May of 2017. Wildlife Photography Workshop in the Delta of Danube - Romania

For this wildlife photography workshop in the Danube Delta situated in Romania, 5 photographers gave themselves a rendezvous in or order to observe and frame the most beautiful species of birds in this immense and humid region. The Danube Delta is one of the largest reedbeds in the world covering a total area of some 3500 kilometers squared or approximately 2175 miles squared.

This workshop is place beneath the sign of amicability, the sharing of the passion for nature and was a success. The trips participants photographed between one another purple herons, Dalmatian pelicans, Eurasian penduline tits and bearded reedlings.

In the Danube delta, photos are made from wooden boats. Three of the participants, Patricia, Agnes and Nicolas and their guide in an arm of the Danube.
In the Danube delta, photos are made from wooden boats. Three of the participants, Patricia, Agnes and Nicolas and their guide in an arm of the Danube.

 

The Danube Delta: A Unique Biodiversity

The Danube Delta is the second largest in Europe following that of the Volga. It covers an area of 3446 kilometers squared, or approximately 2141 miles squared. It is an extraordinary universe that is also a protected natural region and classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, or United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Committee. The waters of the delta are full of fish. They attract numerous species of migratory birds such as pelicans (white or Dalmatian), night herons, pond herons, little bitterns, Eurasian hobbies, red-footed falcons, western marsh harriers, white-tailed eagles, bearded reedlings, Eurasian penduline tits, Caspian terns, great reed warblers, little crakes, white-winged terns, Eurasian curlews, Kentish lovers, etc.

The mouths of the Danube Delta count more than 1200 varieties of plants, 300 species of birds and 45 species of fresh water fish. During the periods of migration, the swamps and numerous lakes welcome millions of birds of different biomes of the Earth in provenance of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean.

The Danube Delta is a very rural region and poorly populated with around 40000 people living in small villages and towns. The region is therefore barely touched by the urbanism of large metropolitan cities. The birds have found in this region the tranquility to breed and abundant food to sustain themselves throughout the mating season.

An Original Method for Photographing Avian Fauna

The Danube Delta with its innumerable waterways is an immense territory. The best way to discover it is by boat. For this workshop, we opted for motorized power boats with flat hulls. Each vessel can house 3 photographers.

Without boats, it would be impossible to find and photograph the birds. The area of the Danube Delta is so large that the birds have but the paradox of choice to hide themselves within the reeds or choose a pond so as to feed.

Most of bird species are not scared by boats with human passengers. On one end, the Danube Delta is a protected nature and wildlife preserve where hunting is forbidden. On the other, many boats navigate the 3 main waterways of the Danube River. The animals are accustomed to observing humans on these boats.

Days Dedicated to Photography

Each day is organized in the same fashion. Mornings start very early so as to take advantage of the gorgeous morning lights. Every day, we try to realize photos in the fogs which bathe the canals. After 5 hours of photography, it’s back to the guest house to download these photos followed by their reviewal and some choice key pieces of advice.

Once a large lunch and a nice nap, a technical expose is organized with corresponding themes to the capture techniques of the day. For example, we touched a great deal on the techniques to capture birds’ mid-flight as they are quite challenging.

As always during our workshops, we focused on photography under the specific angle of artistic photography, whether they be naturalistic or creative. We have realized with time and experience that our photographers are further and more interested in creating photographs different from the mainstream that are marked by their individual styles. We attempt to accommodate to their wishes by providing them personalized techniques that permit them to more deeply research photography.

A Pleasant & Friendly Ambiance for 7 Days

For us, a photography workshop is comprised of three elements: The technical apprenticeship, the discovery of hidden treasures within a region and good vibes and friendliness.

This time once more, the recipe worked. We bunked in a guest house in a village at the heart of the Danube Delta. The food was excellent. The rooms were very comfortable. The ornithological guides had a superb knowledge of the terrain as well as of the birds to photograph. Thanks to their knowhow, the participants were able to realize some very beautiful and creative snapshots.

Finally, it was a wonderful week for photography in an amicable and friendly group environment.

Testimonies of the Workshop – Mai 2017

Patricia Patricia.

This trip for me was a remarkable success. It was a grand case of culture shock as well. I completely disconnected from Parisian life. I participated in this workshop as I wanted to photographer birds’ flying. I wanted to compose my photographs. I desired to see other species. I was content in observing Eurasian reed warblers, pratincoles, whiskered terns. These species are very different from those that I can find in France. For this workshop, I wanted to continue what I’d see with you: artistic photography. In France, we have the tendency of pursuing natural photography. I now have the need to frame animals in more intuitive fashions. The Danube Delta is well adapted to such purpose as the local decors are magnificent. For me, framing with snapshots is to give them life, to relive the sensations of the moment. Now I enjoy using the surrounding environments colors to make my photographs central subjects pop, stand out. In the Danube Delta, I saw numerous yellow water lilies, why amazing green tints and overlaps. The colors are superb. In France, it’s uncommon that I find such decors.

