Africa was everything I could have asked for...and more. The ultimate wildlife photo-safari with the ultimate guide: Amy Attenborough.
I had Amy as a guide when I was last in Africa and when I decided to show Africa to my daughter on this trip, Amy was the first name I thought of. She's more than a point-and-shoot guide; she constantly reminds us of our connection to the land and its wild inhabitants. It's that approach to our travels that brought me one step closer to "finding myself" as a photographer of some of the world's most incredible wildlife.
We started in Londolozi, one of the first ever eco-camps, founded in the 1920’s. It was amazing as always. Their famous leopards did not disappoint. The variety in Londolozi is amazing. We then left Londolozi to go to Tswalu in the Kalahari.
The first flight was 13,000 feet in a non-pressurized plane without oxygen. Talk about a "breathless" flight! That was asking a lot out of this old body, and from Londolozi to Johannesburg, I wasn't having all that much fun just trying to breathe. The second flight was better, as it was a pressurized cabin and plenty of wonderful emergency oxygen. I arrived in Tswalu in pretty good condition, but I now know that my learning about new species is going to be limited to altitudes and conditions where I can breathe. The brain simply does not learn well without oxygen.
The desert was wonderful and I got to fulfill my ambition of seeing two "goal animals," pangolins--the most traded and increasingly endangered animal in the world--and meerkats.
We arrived just as the meerkats were coming out of their burrows. The burrows are cold, so the meerkats have to sun themselves to bring their body temperatures up. Thus we were able to photograph for quite a while. We also were able to shoot Cheetahs who were resting in the very hot sun. It was a full hour of the best shooting ever.
Our next destination was the Okavango Delta. Rain falls in Uganda and the water makes its way to the Botswana and the Delta. Usually, the Delta is very wet with hippo “highways” in the marsh. This year the rain was late and was just arriving when we left. I am hoping this is temporary, but everywhere I go, around the world, the evidence for climate change is present.
We went from the bush to Cape Town and down to the Cape of Good Hope. I love Cape Town and we had a great guide. Our last night in Cape Town we had dinner with Amy’s Aunt, who is a gracious host.
All in all a very successful trip. My daughter and I are eager to go back next year. I do love shooting in the bush. It is my favorite location for photography.
I've posted many more great photos from that trip. Just go to this page and scroll to the bottom...enjoy!
As many of you may know—particularly if you follow me on Facebook, the last few months of 2018 proved to be a bit of a challenge. I suppose you could say that I’ve proved once again that continent-hopping in search of those “nailed it” photographic moments is not for sissies.
As noted here back in September, I spent the better part of a month hauling my forty-plus pounds of photo gear through very challenging terrain through the Australian “Outback.” Well, I paid the price for that with an insanely tricky and righteously painful knee that took more than a month of rehab to trust again. That was promptly followed by a twinge in my shoulder as I tried to be a hero, reaching to catch a piece of luggage about to fall out of an airplane’s overhead storage.
What started as a serious “twinge” eventually had me falling down the rabbit hole of surgery, bed rest, and months of physical therapy...all of which kept me grounded throughout December and during these early weeks of 2019. The rest was good, and it gave me time to finish a pair of great 2019-2020 Calendars, which I hope you’ll check out. They’re very high-quality and will help you keep up with my travels over the next 12 months!
But I’m (almost) back! The knees are running at 90% efficiency, and I can actually climb stairs in both directions, which was impossible four months ago. And the shoulder is finally starting to mobilize, although rehab exercises where my physical therapist “opens up a joint capsule” brings home the concept of “breathing through the pain.” But I’ve now got great mobility and the walking stride to match and I’m now back into the kind of shape it takes to haul 35 lbs of camera gear around the world.
Speaking of travel...
On February 1st I shove off for a week-long “Blues Cruise,” which a opportunity for getting close to some musical icons and grabbing some candid portrait shots.
As soon as I return to L.A., it’s time to pack the gear again for what promises to be another “ultimate photo trip” to India in search of Bengal tigers. It’s an 8-person expedition led by wildlife photographers Piper McKay and Shivang Mehta. One of our stops will be Bandhavgarh National Park, home to the world’s greatest concentration of tigers.
