Home from SES/Nat Geo Canada Shoot

It's been a wild ride but my 3 month expedition has finally come to an end. I gave it everything so fingers crossed you like it when the 24-part series comes out on National Geographic in early 2016. Stay tuned for more precise dates. 

In the meantime, I've got some sleeping to do...

Nat Geo Canada Series

After some seriously sweaty pitching sessions at National Geographic's headquarters in Washington DC, my expedition for the Scientific Exploration Society is now also my first solo assignment for National Geographic! If the stakes to deliver weren't high enough already, they just went to a new level! So far the majority of the wildlife has been cooperative. I've had some incredible encounters with black bears (pictured below), bald eagles (pictured 2 below) and stellar sea lions (pictured 3 below). 

Despite the caption above, this is not a stellar sea lion, its me just before attemping to film the 1000kg (2000lbs), 4m (12ft) long beasts!

Despite these successes, my main target (the coast wolf) still remains illusive! Over the next few weeks I'm going to be upping the anti by absorbing myself into their environment. More updates coming soon...

Scientific Exploration Society Grant

In May, I was proud to be named the Scientific Exploration Society Zenith Explorer 2015. To gain this title, I pitched an ambitious expedition to track down and film coastal wolves on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. After a year of planning, I've finally begun the expedition! Pictured is me showing off my Tetris skills after landing in Vancouver. 

The grant from the Scientific Exploration Society was made possible by Zenith Watches. Below is my attempt at looking dreamy on a particularly stormy day during the first days of the expedition! Photo by my good friend Connor Stefanison. More updates to come!

Nat Geo Sri Lankan Leopards

Following our Mumbai adventure, Steve and I headed straight to Yala National Park in south-east Sri Lanka. Here, we teamed up with Kulu Safaris (their legendary owner Javana is pictured below) to film Yala's jungle leopards. 

Aside from the amazing diversity of wildlife (elephants to langurs, bee-eaters to crocodiles), the landscape was spectacular. Huge tracts of forest butted right up against the Indian Ocean. Dotted around the park, were huge rocky outcrops which exploded up out of the forest canopy. Pictured just above my right arm is the most famous of these outcrops- 'Elephant Rock' (no prizes for guessing its shape).

Nat Geo Mumbai Urban Leopards

Crazy, scary and ridiculous are all words I'd use to describe what has to be the most exciting shoot I've ever been on. From high speed rickshaw chases to all night leopard stakeouts, this one hour TV special for Nat Geo WILD coming out January 2016 is going to be a epic! Pictured is my boss, guru and mentor, Steve Winter, during one of the opening scenes to the film- showing what was our rather unconventional commute to work in search of big cats!

Towards the end of hour month in Mumbai, the monsoon rains hit in dramatic fashion. I've never seen rain like it! It made filming a little challenging (big understatement!) but we soon took it in our stride. Pictured is Raj, our fixer, desperately trying to hold down our umbrella whilst I attempted to timelapse one of the biggest slums in the world- Dharavi. As you can see from the video below, I wasn't particularly successful...

Steve's main method for filming the leopards was to setup his legendary remote camera traps. Crazy complicated cameras, lights and invisible motion sensor beams were setup on trails frequented by the leopards. We focussed our efforts on one particular trail, a huge old stone bridge which ran right past a huge set of apartment blocks giving a shot which left nothing to the imagination- these were urban leopards. Pictured is Steve and I atop a 30ft bamboo platform built from scratch to hold one the camera traps. 

Whilst Steve focussed on camera trapping, I took a more direct approach using both a long lens setup and a 360 degree panning remote setup (pictured). Both these systems required in person operation meaning I had to sit in a little hide from 8pm-6am waiting for the leopards to cross trail just 50ft (15m) away. 

One of the highlights of the shoot was spending time in the slums visited by the leopards at night. Whilst human leopard conflict is incredible rare in these areas, livestock is regularly taken. The real eye opener was discovering that these people who have next to nothing were some of the happiest and most generous people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. The only issue with making friends with the locals was that everytime we came to film, we'd be overrun by 10s of giggling kids screaming the local phrase for 'white man'!

Scuba Travel Film

I'm currently adding the finishing touches to my latest film for Scuba Travel. I shot it back in January so it's been great to relive some of the amazing underwater encounters we had. Coming face to face with this giant moray eel was breathtaking- I don't think there's many better ways of getting your adrenaline pumping.

The key to getting sharp, colourful images underwater is to get as close to your subject as possible. Here, my lens was almost touching this moray's nose. Whilst they look intimidating, these eels are rarely aggressive towards divers. Their mouth is a marker of their mood. Surprisingly, if they are opening and closing their mouth and baring their teeth, they are relaxed and it's safe to approach. If their mouth is closed, keep your distance! To make this portrait more dramatic, I used a fashion photography technique taught to me by guru, Paul Duxfield (creator of the photo of me below). Instead of lighting the eel front on, I positioned my two strobes in front of the camera pointing in towards the subject at 90 degrees. This produces the shadow down the middle of the eel lighting up its teeth and eyes. If you're looking for a new camera setup to use underwater, be sure to check out the UK's leading underwater photography retailer, Cameras Underwater.  

Holland Eagle and Beaver shoot

I've just returned from a two week shoot in Holland filming beavers and white tailed eagles for a new nature cinema film. The main focus for the shoot was to film an eagle hunting a goose. After waiting 12 hours per day for 13 days, I managed to get the shot in the last 10 minutes. Talk about cutting it fine! Here's fellow Cameraman, Paul Edwards, and I celebrating after getting the shot...

