Sep 282010

Mount Yamnuska at sunrise. Photo by Shirley Davis.

With fresh snow on the mountains and lots of fall colours, conditions the Nature Photography workshop looked promising, unfortunately the weather forecast was calling for rain!

This was the first workshop to be held in my new office so I was interested to see how it would work out.

As always, the Friday evening was spent checking that everyone’s camera gear was ready for the weekend; then I gave a lecture about using filters, understanding histograms, exposure compensation and using aperture priority mode.

Saturday morning was clear, cold and there were some dramatic clouds around the mountains. My plan was to head to the Bow River to photograph the Three Sisters and Mount Lawrence Grassi but unfortunately, there was so much mist coming off the river that the mountains were obscured from the valley floor.

Goat Mountain and poplar's. Photo by Richard Dettbarn.

Instead, we headed to Mount Yamnuska to get away from the river. It looked very promising, the mountain towered over the misty valley bottom and we walked to a small body of water at the foot of the mountain. As we reached the lake, the mist again obscured our view so we retreated to higher ground and had a beautiful sunrise with the fall colours in the foreground.

After sunrise we returned to the office for breakfast and stopped to photograph a large group of Rocky Mountain sheep.  After breakfast we had a variety of  lectures, critiques and discussions before breaking up for dinner. In the evening we headed out again looking for wildlife.

Rocky Mountain sheep. Photo by Ron Baker.

We saw a female moose and her calf but unfortunately, not much else! On Sunday it was dark and gloomy but the group did a great job of creating abstract landscape photographs before the rain set in.

Sunday was spent with more lectures and critiques. Throughout the weekend, the group had some excellent questions which led to some interesting discussions about techniques, equipment and composition.

It was another very enjoyable weekend for me and a treat to meet a group of talented and enthusiastic photographers. Here are some of their photographs and comments…..

“I truly enjoyed the weekend and learned a lot. I came away with a better understanding of how it all comes together to achieve a pleasing photo and I also learned to enjoy my camera and equipment versus wondering what I was doing wrong all the time. I will definitely be taking other courses that you offer in the future.” – Monica Ritter

Goat Mountain shortly after sunrise. Photo by Monica Ritter.

Bow River abstract. Photo by Norma Gursky.

“Thank you very much for all of the ideas and knowledge that you shared with us last week.  I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot about both my camera and photography in general.” – Ron Baker.

Smut's creek abstract. Photo by Paul Murphy.

The beauty of fall. Photo by Tamara Carter.

Backlighting at sunrise. Photo by Erin Baer

Sep 102010

The BIg Sister and the Bow River. Photo by Heather Donauer

Last week’s Tradition to Technology workshop was another great success.

This workshop now sells out months in advance and it’s one of my favourites to teach.

As the week progresses, it is very rewarding to see the dramatic change in the skill and confidence of each participant.

In this year’s class we had four spectacular sunrises and everyone took some incredible photographs.

Here is selection of photographs from the week, one from each person.

I’d like to thank Anne Van Allen who was a tremendous help with the food and logistics.

As well as dramatic sunrises, we had some fun evening trips and watched a grizzly bear eating berries from the safety of our cars.

Grizzly bear takes a break from eating berries. Photo by Ian McIntosh.

Here’s some of the early feedback about the week.

“Richard is a great teacher – very patient, extremely experienced and knowledgeable.  He shared lots with us about both the artistic and technical aspects of digital photography.

Canmore Wall and the Canmore reservoir at sunrise. Photo by Lorna Zaback

Although getting up every morning at 5:30 to set up for a sunrise shoot was difficult at first, the effort definitely was worth it – Richard took us to so many beautiful, inspiring places – and that early morning light is like nothing else!!  Under Richard’s guidance, it was easy to feel motivated to work hard and push our limits, and it was amazing how much everyone’s skill and confidence grew over such a short time.” – Lorna Zaback – Ontario

“My mind is still running with all of my new learnings from the week and the sight of such beautiful locations….. I’m looking forward to loads of practicing and playing and then taking the next workshop! I’m positively vibrating with new information and new excitement.” – Heather Donauer, Calgary

