Japan Winter Wildlife 2020 Tour 1 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 696)

Japan Winter Wildlife 2020 Tour 1 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 696)

This year’s Japan Winter Wildlife Tour 1 was completed successfully on February 7, and the second tour starts today, when I release this episode, to walk you through our antics with the first group. The warm winter that kept me on my toes during the Hokkaido Landscape Tour in January continued to provide us with some challenges as a group. The Snow Monkeys, that we visit for the first three days on the tour, were just monkeys, as in, there was no snow. I’ve visited when there has been very little snow before, but this year, there was literally no snow in the valley where the monkeys live.

Monkey with Rim-Light
Monkey with Rim-Light

Snow Monkeys

This wasn’t ideal, but I continue to work on the premise that an opportunity lost is an opportunity gained. In this first image that I want to share from the trip, you can see the warm light of the distant valley wall behind the monkey, and the contrast allowed me to create almost a rim-light with the monkey’s fur.

The monkey was just sitting on the grain silo that is situated just after the bring from the entrance to the hot spring pool area, and often provides a nice platform for this sort of image, but usually with a white background. People talk so much about “getting something different”. Well, there you have it. 🙂

Seriously though, I do like this shot, and finding angles and backgrounds that complimented the monkeys became the theme for our time there this year. It did snow overnight on the first day in Shibuonsen, near the Monkey Park, but it was not the storm that was forecast, and pretty much melted away before the second day even got started. It was not going to spoil out fun though, so we kept plugging away at the opportunities presented to us.

In this next image (below) I used the water in the hot spring pool as a relatively neutral background, as the cloudy sky over the valley was reflecting in the water, as well as producing an almost soft-box style smooth light for our subjects.

The moment is everything with this kind of image, as the caring look of the monkey on the left lasted literally just a second, and the angle of the head on the smaller monkey, almost signifying a reciprocation of those feelings, was equally as fleeting. I can’t help but instill some of our human emotions on these close cousins of ours though, and I’m sure that at least to some degree, these feelings are not just my imagination.

Caring Look
A Snow Monkey looks caringly at another

Although you can check my shooting settings by clicking on the images and viewing them in the Lightbox, to just give you an insight into my thought process, I generally try to keep a relatively fast shutter speed of around 1/500 of a second when photographing the monkeys, even when they are just sitting around like this, as their movements are often quite fast. Even just head or hand movement blurs easily with slower shutter speeds.

I also stay aware of the aperture and generally shoot multiple snow monkeys at no wider than f/8, as one of the two heads only have to be a little further or closer to the camera for one of them to be out of focus, and I prefer to avoid that when possible. When I can, I try to go to f/11 to keep multiple faces relatively sharp, as you’ll see in this next photo of the mother and child. Once I have decided on my aperture and shutter speed with this kind of consideration in mind, I control my exposure with my ISO. For the previous shot, it was at 3200, but for the mother and child shot, I changed it 6400, to give me that extra stop of sensitivity to counter the narrower aperture setting.

Another thing that I like to do, is to look for a pose like the one in this next image (right). Here I’m leading you to believe that the monkey is calm, and still, looking down into the recess at the edge of the pool. We read into this, making us feel as though the monkey is deep in thought, and that is the beauty of photography as an expressive medium. The reality is that this monkey was simply looking, again for probably less than a second, at a piece of grain that it had picked up from the pool wall, and a moment later it popped it into its mouth and continued to look feverishly for more grain.

They say that the camera never lies, and maybe it doesn’t, but the photographer is always in control of the instant at which we release the shutter, and ultimately that gives us the ability to create a mood or feeling in an image that was never there, and maybe, you didn’t need to know that.

First Cancelled Flight in 14 Years!

As fun as the snow monkeys are to shoot, and I did get a lot of shots that I am happy with, without the snow, there is only so much we could do, so we decided as a group to skip the third morning that we had planned, and we drove back to Tokyo after breakfast, and did a bit of sigh-seeing in the city before heading to the hotel where we’d spend the night, before our flight to Hokkaido, which should have been the following morning.

