Visionary Wild, LLC • 2200 19th St. NW, Ste 806, Washington, DC 20009

E-mail: info@visionarywild.com    •    Tel: 1-202-558-9596 (9am to 5pm, EST).

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email: justin@visionarywild.com

Sara Robb – Operations Assistant: sara@visionarywild.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

0 of 12 spaces left | $25,350* Waitlist
Expedition November 9 - 16, 2017 | View other workshops

Polar Bears – Eye to Eye with Frans Lanting, Chris Eckstrom and Justin Black

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TESTIMONIALS FROM OUR 2015 and 2016 POLAR BEAR GUESTS:

I have to say that was the best trip ever!!!!!  So many great photos and a really great group. I would love to go back, but I think the mark that was set would be hard to beat. –J. Furber

Loved our polar bear trip. Many thanks for putting together such a great trip. Am very pleased with my pictures and still trying to decide which ones to cull out. –J. Allen

Back from the shores of Hudson Bay on a polar bear photo safari with lots of images. Great adventure with expert assistance from Visionary Wild. The experience of a lifetime! –K. Cochran

Big thanks for the special expertise of our fabulous professional photographers!  They were always there to help, provide tips and give one on one consultations. It was so surprising to see so many large polar bears close to each other and sparring, and it was extra special to watch the wolf on the ice. Nanuk Lodge is full of wow experiences. The bear guides were skilled, experienced, knew the animals behaviors, and were very safe.  To be able to freely walk with wild polar bears is something we will cherish. And the cuisine was amazing. The fresh vegetables, delicious wild rice, spices, baked goods and more. Every meal was truly a superb gourmet treat! Thanks to you very very much for a great trip! –J. Pace.

Picture yourself standing on arctic tundra at the edge of Hudson Bay, photographing a pair of polar bears wrestling in the glow of sunset as they wait for the bay to freeze over so they can begin their annual hunting season on the ice. An arctic fox watches the action from the sidelines. The only sounds are the bears, the breeze, and waves lapping at the ice forming on the shoreline. Then imagine, as the light fades and temperatures drop, you walk just a few feet away to sit beside the fire in a cozy wilderness lodge – reserved for our group's use only – joining your fellow photographers for a glass of wine while reviewing the day's photographs, in anticipation of a gourmet dinner and excited conversation about the opportunities that await tomorrow. Keep your camera ready, though... the aurora borealis may well appear in the night sky.

Join Frans Lanting, Chris Eckstrom, and Justin Black at Nanuk, a remote wilderness lodge positioned in prime polar bear territory on the shores of Hudson Bay east of the mouth of the Nelson River in Manitoba. This is a very special opportunity to intensively photograph polar bear behavior close-up in the wild. Our small group will photograph the bears from eye level, on foot, via short excursions onto the tundra and from the grounds of the lodge, where polar bears walk within inches of the fence line. This area is unusual in also enjoying excellent sightings of wolves, and it's also one of the few places on Earth where polar bears and black bears can be seen together.

Nanuk is a very comfortable, recently renovated and upgraded fly-in lodge that offers unique access to a high density of polar bears with a lovely coastal landscape backdrop. To ensure you make the most of your visit, Frans, Chris, and Justin will provide highly attentive, thoughtful, and generous instruction throughout the trip, offering feedback and useful guidance drawn from their combined four decades of experience as professional nature photographers. They will provide recommendations on camera setup optimized for wildlife photography, teach strategies and techniques to empower you to anticipate and capture fleeting wildlife behaviors, offer advice on composition and working the available light and weather conditions for best effect, and more. In the evening, Frans, Chris, and Justin will provide feedback and constructive critique of your images to ensure that the quality of your work improves significantly over the course of the trip.

Included in the package are round-trip flights (Winnipeg – Churchill – Nanuk Lodge), all lodging, all meals, all beverages, all photographic instruction and bear guiding, partial gratuities, and Canadian tax. Though most Visionary Wild workshops and expeditions are packaged and priced as single-occupancy by default, this workshop is packaged as double-occupancy at $12,675 per person, due to the limited number of guest rooms and beds at Nanuk Lodge, and the fact that their operating season is relatively short, which makes the cost for a room for one person exactly double the double-occupancy price. We will be happy to help pair up individual participants of the same gender who wish to share a room, but we can certainly accommodate those who wish to book single-occupancy rooms.

