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.

Franz Josef Land

7/12/2009: Expedition to the extreme Northern Top of Europe: The Solar Eclipse Voyage to Franz Josef Land // Click here to open (or close) the description

In the summer of 2008 I had joined an expedition cruise to Franz Josef Land onboard the vessel M/S Polaris. Situated east of Svalbard at latitudes between 80.0° and 81.9° north, the Russian archipelago is the northernmost land mass in the Eastern Hemisphere and located only 900 – 1100 km (560 to 690 miles) from the North Pole. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 islands with an area of 16,134 km², 83% of them covered with permanent ice and for the most part inaccessible. The volcanic and nowadays largely inhabited group of islands was discovered in 1873 by the Austrian – Hungarian polar explorers J. Payer and C. Weyprecht who named it in honor of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. Trying to find a north east passage, their ship “Admiral Tegettoff” was locked in ice for two winters. Since the expedition was private sponsored, the archipelago never had been part of Austria, though. In the late 19th and early 20th century, several polar explorers used the islands as a base for expeditions to the North Pole. So the remains of the camps and huts can still be found there. In 1926 the archipelago was taken over by the Soviet Union, and a few people came for research and military purposes. Now the Islands are abandoned and given back to nature – with exception of one small Russian military base in the utmost West.
Leaving from Longyearbyen (Svalbard), our voyage was offered on the occasion of the total solar eclipse which could be observed on August 1st 2008 in the Far East and Northeast. We could watch this astronomical phenomenon nearby FJL at our position at 79° 51.60′ N, 42° 04.2 ‘ E at 09:50 UTC. Though this rare event undoubtedly was one of the highlights, it originally had not been the main reason for me to take part in the trip. It rather was a unique chance for me to visit one of the rare wild places left in the High Arctic. However, as our ship obviously was not in perfect condition and maybe also in order to save time because of the focus on the eclipse, they mostly stayed away from the pack ice at a considerable distance. That is why our wildlife encountering, i.e. regarding polar bears was more limited than I had hoped for. Despite these drawbacks and the fact that the voyage to JFL was not scheduled as a special photo expedition, it was an impressive and unique trip to a very remote place I probably won’t be able to visit again in the near future. So I’m glad that I had joined.
The photos displayed in the gallery were shot with Canon 1DsMarkIII/II cameras, mostly using the f2.8/24-70mm, f4.0/24-105mm IS, f2.8/70-200mm IS, f2.8/16-35mm and f2.8/14mm II lenses. For photographing wildlife, I often used the f 2.8/300mm IS including the 1.4x or 2.0x converter mounted on the 1D Mark III. The close ups were captured with the f2.8/100mm macro lens. For the first time, I had also used the WFT-E2 transmitter with diGPS connected for geotagging my photos. I’m planning to map some of the pictures to google maps later.



09/13/2011: To the mountain icons and glaciers of Patagonia // Click here to open (or close) the description

For many years, Patagonia has been top on the list of places to visit once in my lifetime. Around Christmas 2010 I finally could fulfill the dream and went on a private trip for 19 days. Located in the southern Andes mountain range straddling the border of Argentina and Chile, Patagonia’s breathtaking scenery of mountain icons, azure lakes and glaciers have attracted countless nature photographers. However, travellers can also face some of the worst and probably most variable weather in the world making photography potentially impossible – unless you like hiking and taking pictures in 90+ km/h wind and horizontal rain. Quite a few photographers returned back home without having seen the motifs they had come for. Therefore I was very lucky with the weather since it was sunny, very warm and pretty calm almost every day. Within the limited time available, the trip was primarily focused on the three famous highlights of southern Patagonia: Torres del Paine NP in Chile and Los Glaciares NP including Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Argentina. Flying in from Santiago the Chile I arrived in Punta Arenas on Christmas Eve and drove to Puerto Natales which is situated 250 km northwest of Punta Arenas and is the gateway to TDP. Parque National de Torres Del Paine with its array of world renowned granite Torres and Cuernos peaks, glacier-fed turquoise lakes, meadows, Magellanic forests, rivers and waterfalls was declared an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and offers a gentler experience than Los Glaciares NP, also for those not willing or capable of backpacking and overnight camping. Parque National de Los Glaciares with the panoramic Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massif forming shark-tooth summits is also included on UNESCO’s Biosphere List and is the mountaineering mecca of Patagonia. In the southern sector of the park and among the earth’s most dynamic and largest icefield outside the polar regions, the famous 30km long Glaciar Perito Moreno is one of only a few advancing glaciers in the world and the main tourist attraction. Proceeding up to 2m a day and rising 60m above the level of water, the 5km long glacier front offers outstanding views of the ice towers collapsing from time to time.

