Sunday, 29 April 2012

Surround yourself with trusted friends

I have been slowly growing my photography business for awhile now. Reading as many blogs as I can, networking, refining my photography skills... but the one thing I have done that is paying off in spades is "surrounding myself with other photographers I can learn from and trust". I have met a lot of great people on this fantastic journey. Many local to where I live... supportive, available to bounce ideas off of and go out and shoot with when time permits... These people are numerous and you know who you are... I appreciate all your support and friendship...

But there are a few photographers that I want to single out... these two gentlemen are two well respected individuals in our field that have taught me more for me in the last year than I learned in the last three years.

Rick Sammon... the extremely polite, genuine, hard working man has inspired me in more wanys than anyone else in this industry. It was a suggestion by a friend of mine, Gary Simmons, to contact him to see if he would come to Canada to do a seminar... and after some hard work... he is coming in September of 2012 to Kitchener to run a weekend seminar. This will be Rick's first trip to Canada and 200 people will be comin got be inspired by Rick.

Rick makes available blog entries, his images and tools of the trade. He also runs podcasts, writes books and creates ipod apps for photogrpahers. He is an awesome photographer and an even better teacher. I have learned more from Rick then I did in the beginnning when I was reading Scott Kelby's books.

The learning from Rick isn't stopping either. I will be running a photo tour with Rick in Iceland in 2013 and we are also discussing other trips to Africa and France in 2013.

The other photographer that I want to bring to your attention is Tim Vollmer. I have been following Tim's work for three years. I started seeing his images on Flickr three years ago.

Now three years later I am still admiring his photos, but now I will be spending time with Tim taking photos in various parts of the world. Tim and I will be headed to Tofino together to run a workshop, I will be headed with Rick to run a photo tour in Iceland with Tim. Tim and I are also working with WWF Canada to raise money and awareness. We will be headed to the Arctic Circle with Ethan Meleg and John E Marriott to photograph polar bears and the landscape to highlight the effects of climate change in the arctic.

Tim is an extremely talented photographer and someone that I now consider a friend. If you do not know of Tim, check out his website and check out where Tim is travelling too. He has some fantastic International destinations scheduled over the next 18 months.

Without these two guys I would still be trying to find my way in this industry. But after some mentoring, great opportunities and good advice from both of them I am well on my way in building a successful business with the Photographers Lounge.

Thanks Guys....


Friday, 20 April 2012

2013 Arctic Expedition

A great movie is coming out in theatres... the scenery is just awesome and I can't wait to experience it myself next year when we travel to the north pole.

The Great Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”. Not surprisingly, this impressive roaming phenomenon is determined by the availability of grazing, which in turn is dependent upon rainfall. Essentially the wildebeest are taking advantage of the seasonal conditions, spending the wet season on the plains in the south-east, and the dry season in the woodlands of the north-west. However, the sheer weight of their numbers also plays an important role in shaping the environment to their needs. In total, it is said that 500,000 zebra, 1.8 million wildebeest and various 100,000 plains game animals make this cyclical journey.

Members of the vast wildebeest herd give birth more or less simultaneously, usually over a period of three weeks sometime between January and March, when optimum grazing is available on the short grass plains at the base of the Gol Mountains.

The Migration is rarely ever the same in terms of precise timing and direction, as local conditions influence grass growth. This means that the wildebeest may move off the open plains earlier in some years and remain in the northern woodlands for longer in others.

The timing of the wildebeest calving is probably linked to the timing of the rut at the end of the rains in May and June. The wildebeest move off the plains at this time to a smaller area which is necessary to synchronize the rut. Interestingly, the rut itself appears to coincide with the full moon suggesting that the mating peak is triggered by the lunar cycle during the month of June.

Typically, the wildebeest head north-west from the short grass plains to the Western Corridor of the Serengeti and its Grumeti River. This watercourse is their first real obstacle and gigantic crocodiles are waiting for the hesitant wildebeest to stumble at the crossing. From Grumeti, the herds move north to cross over the Kenyan border into the Masai Mara. Here again, they must cross a river, this time the Mara with its flotillas of hungry crocodiles and waiting lions.

