Archive for the ‘Information’ Category
Wilderness photographer of the week
Today I got a message over Facebook asking me if I had missed that I was chosen by Ranger Diaries and Bush Boyes to feature in their Top 25 photographs from the Wilderness. What could I say? Yes I had missed this and it makes me really happy that they took the time to inform me about this glad news.
I have sent a couple of pictures over the last weeks with hope of featuring in this awesome collection of photos. Most of the pictures are from Africa with the main subject being the furry cats so it is really a treat for me to be able to get a picture published of a bird taken in Europe.
My picture is of a Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, that I took in Austria this April. It is an intimate picture with the eye as a focus point. The eye is truly spectacular and I really like the coloration on this huge Vulture. The Lammergeier is so photogenic that it is hard to believe. I think this picture is something special. I like how the diffuse wings cover the Lammergeier so you can´t see the complete face of the bird. It gives room for imagination and if you don´t know how a Bearded Vulture looks like then check it up.
I have now set myself a goal and that is to get good photos of the Bearded Vulture flying up in the mountains of either the Pyrenees or the Drakensberg. I know of at least three places in Spain and two in South Africa that would give me great opportunities to photo the Bearded Vulture up in the high mountains.
My ambition is to managed with this project within next year. I need to check for the best possible period to do it and then decide upon Spain or South Africa. Spain is close and familiar, but I think I will get more interesting pictures from South Africa of not just the Lammergeier.
I hope you can enjoy my first picture of a Bearded Vulture until I get my next opportunity to photo this beautiful bird.
Next goal for the Vulture project
I can´t say that I had any Vulture project before I got home from Bulgaria but the success that I had during the trip there has spurred me to aim a little higher.
The aim is now to see the 4.th musketeer, the Bearded Vulture, and take some cracking photos of this photogenic Vulture. I already have a couple of nice photos of the Bearded Vulture but they are not what I am looking for. I want flying shots with mountains in the background and I hope this isn´t too much to ask for. There are a couple of places in South Africa where I know I will have success but I primarily want to succeed with this mission here in Europe.
There are several breeding projects for Vultures in Europe and one is aiming to repopulate the Alps with the Bearded Vulture. I don´t have any high hopes of success with my mission in the Alps, even if I have seen some great Bearded Vulture photos from there, but I know that Spain, and the Pyrenees will be the place to go to. I think Spain has much to offer for me and not just Bearded Vulture so next step will be to find the best time to go and with whom.
I also take the opportunity to show you the video that I have uploaded to YouTube.
It is from Bulgaria and shows a little infighting between the Griffon Vulture while eating. This makes for spectacular scenes that is hard to catch in a single frame so I made many videos during the 2 days in the Vulture hide. I don´t know if any turned out good but I think this is quite nice. I like the way the Vulture try to intimidate each other when they stretch their wings and ultimately use their claws or beaks to get access to the food.
My hope is that you get a feeling for what is seen when you sit in a hide with 20+ Griffon Vultures outside.
And don´t miss my 2 new Photo Album :
A successful Vulture workshop in Bulgaria
I want to write a few words about the Vultures workshop in Bulgaria and show a couple pictures from the 3 days there. The workshop was held in the East Rhodope Mountains, a really spectacular surrounding for a workshop like this. We lived just outside of Madzharovo which is where the only vulture Reserve in Bulgaria is located. Here you can find both the Griffon Vulture and the Cinereous Vulture, or Eurasian Black Vulture, year around and the Egyptian Vulture migrate here to breed during spring/summer.
I have been fascinated by Vultures for some time and I think they are really misunderstood. They are an integral part in keeping nature clean from carcasses that otherwise would spread diseases but people just seem to focus on their looks and that they feed on the dead.
Did I look forward to this workshop? Yes of course. I had looked on going here myself for quite some time so when I got the possibility to do the Bear photography in Romania I had to check the possibility to do a Vulture workshop in Bulgaria. I asked Arne Bivrin and Frode Wendelbo if they also were interested and gladly they said yes. I am not sure that they know what to expect but I feel they both had a great time in the Vulture hide.
We were picked up by our guide Simeon Gigov, and his girlfriend, at the airport in Sofia and driven to the Vulture center where we stayed. They first short excursion gave us a good idea what to expect for the coming days. We had many different raptors soaring in the sky and we also saw reptiles in form of a lizards and a male Spur-thighed Tortoise, also called Greek Tortoise. I got a couple of great backlight shots of a Long-legged Buzzard that I really like.
There were also the 3 different types of Vultures in the air and some flew just past like the Egyptian Vulture in this picture.
Next day we rose just after 4 a.m. to travel for an hour to reach the Vulture hide, even if it more looked like a fortress. It was a really spacious stone construction with a concrete roof. When they built the construction the thought was to give the Vultures their own feeding place, the roof of the hide was the table so to speak, so no mammals could steal their food. Soon they realized that this wasn´t working and therefore they built the hide and placed the Vulture goodies out on the ground where they are used to find their food. We had lots of space inside and there where photo holes for 4 photographers so we could switch during the day to get different backgrounds for our photos. The hide also had a “proper” toilet which isn´t a luxury even if you had to flush it with a water bucket.
I took this photo the first day as the Red Fox appeared in front of the hide. It singlehandedly chased the Vultures away from the meat, quite a feat I must say.
At times we had between 50-60 griffon Vultures on the ground. They really fight in between for the best pieces of meat and that often makes for spectacular scenes and something I can assure you will capture your interest if you ever attend a Vulture workshop.
Please enjoy these first images as more will come during the coming weeks.
My initial thoughts of the days in Romania
I am now back from my trip to Romania and Bulgaria and I´m trying to collect all the thoughts that I have had during this trip. It is always nice to be out on the road this time of year and meet spring a little earlier than it usual come at home here in Sweden.
