FirstLight Workshop

Where's Jay?

Patagonia & Namibia – 2014

Torres del Paine, Chile, Valle del France Olympus E-M1  12-40mm f.8

Torres del Paine, Chile, Valle del France
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f.8

 

A swarm of Dragonfly we encountered on the Explorer, off of the coast of Argentina   Olympus E-M1   40-150mm f2.8

A swarm of Dragonfly we encountered on the Explorer, off of the coast of Argentina
Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

What an intense past couple of months.  In late October I left on a National Geographic Expedition to Patagonia with our daughter Maggie, who was also hoping to add a long hike (80+ miles) in Torres del Paine (TdP) National Park (southern Chile) on to the end of the trip.  This hike is considered one of the 5 most scenic hikes in the world (also considered not overly difficult — not true!)   Maggie asked if I’d be interested in doing the hike with her and I cheerfully agreed.

We began our adventures onboard the National Geographic Explorer — a fantastic three-week trip that took us from Buenos Aires, down the eastern coast of Argentina, through the Straits of Magellan, to the western coast of lower Chile.  Throughout, we were provided with incredible sightings of Magellanic penguins, killer whales, great bird life, and icebergs. We even visited Torres del Paine on what we later discovered was a stellar day.  (All the NG group assumed that the weather there was always sunny, calm and capped by deep blue skies; not remotely true!)  At the end of the Geographic trip we began our 2-week addendum…….

Elephant Seal pups playing, Karukinka Park, Argentina

Elephant Seal pups playing, Karukinka Park, Argentina
Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

 

An owl hiding in rock crevasse Olympus E-M1   40-150mm f2.8

An owl hiding in rock crevasse
Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Cormorant near Puerto Deseado, Argentina Oly E-M1     40-150mm f2.8 w/1.4

Cormorant near Puerto Deseado, Argentina
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 w/1.4

Isla Magdalena, Argentina

Isla Magdalena, Argentina
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Magellanic penguin checking me out Oly E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Magellanic penguin checking me out
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

Along Valdes Peninsula in Argentina    Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Along Valdes Peninsula in Argentina
Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Off of the Valdes Peninsula, Argentina

Off of the Valdes Peninsula, Argentina
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Snoring Elephant seal, Karukinka Park Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 w/ MC-14 extender

Snoring Elephant seal, Karukinka Park
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 w/ MC-14 extender
Torres del Paine Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Torres del Paine
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Killer whales off of Argentinian coast Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Killer whales off of Argentinian coast
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

In Girabaldi Fjord, Maggie and Jay

In Girabaldi Fjord, Maggie and Jay
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Bernal Glacier, Patagonia Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Bernal Glacier, Patagonia
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Male Guanacos fighting, Torres del Paine Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Male Guanacos fighting, Torres del Paine
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Cape Horn

Cape Horn

Magellanic penguin guarding nest, Isla Magdalena Oly E-M1    12-40mm f2.8

Magellanic penguin guarding nest, Isla Magdalena
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Torres del Paine Oly E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Torres del Paine
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

ON TO THE TREK

We had a very logical plan, flying back with the NG group from Ushuaia, Argentina to Buenos Aires — instead of taking a 12-14 hour bus trip from Ushuaia to Punto Arenas in Chile.  Since we would be returning to US from Buenos Aires, we would be able to store some of our luggage at airport when we began second half of trip.  We had to pack for two entirely different trips on this sojourn: the NG part aboard the Explorer, which called for nice clothes in addition to our hiking gear, and then for the TdP hike, which meant backpacks, tent, sleeping bags, pads, food, etc. After storing our first set of luggage at airport, we left on overnight flight back across the continent to Punto Arenas and then took the 3 hour bus ride up to Puerto Natales, the “gateway town” to the Torres del Paine National Park.  Thankfully, we had a couple of nights there to decompress, prepare, and just enjoy that very cool town.  Then unable to put it off any longer (was hard to leave an incredible pizza place!), we boarded another 2-hour bus north to the park and set off on our hike.

Maggie at Mirador Torres Oly E-M1 9-18mm

Maggie at Mirador Torres
Oly E-M1 9-18mm

1st morning at Mirador Torres Oly E-M1  12-40mm f 2.8

1st morning at Mirador Torres
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f 2.8

Our/Maggie’s plan was to do the famous “O” trail in the park.  About 80 miles, this circumnavigates the incredible range of mountains which make up the heart of the park.   Mistake one on my part: I convinced Maggie that we could take the 2pm bus from Puerto Natales to TdP instead of the logical earlier bus that would have given us plenty of time to do the 6 mile hike along the Rio Ascensio (means uphill river or something similar) to first campsite at Campiento Torres. (In addition to rivers flowing uphill, all the trails are uphill — a fact has been confirmed by me. Even when looping back on a trail, somehow the hiking gods had altered the geology of the place so it’s all uphill!)  The earlier bus would have been so much better as it would have provided the window of time for me to hyperventilate my way up  (did I mention it was uphill?) the trail that triathletes, donkeys, my daughter and other non-humans can accomplish in what the map optimistically and viciously suggested was a few hours.  Also, a suggestion learned from experience on my part: do drink water, dehydration is not pleasant, but it does give one the stage to go slightly insane, fall a lot, and whimper about dying.

We finally made it, I took charge, and carefully chose the best campsite — which happened to be the same one I collapsed onto when seeing the sign designating the place.  Maggie cooked dinner, which I really didn’t touch…and we both realized that I had allowed myself to become dehydrated.  A couple of gallons of water later and I was feeling fine.

Descending from Mirador Torres

Descending from Mirador Torres
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Descending from Mirador Torres Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Descending from Mirador Torres
Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

2nd morning, Mirador Torres

2nd morning, Mirador Torres
Oly E-M1 9-18mm

Jay and Maggie Oly E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Jay and Maggie
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Trail in TdP

Trail in TdP
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

A slow and persistent rain started soon after our arrival, which was great to listen to, tapping on the tent as we dimmedd our flashlights and went to sleep.  Waking a few hours later, I noticed that the cadence of raindrops on nylon had changed to that muffled lack of sound that indicates that rain has turned to snow.  Our plan on this leg of the hike was to arise a couple of hours pre-dawn and make the hour-long hike to the famous Mirador Torres — the stunning overview of the “Towers” which are the three vertical granitic extrusions that stick up a couple of thousand feet into the Patagonia sky.  We did head out at our desired time, but the snow was pretty steady and sticking to the talus slope as we started ascending towards the overview.  Becasue I wanted to study the flora and fauna on the (vertical) path to the Mirador, I suggested that Maggie may want to hike ahead and break trail.  This hike/climb took about an hour (Maggie claims 45 minutes, but she didn’t have a watch) for me to accomplish.  Most of the hike is in rock fields above treeline — one finally arrives at a classic view, or lack of due to a complete whiteout, of the Towers.  We tried to wait out the storm, gave up after a couple of hours of observing white on white, definitely not the classic view we were hoping for.