This trips advantage is the utilization of dinghies for up close snapshots. We were able to come up real close different species without scaring them off. The guides which we had are real knowledgeable of the terrain and its affiliate species. I would even go so far as to say they have a hunter’s state of mind.

When I saw the Danube Delta for the first time, I was surprised. The main canal that we traveled is large and bordered by boulders. I had asked myself how I was going to realize my photos. But once we’d arrived on the island and that I had left by boat into the connecting waterways, it was superb. The waterways that crisscross the delta are magnificent and everything becomes magical. The morning the landscapes are ghostlike and eerie. It’s like being on another world. You must know when to seize the moment, to capture them on camera.

What surprised me is the richness of biodiversity throughout the Danube Delta. The quantity of birds is impressive. When we photographed on a lake I told myself we were done. Yet this was an error as moving forward along the stream or to another lake, I saw other species. Each time it was a discovery. At every turn, I asked myself what I was going to observe. I will for a long time remember my energetic search for Eurasian reed warblers and common kingfishers. It was truly rich.

Dinghies are an interesting way to rapidly move around from one place to another. It’s rather technical but you need good guides.

Overall, the trips organization was very good. Our hosts’ welcoming were genuine. The food was abundant and excellent. The people are very nice.

The workshops ambiance was really great. It was awesome. We got along well. The discussions were nonstop and interesting.

If I had to conserve a moment of this trip, it would be difficult as everything was magnificent. I was awestruck by everything that I’d seen. Even the shows put on by the frogs were incredible. I was a great outing.

Nicolas Nicolas.

Once more this wildlife photography workshop was a success. You made me discover a region which was truly magical. I’d watched a documentary at home on the Danube Delta. I’d made myself a mental picture of the area. Yet this trip showed and made me discover the region in a completely different fashion. The diversity of birds is incredible. The guides were surprising as they showed us many things. I’d already had previous experience with you when visiting the Dombes. But here it was even more dense and rich with life. The sheer amount of birds I saw was phenomenal.

I love nature. In coming to this workshop, I wanted to see many birds. What I like about you is your work with lighting and decor. Here, in the delta, it was well adapted as the environments were very beautiful. The lightings are extraordinary, especially in the morning and evening. I really enjoyed capturing landscapes shots as well. This place is magic. It reminds me of the region where you observed the deer’s call.

Following a workshop in the Dombes last year with you, I have really progressed. In coming to the Danube Delta, I wanted to apply all the techniques that we’d gone over together. Now I take fewer unnecessary or hurried snapshots than before. I look for favorable lighting and backgrounds. The birds approach come after. I’ve become more demanding on the quality of my images. I’ve truly progressed. The purple heron was a genuinely magical instance. During this dinghy based workshop, I had the impression of melting into the background so as to not startle or bother the birds.

The atmosphere within the group was quite nice, as is custom in every trip with you. We meet photographers just as impassioned by nature as yourself. There’s always this sense of adventure when going off the predefined paths and tourist tracks. Even with the relatively capricious weather, including cold mornings and hot noons, the ambiance was always superb. We had great fun. There’s always a few laughs and good humor to go around. We ate very well with lots of fish. During your workshops, we always share a lot. The exchanges between photographers are forever present even among the most staunchly secretive. Your trips are always organized and hold a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. You handle groups well.

If I had to hold onto one good moment from this workshop it would be the guide whom I most appreciated. He was impressive in his method of approach. He sees things that we don’t. He has a way with nature. The fogs of the morning, the pelicans will have marked me too. The Danube Delta is magnificent before the sunrise.

On what concerns the humid zone whilst on the wagon, it was surprising. Photographing the pratincoles was a tough yet fun challenge. The avocet was superb with the nice background decors.

Agnès Agnès.

This wildlife photography workshop in the Danube Delta was enchanting. I decided to come back with you next year as there are so many photos left to take.

I came as I wanted to perfect my photographic technique for capturing birds flying. Now I understand and am perfectly on point. Your advice on the ground for the whiskered terns were very beneficial to myself. I did not know Romania and I wanted to discover this country. I recognize that the Danube Delta is a savage region as well as magnificent. The communion between man and nature is astounding. Everyone lives in symbiosis.

I was surprise by the diversity and quantity of birds that i saw. The number of species is impressive. What’s nice is that we can practice artistic photography just like you explained to us in your exposes. The perfect environments permitted us the use of magnificent decors. The lighting choices within the Danube Delta are superb. Everything is brought together to realize beautiful images.

Taking pictures from a boat was a novelty thing for me. You have to get used to it but it permits you to approach the birds from up close without bothering them. In addition, the use of a dinghy allows one to cover great distances in the search for birds.

