Limited Berths Available – Spirit of Antarctica

All our other Antarctic expeditions sold out for 2014 but luckily we have a limited few places left on the amazing Spirit of Antarctica Expedition.If you have been hanging to visit Antarctica, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to there!   Less than 10,000 people get to see Antarctica per year. The majority of these people are on scenic flights or on large ocean liners viewing Antarctica from afar. They never get to set foot on Antarctica itself, let alone get up close and personal with what the Antarctic has to offer.   On the Spirit of Antarctica Photography Expedition you will set foot on the continent itself,  see antarctic wild life up close,  skirt around mammoth icebergs in zodiacs and if you're up for it,  camp a night on Antarctica itself!! This is an amazing opportunity to be one of the very few people on our great planet to see Antarctica and to be one of the extremely small minority of people who get to really experience the true spirit of Antarctica.  
Antartica Expedition

Spirit of Antarctica Photography Expedition

There are limited berths available so please contact me directly to see if we have a berth left that suits you.    If you'd like more details and the itinerary for the Spirit of Antarctica Photography Expedition, please visit the trip page here.

Once you’ve gone Mac you’ll never go back …

Once you've gone Mac you'll never go back ... or so the saying goes.  I've been a PC guy for many years, decades in fact.

My life started with my first PC, an IBM Clone XT with 640KB of RAM an 5 1/4" floppy drive, 10MB hard disk and a 16 color EGA screen.  It was the best thing in the world back in the 80s.

Over the years there have been numerous PCs in my life. I'm quite well versed in PC hardware with each of my upgrades being an evolutionary upgrade of an existing machine. I've bought branded desktops and I've bought components.  In my previous life working as an IT professional I've used every brand of laptop know to man whilst working in the finance and telecommunications industries.  I've worked with numerous brands of Desktops and I've worked with Microsoft Windows in all its incarnations as well as nearly ever flavour of UNIX and I've also used Mac desktops.  So there was no fear of the unknown.

So the time had come around once again to replace my laptop.  My trusty ASUS was due for retirement  (or rather handed over to my wife to use as the worlds most over specc'd laptop for web browsing and email) so I was in the market for a new laptop.  I did the rounds, I looked at a variety of manufacturers including Lenovo, Asus, HP, Gigabyte, Dell, Toshiba as well as Apple.

In the end after testing out a variety of laptops, comparing specifications, comparing bang for bung charts and reading reviews I made my choice. I bought a new Macbook Pro 15" Retina.

So why buy an Apple Mac after years and years of being a PC man?

Well its simple.  I wanted a good clear screen, it had to be 15" screen, 16GB+ RAM, 512GB of SSD, Wireless 802.11ac, I wanted something that was a good weight and size, with a good clean finish, minimal exposed components on the side rear and top of the laptop body and excellent battery life.  The Macbook Pro embodied all that I was after which no other laptop did.  Price aside it was a simple choice.

I'm now coming up to 5 days on the Macbook Pro.   I've moved over my Creative Cloud subscription, installed all my apps. Migrated my LR catalog. Setup Time Machine and I'm editing photographs, making blog posts, writing invoices and generally back to being productive.

My favourite parts of the Mac experience so far

  • Battery life - when I'm web browsing and website designing and getting 6 hours+ from a full battery thats impressive.
  • Magsafe power connector - what a dream. This is what all laptops should have.  I've had to repair a number of previous laptops due to damage to power sockets.  And I've already caught a power cable on my foot and didn't pull my laptop off the table as the connector disconnected safely.  (Yes the change has paid for itself already)
  •  OS X - it has so many great features (though i do fear more iOS gimmicks are coming over to OS X)
  • Automator - I've written a few Automator workflows already. Mainly for handling media from my Atomos Ninja.  Whilst its not the most intuitive tool by any means it can get the job done.
  • Track pad. So many new gestures to learn, but Im getting there and they make navigating easier.
 

