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Iceland 2013 posted and workshops filling up fast.

March 28th, 2013 |  by No comments
Aurora over the Glacial Lagoon in Iceland

Aurora over the Glacial Lagoon in Iceland

I am back home after two fantastic back to back workshops in Iceland.  The aurora is a magnificent sight to see but difficult to photograph in a unique way. I have posted my images from Iceland at http://www.sethresnick.com/recent/iceland2013/. I hope you enjoy the images and we will certainly be back to Iceland in the future. For now our other workshops are filling up very fast and Antarctica 2014 has only 3 spots left. This will be the first time we fly both ways to Antarctica and avoid the Drake Passage. Sun Valley is sold out and Greenland has only 10 spaces left. My workshop at Santa Fe and with Greg Gorman also have only limited space and our return to the amazing Atacama Desert has only 5 spaces left. For more information on these workshops or any of our Lightroom Workshops please visit http://www.d65.com or http://www.sethresnick.com

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Back from Antarctica and pictures are posted. Off to Iceland tomorrow…

March 3rd, 2013 |  by No comments

Wow what an amazing February and here comes March… We got back from Antarctica last Saturday and started a workshop limited to 10 folks in Palm Beach Gardens. Tomorrow I leave for two Digital Photo Destination workshops in Iceland with good friend JP where we will be photographing Ice Caves and the Aurora. Our local dear friend and Icelandic photographic expert Ragnar just had some of his images featured in Time Magazine. Our workshop folks are truly being offered the best possible experience in Iceland.

My images from our Antarctica trip are posted. It was really an amazing trip and I concentrated on reflections and ice under water which i really find fascinating. I love Antarctica and JP and I have another trip scheduled , our 6th trip on February 16-25th 2014. This trip will include bypassing the infamous Drake Passage by flying to and from the continent. This trip is selling out fast with only 9 spots now left.20130213_danko_island_0289

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Highlights from Atacama Desert – Chile, Argentina and Bolivia

December 29th, 2012 |  by No comments
Thunderstorm followed by rainbows at salt flats in Salinas Grande, Argentina

Thunderstorm followed by rainbows at salt flats in Salinas Grande, Argentina

John Paul Caponigro and I are back from our Digital Photo Destinations workshop in the Puna & Atacama deserts spanning three countries – Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. Some of the major highlights from this spectacular landscape were the pumice stone fields of Campo De Pedro Pomez, The Red Labyrinth. Salinas Grandes, and Salar De Uyuni. Stretching more than 600 miles from Northern Chile, the Atacama Desert rises from a thin coastal shelf to the pampas—virtually lifeless plains that dip down to river gorges layered with mineral sediments from the Andes. The pampas rises up to the altiplano or the foothills of the Andes, with rising volcanoes along the continental divide, reaching  more than 20,000 feet. According to NASA, the Atacama is the driest desert in the world. Part’s of the Chilean Atacama have not seen rain since record keeping began. Without water the environment is sterile so nothing breaks down and everything is permanently preserved.

We’re planning our 2013 workshop. The tentative dates are December 6 -14, 2013.  If you’d like to join us email me at seth@digitalphotodestinations.com. This workshop will sell out fast.
In addition to the images posted below, more images from our trip are posted at:
 http://www.sethresnick.com/recent/Atacama/
Happy New Year
Seth
Dunes at sunrise in San Pedro Atacama

Dunes at sunrise in San Pedro Atacama

One of the most amazing sunsets I have ever witnessed in San Pedro, Atacama

One of the most amazing sunsets I have ever witnessed in San Pedro, Atacama

 

Bubbling mud from geothermal area in Sur Lipez, Bolivia

Bubbling mud from geothermal area in Sur Lipez, Bolivia

 

Moon Valley

Moon Valley

 

 

Salt flats in Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

Salt flats in Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

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Workshops, Lectures and Upcoming Trips

September 27th, 2012 |  by No comments

Monaco Glacier calving

I am back from our Digital Photo Destinations trip to Greenland and the Arctic. The trip was awesome and we were in the Arctic for an historic event. The extraordinary decline in Arctic sea ice during 2012 is finally over. Sea ice extent bottomed out on September 16, announced scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) on Wednesday. The sea ice extent fell to 3.41 million square kilometers, breaking the previous all-time low set in 2007 by 18%–despite the fact that this year’s weather was cloudier and cooler than in 2007. Nearly half (49%) of the icecap was gone during this year’s minimum, compared to the average minimum for the years 1979 – 2000. This is an area approximately 43% of the size of the Contiguous United States.

I have posted alumni highlights from this trip  and my own images from the trip .

 

NEW TRIP ANNOUNCEMENT

 2013 Iceland Adventure – Auroras / Night Photography & Glaciers / Ice Caves – Plus Aerials

 

 

March 14 – 20, 2013

Limited to 14 Participants

Price TBA (includes travel, room, and board in Iceland)

Instructors – John Paul Caponigro / Seth Resnick / Ragnar Th Sigurdsson

The Adventure

2013 is a super year for auroras – a twelve-year peak. Join us for northern lights, night photography, super-jeeps, hiking glaciers and exploring ice caves. This is photography workshop is like no other.

Digital Photo Destinations (Seth Resnick and John Paul Caponigro) join forces with Focus On Nature and arctic photographic specialist Ragnar Th Sigurdsson (arctic-images.com), a native of Iceland who has extensive knowledge in night photography and lighting on location.

Our special workshop is scheduled when the moon is nearly full and ninety degrees to the northern lights making conditions ideal for night photography. Imagine photographing Iceland’s glacial lagoon (Jokullsarlon) by the light of the moon with northern lights.

We’ll hike the south coast’s glaciers during the season when they are bluest and ice caves are most numerous.

We’ll also take super-jeeps into the winter wonderlands of the volcanic highlands.

Join us and you’ll think you’ve gone to another planet – but that’s the way Iceland is.

Special Extension

A limited number of seats are available for a one-day special aerial photography extension.