It is this spectacle that I want to see… the scene so many of us have viewed on a National Geographic program or read about in magazines… Currently I am doing a lot of due diligence, talking to African guides, reading satellite imagery, looking at historical data, researching possible camps to stay at and talking to my tour company to build a trip with a focus on photography.

I have seen trips out there for $10,000 to $12,000 where you stay in first class comfort and dine with silverware on china, then after your eggs benedict you head out to the safari... the sun is high and the best photo ops are gone. I want to create a photography photo tour that keeps us as close to the action as possible… after all, aren’t we all after “the shot of a lifetime” and not morning tea while basking in comfort?

So if Africa is on your bucket list… keep checking back, the Photographers Lounge, will have a trip to Africa before this migration is a memory like all the other migrations throughout history. And we will do it at a more attractive price point and designed to get you to the locations when you need to be there…

Check out these "youtube" videos to see what you will be shooting if you decide to come!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Greenland Photo Tour ~ Kevin Pepper, Tim Vollmer

Tim Vollmer has created a once in a lifetime photo tour exclusively for the Photographers Lounge. Sailing on a private sail boat you will follow the glaciers path as well as make stops in Greenland during September, 2013.

Your trip will start from Constable Point, a small airfield on the west side of Hurry Fjord in Jameson Land. There we will sail west between magnificent icebergs that drift down the Hall Basin after calving from the glaciers originating in the Inland Ice.

You will pass Ankervig through the narrow Føhnfjord with the magnificent basalt mountains of Gåseland on the port side and 2000 metres high sheer granite cliffs of Milne Land on the Starboard side.

Anchoring on land at various locations you will have the opportunity to scout for Muskoxen, snow hares, grouse, geese and other wildlife which normally graze on the south facing slopes.
But we will also take you to places like the glacier ridge between Harefjord and Rypefjord for a breathtaking view of Renland and the Inland Ice with endless number of glacier tongues descending into the sea.

Before our tour ends we will make one stop to visit the small village of Ittoqqortoormiit, founded in the 1920s by people from Ammassalik.

It is the most northerly settlement on the east coast of Greenland. The 500 inhabitants make their living mostly by subsistence hunting of seals, Narwhale, Muskoxen and Polar Bear. The quaint little houses dot the rocky slopes of south Liverpool Land with magnificent views of Kap Brewster and the Volquart Boons Coast to the south. Opportunity to visit the village‘s general store to purchase some local handicrafts of bone, soap stone and hides.

This trip is one very few people will ever make. It has not been till the last century that this destination has been available for you to stay and enjoy. Be a pioneer and come with us to take photos very few people have taken and shared.

See the Itinerary

Iceland Photo Tour - Rick Sammon, Kevin Pepper, Tim Vollmer

It is not that often that you get the opportunity to visit one of the worlds most beautiful locations... even more rare that you get to spend it with 3 professional photographers.

For this trip you will be one of twelve photographers to spend 10 days photographing shoulder to shoulder with the talented Rick Sammon, Tim Vollmer and Kevin Pepper.

We begin our tour on the lava scarred Reykjanes peninsula which lies on one of the world’s major plate boundaries, the Mid Atlantic Ridge. We will walk across a small footbridge between the two continents, see craters and an old lighthouse.

From there we travel through lava fields to the Blue Lagoon for a relaxing dip in 38°C therapeutic geothermal water. The Blue Lagoon is surrounded by a moss-covered lava field dating back to 1226.

But this is just the beginning...
You will visit the mountain Hengill geothermal area is one of the largest high-temperature fields in Iceland situated on an active volcanic ridge in SW Iceland.

We will also visit Þingvellir, Iceland’s first national park est. 1930. It is the site of the Viking Age parliament started in 930 AD and is located in a rift valley.

You will also see Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir geothermal area. The waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, and Geysir geothermal area is known for its spouting springs. Strokkur (the Butter churn) spouts every 3–8 minutes up to a height of 25 metres.

From here we will travel on Fjallabaksleið nyrðri which means Northern road behind the mountains. Among the sights is Eldgjá canyon (fire canyon). Eldgjá is the largest volcanic canyon in the world, 40km long, 270m deep and 600m wide at its greatest. Ófærufoss waterfall is within the canyon, a magnificent waterfall.

As the trip winds down you will be amazed at Vatnajökull glacier National Park.