My least favourite parts of the new Mac experience so far

  • Finder - After years of working with Windows File Mangler now known as Explorer I find using Finder to be the biggest usability frustration of OS X.
  • I think Apple has a lot to learn from Microsoft with regards to full screen, maximise and minimising windows and docking windows to left and right.  Microsoft got this right. Apple in their latest WWDC has slated this will change in OS X Yosemite.
  • The built in Mail App crashed way too many times when setting up my IMAP email accounts but seems to have settled. Its on notice!
  • Keyboard shortcuts.  Command+ left/right arrow takes you to the start/end of line.  Option+left/right arrow takes to the previous/next word.  The next key across Control+Left/Right Arrow takes you to the next full screen app.  Logically where one place that short cut. Needless to say when navigating through this blog post to correct typos etc has me switching between full screen apps rather than between sections of text in Wordpress.
  • the looming notion in the back of my mind that I cannot upgrade the SSD in this laptop...  yet... C'mon Other World Computing make it happen!


So once you've gone Mac you'll never go back ... is it true?   Well it was pretty darn easy to jump over to the land of Apple, so I envisage I could just as easily go back to the land of PC.  But would I give up the comfort and safety of a Magsafe charger connection, awesome battery life, OS X and the finish on the Macbook Pro?

At this point its a' No'.

New Exclusive Antarctic Photography Expeditions for 2016

Its with great pleasure I can publicly announce two new Antarctic Photography Expeditions for 2016!  The Weddell Sea Explorer and Across the Antarctic Circle Photography Expeditions.

Across the Antarctic Circle

© Joshua Holko



The Weddell Sea Explorer Photography Expedition will be led by Moab Master Joshua Holko, Pro Nature Photography Daniel Bergmann and myself.  This Photography Expedition will embark on Tuesday 9 February 2016  and disembark on  Saturday 20 February 2016.   Sailing across the Bransfield Strait to the Antarctic Sound dawn where we'll encounter large tabular icebergs riding currents from the Weddell Sea. The Peninsula’s wild side, welcomes us with a contrasting landscape being  an ice-free landscape hiding renowned fossil beds and vast penguin colonies.

We will explore the Prince Gustav Channel, known for its fossil-rich Seymour Island. In stark contrast to the Weddell Sea’s wild isolation, the Peninsula’s west coast offers glaciated peaks rising from a maze of islands and waterways alive with seals, penguins and whales.

More details are coming.  Please look here for a full itinerary which will be published soon.

The second newly announced Photography Expedition is the Across the Antarctic Circle Photography Expedition.  This Photography Expedition led by Moab Master Joshua Holko and myself ventures into the Antarctic circle where very few Photography Expeditions have ventured before.  Heading down to to 66° 33’ South or even further. This Photography Expedition enters this frozen area of extraordinary beauty where powerful orcas and leopard seals patrol the waters whilst ethereal snow petrels grace the skies against a background of bristling mountain ranges and surreal icebergs. Threading our way through an intricate system of icy waterways, we sail for the glorious Crystal Sound at the mouth of The Gullet.

More details are coming. Please look here for a full itinerary which will be published soon.

These two new Photography Expeditions offer unparalleled access to some of the most remote parts of Antarctica travelled to by sea.

If you'd like more information with regards to these two exclusive Photography Expeditions, please contact me.

Photography Competitions – 5 Things To Consider Before Entering

We all love entering Photography Competitions but do we really sit back and look at the merits of each competition?   When entering photography competitions, here are the five things you really should consider before entering:
  •     Credibility
  •     Terms and Conditions
  •     Judges
  •     Cost
  •     Motivation
 

Credibility

The more credible, longer running and the more prestigous the competition the better.  Sadly today there are more photo competitions than you can poke a stick at and all too often the photography competitions are firmly aimed at getting free images to use for other purposes (travel companies and airlines are notorious for this).  I always recommend that you enter the more credible competitions especially the ones highly regarded within the photographic and press industries.  

