October 23, 2012
An image captured by Amos Nachoum – of a Leopard seal and penguin – was named Best of Show in this year’s APA Awards! You can get a look at the winning image on Amos’s photography website. View the winners announcement at this link, and see all the portfolios at this link.
Visit amosphotography.com to look at more images from Antarctica, including the winning image, of a Leopard Seal about to dine on a penguin. While on the amosphotography.com site, browse through the fine art images and purchase one or more for yourself, or as a gift.
Ready for your own adventure? Capture your own award-winning images on our next expedition to Antarctica.
Meet some superstars above and under the ice in a adventure emulating the unique style and the heroic productions of BBC and National Geographic teams. Ice dive with Leopard seals in an intimate expedition providing maximum time for you to dive along the face of icebergs in search of the Antarctic icefish, observe Crabeater and Weddell seals and, course, the “star of the show,” the Leopard seal, often referred to as “more leopard than seal.”
August 20, 2012
Written by Amos Nachoum, Blase and Barbara Mills
My guest, Bartosz, is submerged for more than 30 minutes in the cold water of the Okavango Delta. He is diving with our guide Brad on this crocodile expedition in Botswana. Topside, on the boat, Richard and I watch their bubbles surfacing from only one spot. They aren’t moving. This means they have found a croc! (Click on any image to enlarge it .)
The sky is cobalt blue and a light wind rustles the papyrus which glistens in the wind like wheat in the sun. The air is full of sounds: monkeys, river birds and the seductive murmur of water. (Remember, you can click on any image to enlarge.)
When Bartosz finally surfaces and climbs aboard, his eyes are twinkling. Still in his wetsuit and mask he eagerly checks his camera screen. After reviewing his pictures he looks up with a happy grin. He got his croc! Seconds later, Brad surfaces and beckons me into the water. I grab my camera and with the help of my teammates quickly join him in the river. After hours under the African sun, the chill water (55F) seeping into my wetsuit is a welcome relief. Brad leads me under the papyrus canopy into the hidden lair of the crocodiles and turns on the light of his new RED video camera. Illuminated in front of us is a 12 ft. young croc resting on white sand. The darkness around the pool of light is impenetrable and we are only at a depth of 15 ft.
For the next 10 minutes Brad and I photograph the croc. The beast is calm and unmoving. But then things change. Irritated by the strobe lights, or perhaps by our presence around him, the croc rises on his forelegs and like a slow-motion scene in a sci-fi movie lurches towards us. With each step clouds of sand rise and its tail sweeps the silt into a ghastly whiteout. We back off, blinded by sand and satisfied with our encounter.
Most mornings and late afternoons we film the fish eagle’s hunting behavior. Our method is simple and time tested. We catch a few tiger fish in the river. We set up the boat downwind, bracing it against the papyrus. Our guide, Brad, imitates the cry of an eagle and waves the fish up in the air. This brings the Eagle to a tree close by the riverbank. As the predator locks its eyes on the fish, Brad tosses the fish upriver against the wind.
“Are you ready?” Brad asks.
“Wait a minute “ Bartosz replies as he sets up his 400 mm lens mounted on a mini tripod. I scream “Good to go!”
In three seconds or less the eagle spots the bait floating down the river. It spreads its majestic wings and turns into the wind. Then, fighting against the wind, struggling to accelerate, it flies towards the fish. As the eagle turns into the current of air, it dives down, skimming the water with the tip of its wings. It’s talons are now fully extend forward towards the floating fish. We photographers are all tense and silent waiting for Brad’s signal. “NOW!” Brad yells as the eagle start its turn, flying low over the water. There is a cacophony of cameras firing in frenzy—30 and up to 50 frames in less than 4 seconds. There is a sigh as we all exhale at the same time. Frantically we search through our images, focusing on our screens—Did you get? What did you get? Oh yes and oh no…. Let’s do it again and so on…
The sun is setting behind the tall papyrus wetlands and soon we will face the chill of the African night. We tuck our cameras away and speed over the river to our Lodge. Long before we arrive we can smell the welcoming wood fire waiting for us on arrival. After hot tea and coffee we break for hot showers to end another exciting day on the river.