I’ll be back stateside in mid-April, with my annual gallery exhibition in Coos Bay, Oregon’s Black market Gourmet on May 5th. I hope you’ll stop by so we can celebrate Cinqo de Mayo together!
A bit of rest (and processing photos), then it’s Alaska for bears-and-leaping-salmon in July, followed by South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and a trek through the Kalahari Desert with my daughter Jennifer and Amy Attenborough (niece of BBC producer and famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough) this Fall.
Until then...crossing my fingers for strong knees and shoulders in 2019!
I’ve been home from my Australian trip for a couple of weeks now, and I’m finally catching up with the “post production” on approximately 10,000 photos with another 20,000 to go. Many were shot at at 20 FPS in order to capture those true “nailed it” moments in time, so some of it is heavy process of elimination work…but it’s still work that involves a lot of fairly high-end digital work.
Although many, many editing hours and a never-ending learning curve are involved, it’s all really a creative thrill to bring out the best of the images, and to discover those that are truly memorable shots.
One of the most intriguing photographic subjects of my month-long adventure roaming from one end of the vast Australian Continent to the other is also one of the most unique geological formations on the planet: The Bungle Bungles. (That’s not a typo; two “bungles”.)
Located in the Purnululu National Park, The Bungle Bungles is a mountain range of spectacular scale and beauty like nothing I’ve ever seen. After sitting on the bottom of a prehistoric ocean for millions of years, accumulating layers of mineral-laden sand and incubating cyanobacteria in multiple strata, tectonic forces eventually lifted what is now known as the Kimberley Plateau and this sandy sea bottom.
Another million or more years of winds and sandstorms eroded this part of the plateau and carved what you see here in these images. It’s a bit difficult to imagine the scale of the place, but look closely at the shot of the cavern here…and you’ll see a member of our hiking party standing on the far side of the pond, the waterfall above his head stained by cyanobacteria.
But like The Bungle Bungles themselves, once you’re outside of the major cities, almost everything in Australia is beyond one’s imagination. Capturing these images—and all those you’ll find here on my Gallery page—was the stuff of dreams.
Check back here soon. My next trip will have me stalking polar bears...and then I'm going after tigers!
I've just returned to L.A. after an extended photo adventure through every nook and cranny, and over every boulder and hiking trail in Australia. To describe me as jet-lagged and physically beat-up would be like calling Donald Trump ill-mannered.
Not only am I dragging from the long flight, from the time difference, and from hauling 50 lbs of equipment across terrain that makes the surface of Mars look hospitable, but I’ve now managed to add a torn rotator cuff—the result of a dealing with a snagged 40-lb camera bag stuck in an airplane overhead bin--to my list of battle scars. (Don't let this silly smile fool you...I've put some miles on and I'm feelin' every one of them!)
To briefly recap: I flew into Sydney over a month ago, discovered the sights and sounds most visitors enjoy, and then set off across the Australian Continent, headed first for the the Western Australia coastal town of Broome on the Indian Ocean.
The contrast between Sydney and all points west is startling. The interior of the country is filled with…nothing. Thousands of miles of…nothing. But even in its spare vastness, the desert plains rising to low mountain ranges worn smooth by eons of winds hold a certain visual majesty that no photographer could ignore. The quality of light at sunrise and at sunset in Australia is like none other I’ve seen.
From Broome, it was due northeast to the East Kimberly Plateau and Kununurra, where a helicopter was the perfect shooting platform for some great shots of The Bungle Bungles. This is an amazing geological phenomenon: orange and black sandstone domes rising 1,000 feet above the grass-covered plains that surround them. This is an area historically inhabited by local Aboriginal people that wasn’t even known to outsiders until the 1980s.
Once we had a good fly-over, our chopper landed and we hiked out among what appeared as enormous, towering beehives sculpted smooth by the wind. I made it as far as Echidna Cavern before my knees reminded me that I was a man of a certain age and not a spry mountain goat.