Starting and ending in Rekjavik, we’ll divide our time between the north coast’s lake Myvatn and the south coast’s Jokulsarlon (the glacial lagoon), with a foray into the highlands behind the glaciers. We’ll ride zodiacs, hike on glaciers, run under waterfalls, and 4-wheel through rugged terrain accessible to only a few. Our guides known the local terrain like few others do. (This will be John Paul’s sixth and Seth’s fourth workshop in Iceland.)

Curriculum

Creativity, composition, exposure, workflow, and post-processing are only a few of the topics that will be presented.

We’ll focus extensively on night photography – long exposure, flash, light painting and of course astrophotography.

You’ll get lots of guidance on site and reviews of your work off site.

Get ready for a non-stop week of making images in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PRE-REGISTER FOR THIS TRIP send an email to auroras@sethresnick.com

 

ATACAMA WORKSHOP 2012 and ANTARCTICA 2013

 

There is only one spot left in our Atacama Adventure workshop  December 3 to December 11, 2012.

We also have a special promotion for the 4 spots left in our Antarctica 2013 Workshop

The following offers are good through October 15th.

$2,500 off owner’s suite
$2,000 off suites
$1,500 off superior and deluxe cabins
$1,000 off triple cabins
Plus an additional 5% off if you’ve travelled with Quark before.

Sea Spirit is one of the most comfortable boats we’ve travelled on; even the triples have private baths.
Our group will be a small intimate group with many old friends accompanying us.

I hope you can join us!

Contact Antarctica@sethresnick.com to register

 

 

UPCOMING D65 LIGHTROOM WORKFLOW WORKSHOPS

 

LIGHTROOM 4 WORKFLOW WORKSHOPS
D-65 will teach you detailed workflow utilizing the 7 modules of Lightroom 4, to vastly improve your digital asset management, processing and image delivery skills.You’ll learn the fundamentals of Lightroom 4 and become an expert in keeping every image you shoot organized, edited  and archived through keywording, metadata and collections.You’ll optimally develop  and enhance your images with presets and synchronization. And have the ability to move between Lightroom and Photoshop with ease while delivering quality images to friends, family or clients.

 

Visit our website for more information on the program and toregister.

 

“Seth and Jamie are a tag team of information you won’t find anywhere else.  Their teaching style is engaging, informative, and entertaining.

2012 / 2013 WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
Palm Beach Gardens, FL: October 2-5
*limited to 10 participants – takes place in our home,
enjoy wine tastings & seth’s fantastic cooking

Boston: October 12 – 15

San Francisco: November 5 – 8

Seattle: January 25-28

Palm Beach Gardens, FL: March 5-8

Los Angeles: April 26-29

New York: May 16-19

Chicago: June 9-12

Denver: August 4-7

Save $100

  or MORE

Tuition for the workshop is $1,099 and we are offering $100 off the fee for all registrations by September 30th!  Discount code: SEPT

WE ARE ALSO OFFERING “The Buddy Plan”. If you and a buddy are interested in attending any D65 Workshop, the second person can attend for only 50% (Yes, FIFTY PERCENT) of the tuition fee.

For example, the tuition for our 4-Day Intensive Workflow Workshop is $1,099 per person. If you bring a friend and you register together, both of you can attend for a total of $1648.50, or $824.25 each. Be sure to tell us that you’re registering under “The Buddy Plan”.

 UPCOMING SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

Seeing Color: Creating Dynamic and Saleable Images, PhotoPlus, New York

October 25, 2012 1:30 to 3:30 PM

 

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Highlights from our DPD trip to Iceland

September 3rd, 2012 |  by No comments

John Paul Caponigro and I (DPD) in conjunction with Einar Eriendsson and Focus on Naturejust concluded our Iceland Workshop. We had a fantastic time and are already planning to return this coming winter to hold a workshop on Auroras, Ice Caves  and glaciers and aerials which we will announce soon. If you would like to

2013 is a super year for auroras – a twelve-year peak. If you are interested in early notification about this workshop which will be limited to 14 people, please write to iceland@sethresnick.com

I realized on this trip that Ice is my muse and wanted to share some of the highlights of our Iceland trip which is the first part of our Arctic Adventure. Tomorrow we start out Greenland Workshop and will post those images when I return.

 Green algae in pools at crater on Snafellsnes, Iceland

Church on Snafellsnes

Computer screen in lava near summit of crater on

 

Multicolored lava at crater

 

Sensual lava

Snafellsnes

Basalt formations on Snafellsnes

Basalt Columns Snafellsnes

Birds foraging for krill in breaking waves

The highest peak in Snafellsnes is snow free for the first time

Car at sunset on Snafellsnes

The aurora as seen in Snafellsnes

Reykjavik

Opera house in Reykjavik

Silica flats at Powerplant

Breaking waves in Rekjanes

Crater in the Highlands

Striations in the hillsides of the Highlands

Sheep on a mountainside in the Highlands

Waterfall in the Highlands

Waterfalll in the Highlands

Waterfall in the Highlands

Waterfall in the Highlands

Wall of volcanic crater

Panoramic of entire crater

Obsidian reflecting blue sky near crater

Full moon rising over Heckla Volcano

Eyjafjallajokull

eyjafjallajokull

Rainbow at Seljalandsfoss

 Seljalandsfoss

 Seljalandsfoss

 Seljalandsfoss

Rainbow at Skogarfoss

Storm brewing in South East Iceland

Sculpted ice in Glacial Lagoon

Formation in Glacial Lagoon

Glacial Lagoon

Glacial Lagoon

Glacial Lagoon

Glacial Lagoon

Ice on Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

 Fallsjokull Glacier

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Join us as we head South of the Antarctic Circle Feb 8-21, 2013

July 3rd, 2012 |  by No comments

 

Having been to the Antarctic Penninsula it would be sensible to ask why go again. It’s been our experience that Antarctica is a location that can’t be fully experienced in one trip. We’ve made four trips and every trip was different. We visit new locations; there are over 40 locations Quark lands at and with each visit we get to visit an average of 10  The ice conditions are always different; one month can make a big difference. Surprisingly, the thing that we’ve found makes the biggest difference is the weather, which affects the light dramatically. You haven’t experienced the riotous colors of the four hour long sunsets we had on our 2005 trip or the “nights” where the sun only skims the horizon but never truly sets south of the circle in 2009. Every time we go, we keep wondering how much more could there be to see and how different could the conditions be and every time we’re surprised that we discover so much more and that locations we know look so different. Each voyage has had an entirely unique character.

