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Join Andrew McLachlan and Mark Pepper (Understory Enterprises) for an exclusive photography retreat within the Cordillera Escalera, near Tarapoto, Peru. This location is situated within the foothills of the Andes Mountains, in Amazonian Rainforest. The dates for this event are October 19 – October 26, 2019 (6 ½ days of photography). Maximum number of participants is 6 / 8 depending on participants attending (if two couples are attending the tour we can extend the capacity to 8). The minimum number of participants for this tour is 3. The photo tour fee is $3800.00 US Currency. We need to arrive in Tarapoto, Peru on October 19, 2019 and we will depart for home on October 26, 2019. Depending on everybody’s departure time on October 26, 2019, we may be able to fit in one additional half day of photography.

The focus of this photo tour will be landscapes and micro fauna of the Cordillera Escalera. There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the foothills of the Andes Mountains as each new day awakens, standing in awe at towering waterfalls, photographing dart frogs in their natural habitat, or venturing out to explore the night life of the Amazon rainforest. One highlight of the night-time excursions will be photographing the endangered Cochran Frog, which has a very limited range in the Cordillera Escalera. We will also be photographing many species of insects endemic to this region. The biodiversity of the Cordillera Escalera leaves no shortage of subjects to photograph.

For more info or to register, please contact Andrew via e-mail.

Mark Pepper

We could not ask for a more friendly and knowledgeable guide. Mark Pepper has been exploring this rainforest environment for over 15 years. Mark has even worked with BBC film crews filming in the area. Using his extensive knowledge and keen eye he will locate several species of dart frogs for us to photograph, not to mention some very fascinating insects!

Some locations during this tour will require the ability of being able to walk several kilometres over uneven terrain in a humid environment. If you have any concerns regarding this please do not hesitate to inquire for additional information.

Our accommodations will be at the luxurious Understory House, which is also equipped with a gorgeous infinity pool over-looking the Cordillera Escalera, within the foothills of the Andes Mountains and Amazonian rainforest. There are two rooms with one queen bed each and one room with two sets of adult bunkbeds. Many of our morning sunrise sessions will be conducted on site, as we have an outstanding view of the sun rising over the mountain range.

Itinerary:

Daily excursions will be determined based on the current weather conditions.
Image review sessions will be conducted both in the field via LCD and at the Understory House via laptop computers.
Breakfast – at the Understory House
Lunch – at various locations during the tour based on each day’s travel plans
Dinner – in the town of Tarapoto at one of the many fine restaurants

What’s Included:

In-depth Photographic instruction
Accommodation at the Understory House
Transportation to and from Understory House and to all photographic destinations
Pick-up and drop-off at the Tarapoto airport for your arrival and departure
Free Wifi at the Understory House
All meals

What’s Not Included:

Your airfare to and from Tarapoto, Peru (via Lima).

Alcoholic beverages
Travel insurance
Medical insurance

The Details

Photo Tour Fee: $3800.00 US per person.

To secure your spot a non-refundable deposit of $1,200 US is due now. The balance of the fee, $2600.00 US, is due no later than March 31, 2019. A signed Waiver of Liability form must accompany the non-refundable deposit. Waiver of Liability forms will be emailed to those wishing to register.

Travel Insurance: Participants are encouraged to purchase their own medical, travel, and trip cancellation insurance.

The Cancellation Policy:

Full refund less $1200 US non-refundable deposit up to 91 days prior to Photo Tour date.

No refunds 90 days prior to the date.

If fewer than three folks sign up you will receive a complete refund that will include your non-refundable deposit.

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Join Andrew McLachlan and Rick Isaacson on July 9th & 10th, 2019 for an exclusive, breathtaking journey to one of Ontario’s most spectacular waterfalls hidden deep within the remote boreal forest of the Abitibi Canyon. We will travel by freighter canoe, for 21 kilometres, along the same route used by the Coureurs De Bois and Voyageurs in the 1800’s. We will have the opportunity for a short photo session at a Hudson Bay gravesite found along the banks of the Abitibi River that is over 120 years old. This gravesite is only accessible by canoe. We will explore New Post Falls from below and make our way up the side of the gorge to photograph the falls from above too. The timing of this tour has been arranged when water levels are typically lower, which may allow for the opportunity to photograph the waterfall from within the river gorge itself.