Patagonia is a famous place for hiking and trekking with EL Calafate and especially EL Chalten often named the hiking capitals of the world. Though trekking with heavy gear and overnight camping in unpredictable weather is not everyone’s passion, some of the most popular highlights and spectacular viewpoints require long hikes. Apart from the need to scale steep moraine fields in the last section, most mountain trails are not difficult, though. But the mileage can easily amount to 10+ kilometers one way, depending on the specific route. However, getting to the viewpoints in early morning light – preferably at sunrise in order to catch the fantastic Alpenglow – requires tough hikes in the dark for several hours on some places unless you’re planning on camping. Even if you decide upon an overnight backpacking trip you still have to ascend the moraine fields before sunrise. Considering the fact, that the night is pretty short during the Patagonian midsummer, a very early start in the dark is required on some places. Since I wanted to make the most of the trip respecting photography, I had to schedule the whole tour and overnight stays carefully, also taking possible bad weather conditions into account. In the end, I could do predawn hikes on most but not on all the locations originally intended.
As for wildlife, the area is habitat for rheas (nandues), guanacos, cougars, and gray foxes. There are over 100 species of birds in the park, including the endangered Andean condor. In TDP NP I encountered Chilean flamingo, Chilean Flicker, Magellan goose, Black-faced ibis and Crested Caracara to name a few.
All in all, the trip to Patagonia was a fantastic experience and I hope I can be back once again. The photos in the gallery were taken with Canon 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark IV and 7D cameras, mainly using the f 4.0/24-105mm IS USM, f 2.8/70-200mm IS USM II, f 2.8/16-35mm USM, f 14mm USM II lenses for the landscape shots. For capturing wildlife I mostly chose the f 4.5-5.6/100-400mm IS USM and f 2.8/300mm IS USM (+ 1,4x converter) lenses while the macros were taken with the f 2.8/100mm macro lens.


04/25/2015: Pantanal - Brazil's spectacular wetlands // Click here to open (or close) the description

In August 2014 I went on a photographic tour to the Pantanal, which represents the planet’s largest contiguous wetland and for its abundance as well as its fantastic diversity of wildlife oftenly is labelled as the Serengeti of America. Consequently, parts of the region were proclaimed a nature preserve by the UNESCO in 2000. The Pantanal is an immense alluvial plain of up to 230000 square kilometer located in the heart of the South American continent. Around three-quarters of the region lies in west-central Brazil, divided between the states of Mato Grosso (40%) and Mato Grosso du Sul (60%). Of the reminder, two-thirds is located in Bolivia and one third in Paraquay. During the rainy season, rivers disperse across the plain to inundate up to 75 % of the area. Many parts of the area generally are only accessible by small plains with the famous unpaved Transpantaneira being the only road into the Pantanal. The name is ambiguous, though, since it doesn’t cross the area but just leads 145 km into the region by passing around 123 wild wooden bridges. The fauna of the Pantanal is extremely diverse and includes 80 species of mammals, 650 bird species – let alone 26 species of parrots are recorded in the area including the hyacinth macaw, the world’s largest parrot, – 50 reptile species and 400 fish. Dense populations of species of conservation concern such as jaguar being the main attraction, marsh deer, giant anteater and giant otter live in the region. The Amazon gets the press coverage, but the Pantanal is a better place to see wildlife. The dense foliage of the Amazon makes it difficult to observe the animals, but in the open marshes of the Pantanal, wildlife is much easier to spot. It was a spectacular trip with an abundance of wildlife I never have encountered before and consequently is reflected by the largest gallery on this site so far. wildlife for the most part was photographed with the Canon f4.0/200-400mm IS + Ext zoom, the f2.8/300mm IS or the f4.0/ 600mm IS II (+ 1,4Ext) mounted on the Canon EOS 1Dx, EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 1 Mark IV bodies. Landscape and closer motifs were taken with the f8/24-70mm II, f4.0/24-105mm IS and f2.8/ 70-200mm IS II on the Canon EOS 5 Mark III.


8/17/2005: Scenery and Wildlife of Namibia // Click here to open (or close) the description

In 1998 I visited the impressive country of Namibia. The roundtrip took me from Windhoek to the Fish River Canyon, then back north to the overwhelming dunes of Sossusvlei. On a sightseeing flight from Swakopmund over the desert we passed the notorious Skeleton coast where many ships sank in the storm and fog. The wrecks gradually are covered by the dunes of the Namib now. Of course the visit of the famous Etosha NP with its exuberant wildlife was a highlight of the trip as well as the fly-in to the Kunene river where the native people of Ovahimba live. In the meantime their culture and the unique nature of the Kaokaoveld is threatened by a huge dam project. In 1998 digital photography was not yet available for the majority of photographers. I used Fujichrome Velvia 50 film and also Kodakchrome 64 because of its neutral colors and longevity. The slides were digitalized by using the Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 scanner and Silverfast software.
The wildlife shots at that time were taken with a 4.0/300mm IS lens and 1.4x converter using Canon 1V/1N cameras.