Rio Francis, Valle del France Oly E-M1 9-18mm   3 minute exposure

Rio Francis, Valle del France
Oly E-M1 9-18mm 3 minute exposure

 

The Park requests that hikers limit the stay at this site to one night, but we decided that this was such a classic view we needed to break the rules —  that afternoon we hiked back up, the sun was out, and it was beautiful.  We camped again in Campimento Torres and woke early the next morning to hike up the third time.  At this point, Maggie had given up on my speed-hiking ability — kids today just don’t understand the charm of moving slowly, filling oneself with the beauty of the moment. Made it in time for a stunning sunrise, watching as the light moved over the face of the mountains.

We broke camp, made it back down (up??) the valley and headed out for the second leg of the hike — a 6 mile hike on the Sendero Paso Los Cuernos.  This trail skirted the southern edge of Monte Alte Nieto and the other peaks in this group.  Mountains to the north and the turquoise waters of Lago Nordenskjold to the south gave us a beautiful panorama as we hiked another uphill stretch.  Maggie claims there were some downhill legs, but that simply isn’t true.
As we started nearing the terminus for today’s hike/climb, it started raining.  A cold, steady rain that forced us to stop to put on rain gear.  Did I mention that Patagonia is also known for its winds?   We found those winds, which were a constant for most of our time in the park — winds in the 50-60 mph range were not uncommon.  We’d heard horror stories from other TdP trekkers, one guy telling me that they were hiking one leg when winds hit them, not only ripping off glasses and sunglasses, but lifting a couple of hikers into the air, breaking some bones.  The winds can be brutal.

Trail in TdP Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Trail in TdP
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Ooops, forgot to mention that after that first day of hiking and dehydration,  I made the executive decision that we should change our hiking intention from the 80-mile “O” to the shorter, 50+ mile “W” hike, which really takes you to the highlights of Torres del Paine.  This decision was based on my concern that Maggie may get too far in front of me, possibly lapping me on this trail.  I didn’t want her to get confused, seeing me in front when actually I was behind..or something like that.  Anyway, I was thinking of her.

So, we made day three of the hike, arriving in that driving rain mentioned earlier to the campsite at Refugio Los Cuernos.  A campsite and small lodge, this place was crammed with other hikers trying to get out of the rain.  The lodge had a restaurant, a warming room, and showers…we signed up for dinner at the lodge and hung out in the warming room, which was filled primarily with kids — meaning hikers under 50.  Standing in this room, beer in hand, it struck me that I was kind of unusual here…very few mature hikers in this place…however, Maggie looked right at home.

Tent finally set up, we made our way up to dinner, a luxury after several meals cooked at the tent.  Also, made our way back to utilize the showers.  We realized pretty quickly that we were using the bathroom facilities meant for guests of the lodge — we were supposed to be using the “showers” a short distance away — which were small, dark, crowded, dirty cubicles unfit for man or daughter.  So, we took advantage of those nicer facilities of the lodge.

Next morning: pack the tent, fill the backpacks, head out for the next uphill trek to Campimento Italiano.  Now, anyplace named for anything Italian, in my eyes, should include access to great Italian cuisine.  Instead, it was a “Mountain House” freeze-dried dinner of Jamaican Jerk Chicken.  Good, but no Bolognese.  Camped there for two nights, along the Rio Francis that flows near the entrance to the Valle Del Frances.

We hiked up the valley to an incredible overview of the peaks…then headed back to Campimento Italiano.  Overnighted and headed out the next morning for Refugio Paine Grande.  Set up our tent in time to enjoy a great dinner, followed by unbelievable winds that tore down a couple of tents around us, keeping us awake all night.  Next morning, headed up to Refugio Grey, about a 4-5 hour hike.  Stunning views of the Grey Glacier and lakes below that icefield.  Stayed overnight at that campground, nice meal in Refugio…hiked back down the following day to our final night at the Paine Grande campsite.   And, out the next morning.

View from tent Oly E-M1   12-40mm f2.8

View from tent
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Jay and Maggie, Grey Glacier Oly E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Jay and Maggie, Grey Glacier
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Amazing clouds above TdP Oly E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Amazing clouds above TdP
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8
Patagonia Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Patagonia
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

We had an incredible time and an amazing adventure.  Plus, getting to spend this much time with Maggie, not that many opportunities with our busy schedules…priceless, as the saying goes.

We flew home on Thanksgiving morning and made it to the house in time for Thanksgiving dinner … and 5 days later I headed out for Namibia, Africa, for a National Geographic Adventure.

Next stop – Namibia

I’ve been to Namibia before, it’s one of those places that come to mind immediately when asked to list your favorite places.  Primarily landscape and culture, the visual possibilities are tremendous. This was a relatively small group, 6 travelers plus the guide and myself –  an intense trip that took us to several Namibian highlights.

Near Rhino Camp, Namibia Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Near Rhino Camp, Namibia
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Rhino Camp, elephants dusting Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Rhino Camp, elephants dusting
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Himba woman Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Himba woman
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Himba women with child
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Himba woman in village Oly E-M1   12-40mm f2.8

Himba woman in village
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

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Termites caught in puddle Oly E-M1   12-40mm f2.8

Termites caught in puddle
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Wildlife, Etosha Oly E-M1   40-150mm f2.8  MC-14 extender

Wildlife, Etosha
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 MC-14 extender

Hawk landing Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Hawk landing
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Flamingos, Walvis Bay Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Flamingos, Walvis Bay
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Shipwreck, Swakopmund Oly E-M1  12-40mm f2.8   30 second exposure, Singh Ray Vari ND filter

Shipwreck, Swakopmund
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8 30 second exposure, Singh Ray Vari ND filter

Sea lions, Walvis Bay Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Sea lions, Walvis Bay
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

"Fairy Circles," Namibia Oly E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

“Fairy Circles,” Namibia
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Rhino Camp Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Rhino Camp
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Healing ceremony, Bushmen camp
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Ju-hoans Bushman village Oly E-M  40-150mm f2.8

Ju-hoans Bushman village
Oly E-M 40-150mm f2.8

Women's game in Ju-hoans Bushmen village Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Women’s game in Ju-hoans Bushmen village
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Woman villager- Ju-hoans Bushmen village Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Woman villager- Ju-hoans Bushmen village
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Ju-hoan hunter gatherer drinking from root vegetable Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Ju-hoan hunter gatherer drinking from root vegetable
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Ju-hoan hunter gatherer starting fire Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Ju-hoan hunter gatherer starting fire
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

The Namibia trip presented a great opportunity to work with new Olympus 40-150mm f2.8.  Along with the new 1.4 teleconverter, this combination provides the photographer a tremendous wildlife setup-a very lightweight and extremely high quality lens that provides a range of 80mm to 420mm (with teleconverter-in 35mm field of view).  I’ve spoken at length at the benefits of the Micro Four Thirds system, and it was proven out once again.  Africa creates it’s own set of demands for the photographer: often limited space and weight requirements, long hours of shooting from safari vehicles with camera “at ready,” and long treks carrying your “real world” equipment.