For the next 6 days we explore different parts of the river in search of clear water. “Clear water” is a relative term in this kind of river diving; it means 15 to 20 feet visibility. Each section of the river has a different name. One section is called Fat Albert, after a croc by that name. The legend is as follows: this croc was located near a village in another area some 70 miles away. The croc became accustomed to people and boats and frequently would approach them. Everyone was worried he would hurt someone; consequently the croc was relocated down the river. Now we are searching for this beast. It is rumored he is 14 – 15ft long and 50-55 years old.
Fat Albert channel, about 5 miles long, remains clear through the winter long after most others channels turn murky again. We explore this channel which is shallow, 12 to 20 feet deep with a sandy bottom. The contrast between a dark croc against white sand makes our work easier. We see no sign of Fat Albert until one morning someone screams “CROC!” We suit up with lightening speed as the boat moves up current. Together, we enter the water with a back-roll and speedily assemble on the river bottom. We brace ourselves as the current sweeps us forward. Pushing forward with our fins we dig them into the sand using them like brakes. By the time I see Fat Albert resting against the riverbed, I have passed him and am nearly on his tail. Dragging myself, my camera and strobes against the current I maneuver towards his head. I want to photograph this croc head on – looking directly toward its rows of white teeth.
I look straight into the croc’s unmoving eyes. When I realize how big the beast’s head is, I move my camera like a shield in front of me and start shooting. The croc remains immobile. I inch closer and closer until the camera is too close to focus. I have the Canon 14 mm lens, which means I am merely 8 inches in front of dinosaur. Minutes later Fat Albert moves and each step creates a small sand storm. With apparent ease, this 14 feet long croc turns into the current disappears.
We try to follow the beast but cannot battle the strong current. We stop, look at each other with a smile and raise our fist in sheer satisfaction and relief. We did it again, against all odds.
I look forward to seeing Fat Albert and other crocodiles next year. Diving and photographing crocs is exciting and safe providing we use knowledge of the reptiles and their environment. Our guide, Brad, has been diving in the Okavango River for 12 years and is one of the leading experts on crocodiles. From experience he has learned crocs do not see well underwater and therefore feed mostly on the surface. Consequently, it is crucial to stay close to the riverbed while diving. It is also essential to take only 2 guests at a time so as not to crowd the croc and block its escape route.
Join me next season so we can explore the Okavango River and its wildlife together, as I have done with John H, Daniel B, Bartosz B and John A… will you be next? For more images and a deeper look, visit my Facebook album about the Okavango Delta.
November 17, 2011
Written by Amos Nachoum
Another giant has left us. The International Union for Conservation of Nature said that the Western Black Rhino of Africa was officially extinct, and two other subspecies were close to the same fate. Amazing to consider also that a quarter of all mammals are at risk of extinction. But there is also a ray of light: the IUCN said that the Southern White Rhino and Przewalski’s Horse have been saved from extinction. Why? Successful conservation programs.
This is why I believe that the battle to save Big Animals from extinction begins with experiencing them first hand. You need to be in the presence of a rhino, a lion, a gorilla or a whale to fully comprehend its power, grace and magnificence. Conservation measures are the answer, as Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission said: “In the case of both the Western Black Rhino and the Northern White Rhino, the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented.” Getting people and governments to take those measures means they have to experience, appreciate and make an emotional connection to Big Animals. I’d like to offer you a way to do that, yourself, and have the experience of a lifetime.
