In March 2009 I took part in a photo expedition to the Galapagos Archipelago which lies some 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador. Its six major islands and broad scattering of smaller islands are set along the equator and constitute what early sailors called Las Islas Encantadas, the Enchanted Island. Our 2009 cruise aboard the aptly named M/V Evolution commemorated the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book “The Origin of the Species”. The volcanic Galapagos Archipelago is without doubt a crown jewel of the natural world and one of the best locations for nature photography I’ve visited to date. The abundant and photogenic wildlife allows human approach within few meters. As known, the islands are home to extraordinary tortoises, iguanas, sea lions, fur seals and the famous Darwin’s finches, altogether with thousands of seabirds and other species. We went ashore on 8 islands throughout the archipelago for extensive shooting sessions in the early morning and late afternoon light. In between we took time to snorkel and to explore the tropical underwater world, looking for sea turtles, rays and coral reef fishes. The organization of the photo tours was excellent and the local guide of the National Park was very competent and cooperative, too. The day we arrived in San Cristobal, we got the information that the La Cumbre volcano on San Fernandina had just begun of spewing lava. During our stay on this island, we unfortunately could not convince the captain to circumnavigate the island for a view of the spectacular eruption. So we could only see the smoke coming up from behind the mountains and get a glimpse of the red skies at night. Missing this unique event was the only drawback of our otherwise excellent trip.
All photos were taken with Canon 1Ds Mark III, 1Ds Mark II and 1D Mark III cameras. The latter mostly was used for photographing wildlife mounted with the 300mm IS/f.2.8 (some with the 1,4x or 2x converter mounted). Many wildlife shots were captured with the 70-200mm/f 2.8 IS, too. For landscapes I preferably used the 24-105mm/f 4.0 IS, 16-35mm or 24-70mm/f 2.8 lenses, the underwater photos were captured with my old 10D and the 24mm/f 1.4 in a EWA marine housing.