What are we personally looking forward to on this trip?

Seth
“Why go South of the Antarctic Circle? With all the traveling I have done there are two places which clearly excite more than all others. One is Sossusvlei in Namibia and the other is a magical stretch of Antarctica called the Gullet which is South of the Antarctic Circle. All of Antarctica is beautiful but there are places that I could go back to over an over again. The adventure through the Gullet is one of those experiences. The passage is ice choked and each turn is more magnificent than the one before. Of all of my trips to Antarctica it is by far the most magical place I have been on the continent and the opportunity to return is one which I simply would not pass up.”

 

 

JP
“Seth and I agree. The two most sublime landscape experiences I’ve ever had were at Sossusvlei, Namibia and in Antarctica’s The Gullet. The Gullet was the remotest, purest, whitest experience I’ve ever had. It felt like being in a frozen heaven. Quietly cruising on mirror calm waters through the dramatic mountains of Crystal Bay to find the narrow channel through The Gullet (like seeing clouds cascade off high peaks to touch the water and be frozen in place) and through to Margueritte Bay lit up by endless hours of midnight color was one of the most beautiful 24 hours of my life. Many of us didn’t sleep that ‘night’ because we didn’t want to miss anything. We knew while we were there that few people on earth had ever had an experience similar to the one we were having.”

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND SIGNUP :

http://www.d-65.com/

Best wishes,

Seth and JP

 

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Highlights from D65’s Africa trip to Johannesburg, Namibia and Botswana

June 14th, 2012 |  by No comments

 In May of 2012 I took six students to Africa for a Best of Africa trip which included, Soweto in South Africa, the sand dunes in Sossuvlei Namibia, The Himba people in Northern Namibia and wildlife in Botswana at King’s Pool, Vumbura Plains and finally Mombo. The trip included helicopters, hot air balloons and private vehicles with special access. The trip was AWESOME and below are some of the photographic highlights of this adventure.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

 Great faces in market in the Soweto area of Jonannesburg.

 Running down a street in Dobsonville, Soweto, South Africa 

We were greeted in Soweto with smiling faces.

A very poor section of Soweto known as Klipspruit 

Handprints on a wall in Klipspruit 

Inside a school in Klipspruit, Soweto.

Peeking into school window

Window in school

Wire fences at school in Klipspruit, Soweto

More happy faces

 A recycling dumpsite with squalor conditions in Klipspruit, Soweto.

 Bottles behind mattress springs

 Coke sign reflects in the glass of the Old Diamond Building in downtown Johannesburg.

Only in  Johannesburg

NAMIBIA

The highlight of this trip for me was Namibia and specifically the sand dunes in Sossusvlei. Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. This area is characterized by high sand dunes of vivid pink-to-orange color, a consequence of a high percentage of iron in the sand and consequent oxidation processes. The oldest dunes are those of a more intense reddish color. These dunes are among the highest in the world; many of them are above 200 metres, the highest being the one nicknamed Big Daddy, about 380 metres high. Everything that excites me about photography was here. The colors and shapes were beyond anything I could imagine. The only place I have ever been where I felt the same kind of excitement was in Antarctica. I will definitely be coming back to Namibia.

 Sand dunes after sunset on tungsten

Within the area known as Sossusvlei is Deadvlei,  another clay pan, about 2 km from Sossusvlei. A notable feature of Deadvlei is that it used to be an oasis with several acacia trees; afterwards, the river that watered the oasis changed its course. The pan is thus punctuated by blackened, dead acacia trees, in vivid contrast to the shiny white of the salty floor of the pan and the intense orange of the dunes.

 

 Deadvlei

 Deadvlei was different from every angle and changed constantly with the light

 A couple on a dune at sunrise

 Hikers at sunrise on dune

 Cracked earth

 Hot air balloon rises over the desert floor at sunrise 

 Driving across the desert at sunrise

 Sunrise on the dunes

 Rock formations at the base of the dunes 

 Pan at Sunset 

By far the most amazing sky I have ever seen. The Milky Way is the main group of stars and visible to the right of the trip is the Andromeda Galaxy.

 Patterns of vegetation from an aerial view.

 View from hot air balloon 

 Fairy circles in Namibia. These fairy circles consist of round areas barren of vegetation; as yet there is no clear picture as to how they are formed. One theory suggests termites as the creator of these circles, but recent studies have stated that there is no evidence termites would cause this phenomenon. In the oral myths of Himba people these barren patches are said to have been caused by the gods, spirits and/or natural divinities.Studies done by South African scientists shows that these circles are under continuous development. They grow in diameter, expanding to as large as 9 m in diameter, where they One of Africa’s most mysterious natural phenomena still cannot be explained despite 25 years of research, scientists have admitted.The findings will come as a relief to the region’s bushmen who have traditionally attributed magical, spiritual powers to these desert rings.These circles are not moving and after 22 years they have remained in the same spot.

  The color of the desert floor was simply stellar.

 Patterns from a hot air balloon

 Hot air balloon over Namibia

 Multicolored sand and vegetation in Namibia

 Shadow of our hot air balloon on sand dunes

Copper and iron intrusions in sand dunes

Overall of sand dunes

SERRA CAFEMA, NORTHERN NAMIBIA, SAND DUNES AND THE HIMBA PEOPLE

Serra Cafema in Northern Namibia was our next destination. Here we had sand dunes of a different texture and color and we had the Himba people. The Himba are an ethnic group of about 20,000 to 50,000 people living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene region. They are mostly a semi-nomadic, pastoral people, and speak Otjihimba. The Himba breed cattle and goats. The responsibility for milking the cows lies with the women. Women take care of the children, and one woman will take care of another woman’s children. Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village and building homes. Men handle the political tasks and legal trials. Members of an extended family typically dwell in a homestead, “a small, circular hamlet of huts and work shelters” that surrounds “an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and a central livestock enclosure.” Both the fire and the livestock are closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection and the livestock allowing “proper relations between human and ancestor.” The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, to protect themselves from the sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge. This symbolizes earth’s rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life, and is consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty.