Terms & Conditions

Just what exactly does entering this photography competition mean with regards to the use of your photographs?  By entering are you agreeing to give the organisers full perpertual exclusive rights usage for your image? Unlimited Rights Usage? Or do you only confer rights to only use the image in relation to the promotion of the photography competition?  It's good to know exactly what you are agreeing to when you enter a photo competition as all too often we hear about photography competitions that are just a rights grab to get your photos for free.  

Cost

Some photography competitions  are expensive, requiring matted prints, or if you're selected as a finalist prints to be delivered for assesment.  Make sure you know the costs up front before you decide to enter.  We all have a budget regarldess of size.  How you chose to spend your money is up to you.  But theres also a time consideration.  Entering 12 matted prints into a competition is not only an out of pocket expense, its a big time investment too.   Entering a large number of competitions is costly on both fronts so you really want to make sure you pick the best of the bunch to maximise your investment!  

Judges

Many photography competitions publish a list of who makes up their judging panels.  Do some research. If you're never heard of them and noone else has it can be a warning sign.  Highly regarded photographers and experienced judges hopefully will result in more consitent judging and hence a score that presents a more valuable tool to measure your photo.  That said many highly regarded competitions do no list their judging panels so do not fear when the World Press Photo, Australia Professional Photography Awards, Nature's Best or the likes of other extremely credible competitions don't publish a complete list of judges.  

Motivation

So what is your motvation for entering photography competitions? It may seem like a funny question to ask, but really what is in it for you? Are you entering the competition to compare your photographs with those of your peers? Are you hoping to win the grand prize?  Are you entering it because you are required to to seed into another competition? Are you entering it for exposure? Everyones motivations are different so its good to take a step back and ask yourself why you are entering each competition and whether each competition will be suitable.   Photography Competitions can be have many benefits, but there can also be quite a few downsides. So by taking a step back and considering the above 5 things before entering a photography competition should help you to ensure you make the most of your financial and time investment.

Award Winning Photographs At Epson Victorian Professional Photography Awards 2014

Every year I enter the Victorian Professional Photography Awards ( as well as other print/photography competitions).  This year was no different.   I enjoy entering them even though they can be quite stressful to watching, the anticipation of when your print comes up for judging, and of course the result.   This year I unfortunately was unable to travel in to watch the judging live as I had other commitments but I did get to watch my prints judged and the final scores from the judges via the livestream which I was available to watch at a later time which is really not my preferred as I do love to go in and socialise and see everyone elses prints first hand as there is so much inspiring work put up by peers for judging.   Overall I'm very happy with my result and I am looking forward to the Australia Professional Photography Awards later this year!   Oh and congratulations once again to my good friend and esteemed colleague Joshua Holko who won Victorian Photographer of the Year, Victorian Creative Photographer of the Year, Victorian Science and Nature Photography of the Year. Highest Scoring Print of the Competition as well as having the highest combined print scores for the Travel Category by a country mile but somehow didn't win that category (I guess they couldn't let him all the categories!!!!).   Here are my three award winning images that were all taken on during Photography Expeditions within the last 12 months.  Having the opprtunity to photograph such amazing sights obviously doesn't hurt!  

 Silver With Distinction Award

Silver With Distinction Award

Silver With Distinction Award

 

Silver Award

Silver Award

Silver Award

 

Silver Award

Silver Award

Silver Award

           

Why should I buy Travel Insurance?

Skull Travel InsuranceIt's a question I hear all the time Why should I buy Travel Insurance?, shortly followed by, Why should I buy the best (more often than not the most expensive) travel insurance?.

Well what better way to answer those two questions than to provide a real life example  of why its pertinent to have Travel Insurance and to make sure you have the right level of coverage. Today I was hiking through through the local mountain ranges in our late Autumn heatwave here on the outskirts of Melbourne where I ran into a fellow hiker, "Matt" *not his real name.  We got to talking, the weather, places we've been, places we're going in the future.  All the usual chit chat that you have when you take a breather and socialise on a hike.

