Similarly, while in Yoichi we will enjoy a tasting of Nikka Malt Whiskey at Japan’s oldest distillery where we will most likely enjoy lunch too.

All inclusive Commencing evening of December 11, 2019 ending after lunch December 20, 2019. Investment: $8800 USD per person – Includes:

  • Nine nights bed and breakfast
  • Nine evening meals (six hotel and three, local restaurants
  • Ten lunches at local Japanese restaurant
  • Snowshoes, Hand Warmers, Hot Coffee and Tea
  • All Transportation between shooting locations
  • All Photographic instruction and tuition
  • Local Guide and Driver

Limited to just eight participants in total this workshop is for those who want to work at a slower more methodical pace who want to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the Japanese landscape. A Full PDF itinerary will shortly be available for download from the workshops page of my website. If you would like to register your interest please drop me an email for further details.