Vatnajökull glacier towers over this region and has immensely affected the landscape. We will visit many of Vatnajökull's outlets and outwash areas and the Jökulsárlón lagoon, a famous glacial lagoon full of icebergs were we can take a short boat tour and sail among the huge icebergs, an unforgettable experience!

The glacial scenery continues with a visit to the stunning Skaftafell, Iceland’s second largest national park were the landscape has been formed in thousands of years by different influences of fire and water (volcanic eruptions and the glaciers).
Your next to last stop is Dyrhólaey. This is a 120-meter high promontory, not far from Vík and is the southernmost part of the country. From the top you have a great photographic view.

After Dyrhólaey we drive to Skógafoss which is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in the country with a width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces a single or double rainbow which is normally visible on sunny days.

Check out out Itinerary.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

2013 Polar Bear Expedition - Update

So a few sponsorships for product came through this past week... and they will really com in handy while we are in the arctic circle, miles from anyone...

Voltaic Systems is giving us a solar panel the size of a laptop bag so we can ensure we have power to charge batteries and keep the laptops working. This will really come in handy...

Faber Snowshoes is also goign to ensure we have the gear we need when we need a snowshoe to make th hiking easier. Faber has been making snowshoes longer than we all have been alive (135 years) and will definately come in handy from the arctic circle. Please see their lineup of snowshoes here...

We also had a great discussion with WWF Canada. WWF Canada has been an extremely professional and helpful organization to deal with. Yes, you could just say that they want the money we will bring them, but lets face it, we are small potatoes and they really could have just left us to our own devices and taken our money if we got any. But they didn't, they are working with us to help us be successful.

We will be getting an afternoon to have access to interview and talk to their scientists before we travel. That way we will hav eall the background information we need prior to our departure.

They are also giving us a letter of endorsement so our sponsors can have that added level of comfort that we are "indeed" working with WWF Canada.

They have also offered to put up a page on the WWF Canada website that you can go to to read about what we are doing and donate to WWF Canada. You can also read about the expedition at the photographers lounge website,

Thanks for reading along and keeping up to date on the trip updates.


Monday, 9 April 2012

The Polar Bear has become "the canary in the coal mine"

In 2004 a scientific analysis of a rare polar bear fossil indicates that the large, iconic animal of the north evolved in the relatively recent past from common brown bears. The discovery suggests polar bears' ancestors migrated toward the North Pole in response to global warming approximately 150,000 years ago, and adapted quickly to their new Arctic habitat. Could recent climate change once again be forcing this large carnivore to be forced to adapt to different ways of survival?

Dramatic changes, caused by global warming, are taking place in the Arctic that threatens the survival of the Polar Bear. Global warming is melting the polar ice caps, robbing the bears of the ice floes they need to hunt prey. As the sea ice melts, now months faster than in recent history, polar bears are forced ashore to spend longer periods of time in the summer fasting on land.

If the Arctic ice cap continues to melt sooner and form later, polar bears will become too thin to reproduce and if they do not adapt will become extinct by the end of this century if they do now repeat a reversal of the adaption they were once forced to undergo.

The polar bear’s home – the Arctic – is experiencing the effects of global warming more than any other place on the face of the earth. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at almost twice the rate of that of the rest of the world, and it is threatening to place the entire Arctic ecosystem in jeopardy.

Since 1979 the extent of summer ice has declined by about 30 percent – sea ice that not only provides hunting ground for polar bears, but shelter and transportation for seals, walrus, arctic foxes, and the Inuit people. The underside of the ice also provides a surface for algae that supports cod, char, beluga, and narwhal.

While that may seem insignificant to you sitting in front of your computer in your urban dwelling thousands of miles away from the arctic; consider this! The white sea ice also has a cooling effect on your climate by reflecting light away from Earth’s surface. As the ice melts, global warming advances even more quickly. This residual effect will have dire consequences on our drinking water, local wildlife that the health of you and your family.

The polar bear is now unfortunately the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" of the serious threat global warming poses to wildlife species around the world, unless we take immediate and significant action to reduce global warming pollution.

So, we are headed north, if you have been following my blog you see that four of us are travelling to the arctic circle to raise money to help fight climate change and do what we can to increase awareness of the issue… through photos, interviews, discussions, articles, you will hear our personal impressions… no scientific speak, no ulterior motive… just the findings in laymen terms.