I say should, because ironically, having had no snow at the snow monkey, a snowstorm kicked in up in Hokkaido, and for the first time in 14 years of doing these tours, the first two flights, including ours, were canceled. The evening flight did go ahead, but Japan Airlines, despite having many people trying to travel, did not change their plane to a larger one, opting instead to leave us stranded at the airport. Luckily, we were able to book an extra night at the same hotel, although they charged almost double their usual room fees as people stranded looked for accommodation. Tired of JAL’s lack of initiative, in more ways than this, I have already instructed our travel partner for our Japan tours to book with ANA from next year.

Red-Crowned Cranes

We were able to get seats on the first flight the following morning, and the snow that had prevented us from flying provided us with a much welcome covering of snow as we settled into some of the best Red-Crowned Crane photography we’ve had for a few years. Truth be told, there are actually two complete cranes cloned out either side of these two singing together, but still, just having the birds themselves framed without other birds overlapping, and on good snow, was a bit of a treat.

Cranes' Song
Two Crane’s Signing Together

This shot also nicely illustrates the answer to a pop-quiz question that I often put to my tour guests while at the cranes. I ask what color the cranes tail is, and 99% of the time the answer that I get is “black” because people usually see what we have here on the left. But if you look at the crane on the right here, you’ll see that the tail of the bird is actually pure white. The plume of black feathers that looks like a tail on the bird on the left is actually the feathers that line the back edge of their wings.

During what you might consider the down-time that we get at the cranes, while there are no birds flying in or out, or dancing or singing, I often just scour the field for birds like the one you see in this next image, just feeding, or preening. They are often close enough to almost fill the frame with the animal like this, and I enjoy just poring over the detail in these shots.

Crane Foraging
A Crane Foraging in the Snow

I cropped this down to a 4:5 aspect ratio, as there was obviously a lot of white space either side of the crane. I like to stick to standard cropping ratios like 4:5, square, or if wider I like 16:9 and even 2:1. The main reason is for conformity when printing, except for 16:9 which is more just because images look great on the TV at this standard wide-screen ratio.

Ural Owl

In the middle of the afternoon on our first day in Hokkaido, I took the group to a Ural Owl’s nest, to get photos like this one, which was shot with my 200-400mm lens with the built-in 1.4X Extender engaged and a 2X Extender fitted, giving me a focal length of 1,120mm. It’s amazing that autofocus still works down at f/11, which is the aperture I’m forced to from f/4 with three stops of extender fitted, but it works pretty well, and the image quality is absolutely fine with the Canon EOS R.

A Ural Owl in a Tree
A Ural Owl looking at me from his Tree

There aren’t many opportunities for different angles at this location, and we have to shoot from a distance to protect the owls, and that’s fine. After this, the owl actually regurgitated a pellet, which is the bones of mice or other animals that the owl has eaten, wrapped perfectly in their fur. He stretched his head up, so I thought that was what he was going to do, then he leaned forward and ejected the pellet. I have a shot in which you can see the pellet coming out of his mouth, but it’s not very pretty, so I’ll share this straight shot for now.

More Cranes

The last location for the day was to do some panning shots as the crane’s left to go to the river to roost for the night. I really enjoy this kind of photography and love it when we get a few flight-outs to enable the group a number of chances to nail a few of these shots. I slow my shutter down to around a 1/50 of a second for panning shot, as I find this gives a good balance between getting more shots that work and still being aesthetically pleasing.

Cranes in Flight
Panning with Two Cranes in Flight

I like how the heads of the cranes in this shot are visible through their blurred wings. I also find that with these birds being predominantly white, they look great over a black background, so I’ve actually darkened the shadows slightly with the levels slider and Luma Tone Curve in Capture One Pro.

The previous four shots were all from day one with the cranes, but that should have been day two, so instead of moving on to the Whooper Swans the following morning, we went back to the crane until lunchtime, giving us a number of other opportunities. The first of which is this group of four cranes coming in to land. The first crane perhaps landed a little bit sooner than the others had hoped, causing them to stack up like this.

Congested Runway
A premature landing causes congestion on the runway

It was also really nice, as with the earlier photo, to get some crane action in an opening. Even on this trip, most of the landings happened behind other cranes, but more than in recent years, there were landings in openings like this.

It also pays to watch the birds after they land, as I find that especially with tall birds like these cranes, they often arch their backs probably to relieve the tension in their muscles from flying, and this time, the three adults in this group all did just that, as you can see here.

Cranes Arching their Backs
Three Cranes arching their backs after landing

I’m not a big fan of the space between the birds in this shot, but it was nice to get three of them arching together, and without having to clone out any other birds, so I’m happy with this.