Click "read more" at below right to continue...

ITINERARY

November 9 – ARRIVAL DAY IN WINNIPEG

Fly into Winnipeg International Airport (YWG). After collecting your luggage at baggage claim, exit the airport through the arrivals exit and to your right across Wellington Avenue is The Grand Hotel, where we will gather in the restaurant for an introductory dinner at 7:00 pm. Overnight in Winnipeg.

Nov 10 –  WINNIPEG – CHURCHILL – NANUK LODGE

We depart for the airport to catch an early morning Calm Air Airlines flight to Churchill, Manitoba. After arrival in Churchill, we will be transferred by DeHaviland Turbo Otter aircraft to Nanuk Lodge. This exciting flight takes us out over the historic Churchill River, and then southeast along the rugged Hudson Bay coast over a landscape that is home to healthy populations of caribou, seals, wolves and of course the great “Ice Bears.” Upon your arrival, our hosts will provide a tour of the lodge and get you settled into your room. A thorough orientation on travelling in polar bear country will be provided prior to any outings. Then it's time to grab our gear and head out for our first excursion! Overnight at Nanuk Lodge.

Nov 11-14  – NANUK LODGE

Nanuk Lodge is in a wildly rugged and remote location that rewards the dedicated wildlife photographer willing to respond to opportunity and spend significant time in the field getting up close and personal to the Arctic wildlife. We will be in the heart of polar bear country, with stunning snow and ice backdrops of the sea and landscapes surrounding the lodge. The location also enjoys an exceptional number of clear nights for northern lights photography.

Our meal service times will be adjusted to accommodate photo opportunities which are the priority, so meals may be interrupted at times in response to what’s going on outside. Breakfast is generally served at 8:00 am, lunch as required; with appetizers at 6:00 pm followed by dinner at 7:00 pm. Evenings will be spent near the fireplace downloading images, sharing the day's adventures, or taking in an informative lecture or slide show. Bedtime is at your leisure. If the night watchman spots a dazzling display of northern lights, be prepared for a wakeup call (optional). Overnight at Nanuk Lodge.

Nov 15  – BACK TO CHURCHILL AND WINNIPEG

After another hearty breakfast it’s time to pack for the flight back to Churchill, say good-byes and snap a few more pictures. After another exciting aerial tour, we arrive in Churchill where your bags will be stored for you until our flight back to Winnipeg later in the day. We are then free to explore this frontier community. Points of interest include Cape Merry, the Port of Churchill, the Eskimo Museum, as well as the Parks Canada exhibit. After flying to Winnipeg in the afternoon, we will transfer to The Grand Hotel for our final group dinner and overnight. Overnight in Winnipeg.

Nov 16  – CATCH FLIGHTS FOR HOME

Breakfast, and then we say farewell and safe travels.

Frans Lanting

FRANS LANTING has been hailed as one of the great nature photographers of our time.  His influential work appears in books, magazines, and exhibitions around the world.  Born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, he earned a master’s degree in economics then moved to the United States to study environmental planning.  Soon after, he began photographing the natural world—and never turned back.

For three decades he has documented wildlife from the Amazon to Antarctica to promote understanding about the Earth and its natural history through images that convey a passion for nature and a sense of wonder about our living planet.

“Frans Lanting has set the standards for a whole generation of wildlife photographers,’’ according to the BBC.  “Mr. Lanting’s photographs take creatures that have become ordinary and transform them into haunting new visions,” writes field biologist Dr. George Schaller in The New York Times.  “As a chronicler of natural history today, Frans Lanting is a singular, extraordinary talent,” says Thomas Kennedy, former Director of Photography at National Geographic.  “He has the mind of a scientist, the heart of a hunter, and the eyes of a poet.”

Lanting’s work is commissioned frequently by National Geographic, where he served as a Photographer-in-Residence.  His assignments have ranged from a first look at the fabled bonobos of the Congo to a unique circumnavigation by sailboat of South Georgia Island in the subantarctic.  In a remote part of the upper Amazon Basin, he spent weeks on platform towers to obtain rare tree-canopy views of wild macaws.  He has lived for months with seabirds on isolated atolls in the Pacific Ocean, followed lions through the African night, and camped among giant tortoises inside a volcano in the Galápagos.

