Saturday 22 December 2012

The Owl Whisperer

I have finally found some time to sit in front of my computer. It is something I try to avoid as much as possible – but unfortunately a very important and big part of a wildlife photographer’s job. During the last two weeks, I have edited most of my images I’ve taken this year and I have now about 800 or so fresh images ready for my agents to sell.

What is nice about the editing process is that one gets a chance to re-live the many amazing experiences I have had while taking the images. One of my strongest and best wildlife encounters this year involves a short-eared owl. Last year was a very good rodent year, meaning many owls and raptors had a good breeding success in the Scandinavian forest and mountains. This year however, as expected, the rodent population had crashed completely. When last year’s young owls returned to the places they were born to try to start breeding themselves, they only found areas where food was very scarce. Many of the owls were very hungry, and needed to search for food elsewhere. Many short-eared owls were hunting during daytime and stayed in the low land was a good evidence of their food shortage.
In end of May, I was searching for short-eared owls to photograph in one of my local patches. I was pleased to find one hunting over a nearby field, but before I arrived to a good position the owl disappeared out of sight and perched in a ditch. I placed myself about a 100m away, and since there was no one else around I risked making a fool of myself and started to make squeaking noises with my lips. I was hoping my strange way of communicating would attract some attention, but never imagined what happened next. A few seconds after I started making the noise, the owl lifted from the ditch and came straight towards me. As I was looking through my camera, the owl just started to fill the viewfinder more and more. I couldn’t focus properly, and I realised the owl was not to turn around. It then landed on my 70-300mm lens while I was holding it – only about 30cm from my nose!  Not easy to photograph birds when they sit on top of the lens. It sat for a few seconds while we were staring into each other eyes before the apparently very hungry owl flew off. I have never communicated so well with an owl ever before! A true moment to remember and experiences like this is the very reason why I love being a wildlife photographer!

Not everyone is as pleased as me to see a short-eared owl..

- EG -

Sunday 11 November 2012

Arctic fox

A long overdue update. The summer and autumn has been very busy, and only the last weeks have I found some time to sit in front of the computer. An eventful summer, where lots of fun and challenges has made life dynamic and interesting as it always should be. However, it means that I havent had time to edit any images since April. These Arctic foxes I got to spend two days with this summer.

Safety in friends - always good not be alone when meeting challenges in life..
Black & White portrait

- EG -

Sunday 17 June 2012

The size of a marabou

Using contrasts in your composition, is sometimes a good tool to help you tell a story with your image. Contrasts can be used to enforce your punchline in the images as well. In these images taken in Ethiopia, I use different bird species (which actually are not that small) to give a scale that helps the spectatour to understand how big the marabou really is. It's one of the largest bird species on this planet. The upper one shows marabou and white-faced ducks, and the lower one is of a black-winged stilt and the marabou. The variation within the bird fauna never stops to amaze me.


Sunday 3 June 2012

45 deaths per hour!

At this time of the year, about 2 millions of these animals are released into the wild Norwegian mountains without virtually any supervision. About 130 000 of them will never arrive home after the free ranging grazing season ends around September some time. That means that 45 sheep dies pr hour in the Norwegian nature during the 4 months ahead!

Norwegian sheep farmers blame the large predators like wolf, wolverine, brown bear, lynx and golden eagle for their big losses, but the thruth is rather different. The fact is that in 2010, about 35 000 sheep and lambs were economically compensated as killed by a predator by Norwegian authorities. Only about 2500 (1,9% of total loss) of these were actually documented killed by a predator. The rest is killed by deseases, broken legs, infections, rock slides, fly larvae invasions, plant poisoning etc other words - a lot of slow deaths and animal suffering!

Even though Norwegian government and nature management authorities (Directorate of Nature Management) acts like big predators are the main problem for Norwegian sheep farming, the reality is very different. Isn't it time that sheep farmers look at their real problem, and stop hiding what is really going on in their industry? At the same time, it is time for nature management authoroties in Norway to start mange their wildlife population based on biology and ecology and not purely out of a sheep farming industry false perspective. Large predators are not the reason why sheep farming in Norway is decreasing!


Saturday 5 May 2012

Fluffy, white and cute

In March, I was attending the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research on a seal monitoring project of one of the most remote seal populations in Europe. The West Ice east of Greenland is for a few weeks each year dotted with harp- and hooded seals crawling up on the ice to give birth. It is both a fantastic and priveleged experience to jump from ice floe to ice floe between thousands of seals knowing that if the ice breaks or one miss judgement of falling into the crack between the ice floes and there is 1600 meters down to the bottom of the sea...Here is some harp seal (grønlandsel) pictures from the trip.

Only a few hours old, still drying off the blood from the birth.

One mistake of jumping, and 1600 meter to the bottom of the freezing ocean.


Friday 13 April 2012

Forest Shapes

This photo was taken some years back. It is actually one of my favourites, even though it is never published anywhere else than on my own website and through my own presentations. To me, this image shows the habitat that Scandinavia is so well known for - yet at the same time so very much in danger of loosing as the forestry machines work its destructive way through Scandinavia's pristine forests. The picture is one that show endangered nature. The heavily lichen infested trees, means that this is old primary forest, and one of birds that is dependent of old forest to survive - the woodpecker.

- EG -

Monday 5 March 2012

All photographers - let's work together!

As a photographer living of the images I photograph with my camera, it can sometimes be hard to accept the terms or price that buyers are offering. More and more often the terms are so bad, that I at the end decline the offer even if it means less money into the bank account. The last couple of weeks, this has already happened three times. I understand that the buyers run their own business, and they as well try to profit as much as they can. My problem is more that photographers seems to be the only link in the production of whatever product that there is an acceptance, or even expectation to get to work for free or virtually nothing. As little as the magazine editors expect to print their magazine for free, I don’t go to the local food store and expect to get my bread for free. I bet the editors themselves would never accept working for free. I don’t either.

