Sunday, October 01, 2017
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Wildlife Photography Workshop Dedicated To The Photographing of The Rut Of The Deer Within The Charente-Maritime - September of 2017.

This year of 2017 was an excellent period for the making and realization of photographs documenting the deer’s rut in the French region of Charente-Maritime.

Once again, we were faced with a late start to the event due to the excessive heat which had washed over the area within the recent past. Much perseverance was demanded and required from the photographers in order to locate and uncover the deer hidden within the shadows of the forests’ overhead and towering oaks. The morning fogs enabled for the realization and capturing of beautiful and quintessentially dreamlike images and photos.

Les participants à ce stage de photo animalière consacré au brame du cerf en septembre 2017 : Jean, Guy, Didier, Eric et Pascal.
The participants in this wildlife photography workshop dedicated to rut of the deer in September 2017: Jean, Guy, Didier, Eric and Pascal.

Exceptional Lighting Conditions

We’ve had this tendency to repeat ourselves: The Charente-Maritime possesses some rather exceptional climate conditions. It is for this very reason that she stands out as a veritable paradise for wildlife and animal photographers and enthusiasts. Throughout this past week, we were able to both verify and confirm once more that this statement remained completely justified. Each morning we experienced fogs and mists gliding along the surface of the ponds and prairies. The surrounding atmospheres were ones of dual enigmas and mysteries.

We arrive very early before the sunrise so as to install the blinds. It’s a given that we do not see the animals as a result of the obscurity yet they themselves had the great difficulty of detecting ourselves given the darkness. Each and every day, I would assign each photographer a marked location. We were dropped off by 4x4 in order to avoid the useless, tiring and obsolete marches in the nighttime sky. From thereon, it simply became a matter of waiting for daybreak to observe what mother nature had in store for us.

Each occasion was a matter of up to standards surprise. Some saw a buck and his herd caught in the act of rutting. Others does and their fawns. Some were even presented the unexpected vision of some wild boars and their piglets in the act of uncovering and eating plant roots before just as rapidly hiding and disappearing themselves into the very woods from which they’d emerged.

Feet On The Ground, From The First Day

The rendezvous point was preordained as a group just before noon to meet up and prepare ourselves a hearty lunch in the typical and local flavor of cuisine. It was undoubtedly the occasion for us to better get to know each other and present our plans for this photography workshop.

Once everyone had had their rooms and bunking arrangements worked out, we set off in a Land Rover in a reconnaissance mission of some 800 hectares (~1977 acres) of forests, undergrowth’s, woods, ponds and prairies that would, for the following six days, serve as our photographic playing field. Each participant was equipped with a map to inform them of the various pedestrian roads and tracks, the important locations marked to provide orientation at their discretion.

At around five p.m., once the sun had started to fall slowly back down towards the horizon, it was time to put things into motion. We divided up our sandbox into large geographic zones, with each of these said divisions encompassing some 150 hectares (~370) to themselves.

For this first outing and day, we take two of our party members for a unique and specialized training session. This act repeats itself every day of the workshop’s duration. The photography trip begins in earnest. The rendezvous time is set for dinner at eight p.m.

Days Organized and Split into Image Captures and Photo Analyses

Every day followed the same ritual. A filling breakfast is expected at 5:30 a.m. every morning. The departure time, either on foot or by Land Rover, is previewed by 6 a.m. Certain areas are rather far off from the house. The most effective method we could come up with was to drop off the photographers at predetermined locations to have them endure unnecessary two-hour long walks. Next, they would either set up shop with their blinds or continue walking and attempt an approach by stealth.

Every session we accompany a lone photographer to teach him new techniques and their section’s terrain and topography. In reality, the ability to achieve good images and wildlife photographs necessitates an almost perfect knowledge of the surrounding environment in question. We show them the locations of the most favored ponds for animal bathing, mud baths for wild boars, bushes for bucks and brambles in whence roe deer find shelter. Only the day’s chosen photographer has a camera. We bring only our pair of binoculars. We have not come along to take photos but to teach how to take them.

The time of return in the morning is set at 11 a.m. at the latest. We from thereon engage in a quick image review so as to ascertain our progress, answer questions and offer suggestions and ideas in order to improve the next batch of images. Throughout this stay, every participant has presented us with some five images daily.

From a technical standpoint, we focused upon the various cameras’ settings, tripod placements, photo composition, image framing, how to handle depth of field, the choice of apertures, lens sensitivity, shooting speed. We also placed an important amount of emphasis on the various methods and procedures of giving the subjects within images value and making them pop, no matter whether the photo itself was big or small. Creating a portrait of a tree horned deer is not the same as photographing a herd of eight deer. Each situation is unique and possesses their own individual types of camera settings and requirements and, more importantly, their own particular rules of composition.

Following a very hefty and very rich lunch as the physical expenditures are intense, comes the so eagerly awaited midday nap for rest and recuperation.

At around 3 p.m., we meet up once more within the auditorium for an informational expose. Wildlife and animal photography requires specific settings and adjustments in terms of software. Every day, we have developed new subjects so as to approach subjects including trimming, the reduction of noise pollution, all the whilst broaching issues such as pixel quality and image definition. All forms of technical subjects are taken into account, even the exporting of photos with added watermarks.

Around 5 p.m., it’s the point of departure for the afternoon’s photography session. At this time of the year, it’s at around this time that the lights start to turn their most beautiful. We accompany a photographer. The others depart to their assigned geographic sectors.

Every day, the time of return is set for dinner at 8 p.m.

Some pictures taken by the students

To play the video, just click the "Play" button.

Testimonials From the Participants in the Wildlife Photography Workshop

Eric Eric.