I returned home with more than 10,000 images, some of which are truly “nailed it” shots…and there’s a story attached to every one! But I’ll let the images speak for themselves. They tell the story of a spectacular geologically ancient and ecologically diverse land, of a spirited and welcoming culture…and of the trip of a lifetime!
While I spend the next several weeks healing and recuperating from hundreds of miles of hiking across boulders, rivers, and plains—not to mention hopping in and out of assorted trucks, boats, helicopters, and airplanes, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing it all through my lens.
Be sure to visit my Gallery Page for a better look. As always, I'm happy to send custom prints suitable for framing!
Nearly a month ago, I set out on a photo expedition to Australia. As this is written, I’m still here and in constant motion, scouring the Outback for great images.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the allure of this vast “island” continent is the fact that after three weeks, I’m still eager to see more. To keep this post from becoming a book-length rhapsody, I’ll just say this country is more than anyone could bargain for.
Australia’s ecology lives and dies with fire. Bush fires are common and essential to the cycle of re-germination and regrowth that is a natural constant. With the human population packed along the coastlines, the interior is vast and filled with endless…nothing. No farm land, no settlements, no signs of civilization. It’s a dry world currently enduring a prolonged period of drought, yet still the home to species only found here.
My eye is constantly drawn to the natural wonders that are simply not seen anywhere else on the planet. From topography and geography to flora and fauna, Australia seems to be a world unto itself.
As a trained zoologist, my interest in the animal kingdom here has been rewarded with some terrific “nailed it” moments. Discovering Kangaroo Island—a rugged natural habitat that harbors wallabys, “roos”, and the elusive Echidna, a spiney critter I was lucky to stumble across.
Echidnas—unique to Australia—are cousins of the platypus, and neither are exactly “social” by nature. They are, in fact, nearly impossible to find, and the only egg-laying mammals in the world. The shot you see here isn’t my greatest from a technical standpoint, but it took hours of guided hunting and a hasty crawl on my belly to capture this image. After capturing koalas, wombats, and assorted rare birds, this Echidna feels like a real feather in my cap!
This has truly been the trip of a lifetime, with stops in Sydney on the east coast, Melbourne and Adelaide on the south coast, and Perth on the remote west coast. I’m now headed to the tropical north to Darwin Kununurra and then to Wyndam to catch the True North Yacht for a voyage around the Kimberfly Plateau. This is one of the most remote regions on the planet, so I’m looking forward to some spectacular landscapes and wildlife that is truly…wild!
I’d write more, but I’m up before sunrise tomorrow on the move again. As strenuous and exhausting as some of these days are, this continues to be the trip of a lifetime. Be sure to check out my Facebook page for daily updates and head to the Gallery pages on the website to see recent images that have inspired me.
Until next time…do what you can while you can!
Okay, I'll come clean.
Not only do I love the creative aspects of capturing compelling images that move those who see them (including myself!), but I could be suffering from an addiction to the ever-evolving world of photographic technology.
If that's a crime...guilty as charged.
Just recently--after working almost exclusively with a full range of Canon gear--I've jumped in with both feet and am now firmly planted in the Sony camp.
I now shoot almost exclusively with the new Sony A7Riii, with an A9 riding sidecar. One of the great advantages for me, because I carry all my own gear and often haul it across challenging terrain, is that they share a single charger and save some precious weight.
Sony responded to considerable professional input from the field, and now they've solved all the problems the A7Rii had with a new battery system that lasts most of a day read and writes fast.
I use the A7Riii almost exclusively for landscapes and portraits, taking full advantage of its 42 megapixel capability to get insane resolutions that allow me to enlarge images without losing any quality.
The A9 is my action camera, capable of shooting 20 fps, nearly fast enough to record a movie with sound! With that, I'm using a 16mm wide angle with a converter to take it to 12mm. Mid range is 24-105 f4 lens or a 24-70. I also use a 55 1.4 portrait lens and for telephoto work it's a 100-400 f4 with a 1.4 multiplier.