 Sand dunes in Serra Cafema

Very different sand and light then what we saw in Southern Namibia

In Serra Cafema the sand was deeply striated with strong texture.

 A Himba boy plays in the sand.

 Himba boy

 Himba girl

 Himba women 

 Body covered in otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, to protect against the sun

 The Chief 

 Himba children playing in the sand

 Himba woman braids hair

 Himba women walking across desert sand in Northern Namibia

 Himba feet

Oryx tracks in sand dunes

 Oryx crossing the sand dunes

 Pano of the sand dunes

 Patterns and shadows in the sand

 Blowing sand

 Striations and patterns in the desert sand

 Patterns and texture and great light made me very happy

 As the sun started to set the graphic nature of the sand dunes became even more defined.

Pit Vipers were very common in the sand dunes

 A very large and neat spider called the white lady who lives in a hole in the sand with a trap door.

 With the sun down a very long exposure on Tungsten

KING’S POOL BOTSWANA

We left Namibia via private plane and headed to Botswana where our first stop was Kings Pool Camp located in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, a vast private concession in the northern part of Botswana, on the western boundary of Chobe National Park.

Glasses on a table at King’s Pool 

 Beautiful old dead trees around King’s Pool

 Leopard in early morning light

 This was as close as you can get which is minimum focusing distance and full frame.

 Wild dogs took down a baby kudu in seconds


 Lion reflection in water

 Hippos showing their stuff

 Such beautiful eyes

VUMBRA PLAINS

After King’s Pool we took another private plane to Vumbura Plains in Botswana.

Buffalo running through water 

Very close to a cheetah

Majestic gesturing elephant in Vumbura Plains

 Reed Frogs

 Giraffe at sunset

 Helicopter view over the Okavango Delta

 The delta is spectacular from the air and the ground

 Red Lechwe cross the Delta

MOMBO

After Vumbura Plains we again went via private plain to Mombo which was the final stop in Botswana.Located in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Mombo Camp is the flagship property of the luxury safari operator Wilderness Safaris. Widely recognised as the finest safari camp in Africa, Mombo is Botswana’s most famous property.

 An ancient Baobab tree in Botswana

 Sunrise at Mombo

 Nothing like a NY Sirloin, Mombo style.

 Nothing like a little cuddle after a good meal.

 A little too close for comfort

 Definitely a little close for comfort

 Ok! Time to move.

 Drinking at the favorite watering hole.

And a little more cuddling

 Beyond close to a leopard 

 You can’t get any closer than this

 Nice kitty

 We had great leopard encounters in Mombo

 Spectacular light and our last leopard encounter 

 The leopard had just killed an aardvark and taken it up the tree

 Blood stains on chest from dinner

 Coming down to say hi and it is time for us to say bye.

Our Africa trip was one of kind but a good sample of our creative location workshops. We hope to return to Africa with our good friends Journeys Unforgettable who help set up our Africa expeditions. Other creative workshops coming up include Seth Resnick and Greg Gorman in Mendocino and Digital Photo Destination workshops with Seth Resnick and John Paul Caponigro in Iceland and Greenland, the Atacama Desert in Chile and a newly announced trip to Antarctica which will be our fifth trip to the continent where we will go South of the Antarctic Circle.

All the best,

Seth

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Finding the Needle in the Haystack- Photographing Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

March 4th, 2012 |  by No comments

A large Silverback Gorilla expressing his dominance high in the mountains of Rwanda.

“Please Stand Up”  Our guide Francois is crouched low in the thick undergrowth and taps Jeff and me on the shoulder motioning for us to move. We are both indignant that after  finding our positions, he wants us to move so that someone else can shoot. I continue shooting as I decide to slowly make room for someone else. I am more than startled when I suddenly touch Jeff to move, not to make room for someone to shoot but rather to make room for a 600 pound plus Silverback who is inches behind me waiting to pass. Francois smiled and said be calm and the giant took up resting spot less than a yard in front. My heart was still pounding as the large silverback gorilla with a couple of smaller female gorillas foraged  in the dense jungle undergrowth. They were casually picking small branches off the shrubs and pulling them between their teeth to remove the leaves.

Stephen Rimer from Unforgettable Journeys who set up this trip photographs Jeffrey Neu and myself as a large Silverback “asks us to move” from our shooting location so that he and his family can pass.

 

There were eight of us in our group photographing first in Rwanda and then onto Tanzania. Personally I flew from Miami to Atlanta and then to Amsterdam and finally from Amsterdam to Kingali, We had one addition to our group of seven friends, a wonderful gentleman named Jacques who was my roomie for the trip. We hit it off right from the start when we both discovered that we more than enjoyed the red juice . It is always a blast traveling with my good friends Jeff and Michelle. If you read my blog on Africa from my trip to Botswana last year you know that when we travel we eat well, sleep just a little and most importantly we laugh and take amazing photographs. This trip certainly started out with some good laughs. We arrived at our hotel for the first night and I was get acquainted with the local accent which at times is difficult to understand. There was a buffet set up and I asked one of the chefs what the meat dish was and I honestly thought he said kitten. I responded with no thanks but was relieved and laughed hard when Michelle pointed out that he said Kidney and not kitten. Still I am glad that I passed…..
I am still somewhat in amazement and awe that a little more than a year ago, I had little desire to get a series of shots and come to Africa. I am not really a wildlife photographer and at the time I seriously thought that Africa was going to be pretty similar to going to the Bronx Zoo or one of those wildlife adventure parks that you drive through in the States. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Africa. I was amazed last year by the light, the colors and the gesture of the animals and at the end of my trip last year I thought Africa ROCKED. I also thought that it simply couldn’t be topped. Once again I was wrong, and coming to Rwanda to see Mountain Gorillas has been an amazing trip.
Finding gorillas in Rwanda is akin to finding a needle in a Haystack. Gorillas share about 95% of our DNA and act very much like humans. Francois has studied the gorillas for over 30 years helping Diane Fossey back in the day. He is a total character who eats, sleeps and behaves much like the gorillas and probably shares more like 98% of the DNA.