I’d been here a year ago the last time a workshop was dedicated to the deer’s rut. I’ve come here again because I like investing several years into fully discovery new lands and territory. A single week was not sufficient to understand these deers’ habits and the undiscovered portions of this immense landscape.

I’ve also chosen to come along agin with you because I had some very detailed and precise ideas of what kind of photographs I wanted to realize. I did not achieve all of my objectives however this was both a natural and unavoidable part of wildlife and animal photography in general and as a rule.

This year was quite different than the last’s as most of the animals remained hidden within the forest due to the heat. Last year in stay within my blind and the animals would approach me. This year, I was required to move around more so as in order to find them.

This year, I realized more snapshots and image captures beneath tree cover because it’s a technique I have come to greatly appreciate and enjoy. We have to track the animals and be smarter than them within their natural environment. You further develop your hunter’s instinct. The other technique with which I worked with was that of facing direct sunlight and playing with the ensuing shadows and silhouettes. It naturally lends itself to the creative and I really enjoyed it.

This year, I took great pleasure in capturing snapshots whilst very early on in the morning. The cameras are so specialized that we’re able to realize pictures in various peculiar fashions in otherwise traditionally very difficult conditions.

Your technical advice is one which complement that which you bestowed upon us last time in the previous year. I would almost be willing to make my stay that of a third week as I am still in need of your particular brand of photographic ideas. For example, I would like to finalize and polish a video which I have been working on and whose focus is that of the rut of the deer. I have not yet obtained all of the ruts of which I am in need.

The Charente-Maritime and this corner in particular are just as magnificent as they’ve always been. This year, the photographers who’d held within them a certain hunter’s flair were able to obtain some very beautiful photos.

If I had to preserve into memory a nice event from throughout this week it would be that of my encounter with a buck. I enjoy the experience of a little fear and the ensuing adrenaline rush. A bit dumb perhaps but still true none the less. A buck stood just some three or four meters from myself. I hadn’t seen him at all. I wasn’t moving as I’d just discovered the herd he belonged to. Out of nowhere he let out a cry. I could feel my heart bursting from my chest. It was like suddenly coming down from a magnificent high. These kinds of meetings are those who permit ourselves to enjoy our mornings.

Jean Jean.

It’s my second workshop dedicated to the rut of the deer with you. I’d already experience it once last year.

I came back because I greatly appreciated your method of presentation as well as your advice. You opened my eyes as until then I’d mainly been involved with, as you’d explained, documentary style photography. With your guidance I discovered artistic photography and the joys of imaging wildlife and untamed fauna. Last year I’d realized some beautiful photos thanks to your mentorship, yet I felt like I had not yet reached the proverbial grail.

I’ve also come back as the first time, I took the liberty of learning and memorizing the nooks and crannies of the territory due to the sheer vastness of its nature. I taught myself the habits of its animals and their routines. I also learned how to properly guide myself whilst lost within the terrain. I told myself that this second week shall be less difficult to whether and put into action the tricks and techniques you instilled within me from last time.

I’ve returned to do better and apply your teachings tied to your specific method of ACAPN photography.

This year I had an incredible stroke of luck. Whilst waiting beneath my blind on very early morning a deep fog rolled in. I was able to capture some exceptional photographs. I applied all of your advice. This morning I stayed indoors as it was raining. I looked at these famous images. Every last one of the shots I took before knowing you are doomed to become obsolete.

These infamous and peculiar photos of which I speak are extraordinary because of the lighting. The impact of the fog alone wouldn’t permit to make these images extraordinary. It wasn’t particularly thick and was localized rather closely to the ground. Through this cloud, I observed masses of fungi and clonal plants. The bucks were partially within these bushes. At one point, rays of sunlight arrived and bathed the entire scene, glowing. It was like the beams of light created by stage projectors. Upon developing the photograph, I had the impression that someone had taken a brush and painted light across the image.

I believe that I truly understand what it was you meant when you’d explained how primordially important the choice of background and setting were to the success and quality of an image of wildlife. Now it’s become a certainty. I could have had it simply pass by, never the wiser. Yet I had the switch turned on. Just like you’ve said in the past, that’s inspiration.

This year, I also snapped many scenes of bathing deer. It was my second objective following that of imaging deer whilst in fog. I therefore spent quite some lengths of time buried within my blind, on occasion spending long hours with nothing of notice. However, my patience finally paid off. Shows how even three hours of boredom can really pay off.

This year, I did not photograph any deer involved in combat. I can’t be everywhere at once, sadly. I prioritized the ponds and lakes. I’d thought of capturing on camera a video of combat to add to my slideshow on deer. It’s nothing but a challenge for the next time.

The atmosphere within the group was extraordinary as always. The participants within your workshops love nature and the joy of loving. Our lodgings were excellent.

This year, I’ll hold onto the fact that your expertise and advice have once again helped me to achieve so truly beautiful photos. I’ve had a tendency to forget certain aspects of the techniques in question. A positive outcome of both listening to them once more and practicing such skills is its own reward. For example, this year, I’ve gone back to focusing on the specifics on how to frame the scenes of my images.

Didier Didier.

This workshop is very special for me as it was my daughters whom presented it to me as a gift for my birthday.

Throughout this week, I had a lot of fun. Yet I was also frankly destabilized by the manner through which you taught the intricacies associated with wildlife and animal photography as a whole. I was untrained in terms of artistic photography. My photographic vision has hence completely changed. It is without a doubt that I’ll hold your particular lessons in mind the most.

I’d already had the privilege of capturing shots pertaining to the rut of the deer but not in these conditions and neither in such environments. Within the Charente-Maritime, the territory is quite vast and the terrain heavily varied in between the prairies, forests and lakes. All kinds of backgrounds and decors are possible. Before I’d always archived the deer’s rut either in the forest or in the mountains.