Lanting did pioneering work in Madagascar, where he documented wildlife and tribal traditions never photographed before.  His celebrated coverage of the Okavango Delta in National Geographic has been credited with inspiring a surge of international interest in wildlife and conservation in Botswana.  His photo essays about rainforest ecology in Borneo, emperor penguins in Antarctica, and the troubled fate of puffins in the North Atlantic, have been featured in publications around the world.  Images from his year-long odyssey to assess global biodiversity at the turn of the millennium filled an issue of National Geographic. 

Lanting’s work also includes profiles of ecological hot spots from India to New Zealand, as well as features on the majesty and plight of albatrosses, and a remarkable study of chimpanzees in Senegal that is shedding new light on human evolution.

In 2006, Lanting launched The LIFE Project, a lyrical interpretation of the history of life on Earth from the Big Bang to the present, as a book, an exhibition, an interactive website (www.LifeThroughTime.com), and a multimedia orchestral performance with music by Philip Glass.  The symphonic version of LIFE premiered in Santa Cruz, California, in 2006 and has been touring North America and Europe ever since.  ORIGINS, a new multimedia production based on LIFE, was performed in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2008, at the official ceremony to inaugurate CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the largest machine ever built to study the origins of the universe.  LIFE was performed at the Lincoln Center in New York in 2009 to launch the World Science Festival and to honor the distinguished biologist Dr. E. O. Wilson, and in 2012 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands attended a performance at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam during a gala event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the World Wildlife Fund. 

Lanting’s books have received awards and acclaim: “No one turns animals into art more completely than Frans Lanting,” writes The New Yorker.  His books include Life:  A Journey Through Time (2006), Jungles (2000), Penguin (1999), Living Planet (1999), Eye to Eye (1997), Bonobo (1997), Okavango: Africa’s Last Eden (1993, 2013), Forgotten Edens (1993), Madagascar, A World Out of Time (1990), Islands of the West (1986), and Feathers (1982).  In 2000, his book Eye to Eye was named by National Public Radio-KQED as one of the 50 most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.

Lanting has received many honors and awards for his work.  In 2001 H.R.H. Prince Bernhard inducted him as a Knight in the Royal Order of the Golden Ark, the Netherlands’ highest conservation honor.  He has received top honors from World Press Photo, the title of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award.  Lanting has been honored as a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in London and is a recipient of Sweden’s Lennart Nilsson Award.  In 2012 he was appointed as an Ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund Netherlands.

Lanting’s mission is to use photography to help create leverage for conservation efforts ranging from local initiatives to global campaigns, through his publications, alliances, public appearances, and active support of environmental organizations.  He serves on the National Council of the World Wildlife Fund, on the Chairman’s Council of Conservation International, and on the International Board of WildAid.  Lanting is a Trustee of the Foundation Board of the University of California Santa Cruz, and is an honorary Director of the Friends of Long Marine Lab.  He is a columnist for Outdoor Photographer, a co-founder of the North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA), and a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).

Frans Lanting makes his home in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and partner, Chris Eckstrom, an editor, videographer, and former staff writer at National Geographic with whom he collaborates on fieldwork and publishing projects.

Chris Eckstrom

Christine Eckstrom is a writer, editor, and videographer whose work celebrates the wonder of the natural world and seeks to explore how people and wildlife can coexist. Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, she grew up in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and New England.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she is the author of Forgotten Edens (National Geographic Books), and is a contributing author of more than a dozen books published by National Geographic, where she worked as a staff writer for 15 years. Assignments have taken her to wild places on all seven continents to cover subjects ranging from wildlife in Zambia to a profile of Brazil’s Pantanal.

For the past two decades she has worked with her husband and partner,Frans Lanting, on field assignments from the Amazon to Mongolia. Her stories have appeared in National GeographicAudubon, International Wildlife, National Geographic Traveler, and in other international publications. Her National Geographic Traveler story, “The Last Real Africa,” earned her a Lowell Thomas Award for Best Magazine Article on Foreign Travel.