With all of that weaponry, I can travel light with a vest or small backpack and can shoot from 12 to 560. And I just threw in a new RRS carbon fiber tripod of the same size and weight as my old traveler, but much more stable in wind (which seems to be everywhere on the planet!). Topping it all off is a new Arca Swiss head which is bit heavier but more precise than my old one.
If all of this makes me a "photo-geek"...well, I've been called worse things!
Winter or not, Paris is fabulous...as always!
Having visited La Ville Lumière so many times in the past, this trip is a bit unique as I'm traveling with family members. Because I know the sights, sounds, and environs so well at this point, I'm enjoying the role of "tour guide expert" as I show them my favorite spots. It's always a great reminder of how unique an experience my travel adventures are when I see wonder in the eyes of others visiting my haunts for the first time
From a photographic perspective--always my working objective throughout my travels--the personal aesthetic challenge for me on this trip is finding new ways to capture those familiar places, landscapes, and landmarks.
That said, I'm working hard to do just that, and I've already captured what I believe are some compelling images that I'll soon be sharing here on the website.
And...thanks to the miracle of today's technology (thank you, Internet), while I'm on this Parisian expedition, I'm busy preparing my annual gallery exhibition at Coos Bay Oregon’s Black Market Gourmet.
This year I'm featuring new images from my 2017 trips to Spain, France, The Netherlands, Alaska...and the list goes on, all available for purchase at Black Market Gourmet on May 6th. The prints I'll be showing are each custom-printed and ready for mounting and framing. Several are truly ideal for ordering as panoramic prints, which make eye-popping décor statements in either residential or commercial settings. Because my panoramas require quite a bit of custom sizing and crafting, I'll be taking orders on May 6th for delivery in June.
As always, I look forward to seeing old friends and sharing tales of my travels. The response to my photography gets stronger each year, which is extremely rewarding on a deeply personal level. I'll be bringing a small number of custom calendars with me, so try to get there early on May 6th, as they always sell out!
And even if you're not in the market to acquire fine art photography, just swing by and say hi...it's always a great time up in Coos Bay!
Here's a sneak preview of some of the things you'll see at Black Market Gourmet. They're all my favorites...which one is yours?
This will be brief, because 2018 is already moving at full speed and I’ve got a lot of packing and planning to do…and I’m already running late!
But because so many of you are keeping tabs on my photo-adventures, I thought I’d share this year’s itinerary with you:
February-March: Paris. Undoubtedly one of my favorite, most inspirational cities anywhere on the planet. This will be a bit of an extended trip (taking my family along for the first time), and I’m eager to revisit La Ville Lumiére (did you know Paris was one of the first European cities to be illuminated with a gas lighting system?) We’ll also be looking for great perspectives at Versailles and Giverny where I hope to capture Claude Monet’s gardens in early Spring bloom It will be fun to shoot the lillies.
I’ll be posting images from these trips as promptly as possible…all of which will be available for you as stunning panoramic wall art, calendars, greeting cards, or custom prints. And, as always, feel free to reach out to share your impressions of my work here on the site or through Facebook.
Wishing you all the very best for a great 2018, and looking forward to sharing another exciting year with you.
As the year winds down and I put my feet up for the holidays, it's a great time look back on the last 12 months of non-stop travel and reflect upon the nearly 20,000 images I captured in 2017.
It's also an opportunity for me to deal with the question I'm asked most often: "What's your favorite photograph?"
That's a difficult question, simply because so much goes into each exposure. I've got those "tech favorites" where for a particular image I was forced to rise to the manifold challenges of equipment selection, aperture settings, optical aberrations, depth of field, white balance, digital noise, and tonal range. Not all shots are easy to get!
Then I've got those "aesthetic favorites" where the photograph becomes more than just a "picture" because it succeeds artistically in terms of composition, shape, color, lighting, texture, and theme.
But those images that I think about--the ones I truly enjoy seeing in my portfolio and that seem to grab the most attention--are those that tell a story. With that in mind, here are my personal "favorites" for 2017. I think you'll like them too...
Be sure to "click" on each image to enlarge and see my notes. As always, these images are available for custom printing in a variety of formats and sizes at The Print Store. If you have any questions about custom orders, just contact me directly.