The film is starting to get quite a bit of media attention prior to its release this September. Pictured below is me talking to Lucas Van De Meerendonk for his Dutch children's TV programme. It's called Zapp Weekjournaal and was on Sunday at 17:40 on npo 3!

Click here to watch it, skip to 8:48 to see my feature. 




Chiribiquete National Park Shoot

This week I headed out to Colombia to shoot a film for Big Cat conservation organisation Panthera. I felt very privileged to be part of only the 3rd ever expedition into Chiribiquete National Park, located in the heart of the Colombian Amazon. This area is home to tepuis, a type of huge rock formation which erupts 500m vertically out of the rainforest floor. These tepuis are thought to be made up of some of the oldest rock on earth. It really was like visiting a real life version of Avatar! Here's a shot of Panthera's Esteban, Carlos and I.

Because of the remoteness and rebel presence, the Colombian military was in charge of the operation and they helicoptered us in to the top of one of the tepuis. Here's an epic clip of Panthera's Alan Rabinowitz utilising my GoPro Selfie pole as our helicopter comes into land on top of a tepuis in the heart of Chiribiquete National Park. To capture this in super slow motion, I used the GoPro 4's awesome ability to record at 120 frames per second. The down draft from the rotor blades was unbelievable and you can see fellow cameraman Jack Aldwinckle and I struggling to keep our tripods on the floor!

We then had just four hours on the ground to explore the surrounding area. The highlight for me was flying a drone we'd brought along (see image below). This amazing bit of kit really put the whole place into perspective. The film from this expedition will be published shortly. 

Red Sea Shoot

After being home for less than 24 hours, I headed out to the Red Sea to shoot a film for Scuba Travel. We were blessed with some incredible wildlife encounters. Whilst I was shooting mainly video for the film, I did get time to take a few stills. Scroll through for an uber cute bottlenose dolphin calf, a scary looking giant moray eel and a coral reef classic, a pair of Rea Sea Anemonefish. Whilst anemonefish have bucket loads of attitude, getting a good shot is tough. I like to make them look big and set them in their environment by getting the camera low and shooting up with a wide-angle lens. I shot both stills and video on the new Canon G7X as a test for Cameras Underwater. It's incredible so stay tuned for an unbiased raving review.

In the meantime, click here for my trip report for Scuba Travel...

Yellowstone National Park

After attending Nat Geo's annual photography seminar, I headed to Yellowstone to visit Ronan Donovan. Ronan and a team of other photographers are currently shooting for the Yellowstone story due to be published in National Geographic Magazine in early 2016. Our focus for the week was wolves and although we didn't get close enough for photos, we had some great views. Here's Ronan in action. See below for a small gallery of images. 


National Geographic Photography Seminar

This week I attended Nat Geo's annual Seminar at their HQ in Washington DC. It was both exciting and inspiring to hang out with the best in the business but also people in the same position as I am, attempting to rise up through the ranks. The highlight of the Seminar was to attend the 'works in progress' presentations- be sure to subscribe to the Magazine as the upcoming stories will blow your mind! The after party had a great little photo booth- It's not every day you get to do Blue Steel with Paul Nicklen

Falmouth University and School Talks

I promise this is the last audience picture I'll be posting for a while! After packing in 6 talks this week in 2 schools, a university and a camera club in Dorset, Cornwall and Berkshire it's time to give public speaking a rest for January! I've got an exciting few months ahead which will take me to Washington, Yellowstone National Park, the Red Sea and Holland. Wildlife only pictures and videos to come!

Here's the epic bunch of students studying the Marine and Natural History Photography course at Falmouth University...

Dorchester Camera Club Talk

On Monday night I gave a talk at Dorchester Camera Club. The audience was awesome- full marks for passion to the man at the back of the photo below! If a wildlife talk might be something you'd be interested in, please find out more by clicking this word.

Here's what the audience had to say...

'Bertie gave us a fantastic and varied presentation of wildlife images and videos shot in both the UK and overseas, and proved to be a captivating and entertaining  speaker. I can only admire his dedication, determination and perseverance, combined with charisma, patience, empathy with nature - and a great eye for the perfect shot! The best speaker we have had.'

'Bertie gave us one of the best presentations we've had in a long time. Terrific energy and a most engaging personality,  There was no shortage of top class wildlife images. A wonderful evening.'

'Bertie is easily one of the best speakers we’ve had at the club – informative, witty, thoroughly engaging and educational.'

DSLR Video Workshop

I had a great time on Sunday running a DSLR video workshop. We covered lots of the essentials including the best settings, useful pieces of equipment, mastering timelapse, storyboarding, sound and editing. If you're interested in learning more about video and getting the most from your DSLR, please get in touch via the About page. Here's what the participants had to say about the day...

David Morton - "Bertie's hands-on, practical approach really worked for me; I hate reading books or going online for info. Getting out in the field, making the most of the equipment we had, and learning at a comfortable pace has given me the confidence to get out and try more DSLR film-making."

Graeme Darling - "Bertie's enthusiasm, passion and skill was evident all day. I have learned more in one day from practical use of my equipment with feedback and advice shared from Bertie. I would recommend Bertie to anyone interested in producing film with DSLR equipment."

Here's David in action...