Brennan Rimer from Journeys Unforgettable photographs Francois teaching me a bit about gorilla behavior as we hike through the rain forest.

 

Francois, our guide and our support team of porters and trackers.

 

Although almost everyone seems to have an AK47, the weapons are used only to scare buffalo and other wildlife that could threaten us in the jungle. Most of the weapons are old and were confiscated during the Genocide.

We meet up with our guide Francois at about 7AM for an orientation. After orientation, we are back in our vehicles driving bumping dirt and rock roads heading to the trailhead.  At the head of the trail we meet up with porters to help carry our hundreds of pounds of camera gear. Most  of these porters were poachers years ago, but now the folks on safari to see gorillas supply the income to support the protection of gorillas and at the same time the support of the local community.  As we pass through the fields, it becomes obvious that women do most of the hard work in Rwanda while men tend to sit around drinking beer made from bananas and talking.
 We are all wearing our gortex pants and jackets as we continue along the trail and we are curious as to how far we have to walk and what the terrain will be like. We start out on a well maintained trail passing by locals working in fields who all come out to greet us. It seems the entire population knows “Good Morning” even if it is late in the day.
 We reach the park boundary which is a high stone wall that we cross over. The wall runs for 60 kilometers and it was built to stop the farmers from extending their fields into the park and to keep the buffalo and elephants in the jungle, away from the crops. Once over the wall, all evidence of civilization dissipates. The path we have been following soon disappears, and we walk behind Francois and a group of porters some of who are wielding machetes to slash through the dense undergrowth. One carries a Russian AK-47 which was confiscated from time of the Rwanda genocide. We are told that it is used only to scare away buffalo or other wildlife.
The terrain quickly becomes steep. Francois stops along the way to teach us gorilla behavior. He rips some bark off of a eucalyptus tree with his teeth and strips thorns off of a plant and makes a variety of guttural, grunting sounds teaching us the entire gorilla vocabulary. We continue our trek which changes vegetation from bamboo forest to extremely thick jungle environment as we increase altitude which is now 8600 feet. Trackers spend the entire day from sunrise to sunset following and protecting the gorillas and relay coordinates to Francois. Fortunately, the last poaching in Rwanda was in 2002. Just under 9000 feet we stop and leave packs and everything but cameras for the final push. We scan the thick jungle and we see only thick vegetation but Francois spots one gorilla literally like a needle in a haystack. The incline is extremely steep and it rains on and off which is expected in a rain forest but difficult on photo gear and humans. We still don’t know exactly what lenses we will need or how close we will get and then Francois tells us to be silent. The adrenaline rushes through the body as we hear non human sounds and then right in front of us less than a meter away is a large Silverback Gorilla which takes your breath away with amazement and a little fear. I realize this is not the zoo and these are wild mammals that we are closer to than we would be in a zoo. It is a very exhilarating feeling that is simply indescribable to anyone who isn’t with us.  I suppose there is an unconscious connection with these enormous apes who in reality share most of our DNA.  They act so much like humans or maybe we act more like gorillas. We are allowed one hour with these giants and  we shoot gizigabytes of data.

We hike to 9000 feet passing lots of folks prior to the steep push into the dense rain forest jungle.

 

Folks of all ages come to say hi before we enter the rain forest.

 

It is an enormous adrenaline rush when we find the needle in the haystack. Your heart pounds when you are inches from the gorillas.

 

Yup it is a rain forest and it rained in biblical proportions!

 

We share 98% of the genetic material with these gentle giants and the experience is a once in lifetime adventure.

 

He is not smoking a cuban cigar, but rather eating a stick. Amazing to be this close to a 700 plus pound Silverback.

 

Large Silverback and young baby in the canopy of the rainforest.

 

The babies are beyond cute!

 

This little guy came to within inches of my camera.

 

It is quite rare for gorillas to have twins and we lucked out finding this mom and her babies deep in the jungle.

It is scary how human like the gorillas can be or maybe we are like the gorillas. This guy was about two feet in front of us lying down and staring at each one of us with his hand on his chin.

 

A very young baby playing just inches from us.

 

Cute and incredible to watch

We did three separate hikes, each to about 9000 feet to spend one hour at a time with a different group of gorillas.

 

We do three separate treks over three days each time visiting another family of these incredible animals in Rwanda.
Most folks hear Rwanda, and they naturally think of the horrific genocide that occurred there in 1994. A conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis resulted in the death of more than one million and left two million as refugees across the borders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Uganda.
We started our visit to Rwanda in the city of Kigali making our first stop a visit to the Genocide Memorial which is a very emotional experience and something that everyone should do when they visit Rwanda. Times are very different from 1994. While the Rwandan people are happy hard working folks almost everyone can tell you about a family member or close friend who was killed during the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis.
Rwanda today is a very different country from 1994. President Kagame has created an economic revival that includes NGO money, foreign aid, and social stability. Today, Rwanda is peaceful, and Kigali is considered one of the safest and most secure cities in Africa. Rwanda is also spotless. Unlike much of Africa and other third world countries, there is no trash and filth on the streets. In fact when entering Rwanda it is illegal to bring in plastic. So many outsiders would view Rwanda as third world and yet in many ways it is more ecological conscious than places like the US.  The last Saturday of each month the entire populous including the President and all the generals pitch in to pick up garbage and debris. It is a national past time. Unlike many tourists we ventured into every possible village that we came across and we were always greeted warmly. Never did I ever feel unsafe walking in alleys even at night. We could all take some major lessons from Rwandan society. The country is still however poor and we got immense satisfaction that when we photographed groups of kids, we would buy them pens. Five US dollars bought and entire box of pens and the kids were beyond thrilled. They wanted to run home and show their parents. They need pens for school and many can’t afford something that we take for granted. We were all impressed that the average person would walk several miles to market and back carrying items like a sack of potatoes which weighed 70 to 80 kilos on their head. Some of the women were carrying almost twice their own body weight.