I recently had the pleasure to complete Richard’s Tradition To Technology photography adventure in Canmore, Alberta.  This was my second workshop (I participated in the Nature Photography workshop in April of 2010) with Richard, and I thoroughly enjoyed both sessions. Richard is very easy to work with. He presents the course material very effectively and efficiently with a good deal of humor to lighten the learning curve.  I really feel that my photographic skills have significantly improved along with my understanding of how my camera works.  Richard makes sure to offer constructive criticism in a non-threatening way.  I always felt comfortable discussing his take on the pictures that I made.  He has an extensive repertoire of stories, photographs and knowledge to enhance the experience.  If you are looking for a forum to develop your interest and/or skills in photography I would highly recommend Richard’s Photography Workshops. Ian D. McIntosh, Alberta

Mt Lawrence Grassi reflection. Photo by Jo-Anne Gardner

“The Tradition to Technology Course was an awesome experience for me.  Richard taught some specialized techniques, like how to use graduated neutral filters and polarizers to obtain “5 star” photos.  By the end of the week I was reviewing my camera’s histograms, utilizing exposure compensation, experimenting with aperture and shutter speed priority modes and scouting out locations for the best compositions.  After daily sunrise/sunset field trips, Richard held “critiquing sessions” which were very valuable.  Not only did we learn and improve from our photography, but also saw different views and learned tips from the other participants.  I came into this course with very restricted Lightroom and Photoshop skills.  We were all provided with our own designated computer with software installed to perform editing

The Three Sisters and Mt Lawrence at sunrise. Photo by Carrie Bradley.

exercises and to apply transitions to our photographs.  As soon as I arrived home, I was utilizing the skills taught with zest and confidence.  Richard does not hold back on his tips and wealth of information.  He provides a list of “recommended readings” and informative websites.   Although the course was intense and demanding, Richard help provide a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere.  He would drive us out to prime locations frequented by wildlife for memorable shots.  Breakfast/lunch/coffee breaks were enjoyed in a group setting.  Not to mention time out for a fun evening out for beer and fish & chips!  This course is not to be missed!!” Carrie Bradley – London, Ontario

The participants were all a lot of fun and we certainly had a fun week! Most people had little or no Lightroom experience and learning to use Lightroom’s Develop and Library modules was a popular part of the week.

Grizzly bear amongst berries. Photo by Ottmar Philipp.

“The Tradition to Technology workshop offers both the novice and experienced photographer a unique, comfortable and rewarding opportunity to take their pastime to a new level. This is accomplished through sharing in a lively classroom setting and applying the teaching during ‘shoots’ in the field, all guided by Richard Berry.” – Neil Coutts – Mississauga, Ontario

I certainly had a great week and I’m looking forward to teaching the next ‘Tradition to Technology’ workshop in a year’s time.

In the meantime, there will be the new ‘Path to Profit’ workshop which is essentially a Tradition to Technology part 2 workshop.

Three Sisters at sunrise. Photo by Neil Coutts.

This new photography workshop will look at how to take professional quality photographs, how to market yourself and will offer a variety of ways to make money from photography. Whether you want to become a full time professional photographer or simply make some extra money from your photographs, the new ‘Path to Profit’ workshop will offer in-depth advice on how to realise your dreams.

Aug 032010

Brown bear looking for fish

Our first few days in Alaska have been incredible with excellent bear and whale photography.

We saw a few bears at Kadoshan on our first day and photographed them chasing fish, resting and eating sedge grass.

For our second day went went whale watching. After a slow start we saw a humpback whale that was breaching, we headed to where it was performing and enjoyed the spectacular display and enjoyed listening to it’s calls.

Later, more humpbacks arrived and on the cruise back to Tenakee we saw a large pod of orcas which we photographed before heading back for dinner.

Humpback breaching

Today, we are exploring Tenakee and hope to see some bears in the river near the cabin.

More updates on Saturday!

"Chocolate" eating sedge grass

Jul 242010

Highland cow on Mull

Sheep, Highland cows, misty mountains, fish and chips, whisky and haggis. These are just some of the many sights and samples that we experienced on this year’s ‘Scottish Wildlife and Wild Places’ photo tour.

We had sun, fun and of course rain but despite the latter we still got out and saw some beautiful parts of Scotland.

On a couple of the wet mornings we stayed in for a few hours and discussed Lightroom, panoramas and how to take and create HDR photographs.