The advantage of the Charente-Maritime is that the land is mostly flat. It makes things easier in terms of relocating and moving around. But its also more difficult then when located within the woods or groves as you have to walk around for some time in order to find the animals in question. However we can also spot them quite easily. Yet I’ve got to recognize that it’s easier than when attempting the same thing whilst in the mountains.

I was unaware of the region of Charente-Maritime. The landscape is magnificent in testimony to its nature. There are valleys, prairies and woods. It really is beautiful. The choice of the Haute-Saintonge for this workshop permitted to place better value upon these snapshots of deer. The surroundings are magnificent.

It’s my first photography workshop. It can be difficult for me to explain how I experienced it. Your training and advice obviously gave me another potential vision of photography. A learned an all together new way to make photos. I was more used to capturing and making what you’d call documentary photography. Now in the follow-up of your advice, I will orient myself into a more artistic direction of imagery. Of course, it’s more interesting and rewarding. Your method of capture is an altogether different version of the animal. Just like you’ve always said, “It’s like placing the animal directly onto the paper”.

The group atmosphere throughout the week was perfect. The people are charming. The lodging without issue. I ate well. Everything was great.

If I had to preserve into memory some special moment for my girls, it would without a doubt be the images I took whilst buried within a fog whom, at the time, covered the entirety of the visible prairie. There’s a buck in the distance and he materializes just above the moving sea of foggy cloud.

Agnes Agnes.

My general impressions about this wildlife photography workshop dedicated to the rut of the deer are generally focused upon its sheer difficulty. I was not prepared for the daunting challenge that it put forth.

It’s my first animal-oriented photography workshop in Europe. I’d been on occasion to several regions of Africa so as to photograph the big game and various birds whom resided there. Normally, I rent a car along with the services of a local guide. We scout the terrain. We find some examples of wildlife and I catch a few quality snapshots. Here in the Charente-Maritime, it’s a whole other ballgame. You’ve got to know the animals’ habits, be aware as to what places they frequent and at what times of the day they come out of the forests. It’s my first time making use of a blind. The wait can drag on for many hours and get quite boring. There really isn’t much to do within a blind. What’s really frustrating is waiting two or three hours and never seeing anything of interest. In addition, on the off chance of spotting a deer out into the distance and trying to get in close, it just immediately runs off even when making sure to avoid any aggressive or startling movements from your part.

I’d never though that wildlife photography could be so difficult. The bucks and does are cowardly and aren’t enthusiastic of letting themselves be approached. The hardest part is finding them in the first place. I’d gone so far as to equip myself with a hood and matching gloves. It’s not exactly comfortable. It can be hard to breathe. I hadn’t gone and gotten myself camouflaged version of the clothes as yourself and the others had done. I regret that now. It really is a whole different practice of photography than what I’d grown used to until now.

The landscapes are magnificent with its grand prairies, small ponds and numerous forests. Yet we are sometimes required to wad through several kilometers of terrain before catching sight of an animal. It’s really tiring as I have to carry my 600-millimeter camera lens, the camera itself and the accompanying tripod. I’m used to traveling by car. It makes things much easier. I was not anticipating such a roadblock.

It’s quite lucky for us that you know the region well otherwise it would have been difficult to place us in those areas where best to attempt our photos. The terrain is practically impossible to navigate if your new to this. This area here is truly wild and positively immense. I would have appreciated some sings for direction along the way so as to help orient myself in terms of the available tracks. You provided us with maps, but it remained complicated.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea of taking into consideration the possibility of placing some 4x4s or ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) at our disposal in order to move around more rapidly as the sheer load of walking can become exhausting.

Your technical advice allowed me to realize some interesting background shots whilst on the morning outings when using my blind. It was strange arriving at our pre-sited positions whilst it was still dark out. I’m not exactly used to orienting myself in the dark. Yet even after this initial phase, moving around silently without any of the requisite knowhow is not an easy task.

The overall ambience of the group was friendly. The accompanying photographers’ skill levels were all elevated. We shared between each other quite a lot. The rooms were spartan but very quiet. The food was fortifying. It wasn’t very refined but nourishing. I’m more used to quality restaurants and fine tables.

If I had to preserve a memorable event from throughout this workshop dedicated to the deer’s rut it would have been an occurrence on the very first morning with a blind within the forest with fog surrounding us whole. I managed some beautiful images. It was magnificent.

Guy Guy.

I’d already came along last year so as to experience the deer’s rut. I’ve come back due to it having been a enjoyable experience. In addition, I really enjoy deer in general and as a species because I find them both elegant and beautiful. I like following them. They are splendid but can be difficult to locate.

This region of the Charente-Maritime is magnificent. It’s superb. This week, I marched my way through ferns whom displayed splendid colors. The autumn colors are magnificent. I found them more richly colorful and vibrant than last year.

This year was more difficult than last year because of the heat. They stay hidden within and beneath the forest’s undergrowth. Yet encountering a herd is spectacular.

This year since it was my second session amongst this particular workshop, I felt more at ease in terms of the varying techniques of approach and image framing. I knew the technical aspects, yet it took me quite a ways of walking to find the animals in question.

With this workshop underneath my belt, I came to recognize the importance of being knowledgeable about the surrounding terrain to properly select the correct stakeout points for quality photos. I snapped several beautiful images though this wasn’t by any means easy.

If I had to hold onto a memorable moment about this workshop it would be one from a morning where I encountered a herd with some ten or so does. They were all situated directly ahead of my blind. They all looked in my direction with fixed stairs as they were fascinated. They stayed calm. I was well hidden. For several minutes they remained. It was very beautiful. I’ll keep this image in memory for a long time to come. A magnificent moment.

Pascal Pascal.