Our guide, Ally, driving in Rhino Camp Oly E-M1  9-18mm

Our guide, Ally, driving in Rhino Camp
Oly E-M1 9-18mm

 

Near the Etosha Pan Oly E-M1   40-150mm f2.8 w/MC-14 extender

Near the Etosha Pan
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 w/MC-14 extender

Near the Etosha Pan Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 w/MC-14 extender

Near the Etosha Pan
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 w/MC-14 extender

Rock python swallowing Starling Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8 w/MC-14 extender

Rock python swallowing Starling
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8 w/MC-14 extender

Vulture chick Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Vulture chick
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Vulture chick Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Vulture chick
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Leopard on termite mound Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Leopard on termite mound
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Wild dogs of N/a’an ku sê Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Wild dogs of N/a’an ku sê
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Leopard at dusk Oly E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Leopard at dusk
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Cheetah at N/a’an ku sê Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Cheetah at N/a’an ku sê
Oly E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

 N/a’an ku sê Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

N/a’an ku sê
Oly E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Hyena in road, Rhino Camp Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Hyena in road, Rhino Camp
Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

 

Looking back over this post, I am struck at incredibly fortunate I am to get to do this “job.”  At times, I get so tired of traveling, I don’t want to leave our home, I don’t want to leave Becky..I’m ready to do anything if it doesn’t entail leaving my home…at that point, I always go through the same drill…I’ll pick up my camera out of the bag, and it’s still an electricity that goes through me..the fact that I get to do this is astounding..if that feeling ever leaves, it’s time to get a real job….

 

 

 



Smith Island Workshop

View of "Blood Moon" rising above Tylerton on Smith Island

View of “Hunter’s Moon” rising above Tylerton on Smith Island        Olympus E-M1   40-150mm f2.8  1/60th @ f2.8  1600ISO

Early October on Smith Island:  Dave Harp (FirstLight instructor, wonderful photographer, and great friend) has told me several times that this is his favorite time of year on the island.  We’d held two workshops on Smith in 2009 (be sure and look at the multimedia pieces on this website) during which Becky and I fell in love with the place.  So, the decision to do another workshop on the island was an easy choice.

With a total of 8 students, this was a small and intimate workshop. Early morning photo opps, followed by an edit session, then back out in late-day light, and we were never disappointed.  One great event after the other, culminating in a final evening moon-rise that was nothing short of spectacular.

Hull of "Scotty Boy" oyster scraping off of Smith Island

Hull of “Scotty Boy” oyster scraping off of Smith Island     Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Inn of Silent Music    Olympus E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Inn of Silent Music                                                                      Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

I’m a huge fan of the Olympus mirrorless camera system, having written (and spoken) about it in talks, and previous blogs on this site. Luckily, Olympus sent me the new 40-150mm f2.8 (this is equivalent to an 80-300mm in 35mm think) right before we departed.  About the size of an 80’s version Nikon 180mm f2.8, this lens is the one I was waiting to get my hands on in a real-world setting.

I’ve been using the Olympus 50-200 since its introduction, finding this lens as a perfect addition to my bag.  It provides a great range for most general assignment work, as well as giving me that range for wildlife photography in a portable and fast package.  I’ve been watching anxiously for some months as Olympus worked on the replacement for this critical lens and I’ve not been disappointed.

First morning of workshop      Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

First morning of workshop                                                                     Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Tylerton, Smith Island, as viewed from a very still sound   Olympus E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Tylerton, Smith Island, as viewed from a very still sound                                                        Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Across sound, approaching Tylerton   Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Approaching Tylerton from sound                                                                                      Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

A really smooth zoom ring melds very well with the professional build and ergonomics of this lens.  Wide open, the sharpness is incredible, with a depth of field that requires the photographer to be very cognizant of focus…a slight amount out, and the image is soft.  But, when focus is obtained, the sharpness is astounding.  This shallow depth of field, when shot wide-open, also provides the photographer a beautiful bokeh.   Stopped down one or two stops provides a noticeable increase in depth of field.

Handling and ergonomics on this lens are absolutely first-rate, as it fits perfectly in my hands inspiring confidence while shooting.  Plus, they created a way-cool lens hood, that with a slight turn of the base, allows the hood to collapse along the barrel-and it will hold the weight of the lens and camera (I usually have this mounted on my E-M1 with the HLD-7 battery/vertical grip.)  In my roll-aboard bag, this lens does occupy less space than my 50-200, which is huge to me, as I constantly try to reduce the footprint of my equipment.  Less is more.

Nesting colony of Brown pelicans

Nesting colony of Brown pelicans                                                           Olympus E-M1     40-150mm f2.8

Near Shanks' Point in the Chesapeake   Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Near Shanks’ Point in the Chesapeake                                                             Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8   w/1.4 converter

Brown pelicans taking off from Shanks' Point  Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Brown pelicans taking off from Shanks’ Point                                                    Olympus E-M1   40-150mm f2.8   w/1.4 converter

Rhodes Point on Smith Island

Rhodes Point on Smith Island                                                                                                              Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Kayaker (happens to be Maggie Dickman!) in marshes near Rhodes Point.  Olympus E-M1   40-150mm f2.8

Kayaker (happens to be Maggie Dickman!) in marshes near Rhodes Point.                                    Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Early morning on Rhodes Point, Smith Island   Olympus E-M1     40-150mm f2.8

Early morning on Rhodes Point, Smith Island                                 Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Maggie the kayaker, near Rhodes Point    Olympus E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Maggie, the kayaker, near Rhodes Point                                                                             Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Egret feeding in marshes near Rhodes Point    Olympus E-M1   40-150mm f2.8

Egret feeding in marshes near Rhodes Point                                                              Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Tylerton, late afternoon   Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Tylerton, late afternoon Olympus E-M1 40-150mm f2.8

Blood Moon rising over Tylerton    Olympus E-M1  40-150mm f2.8

Hunter’s Moon rising over Tylerton                                                              Olympus E-M1     40-150mm f2.8

End of final day of workshop, approaching Tylerton  Olympus E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

End of final day of workshop, approaching Tylerton                                                                        Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

The weather resistance of this lens seems like it should be along the lines of the 12-40mm Olympus Pro lens, which has been through very abysmal conditions, and hasn’t failed me.  More on that after a couple of upcoming trips, during which this should be tested.

Bottom line, and at the top of my requirements for gear, my equipment has to produce incredible image quality, and the EM-1 has done that.   I really think that the mirrorless revolution is critical for the success of photography, as the new generation of image-makers (meaning, just about everyone, as we are the most prolific society ever in terms of photographing our lives) have forsaken the large DSLRs for smaller equipment, one reason the cell phone cameras are so popular.  What is the best camera to have?  The one that’s in your hands when you need it, and my lightweight and portable Olympus cameras are with me when I need them.

