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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The magic of the Far North

It is the Light of the North, which always fascinated me. The sun never sets in the summer, the shallow angle of incidence, the clouds, the lush green of the moss, the deep blue of the ice and the pastel colors of the sky! The barren, vast expanses of landscape, the cold, the crackling ice and of course the animals.
We (ie twelve photographers plus guides) are traveling with an expedition icebreaker from the 50s. A small ship without stabilizers and simple cabins - but with lots of charm and agility. We start from Lonyearbyen in Svalbard and sail to the north.


We find the king of the Arctic Ocean, the polar bear, only very close to the 82 Latitude. This is only about 550 miles from the North Pole. So far north is the ice edge. And the ice is pretty open, which means that the bears must swim from ice sheet to ice sheet. The encounters with the polar bears are, as always, unique, and after the many sightings on the mainland it is exciting to photograph them now on the ice and in the sea.


The Arctic is not the Serengeti, the variety is much smaller and it is difficult to find the animals in the immensity. The guides do a great job and scan with binoculars from the bridge or get even up to the crow's nest for wildlife. Usually we can photograph from the low deck. With the help of two zodiacs we also able to approach the animals and take pictures from a lower angle.


A special experience is the encounter with the whales, the largest mammals in the world. To see and hear a blue whale or a group of fin whales in the immediate vicinity of the ship is an emotional, indescribable experience. But to be able to watch about ten humpback whales for more than half an hour at their games and jumps, even the heart of "spoiled nature photographers" laugh.



At various landings on the islands of Svalbard we can take pictures of the sparse flora and fauna. And the question arises, what is now nicer to photograph: a lonely, single flower or the riot of color of a flower field. It is both beautiful - where the individual flower probably receives more attention than a sunflower in the big field. As usual in life ..



A fantastic journey that goes much too quickly. The rich colors, the diversity of Switzerland has me back. And I think of the pastel shades - the magic of the Far North.

More images of this journey can be seen on my homepage.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Yellowstone Nationalpark in Winter

Mid-January, I made a trip with a small group of photographers  (led by Juan Pons and George Wuerthner) to Yellowstone National Park in the USA. An impressive experience to photograph the bubbling, hot springs, geysers, the landscape and the wildlife in the depths of winter. Often the humidity of the steaming springs created at night an enchanted and "sugared" landscape. Although it was sometimes below zero degree Fahrenheit in the morning, during daytime temperatures rose to a comfortable level.

In winter, there are approximately 3000 bison in the park. Life is hard for the animals, because beneath the snow they hardly find food and live mainly on their fat reserves. These shaggy, primitive animals, that were once nearly eradicated, recall the pristine landscapes in the Wild West.


But also a variety of other animals can be photographed. Along the steep slopes in Lamarvalley there are many bighorn sheep. The impressive elk are mainly in the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole during the wintertime. Still, I could see some of the magnificent animals. With luck, I was able to photograph a bobcat  and a white tailed jackrabbit. Many other animals can be seen in the gallery on my website.

Also impressive are the hot springs and geysers. The contrast with the snow, hoarfrost which turnes the trees to mystical dreamscapes and colorful artworks of nature are like images from another world.


Next projects
Through the publication of my book "Eagle, Bear & Co.", which has taken a lot of time, I am a little behind with the books of my recent trips. In the near future I will devote my time to the books on Indonesia and Central Asia (along the Silk Road).
The project "Traditions in Appenzell" takes time and energy as well - but the results are promising so far.