Post war has been not only good for the people of Rwanda but also for the gorilla population which has flourished since the war. Tourism was just beginning to revive when the genocide in Rwanda blew up in 1994. As tourists disappeared, the income to pay park rangers to protect the gorilla families also vanished. During the genocide, gorillas were killed as Hutus fled Rwanda to the DRC. As refugees retreated into the rain forest, they bought with them various human diseases which also took a heavy toll on the gorillas.

After the genocide tourism slowly started to come back, but in 1999, eight tourists were murdered by Hutu rebels, again tourism came to a standstill. Now with peace for more than a decade it is impressive to see the rebound in tourism and in the entire country of Rwanda.
Mountain gorillas are located in a fairly small volcanic, mountainous region known as the Virunga Range which has eight volcanoes reaching as high as 14,000 feet. The most impressive of these volcano’s has been erupting for 50 years and contains a lava lake. It is in the DRC and it is high on my list of places to visit although  because of political unrest travel to the volcano is risky. We went to the border one night to see the volcano erupting but it was foggy and we could see only a small faint red glow.
The gorilla population has enriched Rwanda and as tourism expanded funds to care for the gorillas increased. In 1981 there were 254 mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes area.  in 2011, the population increased to over 450.
Like human fingerprints, a gorilla’s nose has a distinct pattern that allows the rangers to readily identify it. Mountain gorillas are nomadic. They forage in the morning and evening, moving  through the jungle which makes finding them tough. Each group of gorillas have one large dominant silverback who charms the ladies and decides every move that the group makes.
Below the silverback in rank are younger males called blackbacks, several females and babies. A silverback will usually have four or five females in his group and they remain bonded for life. Younger males stay with the family until they are about 12 years old, when they begin developing white fur on their backs. At this age, they are ready to leave the family in search of young females to begin forming their own family groups. Occasionally, gorilla families will have more than one silverback. They seem to work out leadership issues among themselves.

Mountain gorillas live to an age of 40-45 years and gestation like humans  is 9 months. Generally, gorillas have only one baby but we were very lucky and spent one of our outings watching a mom with twins. As I watch and photograph the gorillas with my good friends we have one amazing encounter after another. At one point I am standing and photographing a gorilla and my friend Steve calls my name. I turn and this time it is not a large Silverback but rather a mother gorilla with her baby who has come up behind me in the dense jungle and is trying to pass. She brushes my leg as I make room for her to pass. This time I have no fear and only admiration for these incredible creatures.

Currently, the rest of the group is out on a final venture before we head to Tanzania. I decided to stay in the vehicle and write the first part of the blog while they are they are hiking  through the canopy of the rain forest photographing birds which still doesn’t excite me. I have smirk on my face because it started to pour in biblical proportion about 40 minutes after they left as I type away in Range Rover. One of my camera bodies was soaked on the first day with the gorillas and while I was able to restore it to a semi working state by placing it in a bag of rice, I do not want to risk my other camera body.
I am humored as the rain continues to pour on the vehicle. I can’t wait for them to return so I can mock my soaked friends.
I must admit that I am also a bit afraid, not of gorillas or other wild animals, but I am a bit fearful that I have keyworded quite a few birds. Michele really has me worried because moments before she left the vehicle she was using her iPhone to photograph birds in a African bird book and clutching her binoculars.
In all seriousness, sitting quietly in my dry vehicle, typing and watching the deluge I can reflect on my truly wonderful experience of observing and photographing mountain gorillas in their natural environment as they interacted with each other and occasionally with us. Mountain gorillas are listed as critically endangered, and their survival depends solely upon the future. I am glad that our visit help generates the income to sustain this incredibly species and I hope that our behavior as humans who share most of the DNA can keep this species on earth. Our past behavior is not encouraging but I hope for a brighter future.

We gave pens to kids because they need them in order to get into school. The pens were a cherished possession.

 

Rwanda is filled with color and we had as much fun in the villages as we did in the mountains.

 

Smiles and color abounds in Rwanda.

 

We never ever felt unsafe and it was a joy to go into the villages and meet people who always greeted us warmly.

 

A man sitting on bags of potatoes. The women carry these bags on their heads and some of the bags weigh more than the women.

 

A young girl carrying a boulder on her head and doing so with a smile.

The men relax and the women do a lot of the work.

 

We realize just how lucky we are when we see sites like this everywhere.

We see brand names and US logos on much of the clothing but many have very little.

 

A girl and her mom coming home from a wedding

 

The colors were very exciting for me and the people were very friendly and easy to photograph.

 

Complimentary colors are everywhere.

 

I shot close to 8,000 frames.

 

Could I have a little red with the blue? Sure, colors like this are everywhere...

 

Tea is one of the main crops and the tea fields are amazing

 

Red volcanic soil and rows of tea

 

Life in Rwanda is hard but it is an incredible place and I will return....

 

Amazing faces...

 

Behind every face there is a story....

 

A local market in Rwanda

 

Carrying bananas to market. The local folks walk several kilometers like this everyday.Taking chickens to a local market

 

 

Jeffrey and I playing around!!!!

 

I love Africa and can’t wait for the second part of this journey which will bring me into Tanzania and I am also beyond excited that I am leading another workshop In Africa in May which will take us to the Skeleton Coast, the sand dunes in Namibia and then onto Botswana. There are only two spots left on the trip with Journeys Unforgettable  so please visit d65 for more info on this trip and others planned for the future.

 


 


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Antarctica and Patagonia Trip

December 24th, 2011 |  by No comments

 

There were many  meaningful moments of the Antarctica/Patagonia trip some of which started long before the trip.

Here are some of the highlights……

BEFORE THE SHIP

Checking various volcano sites every morning at 4:30 and calculating our chances of making it to Buenos Aires and finally Ushuaia.