Eckstrom collaborated with Lanting to produce Life: A Journey Through Time(Taschen), a lyrical interpretation of the history of life on Earth from the Big Bang to the present. They worked together to realize The LIFE Project as a traveling exhibition, an interactive website (www.LifeThroughTime.com), and a multimedia orchestral performance featuring the imagery of Lanting and the music of composer Philip Glass. The LIFE symphony premiered at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, California, in 2006, and is currently touring North America and Europe. Eckstrom and Lanting also worked together to produce ORIGINS, a new multimedia production based on LIFE. Specially commissioned by CERN, the European Council on Nuclear Research, ORIGINS was performed at the official ceremony to inaugurate the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.

Eckstrom has teamed up with Lanting to produce a number of acclaimed natural history and photography books, including LIFE (Taschen), Jungles (Taschen), Penguin (Taschen), Eye to Eye (Taschen), Okavango: Africa's Last Eden (Chronicle Books), and Forgotten Edens (National Geographic). After traveling by icebreaker to visit emperor penguin colonies along the coast of east Antarctica, she wrote “Time on Ice,” a story that appeared in a collection of essays entitled Celebration of the Seas.

As a videographer, Eckstrom documents the fieldwork she produces with Lanting. She has filmed pieces for the National Geographic Channel and NGM.com on cloud goats in India, elephants of the Western Ghats, Hawaii's volcanoes, wildlife in Zambia, albatrosses in the Southern Ocean, and chimpanzees in West Africa. Her coverage of chimpanzees in West Africa was also featured in the NOVA-National Geographic television special "Ape Genius," which received a Peabody Award.

Chris Eckstrom lives in Santa Cruz, California, with her husband and partner, Frans Lanting, in a coastal meadow they share with bobcats, coyotes, and elusive mountain lions.

Justin Black

JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, photo workshops instructor, expedition leader, and an affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Through both Visionary Wild and Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography (1999 – 2009) he has created inspiring and effective educational photographic experiences for thousands of passionate photographers. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.

A professional photographer since 1995, before founding Visionary Wild he served the ILCP as Executive Director, and for seven years was General Manager and Curator of Mountain Light Gallery.

Justin's photographs have been published by magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy.

Among conservation NGOs that have used his photographs in their campaigns are The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Panthera, Land Trust Alliance, Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, Conservation International, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ILCP, and the Wild Foundation.

In 2015, Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the Nature's Best Photography Africa competition. He has also served as an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell. His limited edition fine prints are represented by G2 Gallery in Venice, California, and by The Art of Wild in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

An early career as a travel photographer and image licensing specialist led him to Mountain Light Photography, founded by Galen Rowell – a world-renowned National Geographic photographer, author, and mountaineer – and his wife and business partner, Barbara, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning in May of 1999, Justin managed marketing of the Rowell image collection, assisted Galen on assignments and in his workshop program, and taught seminars on nature photography. In April 2002, the Rowells invited Justin to relocate with them to California's scenic Owens Valley as Mountain Light's General Manager. Justin eagerly embraced the sublime Eastern Sierra Nevada landscape as his new home.

Four months later, Galen and Barbara perished in the crash of a chartered plane, leaving behind a tremendous creative and visionary vacuum. Justin went to work, building on the impressive Rowell legacy to reinvigorate Mountain Light by establishing a seasonal series of guest photographer exhibitions, expanding the image collection, and relaunching the highly acclaimed photo workshop program through collaboration with Galen's leading professional peers, including Frans Lanting, Pat O'Hara, Jack Dykinga, John Shaw, and Jeff Foott. In May 2008, Justin's successful efforts were recognized by both Sunset and American Photo magazines, as each magazine featured editorial recommendations of his workshop program at Mountain Light.