I told Matt I was heading to Patagonia this year hiking between Photography Expeditions to Antarctica and that I was out getting some miles on my legs to ensure I was in shape and fit for the long walks.

Matt shared that he'd been to South America last year but his trip didn't end too well. Actually it ended up with 9 weeks in hospital.

Matt had an unlucky fall.  A railing on a balcony at his accommodation gave way seeing Matt fall from a bit of a height whilst travelling in Lima, Peru.  Something very simple that could happen to anyone of us.  Matt's fall left him with a broken  Pelvis and skull.  Not the best way to wind up a holiday and definitely not something that was planned.  Things can happen that easy.

Matt was rushed to hospital and given the best treatment on offer in Lima.  He said the Hospital was good, clean and he was treated well.  After 4 weeks in Lima it was decided he needed further treatment. Unable to stand, sit or anything of the like being in traction from head to toe.  Transport was going to be a real issue but he needed to get to the US to get the treatment he needed to make a full recovery.

A Learjet (yes we're talking Rockstars and big time CEO luxury Learjet) was chartered with appropriate medical staff and flown from Texas down to Lima whereupon Matt was taken laying down onto the plane and flown to Texas for further medical treatment.  After his treatment he was flown another medical facility in the pacific half way back to Australia and then he was flown home.

To see Matt out there hiking today on the hill after a broken Pelvis and a smashed skull is inspiring. Those were not minor injuries at all and Matt has seemed to have made a full recovery and he's now out preparing for a trip to Kakadu at the end of next month.

All in all a good result from a very dicey and potentially life threatening situation.  But the key to this story is that Matt had Travel Insurance and he had GOOD TRAVEL INSURANCE.

Without good travel  insurance, Matt most likely wouldn't have gotten the medical treatment he needed. Theres no assurances he would've received great treatment at the Lima based hospital unless he could pay himself whilst he was there. And he surely wouldn't have been able to afford leasing a Learjet and Medical staff to ensure he got the right treatment he needed, let alone in a physical condition that he could organise these things for himself.

Rumour has it the 2 days of flying and Medical staff for the Learjet was billed to the Insurance Company at $120,000 USD. Whilst money is no object for most of us when it comes to health.  The $300 it costs for Travel Insurance to mitigate a medical bill of that magnitude can be the difference between a holiday accident with a happy ending and a holiday accident with ongoing implications.

Matt had his unfortunate fall at his accommodation in town, in the more remote locations that some Photography Expeditions are conducted, extraction costs can well run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Travel insurance doesn't just cover your medical expenses, it can cover all sorts of unforseen expenses such as rental car excesses, cancelled flghts etc   so there are many other positives for having travel insurance.

Please make sure you read the Product Disclosure Statement carefully when buying Travel Insurance so you can make sure you have the right cover you need.

On all my Photography Expeditions Travel Insurance is mandatory.  And for Expeditions that include remote locations such as Antarctica, Greenland, Svalbard etc its mandatory to have travel insurance that covers evacuation and recovery.

Jewels of the Arctic Photography Expedition August 2015 is now open for bookings!

Its with great pleasure that I can announce that the Jewels of the Arctic Photography Expedition August 2015  is now open for bookings! This will be the third year running this amazing photography expedition.  Without a doubt it is one of my favourite expeditions.  
Jewels-Of-The-Arctic-Aug-2015-Announcment

One of the many amazing Icebergs see on the Jewels of the Arctic Photography Expedition in 2013

    This 14 day/13 night Photography Expedition, departing August 16th from Isafjordur in Iceland and docking in Longyearbyen Svalbard, takes in amazing Fjords, Icebergs, whales, dolphins, bird life, the odd Walrus, Seals, possibly an Arctic Fox or even a Polar Bear whilst taking in the astounding beauty that is Greenland and Svalbard.   For more details about this trip please see the Photography Expedition page here.