 

 



National Geographic Expedition: Iceland / Greenland / NW Passage

Polar bear sniffing the air

Polar bear sniffing the air
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

More than three weeks on a National Geographic Expedition, “Iceland/Greenland/NW Passage,” and just recovered our Internet access!!  (I don’t think Franklin nor Amundsen had to worry about losing connection to the rest of the world during their exploratory voyages here.) An amazing trip, most of it spent within the Canadian archipelago.  Photographic opportunities were abundant, a few during late night/early morning, but such is the nature of an Expedition.  I found the noise handling of the Olympus E-M1 as a very powerful tool..the photo of the Inuit in Pond Inlet was shot at 6400, with virtually no noise.  Impressive. Photographing the wildlife in the Arctic does require patience..we’d see Polar bear miles out ahead of the ship, on a piece of ice..usually a slightly off-color looking continuation of the white background.  Pushing through ice, slowly as to not frighten off the animal, could take an hour-plus.  Several times, after standing on the bow in freezing conditions for that time, the bear would react to our presence by turning and taking off.  However, there were enough “close encounters” to provide many long sessions of watching/photographing these stunning animals in their world. We’re now in Resolute, Canada, one of the most northerly communities in the world.  Fog and weather eliminated our out-bound flight yesterday, and it’s snowing today (this is August 21) with a few inches accumulation expected.  As I type, the National Geographic Explorer is heading out for one more trips into the ice; the sound of ice sliding by the sides of the ship overwhelms the ambient sounds aboard the vessel.  Perhaps, more bears.

Mummy of Qilakitsoq baby in Nuuk, Geenland. Olympus E-M1 75mm f1.8

Mummy of Qilakitsoq baby in Nuuk, Geenland.
Olympus E-M1 75mm f1.8

Polar bear and two cubs crossing Petermann Ice Island Olympus E-M1 100-300mm lens

Polar bear and two cubs crossing Petermann Ice Island
Olympus E-M1 100-300mm lens

 

In the Davis Straits, near Baffin Island, this polar bear visited the ship.

In the Davis Straits, near Baffin Island, this polar bear visited the ship
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8 lens

Inuit artist in Sisimiut, Greenland

Inuit artist in Sisimiut, Greenland
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8 lens

near Baffin Island, a polar bear crosses the ice at sunset Olympus E-M1  50-200mm lens

near Baffin Island, a polar bear crosses the ice at sunset
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

sunset in the ice near Baffin Island Olympus E-M1  50-200mm lens

sunset in the ice near Baffin Island
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Sled dog in Sisimiut, Greenland Olympus E-M1 50-200mm

Sled dog in Sisimiut, Greenland
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm

Fellow traveler on Ellesmere Island

Fellow traveler on Ellesmere Island
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8 lens

Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson, assisting us through ice near BellotnStraits in the Canada Archipelago  Olympus E-M1 9-18mm lens

Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson, assisting us through ice near Bellot Straits in the Canada Archipelago
Olympus E-M1 9-18mm lens

Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson, assisting us through ice near Bellot Straits in the Canada Archipelago  Olympus E-M1 9-18mm lens

Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson, assisting us through ice near Bellot Straits in the Canada Archipelago
Olympus E-M1 9-18mm lens

Ice Fjords near Ilulissat, Greenland Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Ice Fjords near Ilulissat, Greenland
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Hare bell flower, Hvalsey, Greenland Olympus E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

Hare bell flower, Hvalsey, Greenland
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Near Baffin Island, this polar bear was watching us closely Olympus E-M1  50-200mm lens

Near Baffin Island, this polar bear was watching us closely
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Near Radstod Bay, Canada Archipelago, jaw of Arctic fox sits in tundra  Olympus E-M1  9-18mm lens

Near Radstod Bay, Canada Archipelago, jaw of Arctic fox sits in tundra
Olympus E-M1 9-18mm lens

Inuit in Pond Inlet, traditional Inuit game Olympus E-M1  75mm f1.8

Inuit in Pond Inlet, traditional Inuit game
Olympus E-M1 75mm f1.8

Flight of birds cross snowy strait near Dundas Harbour, Canada Archipelago Olympus E-M1 50200mm lens

Flight of birds cross snowy strait near Dundas Harbour, Canada Archipelago
Olympus E-M1 50200mm lens

Lindblad's Ralph Lee Hopkins, Queens Harbour Olympus E-M1  12-40mm lens

Queens Harbour
Olympus E-M1 12-40mm lens

Polar bear hunting on ice Olympus E-M1  50-200mm lens w/2x

Polar bear hunting on ice
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens w/2x

Glacier in Icy Arm, Canadian Archipelago Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Glacier in Icy Arm, Canadian Archipelago
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Walrus near Queens Harbour, Canadian Archipelago Olympus E-M1  50-200mm lens

Walrus near Queens Harbour, Canadian Archipelago
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

In Queens Harbour, Canadian Archipelago Olympus E-M1  50-200mm lens

In Queens Harbour, Canadian Archipelago
Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Alaska’s Inside Passage

From the Yukon River, the Tatshenshini-Alsek River, a scientific program miles out on the Arctic ice from Barrow, sea-kayaking in Glacier Bay, trips in the Inside Passage, I’ve had the good fortune of working in Alaska many times over my career.  I just returned from two, back-to-back trips for National Geographic aboard the National Geographic “Sea Lion.”

 

In the Inian Island of the Inside Passage, an immature Bald eagle grabs dinner   Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

In the Inian Island of the Inside Passage, an immature Bald eagle grabs dinner. Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

 

Starting in Sitka a couple of weeks ago, this trip took me to a favorite place of mine, the Inside Passage.   Gray days with drizzle followed by stunning days of sun and blue skies really provide an all-around Alaska experience.  Wildlife, scenery, more wildlife and more scenery was the commonality on this trip.

 

In the Inian Island of the Inside Passage, an immature Bald eagle grabs dinner   Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

In the Inian Island of the Inside Passage, an immature Bald eagle grabs dinner. Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

 

During the past 8 years, I’ve been on nearly 40 different trips for National Geographic Expeditions, ranging from Antarctic and South Georgia, to the Arctic, the Cape of Norway, the British Isles, and multiple more for the Lindblad/National Geographic alliance. When asked which  is my favorite, a really impossible question to answer as each place has it’s magnetism, I still find that the Inside Passage really rates near the top.

As the “National Geographic Expert” aboard these trips, part of my responsibility is to share my photographic knowledge with those who are interested in this craft.  With a National Geographic photographer aboard many of the Lindblad/National Georgraphic trips, this provides a great resource for the  photographically –driven travelers, having access to that individual and the years of experience they bring to the ships.

