A full workshop again to magnificent Flinders Island last weekend. Four days of bliss, photographing the varied and most interesting weather conditions that this time of year brings to these Islands in Bass Strait. We had with us a most lovely group of people, all keen to get their camera’s out and take advantage of the incredible lighting conditions we had every day of our visit there. Keen to be up at dawn, most came out to see the light show that swept across the bays and hills of the Island. Sawyers bay and the Blue rocks turned it on for two mornings and the final dawn opportunity on Sunday, we headed up to Wireless hill and watched the sunrise over the Strzelecki range. Below are just a few of the images I took over the four days alongside my group participants…I would like to thank the group for being such a wonderful bunch and enjoying every moment of our workshop together. My thanks to our hosts Greg and Marg at the Flinders Island Cabin Park: http://www.flindersislandcp.com.au/ A wonderful place to stay and very central, with great service and vehicle rental too! ( go on tripadvisor to see how good their rating is) I would also like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to our lovely catering couple Ken and Carolyn: They work tirelessly to make sure we have superb meals and morning teas and the final Trouser’s Point Bar-b-que is the best ever! Truly… For all your catering needs on Flinders Island, just email: firstname.lastname@example.org My workshops to this Island are in their 10th year, and I still just love taking participants there to enjoy the beauty and serenity of this alluring Island. Next year I will be conducting another workshop and the dates are April 7th – 10th 2016 you can make a booking now by just simply emailing me at: email@example.com or check the menu above under workshops and find the information there….which includes a downloadable PDF
The final few days in Bhutan enabled us to travel back westwards towards Paro at our leisure, photographing all manner of places and people throughout the countryside. I still have not been able to process a huge lot of my images as yet, but I have uploaded some that I have completed on this latest post. The last highlight for this workshop was to climb the slopes of the mountains (or take the softer option of travelling most of the way up by horseback) just behind Paro and spend a night at 10500 feet. A beautiful dusk and a hot dinner had us all soon afterwards climbing into our sleeping bags very tired, but happy to be so far up in the Himalaya’s. Chilly but so lovely, we were greeted by a magnificent sunrise and a beautiful calm day, very misty at first light, but sunny after that. The early risers had breakfast at dawn and then descended with me to the vantage point to view the stunning “Tiger’s Nest” as the misty early light gave way to full sun and daylight. Paro Taktsang is the popular name of Taktsang Palphug Monastery, a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. What a climax to an unforgettable adventure. Ewen Bell and myself will do another amazing Wild Bhutan workshop within the next two years. Keep a look out for this and you can register with us anytime you want.
Our second week travelling through this beautiful and serene country has seen us further into the Eastern Part of the country and in the Wangdue Phodrang Valley. Here farmers still till the land by hand, growing Potatoes and Buck-wheat. A morning walk along the quiet valley road in the sun-light and mist of a cold winter’s dawn we encounter the local folks out working, milking their cows and gathering wood to stock the fires. As the sun gets up higher in the sky we observe whole families, young and old together working the fields, animated in their discussions and with laughter echoing across the valley. One morning we spot a group of the rare and endangered Black necked Cranes, a real treat indeed. Our group quietly walked across the edge of a newly ploughed field and clicked away, edging closer and closer. The remaining Cranes took off and then flew around the valley floor twice, right over our heads before heading off into the mountains…perhaps beginning their annual journey into Tibet. the local Bhutanese farmers never hurt these lovely creatures, just another part of the Buddhist way of life, they believe the Cranes bring them good luck and happily the numbers over recent years has seen a steady increase in overall numbers.
Our Photographic workshop to Bhutan continues into the fourth day as we head out of the Punakha Valley and up into the more mountainous terrain of the Gasa region. We travel through sub-tropical rainforest with magnificent rivers and waterfalls higher up through the sub-alpine regions of the Jigme-Dorji National Park. Up in this area of Bhutan the steep hills are a marvel to behold as traditional rice farmers have tilled the precarious terraces for countless generations, growing the special red rice that can survive in this colder alpine region. Our group gets plenty of opportunities for photographing the people and the landscape. Beautiful light follows us each day and the rising mist after a sub-zero night is just breathtaking. We eventually arrive in Gasa where our specialized trekking team have set up camp… and this is where we will spend the next two nights. At over 10,000 feet it will be cold at night as it’s the end of winter and the views all around are of the snow capped Eastern Himalaya’s. We get pampered with great food and very comfortable beds with everything we could wish for. Our visit in this mountainous region includes the visit to the beautiful and very historic Gasa Dzong. As very few tourists come up into this remote region, we have the area and the Dzong with all its resident monks to ourselves. They are getting ready for a rice festival and we have the opportunity to photograph the monks preparing the food. For two nights and just before our three course dinner, the group heads down to the hot springs where boiling water mixes with the river water and we can plunge in with the locals and steam ourselves as long as we can stand it! It’s unusual to be the centre of attention as the huge wooden tubs are all full of local and visiting Bhutanese (usually very modest) who sit and laugh with our guides as they explain that yes, we (foreigners) love hot mineral spa bathing too! Again we are over-whelmed at how friendly and peaceful the Bhutanese people are and how magnificent the country they live in presents itself through our lenses! As I mentioned in my first post about this Workshop… Ewen is processing his images each day and loading them up so fast! He amazes me… I process differently to Ewen, but would still love to have his ability to complete tasks so quickly!! ( To see Ewen’s images go to: Instagram https://instagram.com/photographyfortravellers/ or visit the website as he will have this trip loaded soon! ) As I only seem to get a few at a time completed… here is a few more images that I have been able to finish. All participants on this workshop are shooting loads of great images each day and we spend most evenings critiquing and helping those who don’t fall into bed photographically exhausted, to do some post-processing examples.
The photographic workshop that Ewen Bell and myself had decided to run in Bhutan this year filled to capacity without any trouble at all, and so eight participants from various parts of Australia and one from both Indonesia and England came together in Bangkok and we flew into Paro to start our “Wild Bhutan” adventure. Our initial travels took us from the capital Thimphu up over the Dochela pass with magnificent views across the Eastern Himalaya’s. I had already glimpsed them from my window seat of the plane, touched with winter snow and they are a sight to behold. Our first part of the journey is to stay in the area around Punakha and take in the amazing winter festival held at the Punakha Dzong (Buddhist temple) Three days of riotous colour and twirling dancers, with the locals dressed up in their stunning dress is just beautiful. A lovely quiet people who never push or are loud in their behaviour is very touching. During this three days of observing and madly photographing all aspects of this wonderful event, we took the group to other intersting sights in the valley and made sure we always got some part of the festival each day of our stay here. After this, we move on upwards in to the real wild part of Bhutan, which incidentally is 60 percent protected forests and National park, home to Snow Leopards, monkeys, Tarkins, Eagles, Vultures, Owls, numerous other colourful birds, tigers and common Leopards. I will post more images of our adventure into this lovely region soon…. But running a workshop does not give you much spare time and I process images a lot slower than Ewen!!…check out his wonderful images on Instagram https://instagram.com/photographyfortravellers/ The images below are just a few of the many I have shot here…enjoy!