You can follow Kevin Pepper, Ethan Meleg, John E. Marriott and Tim Vollmer. You can interact with us and engage in the conversation while we are in the Arctic Circle. We are planning on leaving in May of 2013 to go on our expedition… and until then we will be discussing the topic on this blog and on twitter.

Thanks for reading…


Friday, 6 April 2012

2013 Arctic Expedition - The Ice Floe

I have had a few people email me and ask me why we are travelling to the “floe edge” while we are in the arctic. The short answer is that from April to July, the floe edge is the most dramatic, dynamic place to be.

This is where the sea meets the retreating ice edge. Whales swim meters from shore. Walrus and seals haul themselves out to bask in the sunlight and Polar bears hunt for seals and their cubs enjoy an ocean dip.

In the past the edge of the ice appeared well off shore while more recently it seems to form closer and closer to land as climate change warms the arctic waters. Regardless of its position, the floe edge is a crucial place where local hunters gather to socialize and share bannock, tea and fresh meat while patiently waiting for seal, walrus or whales to surface. It also forms an important habitat for countless of marine organisms who depend on the open waters and ice for their survival.

These organisms congregate here in huge quantities thanks to the rays of the spring sun that penetrates through the icy surface of the water. Suddenly, billions upon billions of microscopic plankton burst to life. This influx of energy triggers a chain of events that many naturalists describe as one of the greatest spectacles in the Arctic. A seemingly endless array of migratory seabirds and ducks join seal, bowhead whales and large pods of narwhal and beluga to feed in these nutrientrich waters. Following close by are also Polar Bear and Arctic fox who closely track these marine animals from the ice.

This is the place where the winter will end and the cycle of life in the arctic will again begin… and this is where we will spend a lot of our time. For those of you that wish we will be able to communicate with you all through our twitter accounts and our blogs. You will be able to ask questions about what we are seeing, have us describe the day and share with you some of the photos we took.

I can hardly wait, and I am envious that John E Marriott has spent so much time there already. His experieince in the arctic will help ensure we are safe, come back with the information we need... but more importantly come back with some fantastic photos.

I hope everyone has a great Easter Weekend.


Thursday, 5 April 2012

Polar Bear Quick Facts

Here are some quick facts on the Polar Bear...

The top speed of a polar bear is 40kph.

The Polar Bear has 42 razor sharp teeth. With jagged back teeth and canines larger than grizzly teeth, they pack quite the bite

12 inch wide paws-- a natural snowshoe that helps them trek across treacherous ice and deep snow

A Polar Bear has 3 eyelids - the third helps protect the bear's eyes from the elements

A Polar Bear has 4 inches of fat under its skin
Their skin is black

A Polar Bear has a blue tongue

The polar bear tends to swallow food in large chunks rather than chewing.

The average polar bear can consume 4.4 pounds of fat per day.

The bear's stomach can hold an astonishing 10-20% of its body weight.

The polar bear's digestive system is very efficient, absorbing approximately 84% of the protein and 97%of the fat it consumes.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

2013 Artic Expedition - media coverage and sponsorship

Media coverage… we have been talking to a lot of media outlets across the country and the support and interest has been fantastic. Our goal is to have a national online partner, a national foot print of newspapers and a few photography magazines covering the story, one in Canada and one in the USA.

So far the Sun Media newspapers and the Winnipeg Free Press will be covering the expedition with our articles. I have also talked to some of the community newspapers around where we all live and the response to my request to interview us about our expedition is overwhelmingly positive.

We have also spoken to MSN Canada and they like the idea of us blogging daily from the arctic. They also talked to me about writing both articles on the effects of climate change as well as some eco-tourism articles for them upon our return. The plan with MSN would be to have them publish blogs daily online and allow people to interact with us in real time.

Social media will also play a role in spreading the message about the expedition and allow us also to communicate with people that are intereted about what its like in the arctic circle. The issue now is to have a satellite phone and model with a data plan... but there are a few companies that can supply us those... so Roadpost... I will be calling. ;-)

As for photography magazines, not many have stepped forward yet. Photo technique magazine out of the U.S. has expressed an interest in doing something, but no Canadian photo magazines have stepped forward to say they want to be “the” Canadian magazine to cover us… My money is on Outdoor Photography Canada as both Ethan and John write columns for them already. That and Roy, the Editor-In-Chief, has at least asked me to have a conversation about the expedition already. :-)

The media partners seem to be the easy part… this is an exceptional news worthy program that would garner great readership and exposure for all of our media partners.

