24 July 2013

Glacier Lights

The sun has a heartbeat - every eleven years or so it beats. This is known as the solar cycle and is measured by the number of sunspots visible on the sun. The more sunspots, the more solar flare energy is being released into space, which means more aurora activity. Luckily, this solar cycle is predictable.

After a couple of years of deep solar minimum, sunspot activity started to increase again around 2010, and "Solar Max" was predicted for 2013-2014.

Spring is aurora season. For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights, which is why we run our Iceland tours in March.

The aurora predictions for this particular night were not that good - level 3. That's usually not enough to make everyone run outside, but we knew that on a clear night and with a bit of patience, you can get good results. Last year we already scouted many places for possible aurora shoots, so when we decided to give it a try with our group, we knew exactly where to go. We had selected a spot on top of a small hill to get a view of a massive glacier and mountains on all sides.

Already when we were hiking up in the dark, we could see the aurora appearing ahead of us. We all set up our gear and had two full hours of good activity.

If you would like to join us on next year's Iceland tour and learn more about landscape photography and composition, please check out the photo tours page on our website or download the brochure (PDF).

23 July 2013

Cover Shot

Photography Masterclass Magazine is a magazine designed exclusively for the iPad Newsstand, and their latest issue features my popular giraffe image on the cover, as well as two other images in the Capture Wildlife Masterclass.

The giraffe image was shot on our Wildlife Boot Camp in Spain. This year's workshop is fully booked, but there are still openings for 2014.

22 July 2013

Camp Antarctica

Here's the latest blog post that I wrote for National Geographic:

Antarctica is without doubt one of the wildest places on earth. It is seriously remote, it is not easy (or cheap) to get there, there is no infrastructure, and the climate is as extreme as it can get. When I traveled there for the first time a few years ago, I was not only impressed by the overwhelming beauty of this vast continent, but I was also constantly aware of how special it was to be there. Every time I got off my zodiac and set foot on the mainland of Antarctica, I felt like an explorer who entered another world.

One of the most intense ways to experience nature is to spend the night outdoors. On my many travels I have camped in the most remote places - high in the Himalayas in India, deep in the desert in Libya, and among brown bears in Alaska, but none of those camps were so far from civilization as this camp in Antarctica. Four small tents on a sea of ​​snow and ice, an incredible experience.

For the photo I wanted to illuminate the tents from the inside, so I had to wait until after sunset to be able to show the effect. I brought a small flashlight with a very wide beam that I wanted to use for the lighting, but I had only one, not four. The only solution was to shoot and blend four different exposures for the final photograph - one for each tent.

I started with the tent in the foreground. One of the campers was so kind to sit inside the tent and use the flashlight according to my directions. This first exposure was the most important one, because I would not only use it for the tent, but also for the overall scene and the ambient light. I waited until the light had a cold, blue tone because it would fit nicely with the snowy landscape, and it would create a nice contrast with the warm glow of the tents. After taking the first picture, I photographed the other three tents with the same settings. Meanwhile, it was getting darker, but the exposure of the tents was constant, so no problems there. I later blended the four exposures in Photoshop to get this final result. A lovely memento of a unique experience.

Nikon D3x, AF-S 14-24/2.8, 15 sec. @ f/16, ISO 50, tripod, flashlight