Big 7 African Safari
Nobody ever said getting spectacular images of the world’s iconic animals was easy, but I want to offer you a way for your personal photos of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, cape buffalo and mountain gorillas to be worthy of a spread in your favorite nature magazine. Come with me to Africa June 2 through 24, 2012 and I will be at your side to coach your camera work, show you how to work with various lenses and telling you about the best ways to shoot in natural light. On the expedition we’ll avoid the usual tourist destinations so you can get a sense of Africa at its most welcoming and magnificent. The grand finale is to strap on some scuba tanks and swim with Nile Crocodiles in the Okavango Delta. We’ll be in the Nxamaseri Lodge, a unique African experience on an island in the delta. We make the trip doing the best time to be in the water – June and July when the water is clear (visibility 15-20 feet) and cold (55-60 degrees F) which brings the crocs to the surface for great viewing and interaction.
There is hope for Big Animals. Sperm whales were among the world’s most hunted animals – almost driven to extinction. But how they have made the best comeback in the history of wildlife with almost as many now as there were a hundred years ago. Will you join me on our next adventure to Africa?
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November 11, 2011
Written by Amos Nachoum
According to NBC News, a pair of 40-ton giants got dangerously close to a surfer in Santa Cruz, California. The US Coast Guard isn’t saying for sure, but there are many reports of more humpbacks coming closer to shore than ever. Some whale experts, like those at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, say this is something to worry about. They’re concerned about people getting hurt.
NBC quoted Kera Mathes of the Aquarium as saying “Being that close to an 80,000-pound whale when it’s coming up and looking for food isn’t safe,” she said. “When these surfers and kayakers are so close, it definitely poses a danger to the whale and those in the water.”
She’s right… but I believe it’s possible to get close to this remarkable animals, and get close safely.
Here are ten facts about Humpbacks from the American Cetacean Society and from my experience.
- They belong to the same family as the blue whale, fin whale, Bryde’s whale, sei whale and minke whale.
- The females are bigger than the males: from 45-50 feet to the males’ 40-48.
- Humpbacks feed on krill, small shrimp-like animals, and small fish and eat up to 1.5 tons of food a day.
- Baleen plates, not teeth, trap their food to be swallowed.
- Humpbacks are acrobatic, breeching their 40 tons completely out of the water.
- They sing, and their songs are complex with each population singing its own unique song.
- Their songs are not inborn – they learn them from each other.
- The are capable or migrating the globe, from Antartica to the Pacific.
- They breed, give birth and care for their newborn calves in the warm waters of Tonga.
- If you want the best pictures of them, you’ll need a wide angle lens and will need to learn how to safely swim close to them.
I’ve got dozens of years’ experience photographing Humpback whales, and I know the way to get the best photograph is to treat them respectfully and free dive close. I’ve trained adventurers to do this over 10-day expeditions that I lead, and I have picked the tropical paradise of Tonga for this. Not only is it the very definition of an island paradise, but it is prime territory for the Humpbacks during their breeding period. As you free dive among them on this adventure, you’ll see mother and calf interacting and the bulls tail-slapping and breeching. Would you like to join me? My next Humpback whale adventure departs August 20, 2012.
Coming up right away next year is my adventure in the Carribean to see the largest carnivore in the world – the Sperm whale. There are only a few spaces left, so get in touch with me to reserve yours. Sperm whales were among the world’s most hunted animals – almost driven to extinction. But how they have made the best comeback in the history of wildlife with almost as many now as there were a hundred years ago. Sperm whales are the easiest whales to approach – they are curious and friendly as they socialize in pods of five to thirty. For this encounter, Big Animals Expeditions has teamed with Andrew Armour, known in the diving commmunity as the ‘whale whisperer.’ We will be on his boat, the Domnik. Download the PDF flyer now.
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August 17, 2011
Written by Amos Nachoum
I’ve posted a Facebook album of croc images from my recent expedition to the Okavango Delta in Botswana. We saw crocs every day, four to five times a day, anywhere from seven feet long and up to 12 feet long. I had a great experience with my ace guide Brad Bestelink, who is also an extraordinary filmmaker. The expedition was such a great success that Brad and I have created two new croc adventures – the first of their kind anywhere in the world.
