Category Archives: Wildlife

Humpback Whale Missing Fluke

Recently, we visited Tonga to snorkel with the humpback whales and their calves. We had a wonderful time and some amazing experiences. We started the trip on the islands of Vava’u, then Ha’apai with the last night on Eua. While on a whale swim cruise with Whale Discoveries in Ha’apai, we came across this female humpback whale that had most of its right fluke missing!

Even with most of her right fluke missing, she looked very healthy and had a healthy calf with her. Prior to getting this photo of her fluke, both her and her calf were breaching a number of times.

Here is 100% crop of the fluke.

More whale photos coming up soon.

APPA Awards 2011

This year was the first time that I have entered in the Canon AIPP Australian Professional Photographer Awards(APPA). I have been an Emerging of the AIPP now for a couple years and decided to get my photos submitted in the APPA’s. As an emerging member, I am allowed to submit 3 photos. I submitted my 3 photos in the Science Environment and Nature category.

I was extremely happy with my results. I earned a Silver with distinction, a Silver and my third photo just missed out by one point to get a silver. It will still earn me 1/2 point towards getting my Associate of the AIPP.

Global Melt – Silver with Distinction

Global Melt

Double Take – Silver

Double Take

Family Reunion – Certificate of Attainment

Family Reunion

A special mention should also go to a great photographer and all around nice guy, Christian Fletcher, the 2011 AIPP Australian Landscape Photographer of the Year.

spOIL – A must watch video

Back in 2009, we visited and photographed in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Canada.

Spirit Bear Trapeze

The following year, the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) did a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) in the Great Bear Rainforest. They teamed up with Pacific Wild, the Gitga’at First Nation and others to bring awareness to the fact that large companies, such as Enbridge, want to build a pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta to the BC coast town of Kitimat. From there oil tankers will have to zig zag through one of the most ecologically sensitive area on the planet to take this oil to Asian markets. These mega tankers will have to navigate a number of 90-degree turns, just begging for trouble and an oil spill that could wreck total destruction of this pristine environment.

A new documentary film called “spOIL” talks about the Great Bear Rainforest and the plans to build the pipeline. It won “Best Environmental Film” at the Vancouver International Mountain film Festival 2011. You can now watch it on Vimeo.

On May 2,2011, Canadians elected a majority Conservative government. There certainly is serious concern that the Harper government will allow the mega tankers to sail through this highly sensitive eco-system. If you reside in Canada, make your voice be heard  and that you don’t want this pipeline to happen.

Take action to protect the Great Bear Rainforest here.

And more from the Sierra Club BC here

Back Home

Arrived by back home, safe and sound. The ocean crossings were all very smooth on the voyage with Aurora Expeditions, Patagonia scenery has been breathtaking. I have just been busy helping out with nursing my mother-in-law following a hip replacement. I have been going through photos but they aren’t quite ready to post. That will happen between Christmas and New Year.

As a teaser, I had this king penguin wondering if I was using Nikon or Canon. He just couldn’t tell due to the LensCoat 😉

I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very festive season and a happy New Year.

Leave Only Footprints – The Journey

Leave Only Footprints - The JourneyNature, Wildlife, Travel, Photography, what more can you ask for? The journey started locally but has since taken me to the spectacular beauty of the Australian outback, the wilds of Africa and the majesty of the Canadian wilderness.

My love of travel and photography has allowed me to capture special images throughout my adventures.

My goal is to share these special moments in time with the viewer
allowing them to experience my journey of discovery.

The exhibition run from Saturday 7 August 2010 and will run till 29 August at Gallery RAW. Gallery RAW has recently re-opened in new premises at 202 King Street, Newcastle.

As we get closer to opening night, you can follow the prints being added in the exhibition gallery on the Leave Only Footprints web site.

On opening night, proceeds from the sale of the artwork will be donated to the Leukaemia Foundation. Make sure to visit their web site if you want more information on this great charitable organisation.

This is my first exhibition and it is extremely exciting to see so many of my photographs printed and hanging on the walls in one location.

Make sure to join me at Gallery RAW, Thurday to Sunday between the hours of 10 till 4.

Karijini and onwards

I am now well and truly on my way to a great outback adventure. I am awaiting my connecting flight to Perth. Over the next three weeks I will be travelling through the north west of Western Australia starting with a great workshop with Christian Fletcher, Peter Eastway and Tony Hewitt. This is all taking place in the Karijini NP in the Pilbara.

Following on, I continue to Broome, Great Gibb River Road and finish in Darwin. All up, it is about 5000kms!
I hope to keep the blog updated as I go, all dependant on Internet access.

Very exciting weeks ahead 🙂

Frans Lanting Seminar

Just a quick review of the Frans Lanting seminar that I was able to attend in Sydney this past weekend. Frans’ seminar was titled “Every Picture Tells a Story”.

Frans is a very engaging presenter and you can really feel his passion for nature photography. It was wonderful to listen to him talk about the process that he goes through when going on a photo shoot for National Geographic. How he conceptualises his images, be it landscape or wildlife, was very refreshing. Like all great nature photographers, these wonderful photos rarely just happen, he has spent numerous hours in the field, waiting and planning to get the image.