In the Inian Island of the Inside Passage, an immature Bald eagle grabs dinner.   Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

In the Inian Island of the Inside Passage, an immature Bald eagle grabs dinner. Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Over the 40+ years that I’ve been in this business, hopefully I’ve made enough mistakes and had the successes in terms of not only image-making, but in creating a pretty workable body of equipment I travel with.  I’d like to share a bit of my knowledge for anyone interested, so here goes:

Most of my work takes me outside the US, and I’ve spent enough time on aircraft, running through airports and dealing with the general hassles of the location photographer.  Lightweight gear with a small footprint is becoming more important to me all the time. This is a large reason that I use a mirrorless camera system.  My camera of choice is the Olympus OM-D E-M1.  About half the size of a standard DSLR, and with lenses at least half the size of their DSLR equivalents, I’ve found that this system gives me the quality I need, and eliminates a huge amount of the dead weight of a full-sized DSLR.

Glacier calving on South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm    Olympus E-M1  50-200

Glacier calving on South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Olympus E-M1 50-200

I carry my cameras on the plane, I won’t ship anything under, and if I can, I won’t gate-check a bag.  I’ve seen equipment ruined by the rough handling after bidding that case adieu due to a gate agent’s refusal to allow my case to go onboard.  And, if you think there is a real “international carry-on” set of guidelines that all airlines adhere to, well, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you in New York.

Glacier calving on South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm    Olympus E-M1  50-200

Glacier calving on South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Olympus E-M1 50-200

One of the most critical components of travel/location photography is the ability to back up my work.   Digital technology is amazing, until you have failure or loss of images, then it’s voodoo magic..I always carry a small RAID system with me, I use the Wiebetech “Tough Tech Duo.”  In this device resides two 500GB hard drives, the RAID has a chipset onboard, that when plugged into my Mac, appears as one hard drive on my desktop.  Before re-formatting my card, I confirm that those images (after an edit session, eliminating the obvious and the lesser images) are backed up on my Tough Tech before formatting that card.  In addition to the RAID, a carry an additional, “bare” hard drive the same size and speed as those in my drive.  I’ll pop out one of the drives in that RAID and replace with this extra drive.  My Tough Tech then warns me that a new drive has been installed, and asks if I want to copy the contents of the existing drive in the unit to the new drive.  I’ll okay that, and at that point I have my two copies on the RAID of all my files, and I’ll have an additional drive (the one I popped out) that has the files as well.  This way, if I’m leaving my hotel room, that extra drive goes with me and I am pretty secure even if my room is robbed(worst case scenario, but I can’t be too careful with my images, as this is my living) as I’ll have that extra copy that is in my pocket that I can create a new RAID’d backup.

Glacier calving on South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm    Olympus E-M1  50-200

Glacier calving on South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Olympus E-M1 50-200

The Tough Tech is a “transition” unit, its primary function is to provide backup until I return home, at that point I’ll drag the files from my latest adventure onto my CRU-Dataport RSX400 RAID system.  After confirming that those files are on that drive (and a second RAID as well) are copied I’ll then erase those files from my Tough Tech.

Part of an iceberg, just after calving off of the South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm, Alaska.  Olympus E-M1   50-200mm lens

Part of an iceberg, just after calving off of the South Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm, Alaska. Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

This is all part of a workflow, which doesn’t stop at copying to my main drives.  All photographers should have a plan in mind, and follow that plan religiously.  Hard drives are NOT a permanent medium for storage, one has to plan on updating the storage by moving your entire library to new medium every few years.

Developing and following a workflow is critical for the digital photographer; it’s an amazing technology, but you have to keep your files up to date or you could lose your entire library.

In Glacier Bay National Park, a Puffin on takeoff

In Glacier Bay National Park, a Puffin on takeoff

Glacier Bay National Park, a Mountain goat on mountainside   Oly E-M1 50-200

Glacier Bay National Park, a Mountain goat on mountainside Oly E-M1 50-200

Near Cascade falls    Olympus E-M1, 12-40mm lens

Near Cascade falls Olympus E-M1, 12-40mm lens

Petersburg, Alaska   Olympus E-M1  12-40mm lens

Petersburg, Alaska Olympus E-M1 12-40mm lens

Petersburg, Olympus E-M1, 12-40mm lens

Petersburg, Olympus E-M1, 12-40mm lens

Petersburg, later that day....Olympus E-M1 12-40mm lens

Petersburg, later that day….Olympus E-M1 12-40mm lens

Humpback whales in moonlight, Olympus E-M1  50-200mm lens

Humpback whales in moonlight, Olympus E-M1 50-200mm lens

Full moon in Icy Straits, Olympus E-M1 50-200mm

Full moon in Icy Straits, Olympus E-M1 50-200mm

Lindblad naturalist Larry Hobbs and his awesome hat    Olympus E-M1, 12-40mm

Lindblad naturalist Larry Hobbs and his awesome hat Olympus E-M1, 12-40mm

Glacier front

Glacier front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Baja, “Remarkable Journey”

Laguna San Ignacio, a baby gray whale surfaces near a Zodiac raft, with hand of visitor reaching down to pet the whale     Olympus E-M5 7-14mm w/housing

Laguna San Ignacio, a baby gray whale surfaces near a Zodiac raft, with hand of visitor reaching down to pet the whale Olympus E-M5 7-14mm w/housing

 

The Remarkable Journey – Baja California and the Sea of Cortez

 

Once a year, National Geographic/Lindblad offers a very unique trip in the Sea of Cortez, “The Remarkable Journey.”   Two weeks long, this trip takes the traveler from the bays on the Pacific side, down and around Cabo San Lucas and far north in Baja California.  My second trip to this area, I’m posting just a few images from this trip as I was out of commission for a few days with a pulled muscle in my back, what fun that was…

I was shooting with an underwater housing for my Olympus O-MD, with the domed port so I could shoot the 7-14mm Olympus lens with the outfit, a favorite of mine for shooting underwater.

Hope you enjoy these few images from Baja….

 

Baby Gray whale in Laguna San Ignacio    Olympus OM-D E-M5 w/7-14mm in housing

Baby Gray whale in Laguna San Ignacio Olympus OM-D E-M5 w/7-14mm in housing

 

In Laguna San Ignacio, along the Baja Peninsula, a baby Gray whale surfaces to view visitors.   Olympus E-M5 w/7-14mm in housing

In Laguna San Ignacio, along the Baja Peninsula, a baby Gray whale surfaces to view visitors. Olympus E-M5 w/7-14mm in housing

A baby Gray whale meets a visitor

A baby Gray whale meets a visitor

 

A baby Gray whale rises to meet a visitor, who is reaching to pet the whale

A baby Gray whale rises to meet a visitor, who is reaching to pet the whale

Sunrise near Laguna Magdalena on Pacific coast

Sunrise near Laguna Magdalena on Pacific coast

Mexican fisherman at Laguna Magdalena

Mexican fisherman at Laguna Magdalena Olympus Stylus 1

Sea lion playing with housing near Los Islotes   Olympus OM-D E-M5, w/7-14mm in housing

Sea lion playing with housing near Los Islotes Olympus OM-D E-M5, w/7-14mm in housing

Blue whale surfacing in Sea of Cortez

Blue whale surfacing in Sea of Cortez

 

Cadron cactus on Los Islotes   Olympus OM-D E-M1, w/9-18mm

Cadron cactus on Los Islotes Olympus OM-D E-M1, w/9-18mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Antarctica / S. Georgia / Falklands

     It’s been about a year since I last was in the Southern Ocean and I’ve just returned from another fantastic National Geographic Expediton to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands.  With my third trip to the trio, as well as several solo trips to the Antarctic, I’m always reminded of how special these places are.