This exclusive opportunity is available to only 4 participants!

After a full and exhilarating first day we will camp at the base of New Post Falls. As we gather around the campfire Rick Isaacson will explain the history and tell us stories of life on the river.  Afterwards, if skies are clear we will enjoy a night-scape photo session and perhaps the Aurora Borealis as well. We will rise early the next morning to photograph New Post Falls at sunrise and continue to photograph the surrounding area until it is time to paddle upstream to our take out location at Abitibi Canyon.

Do note this is not a photo tour for the faint of heart. We will be camping over-night in very remote boreal forest. Our guide, Rick Isaacson is a seasoned woodsman, with 35 years of river tripping experience. He has made countless trips down the Abitibi River to New Post Falls and is well experienced in remote wilderness travel, not to mention very knowledgeable in the history of the area. Safety will be a top priority during this trip and we will follow Rick’s direction in that regard.

Itinerary:

  • Meet in Smooth Rock Falls on the morning of July 9th 2019 for a hearty breakfast
  • Travel as a group to the Abitibi Canyon to launch the freighter canoe at 8:30 am
  • Travel 21 kilometres to New Post Falls where we will spend the day photographing the area and where we will camp over-night.
  • On the morning of July 10th we will photograph New Post Falls at sunrise and explore other photo opportunities in the surrounding area. The exposed river bed is a great place to find fossils.
  • Launch the freighter canoe to return to Abitibi Canyon at 3:30 pm on July 10th (there may be opportunity to extend our time a couple of hours depending on the current weather conditions at the time.
  • On route, just before we launch there will be opportunities to photograph the very scenic Abitibi Canyon gorge.

What’s Included:

  • Tent
  • In-depth photographic instruction with on-site LCD review to ensure that you are capturing the best possible imagery
  • Breakfast, Snacks, Dinner, & Beverages on Wednesday July 9th
  • Breakfast & Snacks, & Beverages on Wednesday July 10th

What’s Not Included:

  • Dry Bags for camera gear and clothing
  • Sleeping Bag

Maximum Number of Participants:

  • 4

Workshop Fee:

  • $850.00 CDN plus taxes
  • Payment can be made via email transfer or by cheque.
  • A signed Waiver of Liability must accompany your payment. Waiver of Liability forms will be provided via email to those who wish to register for this event.

 To reserve your spot in this once in a life-time opportunity a non-refundale retainer of $400 is due now. The balance of the payment is due on March 1st, 2019. Please contact me by clicking here to arrange payment.

This photo tour will run rain or shine.

Cancellation Policy:

Payment balance refunded 61 days prior to photo tour

No refund 60 days prior to photo tour

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Join Andrew McLachlan on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula this September 18th, 19th, & 20th 2018 for 2 ½ days of in-depth photographic exploration. During this landscape photography workshop we will visit some of the finest landscapes that the Georgian Bay coast has to offer. Embrace the beauty of turquoise waters and rugged limestone cliffs along the Niagara Escarpment – an UNESCO World Biosphere. Maximum number of participants is 8. This workshop has been scheduled mid-week to avoid the crowds that are present during weekends.

Do note that there will be some walking involved on woodland trails and rocky shorelines, with uneven terrain. The longest walk will be roughly 20 – 30 minutes in length. Please do not hesitate to inquire should you have any concerns regarding physical limitations that may affect your ability to attend this event. It is also recommended that you purchase your vehicle day pass for each day in advance at www.reservations.pc.gc.ca

Itinerary:

Tuesday, September 18th:

  • Meet in the parking lot of Halfway Log Dump for sunrise / daybreak photo session at 6:00 a.m.
  • Stop for lunch (on your own) as a group at 1:00 p.m.
  • 20-30 minute walk to Indian Head Cove / The Grotto for afternoon photo session
  • Dinner (on your own) as a group before or after sunset based on group decision
  • Sunset photo session at Singing Sands at 6:00 p.m.
  • Get some rested for early start on Wednesday

Wednesday, September 19th:

  • Meet at 6:00 a.m. at Little Cove for sunrise photo session
  • Stop for lunch (on your own) as a group at 1:00 p.m.
  • Afternoon photo session  – location to be determined
  • 20-30 minute walk to sunset photo session at Indian Head Cove for 6:00 p.m. arrival
  • Complimentary dinner at local restaurant

Thursday, September 20th:

  • Indian Head Cove / The Grotto for sunrise photo session – 20 – 30 minute walk
  • Depart for home 12:00 p.m.

What’s Included:

  • In-depth photographic instruction during each photo session with LCD review to ensure you are capturing the best possible images given the conditions of the day
  • Dinner at restaurant in Tobermory on Wednesday, September 19th

What’s Not Included:

  • Accommodations (numerous options available in Tobermory… I will be staying in the park at the Poplars Campground)
  • Day use vehicle passes for each day. These can be purchased in advance at www.reservations.pc.gc.ca
  • Transportation
  • Car pooling of participants is encouraged for each photo session
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Alcoholic Beverages

Workshop Fee:

$325.00 CDN plus taxes

Payment can be made via email transfer or by cheque.

To reserve your spot in the Bruce Peninsula Workshop please contact me by clicking here to arrange payment.

Cancellation Policy:

No Refunds. Check your schedule carefully prior to booking.

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Join Andrew McLachlan in Ontario’s Muskoka District on October 1st, 2nd, & 3rd 2018 for 2 ½ days of in-depth photographic exploration of the finest waterfalls and rivers, forests and wetlands of the region. Embrace the beauty of Muskoka and learn the skills of landscape photography amid the palette of autumn. If we are lucky enough to have clear night skies we will add on a starry night-scape session too. Maximum number of participants is 8.

Do note that there will be some walking involved, through woodland trails with uneven ground. The longest walk will be roughly 1 kilometre in length. Please do not hesitate to inquire should you have any concerns regarding physical limitations that may affect your ability to attend this event.

Itinerary:

Tuesday, October 1st:

  • Meet in the parking lot of Brooks Falls (Huntsville area) at 7:00 a.m. for waterfall photo session
  • Stop for lunch (on your own) at 1:00 p.m.
  • Oxtongue Rapids (Huntsville area) photo session
  • Dinner (on your own) at local restaurant at 7:00 p.m.
  • Get some rested for early start on Wednesday

Wednesday, October 2nd:

  • Meet at 6:00 a.m. at pre-determined location in Bracebridge and carpool to waterfall for photo sessions
  • Stop for lunch (on your own) at 1:00 p.m.
  • Additional waterfall / river sessions
  • Sunset photo session
  • Complimentary dinner at local restaurant

Thursday, October 3rd:

  • Meet at 6:00 a.m. at pre-determined location in Bracebridge and carpool to Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve for sunrise and morning photo session
  • Depart for home 12:00 p.m.

What’s Included:

  • In-depth photographic instruction during each photo sessions with LCD review
  • Dinner at nearby restaurant on Wednesday October 2nd

What’s Not Included:

  • Accommodations (numerous options available… I will be staying at the Sleep Inn in Bracebridge – they serve a continental style breakfast)
  • Transportation
  • Car pooling of participants is encouraged to arrive at each location
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Alcoholic Beverages

Workshop Fee:

$325.00 CDN plus taxes

Payment can be made via email transfer or by cheque.

 

To reserve your spot in the Muskoka Autumn Colour Spectacular please contact me by clicking here to arrange payment. Please do not delay in booking your accommodations as hotels / motels in the area will fill up quickly.

 

Cancellation Policy:

No Refunds. Check your schedule carefully prior to booking.