We’ll wrap it up there for this week, as that brings us to 10 images. If you would like to join the 2021 Japan Winter Wildlife Tour, please note that it is already full, but you can contact me to join the cancellation list, which is still relatively short at the time of releasing this podcast. Sign up for our newsletters for notification of the 2022 tour when I start taking bookings or check out the Tours and Workshops page, as I plan to start taking bookings very soon!

I am preparing this on the Friday before release, and I’m trying frantically to release version 3.2 of my Photographer’s Friend app with some great new functionality, so I’m probably going to have to skip next week again. Sorry about that, but for any Photographer’s Friend users among you, I think you’ll appreciate the work I’ve put into it over this last week. For the Android users that are still waiting, I will try my hardest to get you an Android version this year.


Show Notes

Check our Tour & Workshops page for details of future tours! http://mbp.ac/tours

Music by Martin Bailey


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Sharing Our Passion – A Conversation with Valerie Jardin (Podcast 407)

Sharing Our Passion – A Conversation with Valerie Jardin (Podcast 407)

This week’s Podcast is a conversation with my friend Valerie Jardin, recorded a few weeks ago via a Google Hangout on Air. You can follow along with the video over on YouTube, but as it was basically just a conversation, I’ve removed the video and released this an audio Podcast.

In this conversation, we discuss sharing our passion for photography via our teaching, on workshops, tours and our writing too.

Valerie is sharing more of this kind of chat over on her Q&A Blog, so do check that out here: http://valeriejardinphotography.com/blog/

MBP and Friends Hangout on Air


Show Notes

Valerie’s Q&A Blog: http://valeriejardinphotography.com/blog/

Music by UniqueTracks


Audio

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Podcast 237 : Hokkaido Photography Tour and Workshop 2010 #1

Podcast 237 : Hokkaido Photography Tour and Workshop 2010 #1

This week I take you on a brief tour the first half of our Hokkaido Photography Tour and Workshop from 2010. I’m also very happy to announce that I just posted full details of the 2011 Workshops on our Workshops page. And yes, that’s workshops, in the plural, because next year I’m offering two Hokkaido workshops, one whirlwind five day tour, visiting the places that we’ll look at today, and then one 12 day tour, in which we’ll first visit the Snow Monkeys, that we talked about in Episode 233, then we go on to Hokkaido for a further nine days.

Based on feedback from this year’s participants, we will no longer go over to the central part of Hokkaido for the Landscape leg. Rather we’ll be spending more consecutive days in most hotels, to save us from uprooting every morning, and also give us more time to work each subject, as well as relax a little more. It also gives us time for me to do some structured lectures on work-flow etc. as well as working in some critique sessions, to look at and critique the work that the participants are creating. These things are going to help to increase the workshop aspect of the tour, so I’m really looking forward to that.

(By the way, if you prefer to listen, there’s an audio player at the bottom of the post.)

It’s been almost two months since we got back from the 2010 Hokkaido Photography Tour and Workshop, and although I know that many of you have been waiting for a nice long travelogue style group of episodes on the tour, I’m actually going to try to go through this somewhat briefly. Much of what we did was the same as the 2009 tour, with the exception that we spend an extra day in Tsurui, the first town that we stop in, in Hokkaido, to photograph the Red-Crowned Cranes. If you want a real blow by blow recollection of what we did on each day, including some tips and techniques on what we bore in mind while shooting, then you might want to look up the five episodes 178, 179, then 182 through 184.

I also covered my first reconnaissance trip to the Snow Monkeys last year, in episode 187, and again a few weeks ago from this year’s workshop, in Episode 233. So check those out too if you are looking for information on what we do, or are just interested in following along with our adventures. Note too that I uploaded 60 images to Flickr and to my online gallery from this year’s Hokkaido workshop. I’ve selected just 11 images to talk about today, which was even tougher than narrowing down my original selection to just 60 images. These images can be seen in iTunes or on your iPhone if you subscribe to the Enhanced Podcast, but as you are already reading my blog, just scroll down to check them out, and remember that you can also listen rather than read, with the audio player at the bottom of this post. I do suggest you subscribe in iTunes though, as the best way to get my Podcast delivered directly to your door each week.