It’s my fifth workshop consecrated to the deer’s rut that I’ve carried out in your company. Now this region has no secrets from me.

If I’ve returned, it’s primarily because I forget. I really don’t practice my skills enough throughout the year. During the workshops, I pay close attention to your directions and advice only to afterwards forget. I live just outside of Paris and photographing wildlife isn’t exactly easy.

However, the main reason is because the region is magnificent. Every year, I come back to try and capture some news photos. Sometimes I succeed. Other times not. And so I continue to return to face the challenge. This year I wanted a snapshot of a bathing deer. The exterior temperature landed itself to such an endeavor. I failed. I’ll have to come back next time. However, this year, I snapped some beautiful images of deer concealed within the bushes. I am therefore quite happy.

The biggest moment of this year was undoubtedly the morning in which it rained. Since it was much cooler, the various animals emerged from their forest hideouts. Those that I saw were quite energetic. I was able to photograph some very captivating snapshots of deer amongst a prairie of broom plants. Following the rain as was so common, the sun appeared. My blind was established not too far off from a ridge from whence water flowed like a miniature waterfall. It made from some nice silhouettes and beautiful lighting colors.

This week was quite different from those preceding it. The animals were much more difficult to find and far more skittish. They’re even more paranoid than usual. In addition, this year I didn’t see a single wild boar while in previous years I’d always encountered some whilst using a blind.

I am well aware of your method of photography: ACAPN. This tear, I once again learned some new techniques. Most notably of these was the placement of the animals’ legs in relation to the ground. Everything that you taught us about the handling of spacing, of positioning was very important. I was also able to obtain a better grasp upon the handling of the line of separation, something which I hadn’t always payed attention to. It really does some good to hear you repeat and go over certain pieces of advice and technique you’d already taught us before.

The choice of lodging and overall organization is well thought out as they’ve always been. The welcoming, the house, our hosts: Everything is top notch. The food is excellent and hearty. When I get back I’ll have to diet!

My favorite moment of the week is without a doubt this morning, yet I wait with impatience this afternoon’s upcoming session in the hopes that it will be even better.

Thursday, September 28, 2017
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Wildlife Photography Workshop In Kenya, September of 2017

From the 9th to the 20th of September 2017, we organized a wildlife photography workshop within the lands of Kenya in order to photograph the mythical African fauna as part of an exceptional itinerary tour. The participants were provided the opportunity to capture on camera elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, African buffalo, zebras, and hippopotami in addition to numerous and varying species of birds. Yet this journey was originally set as its underlying purpose to image the numerous stretches of magnificent African landscapes and virtually infamous horizons. It resulted in an outing away from well trudged tourist traps and onto offbeat passageways into a veritable immersion of Africa’s true heart and immutable nature.

The participants in this animal photography workshop in Kenya in September 2017: Agnes, Amar, Daniel and Gregory. On Lake Magadi. (Photo credit: Michel Laplace Toulouse)
The participants in this animal photography workshop in Kenya in September 2017: Agnes, Amar, Daniel and Gregory. On Lake Magadi. (Photo credit: Michel Laplace Toulouse)

A Voyage But Steps Away From Africa’s Animal Denizens

We chose to organize a trip itinerary which brought the participants from the shores of Lake Magadi, lying amongst the the walls of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, to the Nguruman Escarpment before finally arriving within the Maasai Mara National Reserve. At each point the day’s shelter was chosen for its proximity to the local wildlife or for its value in terms of landscape visual beneficial and of interest to the photographers. Traveling long and arduous paths on foot in order to reach the surrounding wildlife was rendered unnecessary.

For example, whilst traveling in the Maasai Mara, we were lodged very close to the shores of the Mara River not far from an important natural river crossing, one frequently visited by various species of land based mammalian life. For this exceptional trip, a certain number of participants even chose to make an awe inspiring flyby of the reserve by light air balloon so as to extend their photographic coverage of the region.

This outing was also destined to approach the Maasai people as close as humanly possible to their traditional ways of life. As a result whilst visiting the Shompole Conservancy, we resided not far from an actual Maasai village in which its people had actively chosen to deliberately inhabit a forgotten region of the nation so as to protect Kenya’s natural wildlife and fauna.

Imaging A Unique Biodiversity

For this workshop, the guests not only captured on camera the notorious big five of Africa, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros, but also a majority of the observables birds and other land mammals inhabiting this region of the globe. Each and every day, thematic guidelines were chosen so as to realize these photographic vision as best as could be done.

Since weather conditions were quite moody throughout this time period and an unwarranted amount of rain was experienced, it was sadly made impossible for us to snapshot the infamous crossing of the wildebeests, yet these are, alas, the uncertainties of mother nature’s and Gaia’s temperaments.

A Solid Choice of Reputable Staff

. Throughout this long journey our group was accompanied by both an experienced chauffeur and trustworthy guide, both of whom stood as greatly knowledgeable of the region yet respectful and aware of their patrons and photographers needs in regards to its wildlife. The duo were efficient in their choice of stops so as to allow their passengers the best settings for photography and image capture as possible. One of our two guides was, in addition, a Francophile. His reputation is without question and he has been known to accompany various reporters from so of France’s most powerful and respected news channels, as well as those originating from the United Kingdom, the United States and, surprisingly enough, Japan. He has also been flagged for having worked alongside both photographers and cameramen originating from the National Geographic Society based in Washington D.C. of the U.S.A.

Some photos taken by the participants

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Testimonies of the Workshop – September 2017

Gregory Gregory.

My general impressions on this workshop of 13 days in Kenya are excellent. I came to this workshop to discover another facet of African fauna with you. I’d already participated in multiple of your previous workshops and was eager to once more gain access to your knowledge and advice.

However I did not focus solely upon animal and wildlife photography. I also caught on camera landscapes and ethnic images. It was what I wanted to do and I’m all the more glad for it.