The hard part is the sponsorship dollars… but “hard” may be the wrong word... lets call it "more challenging". We have contacted numerous companies with our media kit to sponsor the expedition and donate to the cause… it will just take a few weeks now to start to hear back from the initial media kit presentations. Our goal is to raise a minimum of $50,000 and acquire “in-kind” sponsorship to offset our own costs (flights, food, arctic gear etc)

I am sure there will be a lot more companies that decline to participate than will be willing to participate, but that is expected. If it was easy, everyone would attempt this… LOL

Oh well, onward and upward…

Stay tuned... a few exciting conversations are going to be taking place in the next week. We have a meeting at the WWF Canada offices to meet everyone and there are a few very high profile sponsors that have reached out to get more details before they render their decision.

Oh, I almost forgot. Watch CBC this Sunday, April 8th at 7pm. The Nature of Things is on at a special time. Director Adam Ravetch has made a fantastic program following a sub population of bears from ice out, through the summer. Its an increadable program on how a young bear struggles to change centuries of habit in order to survive. To read about this program please visit,

You can also check out the web pages for our trip north here.

Out of the mouths of babes

As I sit in my living room I can only imagine what is in store for me in just a little over 12 months and 3228 Kilometers (2006 miles) north of me in the Arctic Circle.

But before we look forward, let’s go back a few weeks to a conversation with my daughter. She is in high school and like any high school student; thinking about her future. She has decided that she wants to work with endangered animals. Doing her research she came across Coke and their program in working with World Wildlife Fund. She asked how they are making a difference. I couldn’t answer her and decided to do my own research to see what it is that they were doing.

The program is more about climate change than about the Canadian iconic animal, the Polar Bear. The real focus is on what threatens the Polar Bears. These large carnivores are sensitive indicators of ecosystem health. Polar bears are actually studied to get an understanding of what is happening throughout the Arctic. A polar bear at risk is a sign of something wrong somewhere in the arctic marine ecosystem.

So, after my reading I talked to my daughter about what I found. I could tell her wheels were still spinning… but secretly so were mine after I read one line on the Polar Bears International Website. I read that by 2080 there may be no ice left in Hudson Bay. I thought to myself, “that’s major, as a kid studying Canada; Hudson Bay was the iconic frozen bay explorers crossed. Images of explorers breaking through ice and yanking wooden boats over ice immediately came to mind. Since 1670 when the King of England first granted the Hudson Bay company a fur trade monopoly for all the lands drained by rivers flowing into Hudson's Bay we have changed the climate that much?”

As a nature photographer I wondered how I could do my part. I made some calls, talked to a few friends and started to formulate an idea… and now, out of a simple question from a 15 year old high school student in rural Ontario a plan was formed that will hopefully touch people across Canada and around the world.

The team has been assembled… Ethan Meleg, John E. Marriott, Kevin Pepper and Tim Vollmer will be embarking on an expedition to the Arctic circle and stay close to the floe edge. The goal is to capture what we see in photos, talk to local Inuits about how the changes have affected their lives, interview scientists about statistical information and trends and have conversations with Canada’s leading conservation minds... out of this, an awareness story in photos and words that shows people just how much the arctic has changed.

Working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) our goal is not only to create awareness but raise funds that will be donated to WWF to help them continue their work.

While we are in the arctic we will be sending back daily blogs and twitter feeds about the day’s findings and sharing our photos through our media partners that will be helping us communicate to you what we are experiencing. You will be able to follow us in real time and share in our experience.

Right now we are structuring the actual expedition route and having conversations with numerous potential product and cash sponsors to help us achieve our goals.

Stay tuned, come back weekly, and you can follow us from today right through the next year as we prepare for our expedition.

Over the next year I will keep you up to speed on media partners, sponsors, our expedition plans and discuss what we find as we start our interviews and our personal learning’s about the cause that brings us together for the 2013 arctic expedition to the Arctic Circle.

Thanks for reading,