I feel very fortunate to do what I get to do.  I consider myself a “generalist” photographer, not a sports/wildlife/landscape-specific photographer, and I think that is what keeps my passion for this craft going.  It’s forever a changing panorama in front of my camera; I love the ongoing challenge of finding a new way of capturing the image.

In the Antarctic/S. Georgia/ Falklands, neither the landscape, the wildlife, or the light is ever repeated.  It genuinely feels like a remote and pristine environment, a place that is inexhaustible in its photographic potential.

Hope you enjoy my take on this wonderful place.

Gnoman Rock off of Point Wild

Gnoman Rock off of Point Wild on Elephant Island, within sight of the spot Shackleton’s crew spent 135 days before rescue
Olympus OM-D E-M5 PT-EP08 Housing
9-18mm

 

Gnoman Rock off of Point Wild, very near survival camp of Shackletons group

Gnoman Rock off of Point Wild, very near survival camp of Shackletons group where they spent 135 days before rescue
Olympus OM-D E-M5 PT-EP08 Housing
9-18mm

 

 

Edge of an iceberg
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

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A Zodiac heads to the “Bremen” in the early evening Antarctic light
Olympus OM-D E-M1
12-40mm

In Ciera Cove, a female Leopard seal dives into the ice, then attempts launching out of the water to the ice

Following series: In Ciera Cove, a female Leopard seal dives into the ice, then attempts launching out of the water to the ice
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

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20140222_CieraCove_00855F_640W

20140222_CieraCove_00858F_640W

 

 

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20140222_CieraCove_00862F_640W

20140222_CieraCove_00863F_640W

20140222_CieraCove_00864F_640W

20140222_CieraCove_00865F_640W

Gentoo penguin on Baily Head

Gentoo penguin on Baily Head
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

Iceberg

Iceberg

    At Point Wild, on Elephant Island, a colony of Gentoo penguins in front of the glacier which abutted the Shackleton survival camp

At Point Wild, on Elephant Island, a colony of Gentoo penguins in front of the glacier which abutted the Shackleton survival camp Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

 

Macaroni penguin "porpoising"

Macaroni penguin “porpoising”
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

Brush tail of King penguin

Brush tail of King penguin
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

Water drops of chest of King penguin after emerging from ocean at Gold Harbour in S. Georgia

Water drops of chest of King penguin after emerging from ocean at Gold Harbour in S. Georgia Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

Water drops on chest of King penguin as it emerges from ocean at Gold Harbour

Water drops on chest of King penguin as it emerges from ocean at Gold Harbour
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

Beach scene at Gold Harbour in S. Georgia

Beach scene at Gold Harbour in S. Georgia
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

Gold Harbour, South Georgia

Gold Harbour, South Georgia
Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

King penguins on Gold Harbour, South Georgia

King penguins on Gold Harbour, South Georgia Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

On St Andrews in South Georgia, a Skua looks over colony of 200,000+ King penguins...

On St Andrews in South Georgia, a Skua looks over colony of 200,000+ King penguins…Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/50-200mm lens

In Hercules Bay, S. Georgia, a jellyfish as soon from underwater.  Olympus OM-D E-M5 in housing with 9-18mm lens

In Hercules Bay, S. Georgia, a jellyfish as soon from underwater. Olympus OM-D E-M5 in housing with 9-18mm lens

Macaroni penguin preening, Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Macaroni penguin preening, Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Near Stromness, in South Georgia, a fur seal pup reacts to my presence.  Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm lens

Near Stromness, in South Georgia, a fur seal pup reacts to my presence. Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm lens

Near beach on New Island, Falklands

Near beach on New Island, Falklands

Black browed albatross colony in Falklands....Olympus OM-E E-M1 w/12-40mm lens

Black browed albatross colony in Falklands….Olympus OM-E E-M1 w/12-40mm lens

Black browed albatross on Westpoint Island, in Falklands...Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/12-40mm lens

Black browed albatross on Westpoint Island, in Falklands…Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/12-40mm lens

Magellanic penguins near burrows on New Island in the Falklands...Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/50-200mm

Magellanic penguins near burrows on New Island in the Falklands…Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/50-200mm

Striated Caracaras (Johnny Rooks) on New Island, Falklands...Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 50-200

Striated Caracaras (Johnny Rooks) on New Island, Falklands…Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 50-200

On Saunders Island in the Falklands, a group of Macaroni penguin emerge from surf...Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/12-40mm

On Saunders Island in the Falklands, a group of Macaroni penguin emerge from surf…Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/12-40mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



National Geographic “Around the World by Private Jet” 2013 India, Tanzania, Jordan and Morocco

 

Man in Kachhpura Village

Man in Kachhpura Village Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Young woman in Kachhpura Village, India

Young woman in Kachhpura Village, India Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Monday, October 28, and we’re in Petra, Jordan.  The last couple of stops were fantastic: Agra, India (for the Taj Mahal) and the Serengeti in Tanzania.

The intensity of India is wonderful.  The visuals are unmatched anywhere in the world and I don’t think one can be ambivalent about the place.

Early morning at the Taj is wonderful, as you can watch the sunlight intensify on the white domed marble mausoleum as morning progresses.  This is such a great time of day to be here as the crowds are light and the temperatures are comfortable.

We flew into the Serengeti, arriving in time for a game drive on the way to the Four Seasons Hotel.  I think the revelation hits everyone on the trip at this point-we watched sunrise on the Taj Mahal, and later that same day we were photographing elephants in the Serengeti.  Every stop has had that same feeling, it’s just here that it seems to strike you the most.  I can’t imagine how one would arrange their own trip with this amazing itinerary.

I’m always asked where my favorite places are in the world.  So many places we visit tend to fall short of expectations.  But the Serengeti meets, then exceeds those expectations. When you are photographing a female elephant with her calves, and then look around to see 20-30 other elephants surrounding you, it is startling.

Petra, Jordan was incredible. I’ve heard visitors rave about the ancient city.  The buidings were carved out the areas sandstone and contained a very early water conduit system.  The city was established as early as 312 BCE.  Discovered around 1812, it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.  Wandering what appears to be a slot canyon, one discovers the really beautiful Treasury, appearing at the end of the narrow gorge called the Sik, or shaft..  The city was spread over quite a large area, and consumes a lot of time in visiting.