The seminar was organised by another famous photographer, at least in Australia, Ken Duncan. Ken was also running an exhibition of Frans’ works at his gallery in Erina and The Rocks in Sydney. To be able to view Frans’ work framed on the wall of the gallery was outstanding. These images look fantastic in the books that Frans has published but nothing compared to seeing them printed big.

Grizzly Bears

For the second half of the week we moved into an area that is known to have grizzly bears feed on the spawning salmon as they swim up the creek. The reason one area is black bear vs grizzly is determined by the grizzly bears. These bears are larger and more “energetic’ than the black bears and have been known to feed on black bears when times are tuff.

This turns out to be a magical place when we arrive. A small inlet surrounded by steep mountains and a creek flowing out. We are also incredibly lucky to encounter in total about 13 grizzly bears including a Mum with a cub from this spring. The way we view the bears is by zodiac boat. We are able to come in within 3 metres of the bears as they gorge themselves on salmon, which by now has spawned and is lying dead on the bottom of the creek. No fishing effort required just scoop them off the bottom of the creek. We get to take part in a range of bear behaviour as the grizzly bears allow us to take part in their life. There is the favourite rubbing tree, the small pool where the salmon just cover the bottom and it is very peaceful to eat. The Mum is the most amazing bear, she is a dark cinnamon colour with a blond mane and big beautiful brown eyes. A mother with cub is supposed to be the most aggressive encounter you can have with a grizzly and yet this bear allows us to follow her for hours.

One morning we witness what happens when a wolf starts howling from the cliff above, both Mum and cub snap to attention. The baby bolts to the protection of Mum and she is all ears and nose checking the direction of the potential threat. Shortly after we see her climb up the steep cliff with her back firmly against the cliff and the cub right next to her. This way she can protect herself and the cub from an attack. All ends well and in the afternoon we see them again as they swim across the estuary the cub trying to get a free ride on Mum’s back and Mum promptly shaking him off.

This has been an absolute highlight of the trip, almost mystical to be taken into the world of these majestic creatures.

Oceanlight II

It is the beginning of the Spirit Bear trip. This is a photography workshop trip run by Brad Hill of Natural Art Images, with the help of Tom of Oceanlight. The morning is cloudy but dry so our 45 min flight by Beaver float plane is made in really good conditions. Our pilot with a steady hand flies within meters of towering peaks now beginning to be sprinkled with snow, we see gorgeous mountain lakes nestled in little depressions on the hills, a few mountain goats and even an impressive glacier up close. The pilot tells us about some of his flights in including the hunting parties. It is clear that he feels eco-tourism and not hunting is what should happen in the area. He has a standard line to the hunters he brings in. ” You shoot an animal and all you bring is a trophy and not the whole carcass, make sure you know how to walk out of here!”

The water landing is very smooth and we board the Oceanlight II a 71 foot yacht to start our 7 day journey through the Great Bear Rainforest – Spirit Bear.

As the only couple André and I get the double bed room in the bow of the boat. It has some 6 foot clearance at the hatch level. We settle in and already Tom the captain has the boat moving at 12 knots. Weather is fine and no rain so far. We get to our destination where we will try and see some Spirit bears. This is a black bear that is born white when two black bears with a recessive gene mate.

The creek the viewing platforms are built above is full of spawning salmon, this is the Coho variety of salmon. We don’t have to wait long before the first black bear wonders out of the bush and starts fishing. It is such a treat to watch these fat bears balance on logs and rocks, sauntering along the creek and with ease fishing the salmon out. They stay where they catch the fish and with great dexterity consume the bulk of the salmon in a few bites. We get to see many bears sometimes as many as three at once, all tolerating each others presence as they stock up for winter hibernation. The bears give us the occasional sniff but are totally not bothered some come up close to where we are and I get some great fishing video footage. We also get to see 3 separate white Spirit bears. An amazing experience it is hard to believe that anyone could or would want to pull the trigger on these magnificent creatures.

For more information on protecting this amazing area, see Pacific Wild.

Prince Rupert

This is a small but very important community which was built to give the interior logging access to the coast. It is also a bit of a tourist destination because of Alaskan cruise ships stopping in.

We land buffetted by 35 to 40 knots winds and take the car ferry from the airport in crashing waves. Its not very far but makes for an interesting ride. We all get dropped off in the foyer of the big hotel in town and need to make our way to our B&B. The thing that becomes imperative to buy is a pair of gum-boots. This is a hot item in Prince Rupert, even the supermarket  carries them here and there is a shop that is exclusively dedicated to rain gear, Rain Slickers. That says a lot about the number of sunny days here a year. The rain-gear shop has a pair of amazing non-rubber but PVC boots so light you don’t know you are wearing them. Normal price $120, we both choke on the price but after some good Aussie haggling we get down to $55 a pair including tax and we are set. They end up serving us extremely well over the next 8 days.

Prince Rupert has a fantastic First Nation historical Museum and of course a Tim Hortons so a small dose of Tim Bits is had. We get a full days photography tuition from Brad and I learn a lot about ISO, aperture and f stops. I am inspired to make my little point and shoot Canon G10 excel and start shooting in raw format.