I came along with you to Kenya because I wanted you to pass onto me your expertise as a professional photographer and advise me on my own photographic methods. Everything that I wished to achieve with my snapshots was reached. All of my objectives were attained. For example, I am very interested and intrigued by big cats; lions, leopards, cheetahs and the like. I wanted to create powerful and eye popping portraits. Once I encountered the lions I experienced some magnificent moments. Yet I also lived through other grand feelings and events whilst photographing the various landscapes. Thanks to your wise and practical counseling, I was able to capture nice pictures. Now I am aware of how to use the filters that I’ve bought thanks to your advice. I can honestly see their worth a will endeavor to make good usage of them within the near future. It’s just like the technique used in terms of the HDR. I will think of it as if it were a creative technique.

On the concerns relating to wildlife and animal photography, I now feel more assured on myself and my own skills. You communicated to me numerous tricks and techniques for capturing snapshots whom possess a realistic sense of visual impact. I’ve now got more tools at my disposal and tricks up my sleeve. From now on I’ll know how to better adapt myself to the varying and unpredictable situations which can crop up whilst in the field.

The encounters with the elephants and other animals were also very moving. We stand at the heart of Mother Nature’s savagery and beauty. We lived out in the middle of nowhere far from any and all of the west’s or modern world’s daily activities, far from their grasp and out of their reach. It was also for this type of experience that I came along on this trip. The decors which surrounded us throughout the entirety of our workshop sessions were both as calculated as they were beautiful. This enabled me to snap some fine images.

This workshop allowed me to progress. Thanks to all of your technical advice throughout these 13 days, I believe myself to have reached, and passed, an important milestone. You brought along your expertise and never ceased to doll it out. There were no secrets between us. It’s quite an important detail when putting it into context as photographers, both amateur and professional.

This journey was very interesting as it was a loop of Kenya’s southwest: Nairobi to Nairobi. The encounter with the Maasai villagers shall remain an interesting experience even though I am a wildlife photographer. I do not believe that I will experience many such moments throughout my lifetime. I preserve into memory the face of the Maasai herder guided his flock under the veil of magnificent colored lights.

This particular journey’s organization was very well thought out. It was a complicated one as the program was highly varied and quite dense. Yet I appreciated the effort that I avoided those areas already heavily visited and previously trodden. It was what we were looking for. I wanted to have a unique trip. Our goal was met.

Our guide was spectacular. He is a great connoisseur of the African fauna. We would explain to him what we desired and he would arrange things in such a manner that it could happen. He is an incredible individual.

I really appreciated the fact that you position the car in respect to the animals once they’re found by the guide. It was a precious and important detail. Since we were all within the same car, this allowed us to better understand how you worked and which details are important enough to take into consideration with respect to the outcome’s quality.

The accommodations were tents with whatever comforts necessary. Everything was swell. We ate quite nicely. The biggest advantage of the Maasai Mara’s lodge was that it, and therefore we, we located at the very center of the National Reserve. We were close to the animals and were only truly alone once a good distance away from the park’s various entrances.

If I had to save into memory a key moment of this workshop, it would be the instance where I was left alone with just you. The others had temporarily gone off on their own in a hot air balloon. We were looking for lions. The guide found 3. The lighting was divine. The encounter was awe inspiring. It was incredible as all of the conditions were perfectly reunited to capture the perfect photo: decor, lights and lions.

Agnes Agnes.

It’s my sixth trip to Kenya. I’m an unofficial resident of this region of the world as I’ve also gone to Tanzania and Nambia. This time I was caught off guard by the program: landscape photography, ethnic discovery and wildlife image capture.

My general impressions are positive in the context of your technical advised which permitted me to rapidly adapt to the differing situations of which we encountered all along our trek.

I enrolled in this workshop as I wanted to see a different side of Kenya. I must recognized that I was not disappointed on this issue. The stops were varied and the travel time by car between each break allowed me to discover this country. I found that the car trips were quite difficult due to the nature of the followed paths being in very poor shape. I really found myself being thrown around whilst within the car. Luckily the 4x4 was both spacious and comfortable.

In relations to the landscape photography, I regret that we did not have more time in the humid zone of the Shompole Conservancy. It was magnificent yet we only stayed a few hours. We spent some time amongst the trees of the arid zone. I shot some beautiful photographs yet I would have enjoyed staying a little bit longer for the sunset in the humid zone.

I regret also not having spent more time within the Maasai village. Three nights for this stop, it's just too short. I would have like to participate further in the inhabitants daily routines. I snapped some very beautiful captures with herders and their flocks. Your session with the women and children was well organized but I would have like to have done more.

For the wildlife and animal photography within the Maasai Mara, we had very particular conditions. Since I photograph in 600mm (Approximately 23.6 Inches) which is a long focal length, I was sometimes far too close. Yet each time you had the car back up. Each of us were able to realize the shots that we wished. But it is not easy in a group where every photographer has a different focal length than the others’.

The group’s ambiance was very nice. Having your own little group for such a trip is an advantage as it provides us with time and the ability to comfortably position yourself within the care. The guide was excellent and knew the region like the back of his hand, always aware as to where we had been, where we were headed and how to get there.

The overall organization was well handled. The accommodations were proper and correct except for one time under a tent that I in no way appreciated. I’m used to living in quite luxurious lodges and the like with all the comforts I need. I was a bit frustrated throughout this journey. However we were well within the center of the regions best to capture on camera.

If I had to preserve a positive memory of these 13 days of travel, it would certainly be the encounter with the Maasai. The photographs are magnificent, the ambiance was extraordinary. It’s a breach out of time.

Daniel Daniel.