Since everyone nowadays own their own digital camera, it seems that many people think that anyone can go out to make ”that” picture. That is not true. Taking high quality images needs a certain skill, and not the least time. To take picture of a certain animal or bird might take me days or even weeks of work before I get anything near an end result that I am satisfied with. Traveling to different locations, and keep my photography gear updated is quite demanding from my bank account’s perspective as well.

Unfortunately the trend seems to be buying photograpies for less, but I hope photographers can work against this by working as a team and clearly demand a good price for your images. Even if accepting a bad price or a bad term of condition for a sale might mean a few quick dollars into you bank account tomorrow, accepting bad conditions today will only bite you back in a few years when editors and other picture buyers expect to get images for less and less. Getting paid for an image will be virtually impossible, and photographers will be in the loosing end of it. It is no one but the photographers ourselves that can set the standard. I hope next time you have a potential sale, that you don’t let the thrill of seeing your image on print prevent you from demanding a decent payment for your work. Let's work together on this!

This image, I did take in Madagascar, not only one of the most interesting trips I have ever made - but also one of the most expensive. If someone wants to use this image, they should accept paying a small price for it, to help cover a fraction of my expenses of about USD 5000 I paid to be able to get to the location to photograph these endemic bugs.


Saturday 25 February 2012

Colourful Safari

Båtsfjord in Northern-Norway has long been considered one of the best places to photograph the king eider (praktærfugl) and steller's eider (stellerand). These two bird species are so colourful, that they easily match any exotic rainforest bird any day and has always been high on any birdwatcher's "want to see" list. The birds breed in Siberia, and start to arrive Båtsfjord in late November. The number reach a climax in early February. The small company Arctic Tourist has for a few years offered boat trips around the harbour and out in the fjord to see and photograph these birds. Arctic Tourist has now improved their service, and are offering a floating hide to get even better pictures. I spent a few days testing this hide last week, and from the very first minute I was very impressed with how well it works. The birds simply didn't care at all, and many times I had both king eiders and steller's eider within one meter distance! The hide is mobile, and we tested different locations and back grounds. I think we found the best spot at the end, even though the back ground might feel a bit tight at times there are a lot birds to choose from. A steller's eider female had her favourite dive spot just four meters away. All day I was companied by about 40 king eiders, 60 long-tailed ducks (havelle) and 10 stellers ducks. Grey seals often popped their head up as well, but were usually on a bit longer distance.

The hide is not a luxury one, but has room for two and you can choose between openings so you can sit comfortably on a chair taking pictures from about 1 meter above sea level (easier for flight and action), or you lay flat on comfortable sleeping mats and reindeer skins (to keep you warm) and use the lower lids where you are only about 30cm above sea level. For these lower ones, I highly recommend an angle view finder on your camera to avoid a stiff neck. The hide is built like a small hut, and you are sheltered from the weather but it is non heated.

Arctic Tourist is building new hides as we speak - a bigger one for 8 people is planned as well as one that you can drive around in with the help of an electrical outboard engine. It remains some testing to see if this works well though.

Båtsfjord is well north of the Arctic circle and lights returns in late January. Arctic Tourist plans to start their bird hide season from 1st February until some time in early April when the birds migrate to Russia. I was there mid Februrary and the daylight hours were from 0730am - 1500pm. Early February has more birds, but less behaviour. March has less birds but more displaying birds which is an advantage for more interesting behaviour shots. Båtsfjord is a very small fishing village, but there is both a hotel and nice motel in town as well as an airport and a number of food stores.

I can highly recommend a visit in the hides of Arctic Tourist. For more information, please see the website: They also offer other trips in the area such as king krab safari and trips to the famous bird cliffs Syltefjordstauran during summer. Below are a few of the images I've taken the last week from the hide.


Friday 10 February 2012

Droplets and a Swan

Finally I got a few days away from my computer, and time to do some photography. Only the local swans and ducks in my garden and in the town, but good to see the scenery through a viewfinder again. Below are two of the local whooper swans (sangsvane) portrayed as a cloud of droplets drifts by.

 - EG -

Saturday 28 January 2012

Night creatures

The first month of the year, I have barely touched my camera. Office work and planning the year ahead has unfortunately taken most of my time. It is a bit ironic that when you try to make wildlife photography a living, one need to spend at least half the time behind a computer preparing and promote your images. During this frustration, it is good to look back at images and field trips and remind yourself that life as a photographer is pretty nice afterall.

About exactly a year ago, I returned from one of my most exciting travels I've ever made. Madagascar is a treassure for those that are interested in nature. During my visit there, I did a lot of nightspotting and this was the first time I tried seriously taking picture during the night. As anyone that has ever visited a rainforest knows, it is a very different world that appear after dark. Well worth exploring - so is playing with lights, and I found that often you get a much more interesting image just having a strong torch instead of using the flash. Here are some of my first nocturnal rain forest images.

A fossa is the largest land predator in Madagascar. Only maglight used to enhance the predator look.

A Brokesia, one of the smallest chameleons, that is flashed from behind.

This is one of the rain forest's most saught after creatures, a satanic leaf tailed gecko. As its scientific name Uroplatus phantasticus indicates, it is really a fantastic experience to see it!

A snake swimming, only showing its head to navigate. A strong torch as the only light source.

For this beautiful chameleon, I've used a combination of a strong torch from underneat/behind and weak flash from the front. I wanted the colours in the moss that hangs down from the branch to be enhanced through some backlighting.