Finding an alternative way to get to Ushuaia via a 35 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires.

Finally after much anxiety, making it to Ushuaia.

Walking in to my favorite wine store in Ushuaia and they had our pictures behind the counter from our 3 previous trips to the store.

Seeing the trunk of the taxi completely filled with the likes of Zucardi Tempranillos.

Hiring helicopters with JP to bring a group of folks up to the top of the glaciers in Ushuaia completely spur of the moment.

Having everyone arrive in Ushuaia without major problems even though a volcano was canceling flights to Ushuaia and Buenos Aires.

Oh yea, Arthur and Eric.

ON THE SHIP

Getting on the ship and seeing Captain Alexi who had taken us South of the Antarctic Circle when no other ships could get through the ice.

Getting all of our wine onboard the ship.

Having some old and dear friends on the ship and meeting new folks some of whom will be new life long friends.

Getting on my patch so that I didn’t hurl across the Drake.

Figuring how to give lectures while the boat is pitching 30 degrees.

Figuring how to keep crystal wine glasses that we bought on board from smashing as you hold them with one hand and eat with the other.

Crossing the Point of Convergence and feeling a sense of magic and mystery.

Convincing some Zodiac drivers to get just a little closer and then just a little closer to amazing vantage points for icebergs.

Seeing the blue of an iceberg from underneath it.

Seeing the joy of everyone in the zodiacs when we got into the best positions.

Talking about the famous extension pole to get the best vantage points under the ice.

Having Campbell Gunn tell me that one of the zodiac rides with me was his best photographic day of his life.

Getting to stand on three icebergs.

Sitting in a zodiac with Linc, and Nancy and Eric from Syracuse University that I went to school with in 1979.

Finding that my dear friend JP is truly having impact on my life. I learned how to sleep almost instantly by studying how he did this on the trip.

Finding that some of my best images from the trip look like JP shot them.

Trying to find something to argue about with JP about and still being unsuccessful in this department.

Seeing the smile on Jeffrey Neu’s face even when he was close to being banned from Antarctica.

Oh yea, Arthur and Eric..

AFTER THE SHIP

Having Louisa Michelin translate and to assure me that even though my passport was filled that she would help me get through Chile.

Seeing the Perito Moreno glacier and then getting to hike up it.

Arthur and Eric..

Most amazing of all is trying to write down my memories and realizing that I could go on and on and on. THIS WAS AN AMAZING JOURNEY….

 

And now for some image highlights…

Frozen water on glacier in Ushuaia, Argentina

 

Glaciated rock in Ushuaia

 

Glacial pond in Ushuaia

 

Wetlands from helicopter in Ushuaia

 

 

Halfmoon Island

 

Iceberg on Halfmoon Island

 

Sun over Halfmoon Island

 

Sculpted Ice on Halfmoon Island

 

Rusted iron on Deception Island

 

Iceberg in Wilhelmina Bay

 

Wilhelmina Bay

 

Spectacular berg in Wilhelmina Bay

 

Sky in Neko Harbour

 

Blue ice in Neko Harbour

 

Rainbow in Neko Harbour

 

Bue Iceberg, Petermann Island

 

Sun over Petermann Island

Snow Algae on Petermann Island

 

Under overhang of Iceberg, Petermann Island

 

Neon light at the iceberg Graveyard

 

Sliding penguin, Iceberg Graveyard

 

Through the hole, Iceberg Graveyard

 

Iceberg Graveyard

 

Storm clouds and the Iceberg Graveyard

 

Danko Island blue iceberg

 

Danko Island over and under iceberg

 

looking up at berg on Danko Island

 

Striated berg, Danko Island

 

Under the berg, Danko Island

 

Lenticular Clouds over Melchior Islands

 

Iceberg caving in Patagonia

Glacier in El Calafate, Patagonia

 

El Calafate, Patagonia

 

View below and above glacier, El Calafate, Patagonia

 

Glacier, El Calafate

 

Blue hole in ice on glacier in El Calafate, Patagonia

 

Blue ice on glacier, El Calafate, Patagonia

 

Glacier hike, El Calafate, Patagonia

 

Glacier hike in El Calafate, Patagonia

 

Glacier. El Calafate, Patagonia

 

Sunrise in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

 

Swamp in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

 

Llamas in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

 

Torres del Paine sunrise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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African Adventure: Namibia & Botswana May 6-21, 2012

November 21st, 2011 |  by No comments

 

African Adventure: Namibia & Botswana 

 

 May 6-21, 2012  

 

     Join world renowned photographer, Seth Resnick on the safari of a lifetime!  This custom workshop was designed by Wilderness Safaris in conjunction with Seth Resnick D65 and Journey’s Unforgettable.

We will be photographing and exploring the Dunes of Sossesviei in Namibia, The Skeleton Coast in the Kulala Desert, the Vumbra Plains in Botwana, and a very special trip as an add on to Mombo in Botswana.

The itinerary (below) first and foremost has been customized to take you to the BEST wildlife areas at this time of the year, giving you a real sense of wilderness, and a true Africa experience, in total comfort.

This trip is truly going to be like no other.  We will be utilizing planes, private open-air vehicles,hot air balloons with the most experienced, elite guides. This is the best of the best of Africa. Creativity, composition, exposure, workflow, and post-processing are only a few of the topics to be presented by world -renowned photographer and your workshop leader Seth Resnick.

This is truly a once in a lifetime African Safari, limited to 12 people with 3 guides and Seth.

Cost: $19,480   ($5,380 for Mombo Extension)

To Register:

Brennan Rimer
Journey’s Unforgettable
Brennan@journeysunforgettable.com
561-901-7048

 

Itinerary  

 

May 4th: Arrive in Johannesburg and spend two nights in Johannesburg at Hotel

 

May 5th: Private Group Tour of Soweto/Townships with Robin Binckes (Culture!)