My general impression are that this trip was dedicated to Africa’s wildlife and fauna and therefore every one of its moments were magnificent.

Throughout this trip there was both some good and some less good. The good was the encounter with the Maasai villagers at Shompole. We were far from the typical and cliché tourist traps of the region. I spent an invigorating time with some villagers who invited us with kindness and smiles. The run-ins with the domesticated flocks and their herders were extraordinary. The snapshots with the colored lighting and dust were truly magnificent. The Maasai Mara with all of its wildlife still remains a grand moment in my photographic career.

The admittedly less fun portion was the time spent traveling between Nairobi and Shompole. We lost quite a bit of time. I would have like to spend this time with the Maasai within their villages. I would have enjoyed sharing in the daily lives of these inhabitants.

Another point that I didn’t enjoy was the night spent at Magi Motto. It was one of our stops before arrive in the Maasai Mara National Reserve but I found it rather boring.

I’d already visited the Maasai Mara a few years back. Things have changed quite profoundly since then. During this month of September 2017, we were supposed to be smack dab in the middle of the dry season, yet the rain just wouldn’t let up. Everything is green. It’s very surprising. I had ingrained into memory herds of very significant size and numbers. Since food is abundant throughout this time of the year, these groups tend to disperse and therefore become more widespread. Our encounters with the local wildlife were very different. I personally found that there were an oddly large number of lions. I regret not having been able to see a good mix between zebras, wildebeests and buffalo.

During my first stay within the Maasai Mara, I had not been an informed photographer as I am today. Despite it all, I believe that this year, we had much more beautiful lighting and color schemes and far more beautiful backgrounds. We had clouds and rain whom purified the surrounding skies.

This animal photography workshop included a small group and that was a real plus. We were all seated in the same car. It’s quite clear to me that all of the advice you provided my enabled me to progress in a noticeable fashion. It’s my first animal photography workshop. I’ve completely changed the act in which I take my photos. It was a real boon to have you in the car and to provide us with the necessary information needed by us to realize or vision while on site. Without you, one out of every two of my shots would likely have been out of the recommended parameters.

It’s also without question that for photography concerning landscapes and ethnic shots, your technical settings and advice helped me quite a bit. I would never have thought to include the trees within my backgrounds as I did. Now I know better.

If I had to hold onto a specific memory of this trip, it would have been the return of a herd of livestock to the Maasai village at Shompole. That was a real discovery for me. In terms of a wildlife safari, I’ve already been to Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya. This was nothing new. However the visit to the Maasai people was really an extraordinary moment for myself. The encounters were authentic. It was a real meeting between peoples and a true pleasure to capture on camera. The women even dressed up for the occasion.

This photography workshop was for me a real discovery in terms of artistic photography. The post treatment techniques that you imparted upon us will fundamentally alter the quality and impact of my images. I would never have guessed how much I was missing out on before your explanations and advice. There are some photos that I wouldn’t have necessarily held onto yet with your techniques, I see the interest in preserving them for now. I’ll have them made into prints.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017
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Photography Workshop in floating blinds in Dombes in June 2017

For this new season of training in floating blinds in the Dombes, we acquired new floating blinds, new lodges and new ponds. This first workshop was a complete success despite a weather a little bit capricious.

The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 2017: Benoit, Robert, Nathalie, Serge, Jean-Francois, Francis and Amar.
The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 2017: Benoit, Robert, Nathalie, Serge, Jean-Francois, Francis and Amar.

Dombes: A Paradise for Wetland Birds

The region of the Dombes hosts numerous species of birds. Near 130 species nest and reproduce there regularly. 30 000 Birds migrate there regularly throughout the winter months.

The region of La Dombes is peppered by more than 1000 ponds. These ponds are of human origin. Their uniqueness is due to their slightly sloped bottoms that permit their waters to slowly and regularly trickle down towards the tributaries. These fish filled waters attract numerous species of birds. It is an important international zone for those migrating wetland birds.

During the months of May, June and July, it is possible to observe several emblematic species of the region: Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Black – Necked Grebe, Red Crested Pochard, Whiskered Tern, Black – Crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Comoran, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Kingfisher, Warbler, Western Marsh Harrier, Red Kite.

The Dombes does not solely attract birds. The Muskrats and the Nutrias are also mammals that we often come across on the ponds.

Dragonflies, green frogs and grass snakes are also part of the animal landscape.

The lights which flood the Dombes are exceptional. In the spring and beginning of summer, the early mornings are often bathed by warm and felted lights. What joy to observe the ducks or grebes moving themselves along the ponds in this magical setting.

The Floating Blind: an Unforgettable Experience for an Animal Photographer

The use of a floating blind always leaves an indelible trace in the memory of an animal photographer. It's a unique way to observe and photograph the animal world. This is the only way to photograph birds at the water's edge without disturbing them. The approach is an incredible way to go a few meters from a bird. We can spend hours in front of a heron ash to observe.

Our courses in floating blinds in the Dombes always obey the same ritual.

On the first day, after going around the various ponds and explaining how to launch the boat, taking care of the photo equipment, each photographer leaves for a first session of 3 hours in search of the first ponds, coots and others Great Crested Grebe. Returning at dusk, the satisfaction of the first shots successful gives the tempo of the atmosphere of the week that follows.

The floating blind scares many photographers who are afraid of dropping the camera into the water. Many people are afraid of taking water in the waders or not knowing how to get back to the starting point. During our courses, we give all the explanations to ensure maximum security. If the advice is scrupulously followed, no problem can happen. It is a safe photographic activity that allows you to live closer to aquatic animals without ever disturbing them. It allows you to create exceptional creative photos that would be impossible to create otherwise.

The floating blind is certainly the best way to freeze animal behavior that is impossible to achieve from the mainland. The choice of point of view is certainly the most essential element in this technique.