However, for the majority of the tour we were outside enjoying Scotland.

Puffins pose willingly for Dave

We started by driving to Mull via Glencoe and Fort William, stopping for photos of the dramatic landscapes along the way. Two short ferry rides and some single track roads led us to our wonderful cottage near Salen.

One of the early highlights of the trip was a day trip to the Islands of Staffa and Lunga. On Lunga we got incredibly close to puffins and everyone took some beautiful photos of these colourful, comical birds.

Mull provided us with great photo opportunities; colourful Tobermory, old boats, churches and of course wildlife and a wild landscape.

Mull, a beautiful island of sheep and single track roads

A trip to Mull isn’t complete without a visit to the nearby Island of Iona. This relaxing island rewarded us crystal clear water, stunning beaches and of course it’s ancient cathedral.

All too soon it was time to leave Mull and head to Skye. This took two different ferries and more single track road. Despite a very tight squeeze in to the minivan, we did make a detour to the spectacular Ardnamurchan lighthouse which is situated on the most westerly point of mainland Britain.

I have to thank the group for persevering with our rented minivan. We quickly discovered that a ‘fullsize’ minivan in the UK is nothing like a ‘fullsize’ minivan in North America!

Our cottage on Skye was also delightful and created a great base and friendly atmosphere. Despite uncooperative weather on Skye we saw a lot of the island, hiked up to the Old Man of Storr, visited nearby Eilean Donan castle and of course enjoyed a tour of the Talisker distillery.

Eilean Donan castle

We took a slow and scenic drive back to Glasgow and spent some time in the beautiful Perthshire town of Pitlochry.

All in all it was a tremendous week, we had fun, learnt new skills (including me) and I’m certainly looking forward to returning for the 2011 Scottish Wildlife and Wild Places photo tour.

Sunset from Fishnish on Mull

Jun 062010

Waved albatrosses during their courtship.

On Wednesday, June 9th I will be giving a talk to the Cochrane Camera Club about wildlife photography. I will be showing my latest work and describing techniques that will help improve your wildlife photography and how to make it fun and not a frustrating ordeal!

Join me at the Cochrane Alliance Church, 902 Glenbow Drive, Cochrane at 7pm on Wednesday.  (Use the north door.) Hope to see you then!

May 212010

View from the observation platform

Richard in the tower, thanks to Paul Anderson for the photo

It’s day four at Napo Wildlife Center and the turn of my group to go to the Kapok tree observation platform.

I’ve probably not explained what is going on, so here goes. Of the 20 people that went to Galapagos, 15 of us have come to Napo Wildlife Center. Here, we are in 3 canoes of 5 people per canoe, plus our excellent local and English speaking guides.

King Vulture drying it's wings

Each day we have done different activities, this is to ensure that each location is not too busy. By the end of today, the three groups would have done the same activities.

It was an overcast when we had breakfast and by the time we were ready to leave (6am); it was raining. Departure was postponed and by then it was clearing up. After a short canoe ride we had a 30 minute walk to the tower.

Essentially, a steel tower has been built adjacent to the Kapok tree and we climb the tower which is connected to the platform in the top of the tree, 38 metres above the ground.

Mariano describes how to use a termite nest as insect repellant.

It rained as we walked to the tower but stopped just as we arrived. Juan Carlos told us that the period after rain is a good time to see activity. He wasn’t wrong, almost immediately we saw two king vultures in the top of a tree drying their wings.

You get a great view from the platform and it’s possible to see a wide variety of birds. Today, we saw different types of toucans, kites, vultures, scarlet macaws, spangled cotinga’s and a variety of other species. We also saw and heard red howler monkeys foraging in the top of a distant tree.

Screech owl sleeping near the trail

Although we could see a lot of activity it was difficult to get great photographs due to the distances and the small size of many species. However, the guides brought a spotting scope so we were able to see them and we can go home with great memories.

On the walk back to the canoe, Mariano (our Ananugu guide) explained how to use a termite nest for insect repellant and also showed us the roost of a Screech owl.

My 600mm lens has been invaluable on this trip to Napo and today was no exception. The owl’s roost was incredibly dark so the fast lens combined with the high ISO capability of the Nikon D3 enabled me to get this photo.