While in Jordan, we also visited Wadi Rum, famous as the place a considerable amount of “Lawrence of Arabia” was filmed.  Incredible rock formations surrounded by desert made famous in that movie

We ended the trip in Marrakesh, Morocco. The Souk, or old marketplace being a fantastic place in which to lose one’s self.  Carefully lose one self.  Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog, heading home now, and ready to be there!

 

 

Kids in Kachhapura Village, India Olympus OM-D E-M1 9-18mm

Kids playing with dyes in Kachhpura Village, India Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Dancer performing Northern India traditional dance Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

early morning visitors at Taj Mahal Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Visitor at Taj Mahal Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Sweeper at Taj Mahal, early morning Olympus OM-D E-M1 9-18mm

Flying into Arusha, Tanzania, Mt. Kilimanjaro Olympus O-MD E-M1 12-40mmm f2.8

Leopard in Serengeti, first time I’ve seen a nest-dwelling leopard Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

Leopard in Serengeti, first time I’ve seen a nest-dwelling leopard Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm

 

Elephants in river bottom in Serengeti   OM-D E-M1  50-200

Elephants in river bottom in Serengeti OM-D E-M1 50-200

 

Sunset over watering hole at Four Seasons Hotel, Serengeti Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Zebras frightened by possible crocodile in Serengeti Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm Four Thirds lens

Zebra beat a hasty retreat from stream Olympus OM-D E-M1 50-200mm Four Thirds lens

Petra, Jordan, and the Treasury in the background    Olympus OM-D E-M1   12-40mm f2.8

Petra, Jordan, and the Treasury in the background Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Traditional military dance    Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8, 5000 ISO

Traditional military dance Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8, 5000 ISO

Birthday celebration, Jordanian waiter brings out cake with sparklers   OM-D E-M1  12-40mm  5000 ISO

Birthday celebration, Jordanian waiter brings out cake with sparklers OM-D E-M1 12-40mm 5000 ISO

Jordanian guide in Wadi Rum, Jordan   OM-D E-M1

Jordanian guide in Wadi Rum, Jordan OM-D E-M1

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

 

Story teller in old square and marketplace of Jemaa el-Fnna in Marrakech, Morocco  OM-D E-M1  12-40mm

Story teller in old square and marketplace of Jemaa el-Fnna in Marrakech, Morocco OM-D E-M1 12-40mm

Baker in Jamaa el-Fnna, old souk of Marrakesh

Baker in Jamaa el-Fnna, old souk of Marrakesh

An iron artisan in Jemaa el-Fnna, traditional marketplace of Marrakech  OM-D E-M1  9-18mm

An iron artisan in Jemaa el-Fnna, traditional marketplace of Marrakech OM-D E-M1 9-18mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



National Geographic Around the World by Private Jet 2013 Cambodia, China & Tibet

 

A woman from a western Tibet village I photographed in the Sera Monastery of Lhasa

A woman from a western Tibet village I photographed in the Sera Monastery of Lhasa Olympus OM-D E-M1 75mm f1.8

Wow, these trips go fast!  Because we’re moving rapidly from one place to the other, I’ve gotten a bit behind on this blog.  Now sitting in the Oberoi Amervilas Hotel in Agra, with the Taj Mahal sitting outside my window.

We just flew in from Lhasa, Tibet, having spent a couple of nights in that incredible place.  Cool weather in Tibet has been tempered with 93-degree temperatures in India.

Since the last blog from Australia, we’ve made our way to Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat–then to Chengdu, China and onto Tibet.  The pace of the trip is fast, but one never feels as though it’s rushed.  Local experts are brought on, and the depth of information provided is astonishing.  When asking a question about a place, the expert’s answer is never a recorded response.  Instead, the answer is from a place of passion within that person, wanting to share their experience and depth of knowledge with the traveler.

Photographically, this is a tour of “greatest hits” with one iconic location following another.  I keep thinking ahead, “I’ll keep the shooting down in the next location,” then the density of incredible photographic potential opens up, and all holds are off.

One really couldn’t replicate what National Geographic provides the traveler, such as shooting the Taj Mahal in the morning then whisking them to Tanzania to watch a wildebeest migration that afternoon.  Tiring, yep.  But the rewards are incalculable, especially for the photographer wanting to immerse themselves in one amazing photographic opportunity after another.

A monk praying near Angkor Wat     Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

A monk praying near Angkor Wat Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

 

Angkor Wat at dawn    Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Angkor Wat at dawn Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Monk near Angkor Wat    Olympus OM-D E-M1

Monk near Angkor Wat Olympus OM-D E-M1

Floating city near Siem Reap, Cambodia, boy with snake    Olympus OM-D E-M1   9-18mm

Floating city near Siem Reap, Cambodia, boy with snake Olympus OM-D E-M1 9-18mm

Tibetan prayer flags on bridge in Lhasa, Tibet   Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Tibetan prayer flags on bridge in Lhasa, Tibet Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

One of many Tibetans circling counter-clockwise around Patola Palace in traditional and daily ceremony   Oly OM-D E-M1  12-40mm f2.8

One of many Tibetans circling counter-clockwise around Potala Palace in traditional and daily ceremony Oly OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Buddhist woman from western Tibet mountain village with Potala Palace  Oly OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Buddhist woman from western Tibet mountain village with Potala Palace Oly OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Buddhist pilgrims walking from small mountain villages to Sera Monastery in Lhasa   Oly OM-D E-M1 9-18mm

Buddhist pilgrims walking from small mountain villages to Sera Monastery in Lhasa Oly OM-D E-M1 9-18mm

Western Tibet village woman at Sera Monastery     Olympus OM-D E-M1   12-40mm f2.8

Western Tibet village woman at Sera Monastery Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



National Geographic “Around the World by Private Jet” 2103, Samoa & Great Barrier Reef

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Welcome to Samoa Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Samoan fire dancers

Samoan fire dancers Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8 3200 ISO

It’s early morning in Port Douglas, Australia.  Having arrived Wednesday from American Samoa, we had a choice of the Daintree rainforest or the Barrier Reef..my choice was the reef.  Waking to a driving rainstorm, it didn’t seem the day was going to be particularly spectacular for diving.  But, during the hour and a half trip to the dive spot on the reef, weather cleared to a stunning day.  The catamaran we traveled on was quite fast, and distance covered was about 50 kilometers.

I decided to shoot my underwater photos with the Olympus Tough camera, with a super-wide adaptor.  With a 40-foot maximum depth rating, this would cover my bases as most of the interesting and visual reef growth (and good light, as red is quickly reduced from the visual spectrum the deeper one dives) occurs in this zone.

A short dive, but enjoyable, followed by snorkeling in the shallow waters near our anchor point.

American Samoa was a rich event, albeit short, primarily used as a technical stop for the aircraft.  Visiting a women’s council in a nearby area was a highlight, and gave an interesting view into the structure of a village.  Women are the core of the families or clans, and create that strength that help hold the groups together.