The first stop on this trip was a 4 days photo workshop that I was invited to. The target was to try their new purpose built Brown Bear photo hides. I can´t say that I had any expectations other than it would be a nice surrounding for Bears as the hides where situated in the Harghita mountains of Transylvania in Romania. I also knew that they have a healthy population of Brown Bear in Romania and that would hopefully mean that the chances would be good for a successful workshop. I even had the privilege to invite 2 other photographers and the 2 first that I asked said yes and that meant that we were a group of 3 Swedes making this trip. The other 2 were Arne Bivrin, that joined me for the Eagle trip to Hungary in February, and the other were Frode Wendelbo, that tagged along to the Golden Eagles of Kalvträsk in March. A most competent and dynamic group all together.
I went there with 2 clear goals in mind and the first was to see what the area could offer and if I could see a business opportunity with photo workshops there. I am looking for places that would bring something new to the market and I feel that both Romania and Bulgaria should be places that could attract photographers from all over the world but I needed to check it out first.
The setup for the Romania part of this trip wasn´t completely clear to me before I left Sweden, except that the focus would be the Bears of Transylvania. My hope were to get Bear photos in mountain areas as this is something that I haven´t seen many pictures of. I also had arranged this trip to be an all-inclusive as I felt that would be the easiest for the three of us. In hindsight I must say that it worked out as a charm. We were picked up at the airport as soon as we landed and was driven by our guide Zoltan Baczo to the Guesthouse in Zetea that is owned by Zsolt Babos, the Forrester that was going to be our host together with his mom, who prepared all the food, for the next couple of days.
Many thing struck me during the road trip as the landscape was really beautiful. Sadly it wasn´t kept as clean as it should and that saddened me a little but many places got me to think of both Tuscany and South Africa. Our guide also told us that we were actually staying in a part of Romania, Hargitha County, that is more or less Hungarian and that was clearly seen by both the village names but also that the areas was kept cleaner. I almost felt that I were in Hungary and not Romania which was a little odd.
We were really treated like kings during the whole trip and it was nice to be one of the first that actually have tried these purpose built photo hides. They were sturdy built with a high ceiling so even I could stand up straight in the hide. They fitted 3 photographers and you could choose to photo either thru the glass our thru the dedicated photo holes which was what we did. We found the hides to be good but there were some small improvements that really should be taken into consideration. We tried 2 different locations and had a 100% success rate at the newest hide, we tried that hide 3 times both during afternoon but also during one morning session, but sadly the older hide gave us nothing, even if we discovered Bear tracks there. I still would say that 75% success rate is a really good figure considering this being a test workshop before being released on the market.
What really made an impression was the closeness to the Bears and that we got to see proper feeding behavior, and that was due to how the food was put out on site. This is something that I hope more will use in the future as I really liked to see how the Bears turned the stones over in search of goodies to eat.
In total I think that we saw 5 different Bears and 2 of them made appearances each day in front of our cameras. They were easily recognizable as the often appeared at the same time. Still we missed the big males and I am not sure if we saw any females. This might be due to breeding season but that is just a thought and not something I am sure of.
I will now go thru the pictures over the next couple of weeks and put up a photo album from Romania. It will not just contain Bear pictures as we got to mix the trip with both landscape photography and bird photography. What you can see in this blog post is just a selection of pictures that I have taken during the 5 days in Romania, so rest assure that more will come.
My impression from the trip and the area were we stayed is excellent and I will surely see if I can get a workshop running there for the 2014 season.
And last but not least I would like to send a thank you to our hosts, Zsolt and Annikö, and to Zoltan for guiding and driving us all over Romania. And of course a big thank you to Frode and Arne for making this trip with me.
Don´t forget to check out the Photo Album from Transylvania. You will find it here : Transylvania 2013
Day two in Eagle country
I woke up at 4:00 am this morning to eat breakfast and then head out to the Eagle hide here in Kalvträsk. The forecast for today was mixed with both snow and sun during the day. I think it’s good to get mixed conditions and not just have one type of weather over a series of days.
The start of the day was cloudy, with snowfall, and that would hopefully bring the Golden Eagle pair to the site. This was our hope for the day when we arrived at the Eagle hide and rigged our gear. I must say that Conny’s Eagle hide must be one of the best, if not the best, built hides I have ever used. There are just some small things that could have been better and they are more or less all related to me being tall.
When I now look back at the events of the day then I must say that we are both really luck but also that so much great light were wasted without any Eagles. They visited the site 2 times during the morning when the light was at the poorest. I did manage to get a couple of okay photos but they are not any award winning even if I really like this photo.
This is from the second run of the day and it show one of the Eagles flying over the landscape with Vitbergen Nature Reserve as background. I like this type of pictures and have decided that I must start working on extending my own portfolio with these type of picture. I am a little sad that so many people just strive to get the close-ups that “remove” the object from its true habitat.
The second picture is from the first run when the male Golden Eagle got down at one of the food caches and tried to convince the female to join by shrieking. It didn’t work out and soon afterwards the both flew off.
I did say we were both lucky and unlucky during the day. We had poor light when the Eagles where at the site but we also got lucky and witnessed a mating. This was one of the reasons why I went here this time of year but sadly I couldn´t get any good photos of the event. This wasn´t the only luck today as we had patches with great light coupled with the light snowfall that made a perfect setting for my photos of the other birds. We also witnessed a Northern Goshawk trying to get out to feed but it didn´t land this time. I do feel that we will get lucky tomorrow with both the Golden Eagles but also the Goshawk.
Here are links to the 2 other days here in Kalvträsk.