8/19/2010: Journey to the Galapagos Islands// Click here to open (or close) the description

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.


8/19/2010: Short visit of Mainland Ecuador incl. Tandayapa, and Pahoma Reserve // Click here to open (or close) the description

Before we left for Galapagos, I had the chance of a short sightseeing in Quito, the historic main capital of Ecuador. Since Ecuador is famous for countless species of orchids and tropical birds, I additionally had booked a day trip into the primeval cloud forest of the Tandayapa Reserve to see some hummingbirds, including a short stop at the Pahoma Orchids Reserve. Focusing mainly on Galapagos, I had no multi flash setup brought on this trip which is needed to properly capture the humms in flight. In the limited period of our stay I could only get an impression of the seemingly endless species there and capture some basic shots by just using a single o580 EX II flash with fresnel adapter. In any case, this area is well worth coming back one day. On our return from Galapagos we stopped over in Guayaquil, the second largest town in Ecuador. We bridged the time gap by a short city tour.

Most photos were captured with the Canon 1Ds Mark III, some indoors and night shots also with my old Canon 10D. For landscapes I preferably used the 24-105mm/f 4.0 IS, 16-35mm or 24-70mm/2 2.8 lenses, while the macros were taken with the 100mm/ f.2.8 prime and ring flash.