 

May 6th: Depart for Namibia and visit the Dunes of Sossesvlei staying at Kulala Desert Lodge for 3 Nights

 

Namibia, an arid country of startling contrasts, is home to two great deserts. Along its length, the vast shifting sand sea of the Namib sprawls inland along the Atlantic coastline. In the interior, the plateau slopes away to the north and east to meet the Kalahari Desert. This is a country famed for its expansive landscapes, fascinating geology, sun-drenched weather, wildlife and intriguingly diverse peoples.

 

At first glance seemingly lifeless, the reality is astonishing – some 4 000 plant species, 650 bird species and 80 large mammals can be found here. The world’s tallest sand dunes, desert-adapted black rhino, one of the oldest Bushman rock art sites, and fascinating Himba cultures – all these and more combine to make Namibia a wilderness destination with a difference.

 

In the Namib Desert on the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve, this lodge provides convenient private access to the iconic dunes of Sossusvlei. You will see sparsely distributed desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok and gemsbok. Predators such as spotted hyaena and the occasional brown hyaena as well as bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, porcupine, Cape fox and aardwolf. The aptly named Dune Lark is only to be found in this area.

 

At dusk the calls of barking geckoes resonate, while smaller creatures include the buck-spoor spider or the ambush specialist ant-lion.  The thatched and canvas “kulalas” we will be staying in are built on a wooden platform to catch the cooling breezes with a rooftop deck for those who want to sleep under the myriad stars of Namibia’s clear night skies.

 

The main area has a lounge, dining area, plunge pool, and deck overlooking the ephemeral Tsauchab River. A waterhole attracts a variety of local wildlife and provides a perfect location to view and photograph the desert scenery.

This little guy was hanging out on the side of Seth's plunge pool

The Skeleton Coast National Park is one of the planet’s most inhospitable yet hauntingly beautiful places; Skeleton Coast Camp provides a true wilderness experience in one of the most spectacular settings in Africa.

The terrain is rugged and harsh, yet, for all this, life – unusual and unexpected – prevails. The coastline harbours black-backed jackal and reclusive brown hyaena while inland secret water seeps attract gemsbok, springbok, ostrich, elephant, giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and occasionally lion. Unique bird species include Damara Tern and Gray’s Lark.

 Remote Skeleton Coast Camp is set out along the banks of the ephemeral Khumib River and comprises six Meru-style canvas-walled tents with spacious bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms. An intimate main area sports an open-air ‘dining room’ under an ancient leadwood tree.

Incredible sunsets every night...

May 12th: Fly to Botswana, and connect to Kings Pool for 3 Nights

Kings Pool Camp overlooks the oxbow-shaped Kings Pool Lagoon and Linyanti River system in the central part of the concession. The area around Kings Pool is characterised by open floodplain, typical riparian forest and mopane woodland. Large elephant herds usually traverse the area together with wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, steenbok, warthog and roan. Predators such as lion, cheetah, leopard, hyaena and wild dog all occur.
This luxurious and stylish camp has nine well-appointed rooms of canvas and thatch, each with a large en-suite bedroom and lounge. Folding doors lead to a veranda with private plunge pool, separate thatched sala to soak up the views, and an outdoor shower. The lounge and dining areas are set on expansive decks, and there is a pool and an open-air ‘kgotla’ (boma) for evening dining under the stars.

May 15th: Depart Kings Pool to Vumbura Plains for 3 Nights

On land or water, Vumbura Plains hosts abundant iconic wildlife of Botswana – and is part of a ground-breaking partnership that brings the benefits of ecotourism to five communities around the Okavango Delta.

Vumbura Plains comprises two separate seven-roomed satellite camps with a view across the floodplains; each has its own raised dining and lounge area beneath a shady canopy, furnished with soft sofas and idiosyncratic objets d’art. Each elevated en-suite room, unique in contemporary design and with extensive use of light, wood and space, comprises a large bedroom, sunken lounge, “sala”, outdoor shower, and plunge pool.

Vumbura features a broad complement of antelope (including contrasts such as the water-loving red lechwe and the sable of the dry savannah), good populations of elephant, buffalo, hippo and giraffe, and large predators: lion, spotted hyaena, leopard, wild dog and cheetah. Bird life is abundant with Okavango specials such as Rosy-throated Longclaw, Black Coucal and Wattled Crane. The woodlands in the east harbour White-breasted Cuckooshrike and Racket-tailed Roller.

Seth shot this with a 70mm lens. The lion was less than 6 ft. away, and roared right at Seth!

May 18th: Return to Johannesburg for those not doing the Mombo Extension

Water lily shot with a macro shot at camp

May 18th – 21st: Mombo Extension: Fly from Vumbura to Mombo (15min Flight) for 3 Nights

 

Mombo Camp, overlooking a plain invariably dotted with wildlife, offers arguably the best big game viewing in Botswana.

 

The area has prolific concentrations of plains game such as giraffe, zebra, warthog, red lechwe,tsessebe, wildebeest, kudu, elephant, buffalo and impala. Abundant predator sightings include lion, spotted hyaena and leopard. Chief’s Island is also home to the only white and black rhino in the Okavango Delta. The birding, a result of diverse habitats, is equally attractive. Large concentrations of plains game often occur in front of camp and their almost ubiquitous presence.

Mombo Camp, on Mombo Island, has nine spacious tents raised off the ground and under shady trees, all built to maximise the view over the floodplain. The tent interiors are elegantly furnished with polished parquet floors, an outdoor thatched sala, and en-suite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers. The main living and dining area is under thatch and there is a boma for traditional dinners, small library and a plunge pool to relax in the heat of the day.

Seth relaxing in Mombo after an early morning game drive

Cape Buffalo shot from a helicopter over the Okavango Delta outside of Mombo

New lion family shot full frame with a 300mm. They were about 20 ft. away

Rhinos are being slaughtered at a rate of 1 per day and they face extinction

May 21st: After an incredible safari trip, return to Johannesburg for your flights back home. For more info about the slaughter of the Rhinos

 

ALL the CAMPS we are traveling to are OWNED and/or OPERATED by WILDERNESS SAFARIS


 

 

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