So, we have 6 days and 11 images to get through in the next 30 minutes or so, so let’s get started. We’d have a day and a half in Tokyo, having gotten back from Nagano and the Snow Monkeys early Saturday evening. It was nice to have a break, and many of the participants that were joining both tours did some sightseeing or caught up on their photo selection etc. but all in all, this didn’t go down so well, and people were stressed about getting over to Haneda airport on the Monday morning, so I arranged for two minibuses to pick up all the people that were staying in the hotel that I’d suggested for the weekend, and we headed off for Haneda. In the 2011 tours that I just announced, I’ve cut this out. We will now go straight to Haneda from the Snow Monkeys and spend the night in a hotel airport, then head off to Hokkaido the following morning. This will make things easier for everyone, including me. Although I won’t get to spend the weekend at home, I won’t have to get up as early as I would if I was heading out to the airport from home, which will make a nice change.

After arriving at Kushiro airport from Haneda we have a 40 minute drive to the Akan International Crane Center where we spent until just after 2PM photographing the beautiful, majestic Red-Crowned cranes. I’ve shared better pictures of these cranes with you in the past, so I’ll skip that today, but wanted to share image 2452 (below) with you, which I shot at the end of this first day, over at the Kikuchi Farm, which is where we go after the cranes have been fed at the Crane Center. Here I’d capture three cranes flying close to the setting sun, with the trees as a backdrop. Unlike one of my previous shots similar to this where I’d enhanced and colored the uneventful sky in Lightroom, these colors are how the camera captured them, with my slight saturation boost, from my Landscape Picture Style emulation. I like the way the two outside cranes here have their wings up, with the center crane, probably the youngster, with its wings down. Also, this looks great in a print, because the cranes are not total silhouettes. There is just a little bit of detail still in the birds, which adds depth when viewed large.

Sunset Flight of the Cranes

Sunset Flight of the Cranes

On the second morning we went to the river where we shot from the Otowa Bridge, where I’d shot one of my favorite images of all time, Distant Dance (below), on our first Hokkaido workshop in 2008, but the conditions weren’t right. We got our gear out and shot a few frames, but it was too warm for the mist and no chance of frost on the trees on this first day. It has to be at least minus 15 degrees Celsius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit, with no wind for the mist to make a showing and it just wasn’t happening. I don’t recall exactly, but I think it was about -12 Celsius or 10 Fahrenheit on the first morning.

Also, although it was about 4:30AM when we left the hotel for the bridge, a bus full of photographers that had passed us on the road in front of the hotel as we came out, had all put their tripods in place on the bridge by the time we got there. So, I had our bus driver do a little bit of espionage, and talk with the bus driver of the other group, and find out what time they were scheduled to leave the following day, and we left the hotel 10 minutes before that to get the better positions on the following day. I met their guide later actually and agreed that we’d share the best spots next time if we ended up here on the same day again. We all had a laugh about it, so there were no hard feelings or anything.

Distant Dance

Distant Dance

Later on the second day though, we went back to the Akan International Crane Center and shot the cranes again. The conditions were great, but I didn’t really get anything brilliant of the cranes. I’m after a really spectacular shot of just two cranes doing a mating dance and honking, with their steamy breath visible, but it didn’t happen again this year. For first time visitors though, most of the participants got some very nice shots. The highlight of the day when photographing the cranes at Akan though is actually when they feed the cranes, and you get White Tailed Eagles like the one we see in image number 2464 (below) that come in to steal the fish. This is one of my favorite eagle shots from this year, because there’s just so much detail in there and the focus is perfect. The great thing about this location is that the field full of snow below the birds acts as a huge reflector, reflecting the sun back up into the underside of the birds, so you don’t have to deal with much contrast, and you get beautifully list subjects. I shot with with the 1Ds Mark III and the 600mm F4 lens at 1/2500 of a second at ISO 200.

Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye

The following morning did see a little mist on the river, as it was about -18 Celcius or 0 Fahrenheit as the sun rose, but I didn’t really like many of my shots. The trees were not frosty, so although again, this was a good opportunity for first time visitors, David Lee for example said that he could go home a happy man right at that point, but I didn’t improve on any of the images that I already have. One that I did like, although it doesn’t contain a whole lot of mist, is image number 2465. This was an eight second exposure with the 300mm F2.8 lens and the 1.4X Extender fitted. I was at ISO 400 as well, so you can tell that this is still before there was a lot of available light, but the warm morning sun reflecting in the river really popped out on this one when I did a white balance based on the snow in Lightroom. Again, when viewed large, the silky surface of the water is nice here. One thing to note here too is that the bridge which is crowded with photographers each morning actually shudders with the movement of the photographers, so long exposures is actually not a great idea. You have to do a number of them and just hope that you can time it when people aren’t moving around, to get one that is sharp like this.