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Halfway Log Dump
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

In May of 2016, I made a three day visit to Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula National Park. Today I revisited the folder of images from that trip to optimize several of the photographs that were tucked away due to my backlog in editing the files. Bruce Peninsula National Park can be found at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula near Tobermory, Ontario. It is also on the Niagara Escarpment – an UNESCO World Biosphere site. One section of the park lies on Lake Huron while the remainder of the park is facing beautiful Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay provides landscape photographs with a plethora of stunning vistas with ragged cliffs, cobblestone beaches, and unlimited shoreline details to photograph. A short distance out into Georgian Bay lies the Fathom Five National Marine Park, which is home to the famous Flower Pot Island. If you are a landscape photographer the Bruce Peninsula needs to be one of your bucket list items.

Halfway Log Dump
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Indian Head Cove
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Indian Head Cove
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Flower Pot Island
Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario

 

The Grotto
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Flower Pot Island
Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario

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Brown Booby in flight, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 90mm
ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/5000 sec.

Originally released in August of 2010 the Nikon 28-300mm VR lens has to be one the most versatile lenses available. Often you can find this lens in the used gear department for approximately $700 CDN. Like most folks, before I purchased this lens for my own gear bag I read several on-line reviews. I did not believe that the lens could really be as bad as folks were leading on. Here is a selection of some items that I noted during my internet readings:

  • softness in the center, sharpening up out towards the corners, and the some more corner softness
  • stopped-down results are downright blurry at the telephoto end of 300mm @ ƒ/36)
  • the 28-300 isn’t a really sharp lens and the corners are mush
  • zoom range exhibited shockingly poor off-axis image quality
  • is not a pro level lens nor one I’d use for critical shoots
  • I’m assuming this lens was defective as I couldn’t get a sharp picture no matter how hard I tried

I determined that in order to find out for myself I would need to add this lens to my gear bag. Right before I boarded the plane for my Cayman Brac Photo Tour in February I did just that. It is now one of my most favorite lenses. The lens does have one annoying habit, or at least my copy does. When the lens is pointed downward the zoom creep is very evident. Nonetheless, my honest opinion is that this lens does produce stellar results when good technique and creative vision is applied. Often I can be found in-the-field with my 28-300mm lens attached to one of my Nikons ready to capture those fleeting moments where changing lenses is not an option. The 28-300mm range is perfect for such circumstances.

I have never been one to trust the so-called internet experts. I much prefer to take gear out into the field and put it to the test. A real world review illustrating the quality of the lens with photographic examples.

Having the ability to zoom from 28mm to 300mm is a definite plus. On Cayman Brac I was able to photograph nesting Brown Boobies at close range and then quickly zoom out to 300mm to capture Brown Boobies in flight as they approached the cliff edge on their return to their nests.

Brown Booby pair at the nest, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 55mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

I also find the lens to be a powerful tool for my landscape work as illustrated in the below image of a winter wheat field at sunset near my rural home in Thornton, Ontario. A Singh Ray 3-stop reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter was also used in the capture of the sunset scene below.

Winter Wheat at Sunset, Thornton, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 82mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 3 seconds.

Having a minimum focusing distance of a mere 1.6 feet throughout the entire zoom range is also a huge bonus to my frog photography. In the past I would have to switch lenses to create my signature frog-scapes and close-up portraits. With the Nikon 28-300 I can simply zoom the lens from wide to telephoto and create both scenarios in mere seconds, as illustrated in the two Bullfrog images below.

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 48mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

 

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

While photographing Wood Ducks in Toronto, Ontario I am also able to create stunning portraits and close-up feather details due to the short, minimum focusing distance. While I was photographing feather details of a Wood Duck hen that had chose to sit beside me on a particular outing I had noticed that a lovely drake Wood Duck had also come into close proximity allowing me to zoom out and create a tight head shot of him. The versatility of the Nikon 28-300mm lens allowed me the opportunity to create both these images without the need to switch lenses , which would likely had caused one of the two birds, or both, to move further away.

Drake Wood Duck, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 2000, f5.6 @ 1/250 sec.