Croc Expedition Departures
The initial departure, during the third week of July 2012, will be seven days of croc encounters for just two diver/photographers. The second departure, during the last week of July 2012, will combine five days of croc expedition with an eight-day Big Cat Safari (encountering lions, cheetah and leopards), and is also for only two diver/photographers.
If you are interested, contact me right away, because these spots will fill up fast.
Click to see the album posted on Facebook.
November 10, 2010
SkinIt, the leading company in personalization for electronic devices, is offering some Big Animals images for your gift-giving pleasure and your own enjoyment. They’re making me a featured artist on their site and they’re offering 15 percent off to you as a reader of my blog. Read on to find out how.
What is “personalization” for electronic devices? Well, let me ask you first, what’s the one thing you’d never be without for more than a few moments? Most of us would say “my phone” and the rest of us might say “my laptop.” SkinIt offers a way to make those important accessories even more your own – with Big Animals images. You can express your connection with nature and personalize at the same time. The images are high quality and carry my signature. Here’s what they look like, and you can find a collection of Big Animals images on the SkinIt site, and a bio of me.
It’s a new way to make your iPhone or laptop an even greater expression of yourself. I’m glad to be working with SkinIt. Their customer service is great and you can personalize your phone or laptop or give a SkinIt Big Animals gift. Just go online and order. If you enter the AMOS15 promo code, you’ll get 15% off!
October 20, 2010
Written by Amos Nachoum
Great White Shark Diving Field Report: Guadalupe Island
Here’s a field report from Baja California, Mexico as I wrap up part one of this year’s shark diving adventure. I’m getting this out to you before the next group of guests arrive.
Under my leadership, nine people just had the trip of a lifetime. They gathered from across the USA, South Africa, Australia and Germany to encounter the Great White Shark as only as biganimals.com expedition can deliver it. For five of them, “once was not enough.” They had been with me already on as many as six other trips – and, amazingly, one was back for the second time for an adventure with the Great Whites. It’s always gratifying for me to reconnect with people with a passion for adventure. This trip was no exception.
Cage-Free Diving with Great Whites
Shark dives off Guadalupe Island are usually done inside a protective shark cage. But with through preparation and very close supervision, it is possible to have the “cageless sensation” for a select few. On this trip I carefully chose five divers to join me, one at a time, for a cage-free experience, described by some as the “Everest of Diving experiences.” Here’s one guest as he’s getting ready to leave the cage.
I go about this very carefully. I started everyone in the surface cage at first. As you can see from the picture below, when guests leave the cage, they are always escorted by a safety diver. Though we saw sharks during the whole five day-trip ranging in size from 12 feet up to 15, the pace of shark visits on the first and second days was slow. But then, on the third day, the pace of the sharks frequenting our cages picked up and on the last day and last dive out of the cage we had four Great Whites circling the cage while we were swimming with them…carefully yes, and very much aware. Everyone returned home safely this morning, and now I’m waiting for the second team of this year’s Great White shark expedition.
The weather was calm and sunny, the sea was flat, and the team — they were an extraordinary group of adults who clearly understood what is at stake, the risk, and the adventure. All of the guests did a great job, and know very well how to work as a team, and take part in my know-how to manage risks as I lead them to experience the Great White in this dramatic way. Together we were able to dispel the myth of the “mindless predator” the Great White is so often made out to be. But the myth can only be dispelled when it is done thoughtfully, with responsibility and respect for these magnificent animals.
The water temp was a chilly 66-degrees F at 40 feet and at 80 feet, even cooler at 64 F. The semi drysuit by Bare was very helpful! A good thing, because the lower we took the cage obviously the colder the water got – but also more and more sharks were around us. We even recognized a few from last year. (We named them Lucy and Schroeder.) The year before as well as saw and ID’d some newcomers. One of them we called Noreiga. Once you see a Great White up close, like in the picture below, you’ll never forget it.