Giant otter swimming

We got back to the canoe and were paddled back to the lodge. When we got there, there was an inviting glass of juice waiting, suddenly the guides noticed a giant otter in the distance, so they paddled quickly to the site and we were joined by another canoe from my group.

The otter swam up a nearby creek and we followed. After some waiting the giant otter put in an appearance and we all got some great photos or videos.

The rest of the day has been wet and tomorrow we go home, so the otter sighting was an excellent finalé to a very memorable week.

I’d like to thank the staff at Napo Wildlife Center and especially our guides; Juan Carlos, David and Delfin for some wonderful experiences. I’ll be back!

May 212010

Golden mantled tamarin looking for bananas

What is happening at the Napo Wildlife Center? Here’s the latest news from my photo tour!

The weather has been excellent and we continue to see a great number of monkeys. I think that we have now seen 8 of the 12 monkey species that live here.

Amazon forest dragon

I must admit that I’m starting to lose count of the monkeys and get their names mixed up so I’ll have to caption the photos before I leave.

On our second day we had another walk through the jungle and saw some great animals including sharp nosed toads and insects that had amazing camouflage.

Night monkey jumps out of it's hole to start a night of foraging

Mariano (our local guide) explained the medicinal and other uses of many of the plants which was absolutely fascinating.

In the evening we went on a canoe ride to look for nocturnal animals.

Pygmy Marmoset

We saw night monkeys leaving their home (a hole in a large tree), a ‘sleeping’ kingfisher and many caimans. Lilies on either side of the creek had many glow worms which Malcolm described as “having an Avatar moment”.

On our third day at Napo, my group went to the parrot licks (the other two groups had been there on the previous day) and went to the interpretive centre on the way home.

We got some great photos at the parrot lick’s especially the second site.

However, before we got there we saw Pygmy Marmosets and a Crested Owl.

Crested Owl

The clay licks are used by parrots and other birds and mammals as means to digest minerals and help neutralize toxins that they would have absorbed when eating some nuts and fruits. Essentially, the clay works in the same way as taking Tums for heartburn.

Following the clay lick, we had a tasty lunch and visited the artisan’s store and interpretive centre.

The artisan’s store had necklaces and bracelets that had been made by the girls from Ananugu village as well as balsa carvings of the local animals.

Later, we all had fun trying to hit a balsa target with a blow gun before the 2 hour paddle back to the lodge. On the journey back, notable sightings were a caiman lizard, lying in a tree and a 2 toed sloth . It was another fun day where saw new animals and learnt more about the Anangu’s culture.

Just a few of the many parrots at a clay lick

May 182010

Caiman in Anangu lake (in front of where we are staying)

We have arrived at Napo Wildlife Centre! In the first 24 hours we have already seen and photographed some amazing sights and animals.

The group has been split into 3 smaller groups of 5 people per canoe and each canoe has a different schedule each day.

My group has already seen 6 different species of monkeys and some have been surprisingly close!

This morning, on our way to a hike through the forest, we saw so much wildlife that our planned 10 minute canoe journey took an hour! We saw herons, caiman, a snail kite and two of the elusive giant otters.

Snail kite looking for it's next meal

Unfortunately, the otters were too far away and too fast to get a good photograph but it was certainly neat to see them.

The morning light was excellent and the water was really calm so there were lots of really neat reflections to photograph.

Once we started our hike our guides showed us a variety of interesting and exciting sites.

They showed us; leaf cutter ants, lemon ants (which you can eat), conga ants (you don’t want to get bitten from those), and soldier ants.

Heron and it's reflection

The guides showed us how to make a cup from a leaf and to use an ant to stitch a deep wound.

We saw a great variety of insects and other ‘small’ critters, including an earth worm that was as thick as my thumb and apparently they are about 1 metre long!

Probably the most exciting part of the morning was pursuing a couple of spider monkeys. Spider monkeys are endangered in Ecuador and we could tell from the excitement of the guides that they are rarely seen.

In the late afternoon we watched birds and monkeys from the observation tower and then we canoed around the edge of the lake.

Endangered spider monkey wondering how long I can hand hold my big lens!

During the canoe we saw more monkeys and it was a treat to watch them jumping from tree to tree.

