Sunday 29 May 2011

A trip into No Man's Land

In the last blog, I wrote about how a wildlife photographer always must be versatile and ready for the unexpected. This was certainly true for this week's blog. A very good friend and colleague of mine, Kjetil Schjølberg, and I had for a long time planned an Iceland trip to photograph some of its amazing wildlife and landscape.

However, the evening before departure, one of Iceland's many vulcanoes started to rumble and airports were closed. One and a half hour after our flight got cancelled, we were on our way to Finland and a major road trip layed ahead of us. Bears and wolves were our target at one of Finland's famous feeding sites for these spectacular animals.

Due to the Norwegian government's successful policy of actively trying to eradicate the Norwegian populations of the four large predators in Scandinavia, Norwegian photographers need to go abroad to have a realistic chance to experience these species. We spent three nights in the hides on the border between Russia and Finland, and since there are no hunting or people allowed into these areas without special permition, this area is extraordinarily rich in wildlife. However, there are still a lot of luck involved to get the animals to perform as a demanding photographer wants to. The large predators are mostly active in the darkest hours of the night, and they don't always appear as close as one wants to. Anyway, I think I managed to catch some of that mystical atmosphere that these animals are surounded with into my images. If you agree, then I feel I have succeeded.

A lonely brown bear cub feeding at a carcass, perfect old forest setting. A few minutes later, it was hunted by three wolves and dissappeared into the forest and probably up into a tree. I had never expected either wolf or bear to be able to run this fast. In the books it says about 60 km/hr, my estimate would be well above a 100 km/hr.

The wolverine is one of my favourite mammals in the world. Within 24 hours, we managed to see wolf, brown bear and wolverine - something that is virtually impossible anywhere else in Europe.

Close up portrait are not always the way to describe an animal in an image. Unsharp in an old forest scenery captures some of this shadow's myths.

The alpha male carries food back to the nearby den, and the waiting alpha female that probably is resting with small puppies somewhere in the forest.

- EG -

Wednesday 18 May 2011

To expect the unexpected

As a wildife photographer, one is always on the hunt for new stories to make and new images for the archive. When I enter into nature, I usually have an idea of what image I want to capture. At least what species to photograph. However, since I am only working with wild animals it is more than often that not everything goes as planned and I come home empty handed. At other times, just like this week, I don't get what I set out to get but something totally different.

Last week, a friend and I spent several nights in what is arguably the area with densest brown bear population in Europe. At this time of the year, the possibillity to find females with very small cubs is at its best. The dream would be to photograph a bear family feeding on a moose kill in a boreal forest settting. But even to catch a glimpse of the large carnivores is a challenging task in Scandinavia, due to decades of people hunting them. Anyway, many hours and several nights without any sleep we didn't find any bears and I decided to take a short trip to the coast instead.

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by the radio about some dolphins turning up far away from their normal distribution range. My hope was that these still were around. After the dolphins got media coverage, they turned into celebrities and many people and local photographers have enjoyed their unusual visit. The luck was on my side this time, and even though the sea and light was not ideal for photography I really enjoyed spending 3 hours watching these fantastic sea mammals. Because of the size difference between the two animals, I am pretty sure it is a mother and her calf. As far as I know, there are only about 15 previous records of Common dolphin in Norway - so this was a highly appreciated addition to my Norway mammal list which now is counting 13 different whale species.

Common dolphins is a bit of a head ache for the taxonomists, and common dolphin might actually consist of two or even three different species. The ones turning up this far north is believed to be Long beaked common dolphins.

It is ironic though, that after spending a week deep inside the Scandinavian forest, I come home with dolphin pictures on my camera. But as a wildlife photographer, I learned a long time ago to be versatile and always expect the unexpected.

- EG -

Sunday 8 May 2011

The forest lake

Spring colours in evening light, and the red listed slavonian grebe (horndykker) posing for the camera man.