We’re soon leaving for Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Angkor Wat.  The E-M1 has been a fantastic camera for this assignment.  The handling is superb and the image quality is spectacular.  I’ve been really impressed by the noise-handling of the camera — 3200 looks tremendous.  Plus, the 12-40mm f2.8 has become my favorite lens to use, especially if carrying only one camera.

The positive reviews continue to come in from everywhere on the camera and lens. So many photographers, from aspiring to pro, are discovering this system and the huge benefits of the smaller size, great lens selection and awesome quality.  My cameras are with me when I need them, not sitting in the bag because they are too heavy to carry constantly.  I’m also using the BlackRapid strap system, which allows me to carry my usual two cameras while out.

Here are just a few of the rave reviews that the E-M1 and lenses have received, you can click on the link to read:

Mirrorless Nature

The Phoblographer

SteveHuffPhoto.Com

PCMag.com

DPReview

ePhotozine

Pop Photo

As many of you know that have heard me speak, I am a tremendous fan of the Micro Four Thirds system, I think Olympus has it “right” in the design of this, moving towards the design ethic that 35mm photography was originally designed around; small, unobtrusive and available to you when you need it.

Workflow on the Road

Shooting on the road also demands a workflow system, and at the heart of that is a small and portable RAID unit.  This is a small hard drive, that on my laptop, is able to be bus-powered, meaning I don’t need to have additional power for the unit. This is a major feature, as I am often downloading photos in places where power is not available — a major consideration.  I’d provided input to the designers at Wiebetech (which is a part of CRU-Dataport) giving them my thoughts on a perfect backup system for the location photographer;  if you travel and shoot, you fit this criteria.  The result was the “Tough Tech Duo,” a very small and portable hard drive, that works via “RAID 0” or “RAID 1”.  Two hard drives are contained within, in RAID 0 the drives provide storage equal to the size of each drive combined.  I use RAID 1, which is a “mirrored” drive.  When I plug the unit in, it appears on my desktop as a single drive.  I drag my file of folders to that icon and the photos are copied to both drives simultaneously.  If failure on one of the drives, I get a warning, telling to replace the bad drive.  As soon as the new drive is inserted, the unit immediately starts backing the existing photos on that good hard drive to the new one.  This provides me two copies of the originals. At the end of the day, I’ll then pop out one of the drives, and put in a third….the unit “discovers” the new drive, and asks if I want to copy the existing drives content to the newly inserted drive. Okaying this, I then have my images on three drives.  One of those stays on me if I go out from my room for the evening, the two are in the room safe.  This gives me two physical areas where I’m protected.  Remember, backup, backup and if I didn’t mention it, backup.

Hope you enjoy this group of images, more later.

 

Collecting coconuts

Collecting coconuts Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

 

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Some of the members of the Samoan women’s council in a village Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Samoan women's council weaver    Olympus OM-D E-M1  75mm f1.8

Samoan women’s council weaver Olympus OM-D E-M1 75mm f1.8

Departing Samoa Olympus OM-D E-M1 12-40mm f2.8

Great Barrier Reef     Olympus tough TG-1

Great Barrier Reef Olympus tough TG-1

 

Diving on Great Barrier Reef Olympus Tough TG-1 with TCON lens adaptor

Diving on Great Barrier Reef
Olympus Tough TG-1 with TCON lens adapter

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef    Olympus TG-1 Tough

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef Olympus TG-1 Tough

 

 

 

 



National Geographic “Around the World by Private Jet” 2103

Near Cusco, the archaeological site of Sacayhuaman sits above the city.  Here, a llama is seen in profile-Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Near Cusco, the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman sits above the city. Here, a llama is seen in profile-Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Greetings from Cusco, Peru.  I’m on the National Geographic “Around the World by Private Jet” Expedition, as the National Geographic Expert.  I’ve had the good fortune to have accompanied two other World trips as well as a Central and South America by Private Jet trip for Geographic.  As you can imagine, the photographic opportunities here are almost endless.

We flew out of Dulles Airport in Washington, DC yesterday, arriving in Lima about seven and a half hours later.  As on all these trips, the camaraderie starts building almost immediately—with the common experience of adventure and extreme travel, the 77 aboard the 757 aircraft start bonding quickly.  Becky accompanied me on the trip in 2009, and we still have deep friendships from that experience.

From Lima, we took a smaller charter flight into Cusco, as the airport here is not certified for the 757.  It’s always beautiful making the approach to Cusco with broken clouds providing glimpses of the rugged terrain below.  At around 11,200’, a long runway is a must.

We’ll head out early tomorrow on the Howard Bingham train for Machu Picchu-the ride is very photogenic, as it runs for some distance alongside the fast flowing Urubamba River.

For some time, I’ve been speaking of the benefits of the Micro Four Thirds camera system, and I’ve been shooting the Olympus OM-D E-M5 since it’s release.  On this trip, I’ll be primarily photographing with the newest Olympus release, the OM-D E-M1.  I’ve been using this camera for a few short weeks, and I’m really impressed with all aspects of this pro-level camera system.  The next couple of weeks will test many aspects of the camera, as I’ll be putting it through several equipment-unfriendly situations: rain, dust, banging around in safari vehicles, and a constant shooting process.

Hope you enjoy these early images from this amazing trip…

 

Final approach into Cusco Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Final approach into Cusco
Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

 

 

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Fountain in town square of Cusco
Olympus OM-D E-M1, 9-18mm 40 second exposure

 

Baby at Sacsayhuaman site

With the stonework of the Sacsayhuaman site in the background, a merchant’s child is seen here. Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

 

Around the town square in Cusco, I walked upon a children's parade

Around the town square in Cusco, I walked upon a children’s parade
Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12mm f2, 3200 ISO

 

Sacsayhuaman site near Cusco, a vendor with her child.  Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Sacsayhuaman site near Cusco, a vendor with her child. Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Often the beauty is in the detail.  I was amazed at the beautiful color of this llama's eye

Often the beauty is in the detail. I was amazed at the beautiful color of this llama’s eye
Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Late afternoon at Machu Picchu, as a Llama grazes in the grass OM-D E-M1

Late afternoon at Machu Picchu, as a Llama grazes in the grass
OM-D E-M1

Brazilian students at overlook of Machu Picchu

Brazilian students at overlook of Machu Picchu

We did a fly-by of Easter Island pre-touchdown

We did a fly-by of Easter Island pre-touchdown Olympus OM-D E-M1, 9-18mm

Moai heads on Easter Island

Light-painting of Moai heads on Easter Island Olympus OM-D E-M1 12mm, 60 Seconds @ f4

The Quarry on Easter Island

The Quarry on Easter Island Olympus OM-D E-M1, 12-40mm f2.8

Samoan fire dancers on American Samoa

Samoan fire dancers on American Samoa Olympus OM-D E-M1, 17mm f1.8