Sleeping Cranes

Sleeping Cranes

Later in the day, we had time to head over to Lake Mashuu, which is famous for being cloaked in fog, and people not actually being able to see the lake. I heard a rumour that the lake was clear though, and there were some really nice clouds in the sky, so we made an unplanned excursion. I went wide to capture the great sky along with the mountains surrounding the lake that we can see in image number 2467 (below). This is a Nik Software Silver Efex Pro black and white conversion, with a slight blue tone, which I really like at the moment. Toning like this just helps to bring out a little more detail in my option, and it’s great fun to play with.

Lake Mashuu

Lake Mashuu

On the afternoon of the 3rd of February, we headed to Kussharo Lake where we were to photograph the Whooper Swans. Again, local information from my friend and photographer Yoshiaki Kobayashi, who I’d bumped into at the Otowa Bridge that morning, told me that the usual photography spot at the lake was not frozen, but a small corner of the lake called Kotan was, so I again adjusted our plans and headed over to Kotan. There were far more swans here, as we can see in image 2470 (below). I went wide again, using my 16-35mm lens wide open at 16mm, to capture lots of the birds, as well as the large tree to the left and that big sky. I had my tripod in the lake with all of the legs contracted, and basically framed the shot, then sat back on a rock with my cable release, and waited for a swan to spread their wings, as we can see one did in the middle of the group just to the left of the reflection of the sun here. I hung on for another shot that I really wanted where the swan was right in front of the sun, which is also uploaded, but all round, I prefer this shot for its composition and multiple points of interest. I also shot some video here, which I will get around to editing and sharing some time very soon.

Spreading Wings

Spreading Wings

The following morning was incredibly cold. It was minus 30 degrees Celsius which is negative 22 degrees Fahrenheit. As I was getting ready to leave my hotel room, the bus driver called to tell me that the bus wouldn’t start, because it was so cold. We had the hotel people try their bus, in the hope that we could borrow that, but that wouldn’t start either. It was obviously colder than even these people were use to. The driver kept trying though, and after about 20 minutes and an almost flat battery, he finally go our bus started. We used a further 10 minutes to get it warmed up, and then set off, maybe 40 minutes or so late for Bihoro Pass. This is a mountain pass that has a 10 minute climb from the car park to a vantage point overlooking the Kussharo Lake, where we’d photographed the swans on the previous day.

Boy was it cold up the top, but I, with my happy little hunter’s or fisherman’s response, that keeps my hands warm in cold conditions, was having a ball. It was so cold that even my 1Ds Mark IIIs battery ran flat from fully charged in about an hour, and that is unheard of with these modern batteries. I was singing and messing around though and at one point turned to the participants that were left, with most of the older crew now back on the bus, and I said “it’s not that cold really”. I knew I’d said something weird when they all just looked back at me without saying a word. A few uncomfortable moments later, and we were all laughing our heads off.

Around this time we noticed that a sun pillar was forming over the island in the center of the lake, as we can see in image number 2479 (below). This is basically a phenomenon that only happens when it’s extremely cold, and it’s caused by the water particles in the air freezing, and reflecting the sun’s light. It appears below the sun, at an angle relative to the height of the sun in the sky. As the sun got higher, the pillar got closer to us. Another incredible thing about this image is that the top of the line of clouds are actually rainbow colored. You can only just make this out in the Web sized version, but without any manipulation, that line of clouds is reflecting a whole spectrum of colors at us.

Sun Pillar and Rainbow Clouds

Sun Pillar and Rainbow Clouds

Already very late to get back for breakfast, as we drove down back towards the lake, along which we’d traverse to get back to the hotel, we noticed the sun pillar again, now much closer, so we stopped the bus for another ten minutes or so and I captured image number 2482 (below). You can see more here how the water crystals suspended in the air are glistening in the light of the sun. Again, I have video of this which I’ll share at some point, but it really was an amazing sight, like a beautiful and relaxing, swirling pillar of light. This is now another one of those things that happens so rarely that it’s unlikely, but I really hope it will happen again for the participants of future workshops.