Acquire Solid Technical Expertise and Develop Creativity

During our workshops, we have either confirmed photographers with a very good photographic level. Either we have novice photographers who are not familiar with wildlife photography, let alone the technique of the floating blind. We always plan educational progressions adapted to the group. We always focus on photographic creativity while returning to certain fundamentals without dropping on the basics. The fact of revealing many secrets that make the success of our photographs is a real plus for the participants.

A Friendly & Relaxed Ambiance for Seven Days

For us, a photo workshop is made up of three elements: technical learning, discovering the hidden treasures of a region and good humor and conviviality.

The recipe still works We rent two large cottages so that each participant has his room and its amenities. At noon we will eat at a typical restaurant in the area. Each village of Dombes has at least one restaurant. We can taste a regional specialty daily. Breakfast and evening meals are provided at the cottages. Each participant brings a regional specialty. In general, the week is not enough to consume everything. But that ensures the good atmosphere. The ice is still broken very quickly.

Finally, our wildlife photography courses in floating blinds are big photo weeks in a friendly atmosphere.

Testimonials From the Participants in the Wildlife Photography Workshop in La Dombes - June 10th, 2017

Benoit Benoit.

My general impressions of this course in floating blinds in Dombes are excellent. I observed many birds. I photographed them quite easily. I was able to approach them very closely.

By participating in this workshop, I wanted above all to improve my techniques of shooting birds. Already I wanted to learn to use a floating blind to be at the height of animals. I also wanted to have better bokeh’s. I did not control the light measurements at all to correctly expose the plumages. Now I understand how to do and I realize better shots. I also wanted to easily track birds in flight with clear shots during my gusts. Now I know how to do it. These are technical elements around which I juggled constantly without knowing how to really do. Before this workshop, I was so busy with these technical settings that I forgot the shot. With your advice, I now master my case. I do not ask myself any more questions. Moreover, I know how to adapt to all situations. The case has become an accessory. I focus more on shooting to compose well and fit well.

This is the first time I use floating carts to take photos. The interest is that I can choose my points of view according to the decorations and the light. With a fixed blind, it's very frustrating because when I'm in place, I can not move. The floating blind provides complete freedom to create the photos I want.

I did not know the region of Dombes. It is a beautiful region with beautiful lights and beautiful surroundings. It's really good.

Regarding the organization of the workshop, everything is well balanced. The food is excellent. Everything is well balanced between the photo sessions, the nap, the technical presentations.

Your technical presentations were a real plus for me. Whether it's for shooting or post-processing, I've made a lot of progress. You answered many questions that I asked myself. I had not been able to find the answers alone.

The atmosphere during the week was very good. The level of the photographers was very high. I was pushed to excellence all week.

Choosing a good time of the week would be difficult. But I still have one. Yesterday morning, I was on a pond with a lot of fog. I was alone. It was very calm. I did not think about anything. I was good.

Francis Francis.

This is my second workshop with you in La Dombes. What has been very different this year is the morning mists. I looked forward to them. We were spoiled.

Also, this year, we saw new birds. Last year the waders were absent. This year, I photographed a lot.

For me the mists of the morning evoke the mystery. A bird wrapped in mist is very evocative for me.

But this year we had less water. Fortunately, you had bought the new floating blinds. They are much lighter and more manageable. They allowed us to move better in the ponds with little water. They are more beautiful and more aesthetic. Moreover, as they are lower, I could make better photos. We see the result on the computer. Bokehs are much better.

I found that I improved again compared to last year. I am more creative in my shots. I came with a new box that is much better. This year, I was able to practice the burst. In the same way my exhibitions are much better notably in the highlights.

Regarding the atmosphere during the week, it was very good. The level of the photographers was very high. I was inspired by the photographic approach of the other participants. Everyone has his style and we can draw new ideas from others. It's enriching. We help each other.

I am very satisfied with this week's organization. Last year had already been very good. That's why I came back. I think I will come back next year because it is a unique way to photograph birds. The conditions are fantastic.

If I had to keep a good time of this, it would be a morning with beautiful reflections with the landscapes and feathers on the surface of the water. But there have been so many good times that it's hard to choose.

Jean-François Jean-François.

This photo shoot in Dombes was a complete immersion. I totally forgot about my work and my daily life. I rediscovered a fabulous region with a biodiversity that I do not know anywhere else in France. The atmosphere is so great that with Nathalie we dread the departure.

I participated in this course in floating carts because it was the technique that interested me the most to photograph the birds. I was able to observe the birds without disturbing them while being as much as possible. I could observe unthinkable scenes. For example, during a morning with mist I was surrounded by 18 night herons. I did not scare them. If we use the floating blinds as you've taught us, we can go very close without disturbing anyone. We are very respectful of the environment. I had the impression never to disturb the birds even if sometimes interferes in their behavior. But it's very sweet. Which brings sometimes amusing attitudes. But we never bother. For example, we do not approach nests.

The floating look makes it easy to change your point of view to choose the right setting and the lights for the staging. The landscapes of the Dombes is a beautiful region. My only regret is that because the ponds are used for fish farming, there is such a quantity of fish in the water that the big waders have only to use. I have only seen a few pairs of frightening frogs when there should be dozens. The drought this year is not to improve the situation.

Regarding the organization everything was very good. The cottages are prodigious. I did not know that these kinds of houses existed. Your workshop has been remarkably well organized. And this is not sycophancy. You are very attentive. This is fun. Each participant is open. We all share the same values and passions. It's very nice. Your theoretical presentations are very original and very well done. I put my head in order.

The atmosphere was excellent. Everyone helped me a lot. The sharing of all information is excellent. The photographic level of the other participants was bluffing. I'm taking care of a photo club. But here the level is much higher. It's incredible. With Nathalie, we do at least 6 photo exhibitions a year. All the pictures I saw this week could be in these shows. But all in a rather surprising modesty.