The workshop’s organization was very well done. The rooms were comfortable. The food was good. The atmosphere within the group was great. Your workshops are always times of sharing and inspiration.

If I had to put into memory this wildlife photography workshop it would be the flight of pelicans across the sprawling lakes. The numbers of birds was incredible.

Germain Germain.

This workshop within the Danube Delta was a positive occasion. I was enchanted by this short stay that was out of the ordinary. I enjoyed the vast nature. The climate conditions were very variable but you’ve got to adapt.

I came on this trip to discover a new country that I didn’t know about. It’s very different from France. I stayed two days in Bucharest to discover this city. I also came to visit this grand delta. I originally come from around the Rhône. I wanted to see what such a reputedly huge delta looked like. I desired to observe a savage and preserved nature. I wasn’t disappointed. There are people who live here. The communion between the people and nature is very strong.

I thought I’d have seen more birds than I saw. But there’s no use in dreaming. The region is so vast that they’ve got more than enough spots to hiding amongst the massive reed beds. There are many birds yet they are not always accessible. I let my imagination run a bit too wild. I do, however, recognize that their some giant colonies of pelicans. It’s very beautiful. It was quite the surprise. Watching the pelicans fly off was magnificent.

What really please me as well is the humid area to the north. Taking snapshots from one of the wagons was an interesting experience as we were very close to the birds. I truly appreciate the landscapes, especially in the very early mornings.

What I’ll hold onto from this trip were the grandiose landscapes between the waters, earth and sky.

Concerning the birds themselves, I like them but not as much as the landscapes. In the end I enjoyed the nature itself rather than the ensemble of animals which populated it.

The organization was well done. The seafood and fish based meals were excellent. I did not lose any weight.

Photographing from a dinghy is not always an easy task. You need time to get used to it. The ideal would be for there to be only 2 people per boat rather than 3. The guides were extraordinary. They were locals. They know the region and its birds well. Our reflections within the waterways of the Danube were fabulous. This passion for nature and its surrounding will always be mine.

Francis Francis.

I am amazed by this workshop in the Danube Delta. I’d already participate in previous excursions with you. This one was totally different. We saw so many birds.

I have a passion for these animals. I had the occasion to see various documentaries dedicated to the Danube Delta. I wanted to see it with my own eyes. The nature here is green and inspiring. What really surprised me here was the sheer immensity of the swamp and the numerous waterways. You can get easily lost. The most shocking thing, however, were the very early mornings when there isn’t any wind. The waters’ reflections were magnificent.

The bird species which marked me the most was certainly the whiskered tern. These birds are very beautiful. Their flights are extraordinary. The bearded reedling will also stay in memory. The collared pratincole was also a nice meeting.

Realizing snapshots from a boat was a novelty thing form me. It has a tendency to move but we’re able to capture some nice images all the same. It’s not always easy because we had to refocus our cameras for every shot. It’s quite different from a floating blind.

In terms of the workshops organization everything was very well handled in terms of shelter, food and travel.

The guides with whom accompanied us were highly competent. They pointed out the various birds from far away and got to know us very well over time.

This workshop will have permitted me to realize photographs of birds mid flight. I’d just acquired a higher performing camera. That helped a lot. Mastering the photo technique to capture flights is a real plus for me. I finally feel much more at ease.

The group atmosphere was very nice. It was really calm and relaxing. I spent a real week of vacation. I completely disconnected from my routine back in France. It was a beautiful week.

If I had to preserve into memory a portion of this wildlife photography workshop in the Danube Delta it would certainly be the sheer immensity of the region’s reed bed and all of its birds. I am originally from the Charente-Maritime whom itself is home to some beautiful reed beds and lovely zone of humidity. Yet here it is far more vast, not including more varied and richer in the number of birds overall. I realize that discovering the area boat is easier than to uncover it by foot. The region is so huge that it would take forever to observe everything.

 

Some photos taken by the participants

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Amar and Isabelle Guillen. Professional Photographers of nature.

We are fascinated and passionate about the beauties of nature. We love to see the landscapes and observe wild animals whether on land or underwater. We have chosen to become professional photographers to share the emotions we feel when we observe nature whether it be on land or underwater. Our goal is to create art with our photographs. We always try to transform the banal into a contemplative and artistic interpretation.

We are wildlife professional photographers, landscape professional photographers and underwater professional photographers. We also strive to document nature with a focus on conservation and education.

We make art prints from our artistic photographs. These art prints are available on our website. We make exhibitions to show all the beauties and the incredible richness of nature that surrounds us.

We also love to share our love for the beauties of nature with other photographers. To communicate our know-how and to exchange our techniques and our points of view, we organize wildlife photography workshops, underwater photography workshops and landscape photography workshops. We gather together people who have the same passion as us for the beautiful photographs taken in nature.

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