Photographically I’m now using two cameras; the Nikon D3x when it’s bright and the Nikon D3 when we are in the forest or when the sun is low. That combination and some excellent fast Nikon lenses is getting some great photos.

Time for rest and more news tomorrow!

May 162010

The happy group enjoying dinner at 'The Rock' at Puerto Ayora

We are now back in San Christobal, which unfortunately means that we’ve come to the end of our week long, 525 mile cruise around the Galapagos Islands.

It’s been a tremendous week and each day seemed to out do the last.

After leaving Puerto Ayora we headed to Espanola Island, which is probably my favourite of all the islands that I have been to.

Espanola out did itself and I got some wonderful photos, some of which are below.

Sea lion pup nursing

In the afternoon we went ‘deep water snorkelling’ and Helen was very keen to swim with sea lions.

She wasn’t disappointed, as we ended up with 9 sea lions swimming all around us. It was a memorable way to end a remarkable week.

Again, I have to thank the group for a week for fun and laughter. Everyone got on very well with each other and it will be sad to see Kimi, Grath, Diane, Pat and Rob leave.

The rest of us are heading off to the Napo Wildlife Centre tomorrow morning for more adventures!

Waved albatrosses during their courtship ritual

Nazca booby chick with rainbow

May 142010

Our sister ship 'Eric' at Kicker Rock on the first evening

It is day six in the Galapagos Islands and we’ve reached Santa Cruz Island and the town of Puerto Ayora.

We have had an amazing week and seen animals and natural events that I’ve never seen here before. To top it all, the group is amazing and everyone is getting along so well!

There was a slight snag on the first day when our awesome lead naturalist; Orlando, had been assigned to a different yacht. Fortunately, I got that straightened out and the naturalists were switched. Phew….

Our first full day took us to Genovesa Island where we saw sea lions, frigate birds, red footed boobies, pelicans, herons and gulls in the morning.

One of the sea turtles that we saw whilst snorkelling

In the afternoon we went to a different part of the island where they have storm petrels, which are incredibly fast birds. Short eared owls hunt the storm petrels and as the owls have no predators, they are diurnal (the owls on Genovesa are the only diurnal short eared owls on the planet). The last we came here we didn’t see the owls but this time we actually saw an owl catch a petrel in the air.

On Tuesday, we did our first snorkelling at Targus Cove on Isabella Island. Everyone has been impressed at the quality of the snorkelling and several guests are trying snorkelling for the first time! So far, we have seen sea turtles, white tip reef sharks, blue footed boobies diving for fish, penguins, a variety of rays, sea lions swimming as well as a huge variety of colourful tropical fish.

Galapagos hawk munching breakfast

At Egas Bay on Santiago, we watched two amazing sights. The first will be hard to beat; a large male sea lion emerged from the water with a tuna in it’s mouth. It waddled in to a shallow pool and was quickly joined by 3 white tipped reef sharks! The sharks tried to get the fish from the sea lion but the sea lion managed to eat it’s lunch. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo but Malcolm got an awesome video sequence from his Canon 5D mark 2 which I hope to post in the future.

On the walk back to the beach we got incredibly close to a Galapagos Hawk that munching on it’s breakfast; freshly caught yellow crowned night heron.

Pinnacle Rock at sunrise

We then had a beautiful sunrise at Bartolomé, followed by one of my favourite sites for snorkelling; Pinnacle Rock. Pinnacle Rock has clear waters, lots of fish and is an excellent place to swim with sea lions.

Unfortunately, there weren’t many sea lions there that morning but there were sharks, rays and penguins.

Thursday afternoon took us to North Seymour where we saw land iguanas for the first time. We also saw a very young magnificent frigate bird chick, snakes, blue boobies doing their mating ritual, the cutest sea lion pups and lots of marine iguanas.

We sailed to Puerto Ayora and today we went in to the Highlands to see giant tortoises, we walked in a lava tunnel and explored the misty landscapes before visiting the Charles Darwin research station where we saw Lonesome George, the last tortoise from Pinta Island.

Tomorrow we go to one of my favourite islands; Espanola where we’ll see Waved Albatross and more sea lions!

It’s been a superb week with wonderful people but of course I miss Audrey and the girls.

Keep looking out for more updates from Galapagos and soon, there will be photos and stories from the jungle!