If I had to keep a moment of this week, it would be the first morning on a pond with all these birds that surrounded me: egrets, a coupling of crested grebes. All in a calm atmosphere without disturbing anyone. It was an incomparable experience.

Nathalie Nathalie.

I came as a companion and wife of Jean-François. I am naturalist. La Dombes was a real discovery for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the landscapes. While accompanying Jean-François on the ponds, I could observe many birds just while waiting on the banks. As I was on vacation, I took my time to observe. In the Dombes around the ponds, there is very little human noise. We can soak up the atmosphere and the calm that reigns everywhere. The weather was excellent with warmth and beautiful mists. I had a little lost the habit of these atmospheres.

I took advantage of this week of vacation to get back to the drawing by making sketches. It allows me to better understand nature. This morning, for example, I observed a small grebe that was nesting again. It's really very nice.

Regarding the organization of the workshop, you left nothing to chance. For example, Jean-François had forgotten his pendulum joint and some equipment. You have found solutions. You had a plan B. Even for the ponds you always found solutions for those who had fewer birds. As a vacationer, I took full advantage. There is a pool which I enjoyed. In the park around the lodgings, we have been able to observe Eurasian eagle-owl. The cottages you have chosen are really hospitable to nature lovers. I never got bored either on the ponds or in the accommodation. I was surprised by the number of night herons.

The restaurants where we went for lunch are excellent. I targeted Peyrouge. The living environment in the area is very beautiful. People know how to take advantage of what they have. I want to come back because the rural aspect I like. I really disconnected from everyday life. The group was great. I never felt excluded because I was not a photographer. The atmosphere was excellent. There is a good mood with adventures. I appreciated having no expectations and being surprised by everything around us. It was great.

Robert Robert.

My impressions on this wildlife photography workshop are good. I was pleasantly surprised by the lights and scenery of the area. I had already experienced some quite short experiences in floating blinds in other regions especially in the Camargue and Brenne. But this workshop in La Dombes was a shock because of the lights and moods and the variety of birds. I was deeply impressed.

The floating blinds makes it possible to stand at the height of the birds at the water's edge and to choose perfectly the points of view to highlight it. We choose our perspectives. I was able to choose the lights, the environments. I can be in an active creation process when shooting. This is the strength of this technique.

What surprised me in La Dombes is the variety of birds but especially that in some ponds the density is important while on others it is less. You never know what you will find. But during that I learned something essential. It is not so much the quantitative criterion that is important but the qualitative criterion. For example, this morning, I saw that I could spend more than 2 hours photographing a given species. On a given bird, one can vary to infinity the shots with perspectives, points of view or by choosing the lights. It's not worth chasing after all the species.

Before this workshop, I did not formalize the fact that I like to give an artistic side to my shots. Now I have a formalism and a frame to create my photos. I understand that a good photo is the meeting between an environment, a light and an animal. In animal photography, I am very interested in behavior, attitudes and action. From now on, I will know how to highlight them. To magnify them is the foot.

I really appreciated your technical presentations. Unlike the other courses I attended, you push a lot of questions to make photos. You push us into our entrenchments. You push us to ask questions to create our photos. You force us to surpass ourselves. You force us to be creative. With your theoretical approach and your formalization, you give us the tools to refine our photographic eyes.

Regarding the organization, I found that everything was fine. It was a little tiring because you had to get up early to get the nice lights. But we have nothing without anything. The highlight of your workshop is the diversity of the ponds. The lights can change. Every pond is different. We can make photos completely different from one day to another. It is a permanent renewal.

The cottages are excellent and pleasant. The atmosphere during the week was very friendly. But your workshop can bring together different photographers and very strong. This drives humility when seeing the work of others.

If I had to remember a moment of this workshop it would be difficult. Indeed, there may be moments of sharing in the group, but it can also be on a new pond. We are always in uncertainty. It's a little scary but it allows you to always question yourself. Finally, what I will remember from this course is that we must always adapt to the conditions to get the best for a good photo.

Serge Serge.

I am delighted with this animal photography course in La Dombes. This is my second workshop with you. The first was devoted to the deer slab. This time again it was great. All my expectations have been met. But I did not take great risks because I knew you.

By participating in this workshop, I wanted to have special opportunities for birds. In addition, I do a lot of animal photography but often now I saturate because I do a lot of naturalistic photos. I wanted to be more creative and more artistic in my approach. I wanted to regain dynamism. This week with the approach of the animal digital stream, I found a real plus to improve my photos.

The floating blind was for me a discovery. Your carts are fantastic. We are at the water's edge. The carts are very manageable, light, easy to use. As they are inflated we have a great flexibility of use. It's pretty funny to wander in ponds.

The morning moods with the mist are extraordinary. I know the basin of Archon well but to be in it is incredible.

I was surprised by the variety and diversity of birds. The lack of water this year has seen many waders. I did not know the Dombes. I recognize that it's beautiful.

Regarding the organization of the course everything was good. I know you. I know you always choose beautiful places and you go out of your way for trainees. This week did not depart from your principles. The cottages are really nice and friendly. We can live easily in groups. The restaurants are excellent.

The atmosphere in the group was excellent. The photo level was very high. I appreciated that Jean-François and Nathalie are naturalists and ornithologists. Really a good atmosphere. All the photographers were open, very creative and very inspiring.

If I had to keep a good moment of this workshop, it would be the moment when I observed a couple of grebes that were resting. I did not take pictures. They were ten meters away from me. It is a great moment of calm and serenity. It was happiness.

 

Some pictures taken by the students

To play the video, just click the "Play" button.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017
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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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