Kussharo Lake Sun Pillar

Kussharo Lake Sun Pillar

We actually arrived back at the hotel at 9AM, which was the time that the breakfast buffet was due to stop, but they allowed us another 20 minutes or so to grab breakfast before we broke camp to drive over to the Shiretoko Peninsula and the town of Rausu, where we were hoping for sea ice, or ice floe, on which the Steller’s Sea Eagles and White Tailed Eagles would perch and pose for our cameras, the following morning. As you can see from image 2487 (below) though, there was like one tiny piece of ice in the entire Nemuro Straights, between Far Eastern Japan, and Kunashiri Island, the first of the Kuril Islands that Japan is still trying to get Russia to give back. I like the way the four Steller’s Sea Eagles seem to be admiring the sun, as it rises over what is essentially still Far East Russia.

Russian Sunrise

Russian Sunrise

We had chartered the boat, and the skipper was trying really hard to find a substantial amount of sea ice for us to drop some fish onto to attract more eagles, but after three and a half hours, we had to give up. It was a beautiful sunrise, and we even saw a pod of Baird’s Beaked Whales in the channel, as we can see in image number 2492 (below), but the Eagle shoot that was such a highlight of the 2009 workshop, now seemed like a distant memory. The day before we were here, and the day after were actually very good apparently, with plenty of ice, so I was pretty disappointed. For the 2011 workshops I have moved the whole schedule out by two weeks, and we are now going to have two consecutive days here in Rausu on the 12 day tour. We are also going to be in the area in a better time on the 5 day tour too, so I’m much more confident that we’ll get ice next year, especially on the 12 day tour, but hopefully on the five day tour too. At the end of the day though, it’s all in the hands of Mother Nature, and what she decides to dish up for us. Nothing is guaranteed when you are dealing with nature.

You Scratch My Back...

You Scratch My Back…

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Later in the day, we drove around to Utoro, another harbor town on the other side of the Shiretoko Peninsula, where we headed into the Shiretoko National Park. We got some nice deer shots, and I also photographed a fox, but I didn’t upload it to my gallery, as it wasn’t any better than the fox shots I already have uploaded. We went back into the Park the following day, and one of the first things I heard was the Great Spotted Woodpecker that we can see in image 2493 (right). I put my 1.4X extender on my 300mm F2.8, as I didn’t have my 600mm F4 with so and this is about as close as I could get. Every time I took a few paces towards this guy he flew to a tree further back, deeper into the woods. I like the overall light airy feel to this shot though, and the contrast of the black and white bird, with the red splash of color against the light brown and beige colors of the background. There was also a nuthatch that I photographed, but I couldn’t get a really clean shot of it. There was always a twig overlapping its tail or something, so I didn’t upload any of these shots either.

We walked deep into the park, and the group quickly became dispersed. I was toying with the idea of buying some digital walkie-talkies for this year’s trip, but I reckon I’ll pull the trigger on that for next year. This will make it easier for people to stay in touch when the group breaks up. These would be good for the Antarctica expedition in November too, so I think I’m going to really look into this now. It would also enable people that find something interesting to alert the other groups as well, to increase our chances of capturing things like the Woodpecker that only a few of us were able to photograph.

Deer are nice, but I really like to find the bucks, but their huge antlers. I came across this really laid back guy, that we see in image number 2494 (below right), just sitting in the snow and chewing on what was probably a strip of bark from a tree. Although he’s quite young, he reminded me of an old cowboy chewing on some chewing tobacco. I shot this with the 300mm F2.8 lens, and this is exactly how it was framed in camera. Note how I positioned the horns so that they were not intersecting with the brown of the exposed trees in the background. The one on the left side comes close, but the horns are actually surrounded by at least a thin line of white snow, to maintain the separation that I was after.

We actually said goodbye to two of the participants a few hours after shooting these last images, as two of them had only signed up for the first 6 days. There would be just ten of the twelve participants that went on to the central part of Hokkaido for the Landscape leg. I have to admit though, this year, the landscape leg was not as exciting as last year, by far. The weather fell apart on us to a degree, and we fought through heavy snow to get from Utoro on the Shiretoko peninsula to the Memanbetsu Airport where the two that would leave us were to fly from. Actually the plane that they left on was one of the only planes that were able to fly that day. We were incredibly lucky to be able to get them out of Hokkaido.

