Cape Churchill Polar Bears

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

In November 2016 (Nov 17-28) I will be leading a group, through Frontiers North Adventure Tours, to Cape Churchill Manitoba for Polar Bears and other wildlife. We will have our own tundra buggy and be part of a larger group of 40 like-minded individuals. This is considered the ultimate polar bear tour and while it is expensive (CAD 11 799 + tax+ single supplement 450.00) it is all inclusive and exclusive. Only 40 people per year experience this adventure on the Hudson Bay coastline in Wapusk National Park. Frontiers North has perfected the technique of towing their modular Tundra Buggy Lodge 35 km from Polar Bear Point to Cape Churchill, where the big bears, mothers and cubs assemble to await the formation of ice in Hudson Bay.

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) Mother and yearling cub, Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) Mother and yearling cub, Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Our tundra buggy will have a limit of 10 photographers plus guide and driver so there is plenty of room and each photographer will have access to both sides of the vehicle plus the platform at the back. We are out each day, all day, for 7 full days plus some time in the town of Churchill and in the Churchill Wildlife Management area prior to departure for the Cape.

Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) Sleeping in snow, Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) Sleeping in snow, Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

The tour begins in Winnipeg with a welcome dinner and accommodation included. It ends in Winnipeg with a farewell dinner and overnight hotel. Frontiers North provides (on loan)  winter apparel- parka, boots and pants. Travel to Churchill is by charter aircraft so all your gear can be carried on without carry-on restrictions.

The Cape Churchill Lodge

The Cape Churchill Lodge

Tundra Buggy vehicle and curious polar bears, Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Tundra Buggy vehicle and curious polar bears, Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Please don’t hesitate to contact me through the blog or my website email info@donjohnstonphotos.com if you have questions. I will provide information regarding booking the tour at that time.

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Wapusk NP, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Don’t Trash It

Apologies for blogging hiatus, but as the old saying goes ‘Better late than never!”

Sometimes I hear people extolling the benefits of digital photography from the standpoint of being able to ‘just delete pictures you don’t like’. This cavalier statement always makes me cringe a bit worrying that photographers might be throwing away good images without taking the time to properly evaluate them.

A documentary image of the butterfly feeding on flowers

 

John Shaw and other pros consistently recommend photographers to be ruthless with their editing and generally I subscribe to that principle. Believe me I have become very ruthless with my editing, especially with wildlife. In a burst sequence of 10 frames there is likely just one winner, a single frame worth keeping, so why hang on to any of the others?

This is one of about 15 frames captured in a burst. For now, I have saved most of the others.

In the field I use my review screen three ways. First, I check the histogram to ascertain a proper exposure. Then I check the full frame, especially the edges for compositional issues. Finally I check at 100 % for sharpness. Usually there is time with landscapes to do those things without missing a change in the situation.

There are times though when one needs to reconsider the urge to hit ‘Delete’, especially in the field. I rarely delete in the field unless I am fine-tuning exposure. I usually save bracketed compositions until I am back home, preferring to review them with a larger monitor rather than using my in-camera review screen.

A dispassionate eye is needed when editing so it’s generally a good idea to let the captured images sit for a while to let go of some of the emotional baggage attached to the images, unless you are on assignment with a tight deadline.Here are some reasons I use to justify me keeping some second best images (as RAW files- the selects are retained as derivative TIFs): 1. I use a ranking system and process only my highest ranking images. 2. I have a pretty thorough system of keywording and archiving so I can easily filter and find images. 3. Storage media such as external hard drives are fairly inexpensive these days. 4. A re-visit, some time later might change my opinion of a near-miss and elevate it to ‘worth processing and submitting’ status. 5. When teaching, it sometimes makes sense to show mistakes to students, for comparison. 6. A portion of a lesser ranked image might work well as a composite with other images.

I check exposure, framing and sharpness before moving on.

Certainly, like anyone else, I am anxious to see what I captured so I do  a rough edit shortly after a photo excursion, I will sort and group similars and delete the obvious ‘howlers’. A quick review helps to identify whether the sensor needs cleaning or whether (rarely) there might be a technical issue with a certain lens or camera body. After an initial review it may be a few months before I return for a serious edit. I’m usually about six months to a year behind in my editing, and I don’t think I’m alone in that camp.

But what about those in-camera mistakes? Such as the inadvertent click of the shutter whilst moving the camera or an accidental multiple exposure (some examples are depicted below).

I had just acquired my D4 and was playing around with settings while photographing wildflowers and butterflies. I sometimes like to photograph wildflowers using multiple exposure techniques. In this situation it appeared at first glance that the process of setting multiple exposure in the D4 was the same as the D3x, but I learned later that there is a difference. I had to disengage the setting in the D4 in order to stop multiple exposing. This became apparent when I reviewed an informal portrait of the kids at the camp, and realized that I had made several combined exposures rather than several individual exposures. When I scrolled back through the captured images, I realized that several butterfly captures were also multiple exposures rather than single captures. Rather than deleting that afternoon I decided to keep them and review later.

I liked the way the inadvertent multiple exposure captured the flitting, unpredictable nature of a foraging butterfly.

I’m not sure whether these will be accepted by my agencies. Time will tell, but I liked the results enough to keep a few and send them off for agency approval. Next summer I might try a little harder to duplicate these results.

Animals of Montana

Animals of Montana is the business name for a wildlife model photography service run by Troy and Tracy Hyde. The wildlife centre is housed at Troy and Tracy’s ranch in the mountains near Bozeman Montana, on the road to Bridger Bowl Ski Area from downtown Bozeman.

Still photographers and videographers are able to book private, customized sessions alone or in small groups. In addition there are numerous group ‘photo tours’ offered either near the ranch or on location, as far abroad as Red Rock country in Utah.

In late February I will be joining a tour with emphasis on winter predators, featuring mammals such as wolf, grizzly, fisher, bobcat and small mammals along with some exotic species like Siberian tiger, snow leopard, and Barbary lion.

           

Troy is an expert animal trainer and the animals will be posed near you and made to behave in natural ways, including action shots like running and leaping. Joe and MaryAnn McDonald attest to Troy’s expertise and feel that this is the best wildlife model experience among several good ones from which to choose. Other pro wildlife photographers such as Dennis Fast feel the same. The experience is friendly, exciting and intense. You’ll wonder how those memory cards fill so quickly!

I like to combine a session at Animals of Montana with photography in Yellowstone, which is only about two hours from Bozeman.

For more information about pricing, dates, tours etc, please visit Troy and Tracy’s website .

Here is a selection of images from a Winter tour and a Baby Animals tour.