Next year’s Great White trip is scheduled for October 9 – 16, 2011, and only five spaces remain open. I suggest that you reserve your spot to see the great white shark for yourself as soon as you can.
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October 4, 2010
By Amos Nachoum
Great White Shark Diving is a Great Teacher
When I travel to the Galapagos Islands, or lead a Great White Shark expedition to Baja California in Mexico, or journey to Antarctica to see Leopard seals and other animals, I find that these places have a lot to teach me. They teach me not only as a photographer, but also as a human being.
Every time I suit up and jump in I rediscover a deep connection with nature. Personal encounters with large animals are life changing. The people I take on my trips tell me that all the time. Whether we’re diving in the Galapagos or walking in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton in Antarctica, there’s this amazing paradox that happens.
You get what one participant called “an unparalleled intimate experience” with an animal many times larger that you are.
I’m excited to talk about all this at Google headquarters in Mountain View. On October 5th, I’ll be leading an invitation-only audience at Google through images and stories of personal encounters with awe-inspiring blue whales, cage-free encounters with Great White sharks, close-up experiences with polar bears, Leopard seals, anacondas and more. I am passionate about image-making, but I think there’s even more going on when we document the activities of these big animals. I love the work and the adventure, and it’s fun, but I also think it’s important – a reaffirmation of our deep connection with nature. At my Google talk, I’m going to highlight the place wildlife has in our culture.
We co-exist on Earth with amazing creatures. We may think of ourselves often as “the boss,” but when you experience the presence of a Great White shark close up, you start thinking other things. It’s more likely that we’re not “the boss,” but something like stewards of the planet. And first things first, we have to understand the animals we share the planet with.
One of the clients I’ve dived with wrote me to say that Great White sharks are “the most misunderstood animal on the planet. Once you have an opportunity to dive with them, you begin to understand their true nature and predicable behavior. They are not the mindless eating machine that the media portrays them to be. The thrill and excitement cannot be compared.”
I keep leading these trips and creating these encounters for myself and for others because they create a kind of magic. I have never felt more human – and more vulnerable — than in the presence of a magnificent animal. It might sound a little mystical to you, but when you look into the eye of a whale from very close, and experience that creature’s focused and calm regard, you feel its intelligence in your bones. Maybe even its soul. The memories I take away from these experiences are epic. They also demand of me that I share them with others.
That’s the reason I keep taking it to the edge, pushing the envelope, living outside my comfort zone and even sometimes testing common sense. I feel driven to highlight the meaning wildlife has for us, deeply experience the places where the world’s biggest animals life, and understand how their future co-existence with humanity is going to work for all of us. Wish me luck at Google! I’m looking forward to it.
There are some upcoming trips that I’d like you to know about. We have an October 16, 2010 departure to Mexico’s Baja California for a close encounter, both in-cage and out of the cage, with the Great White shark. We’ve already sold out one of these trips this year, so book now to catch the recently-added October 16th departure. For details, visit the trop page for the Great White shark expedition.
In Mexico, December 4 – 12, 2010, there are just three spots left for an intimate look at the world’s greatest game fish, the striped marlin. We’ll venture out on a 36-foot dive boat to see the secret places where magnificent striped marlin gather to feed. Our home base will be warm and sunny Todos Santos, near enough to Cabo San Lucas if you feel the urge, but with its own quiet charm if you want to drink that in.
April 17 – May 1, 2011 we’ll be in the Canadian High Arctic, following in the legendary footsteps of Henry Hudson, Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, Richard Byrd, Roald Amundsen and Nanook for an unforgettable adventure in wildlife photography. Expect long sunrises and sunsets filled with warm, golden light – perfect for photography. We’ll see polar bears, seals and whales, with icebergs calving in the distance, and also get some experience of Inuit camp life. Just four spots left on this trip, so book now.
Coming up on February 9-26, 2012 I’m going to take just five people to Antarctica to experience an encounter with the Leopard seal. We’ll be aboard the 158-foot luxury ice-class yacht Hanse Explorer.