Laid Back Ezo Deer

Laid Back Ezo Deer

The weather also slowed us down for much of the landscape leg, and so we seemed to spend a lot more time on the bus than last year, which led to a little bit of frustration among some of the participants, and although we got very lucky with places like Mount Asahi, where it cleared for us to shoot for a few minutes, the general feeling was that it was not worth the amount of traveling that it cost us.

These concerns and the fact that I have scheduled a separate short five day workshop in addition to the more relaxed twelve day workshop, is the reason that I have stopped splitting the longer workshop up into optional sections. Another piece of valuable feedback was that people wanted to spend more than one night in hotels when possible, and spend more time in each location, so that’s exactly what I’ve planned for 2011.

I’ve named this episode part #1, and I will probably go on to share some of the images from the Landscape leg with you in the coming weeks, but for now, let’s leave Hokkaido there, and start looking towards the 2011 trip. If you are listening to this considering joining the 2011, note that the images that we looked at today are just a small example of what we shoot, but the locations are all the same. We will also spend one day at a place called Odaito, where there is a small but definite chance of photographing a sunrise where the sun itself is not round, but square, or even wine glass shaped, so that’s something to look forward to in addition to the locations we looked at today.

Also, if you are considering joining us, please book soon. I announced the workshops to my mailing list last night, and we already have four bookings and one tentative, so I don’t think the places will be open very long this year. If we should be fully booked by the time you find out about this, but you would like to come, drop me a line using the contact form, and I’ll put you on our cancellation list. Also don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the tours and workshops, after you’ve checked out the details on the Workshops page.

Once again, I really just wanted to scoot through a few example images today, to give you an idea of what we got up to on our Hokkaido Photography Tour and Workshop 2010. If you want to follow through in more detail, had not yet listened to last year’s Podcast episodes, do take a listen to episodes 178, 179, then 182, 183 and 184, that I mentioned earlier, as well as my brief report from the 2010 Snow Monkey workshop, that we talked about in Episode 233.


Podcast show-notes:

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


Audio

Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.


Podcast 232 : Antarctica 2010 : A Photo Odyssey – Q&A

Podcast 232 : Antarctica 2010 : A Photo Odyssey – Q&A

I’ve teamed up with professional Australian nature photographer David Burren to host a photography expedition to South Georgia and Antarctica from November 8th to 26th this year.

Today it gives me great pleasure to welcome David to the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast to answer questions on the expedition.

David Burren

David Burren

Note that David and I aiming to take a group of around 20 people. We’re already getting people signing up, and places are limited, so if you want to come, you’ll need to book SOON. The booking form is available at antarctica2010.com. Once we are fully booked, there will be a wait-list.

There is no transcript for this episode, so you’ll need to listen with the audio player below, or via iTunes or your favourite MP3 player. Links to all formats are at the bottom of this post.

You can see details of the Antarctica 2010 Photo Odyssey at antarctica2010.com.

Zodiac in front of Iceberg (© Copyright - David Burren)

Zodiac in front of Iceberg (© Copyright – David Burren)

In the Zodiac (© Copyright - David Burren)

In the Zodiac (© Copyright – David Burren)

© Copyright - David Burren

© Copyright – David Burren


Podcast show-notes:

Antarctica 2010 : A Photo Odyssey: http://antarctica2010.com/

More on David Burren: http://www.davidburren.com/

WebSpy giveaway: http://www.webspy.com.au/blogs/index.php/new-webspy-soho-giveaway/

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


Audio

Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.

Podcast 228 – Snow Monkey Workshop Participant Comments

Podcast 228 – Snow Monkey Workshop Participant Comments

Having just finished the Snow Monkey Workshop and Photography Tour, today I’m releasing a very brief update and a recording of some participant comments from the bus as we arrived back in Tokyo.

We set off for Hokkaido tomorrow morning, for the Wildlife and Landscape Workshops, and I’ll bring you an update on this later on.

For now, here are a few of my photos from the Snow Monkey Workshop and Tour.

Snowy Hands

Snowy Hands

Hurumph!

Hurumph!

Cold Feet

Cold Feet

Michael In Action

Michael In Action

There’ll be more to come when I get back from Hokkaido!


Audio

Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.