 

Hen Wood Duck Feather Details, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 1000, f11 @ 1/80 sec.

While walking along the shoreline of the Caribbean Ocean in Cayman Brac I came upon a dead crab. The shell of the dea crab was beautifully colored with interesting details too. To create the below macro shot of the crab shell details I used my Canon 500D Close-up Filter on the Nikon 28-300mm lens and stopped down to f22. There is some minor softness in the extreme corners of the image but this is due to the curvature of the shell. Ideally I should have used the focus stacking method to gain perfect sharpness in the corners.

Crab Shell Details, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/40 sec.

For those of us longing for some cooler temperatures in this heat wave, I have included a winter river detail image from my Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop this past January 🙂

Winter River Details, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1.6 sec.

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Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 Camera Backpack

For the last few months I have been using a new camera backpack for my nature excursions as well as my commercial photography assignments. Enter the Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 Camera Backpack. When I head out on a commercial shoot or into the wilderness it is of the utmost importance to me to have two camera bodies and a wide assortment of lenses on hand and ready at a moments notice. The Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 camera backpack allows me to do just that.

I do not normally carry a laptop or tablet with me on single day commercial assignments, but the Redbee-210’s back panel is designed to accommodate both for extended assignment work whereby I would need to carry such devices.  Not only have I found the Redbee-210 to be very versatile but it also provides me with the peace of mind that my gear is protected during periods of inclement weather due to the water repellent nature of the specially coated fabric and included rain protector. The flexible dividers to separate and protect the gear are easily changeable to suit the needs of any assignment. The Redbee-210 is also designed to be compliant with standard carry-on luggage requirements (as airline restrictions change this may also change).

I am able to easily pack the following gear for a typical nature excursion inside the bag:

  • Nikon D800
  • Nikon D500
  • Nikkor 200-500mm Lens (attached to the Nikon D500)
  • Nikkor 18-35mm Lens
  • Nikkor 28-300mm Lens
  • Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
  • Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
  • Filters, memory cards, cable release, camera batteries are stored inside the customized back panel

The main access to the gear bag is accomplished by unzipping the back panel, which in my honest opinion is a design I wish had been thought of sooner. I cannot recall how many I have had to set my bags down in wet, mucky soils. With this new design the back panel stays relatively clean and dry so that it is comfortable to put on again after setting it down. After unzipping the main back panel you will then see that your camera gear is protected by a second zippered mesh system. This is a very nice feature that I have found helps to protect gear from debris during blustery conditions.

Redbee-210 Showing Back Panel Opened and Zippered Mesh System

 

Redbee-210 Showing Both Back Panel and Zippered Mesh System Opened

The shoulder straps are large and well padded for superior comfort and offer a sternum strap which I find invaluable on long hikes for the added comfort it provides. There is also a waist strap that is wide enough to be comfortable.

Redbee-210 Shoulder Straps

When the need to access gear must be swift there are also three external openings that will allow you to grab your your camera and lens combo very quickly. I have optimized my Redbee-210 to allow me to grab my Nikon D500 with the attached Nikkor 200-500mm lens through the top access opening. When one of those fleeting moments in nature occur I can simply unzip the top opening and pull out the camera and lens combo and am ready for the action.

Redbee-210 Top Opening Zipped Shut

 

Redbee-210 Top Opening Unzipped

The other two quick access openings are located on each side of the bag, near the bottom. Depending on how you customize the interior of your pack it is possible to have two camera bodies with lenses attached and positioned at a quick access opening giving you speedy access to two separate cameras when the need may arise.

Redbee-210 Quick Access Side Opening

The side, quick access opening have both zipperes and quick connect snaps for added security. All zippers on the Redbee-210 also have a pull tab which makes closing the zippers very quick and efficient.

Redbee-210 Zipper Tab and Quick Connect Safety Clip

In my honest opinion the Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 Camera Backpack is a prime example of quality, durability and efficiency being well thought out and implemented during the design phase of this pack. I am able to carry my gear in total comfort down remote wilderness trails knowing that I am ready for anything at the spur of the moment.

 

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