After ten years with Mountain Light, Justin was recruited to take over the position of Executive Director of ILCP, a non-profit association of the best photographers worldwide working in the field of environmental conservation. At ILCP, Justin oversaw an explosion of productivity in expeditions, publishing, multimedia production, and the achievement of successful conservation outcomes. He contributed photographic coverage to ILCP's Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVE) program, including Flathead Valley (Canada, 2009), Yucatán (Mexico, 2009), and Chesapeake (USA, 2010), as well as a solo project for The Nature Conservancy, documenting the Dragon Run wetland on Virginia's Middle Peninsula. One of Justin's photographs from the Flathead River project appeared as a section opener in the Vancouver Sun newspaper – the first time the threatened watershed received significant coverage in that nationally important media outlet.  The photograph was later selected by the United States Senate for display in the U.S. Capitol Building, as Canada and the USA reached an agreement to protect the Flathead.

Justin left his position at ILCP in late 2010 to establish Visionary Wild, building on his successful leadership of the Mountain Light workshop program and applying expertise gained at ILCP to provide superlative workshops and expeditions for passionate photographers seeking to advance to the next level of creativity, quality, purpose, and meaning in their work. His own work continues to evolve in new directions, driven by the ongoing search for extraordinary qualities in our world's dynamic landscapes.

Justin lives in Washington, DC, with his brilliant wife, Lena (Visionary Wild's Director of Operations), and their children Philippe and Alexandra.

Justin Black's limited editions portfolio

Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile

Bringing focus and meaning to your photography

The Top 40 Nature Photos Project

Justin's Conservation Photography Projects

 

Justin’s Camera Bag

After using an array of 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film cameras for most of his career, Justin has switched fully to Nikon digital SLRs. His current gear includes:

Camera Bodies:

Nikon D810 (x2)

Lenses

24mm f/3.5 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

45mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

85mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor

18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G AF-S ED Nikkor

24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

70-200mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

200-400mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

 

Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter

Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter

 

Flash

Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-700

Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels

 

Filters

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

 

Tripods

Really Right Stuff TVC-24L with leveling base and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead

 

Photo Packs

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

Think Tank Photo (TTP) Streetwalker Harddrive

TTP Streetwalker Pro

TTP Airport Addicted V2.0

TTP Airport Acceleration

TTP Urban Disguise 50 V2.0

 

Highlights

  • Polar bears in their native habitat, easily approached on foot in a pristine and untrammeled wilderness setting perfect for first-rate photography.
  • Frans Lanting, Chris Eckstrom, and Justin Black draw upon their combined forty years of experience as professional nature photographers to provide insightful guidance, recommendations, and feedback.
  • Constructive critique of your images to ensure that the quality of your work improves significantly over the course of the trip.
  • Wildly rugged and remote – the conditions in November at this coastal tundra location enable us to dedicate full days in the field getting up close and personal with Arctic wildlife.
  • Excellent photo opportunities for other Arctic wildlife, including caribou and Arctic fox.
  • Exclusive use of Nanuk Lodge. Positioned on Hudson Bay, it experiences a surprising number of clear days and nights, delivering great light by day, and and unobstructed views of the night sky for photography of the Aurora Borealis.
  • Excellent dining, featuring the finest food and wine in the Arctic. Mealtimes will be adjusted or delayed as required to ensure maximum photo opportunities.

Accommodations & Travel

 

Included are round trip flights (Winnipeg – Churchill – Nanuk Lodge), all lodging, all meals, all beverages (including wine and beer with dinner), all photographic instruction and bear guiding, and some gratuities.

Nanuk Lodge

  • Cozy fireplace lounge for relaxation and storytelling
  • 8 guest rooms with ensuite bathrooms
  • Perimeter fencing and 24-hour safety patrol
  • No other human presence within 100 miles
  • Satellite telephone
  • Large picture windows overlooking the coast, passing wildlife, and bears!
  • Fabulous food – prepared from the lodge's famous northern cookbook series Blueberries & Polar Bears
  • ATV’s and touring trailers with emphasis on safety and environmental low impact

Inbound + outbound: accommodations are provided at The Grand Hotel near Winnipeg International Airport

airplane iconfoot iconweather icon
Round trip flights included from Winnipeg – Churchill – Nanuk Lodge. Most excursions will be on foot, though we will not need to walk more than a 1/2-mile or so per day. Some excursions may be via customized open tundra wagons. Weather at Nanuk in November is cold, but perfectly manageable with proper dress. Expect highs around 25F and lows around 0F. There is a small chance of snow.