Krista Rossow Speaking at OPTIC West in San Francisco

***UPDATE (March 9, 2020): OPTIC West has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date. Regardless, you should still save your space by registering via Eventbrite to be notified of updates and new dates.***

Lindblad Expeditions and B&H Photo Video have been partnering to bring the photo event OPTIC to New York City for the past five years. I had the privilege of participating in the 2016 events (you can see the program archive here). This year they are branching out to the West Coast and hosting the first OPTIC West in San Francisco from March 22nd-23rd, 2020.

Please join me and keynote speakers Art Wolfe and Frans Lanting, among others, in two days of photography learning ranging from lectures to photo walks. I’ll be speaking about photographing people, one of my favorite subjects.

Participation in these events is free! More information on the schedule and registration can be found on B&H’s website. I hope to see you there!

optic west promo

Travel with Me in 2020

I’ve been enjoying the last few months at home, a much-needed respite after spending 199 days on the road last year. That being said, wanderlust already has me looking at my 2020-21 calendar.

I am excited to share my upcoming trips, which I hope you’ll join me on! You can always find my teaching travel schedule on my website, but here is the run-down.

Joining Lindblad Expeditions trips as the National Geographic Expert is always a pleasure because the experiences in the natural world are unforgettable and occasionally the Lindblad staff’s knowledge rubs off on me. I’m thrilled about my upcoming trips in April and May to French Polynesia because I get to leave my cold-weather gear at home and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Polynesian hospitality. In late summer I’ll return to Alaska, a forever favorite of mine, to teach guests how to improve their landscape and wildlife photography. I know we will have no shortage of subject matter.

Krista-Rossow-Workshops-Alaska

The Inian Islands are known for abundant wildlife because of the nutrient-rich waters that surround them. I’ll be visiting there on both of my Alaska trips with Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions in August and September.

Last year I traveled with Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours as the National Geographic Expert on trips along the Douro River and the Danube. This year I’ll be returning to Portugal to join the Douro River cruise in late September and getting in the holiday spirit while exploring the Christmas markets on the Danube River in December.

 

Krista-Rossow-Workshops-Porto-Portugal

Last year I arrived early to Porto to explore this charming city covered in blue-tiles before joining the Scenic ship to cruise up the Douro River.

 

Krista-Rossow-Workshops-Danube-National-Geographic

The Scenic ship was docked across from the Hungarian Parliament Building for the beginning of the Danube River cruise.

In late October, I’ll be returning to San Miguel de Allende to teach my workshop The Camera as Passport for the Santa Fe Workshops. I first fell in love with this colorful colonial town in Mexico over sixteen years ago! I can’t wait to discover the magic of the city again, this time with a group of curious photographers. Do you want to be one of them?

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

The Jardin is the center point in town and is marked by the pink neo-Gothic spires of San Miguel’s Parroquia church.

It’s hard to think about 2021 when I’m in denial that we are already into February of 2020, but I already have some excellent trips on the calendar for Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions. I’ll be returning to one of my favorite destinations, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, in January 2021. In March 2021, I’ll board the beautiful four-masted sailing yacht, the Sea Cloud, to sail through the Caribbean Islands. And in May 2021 I’m going to Baja California on the National Geographic Venture on a photography-focused expedition.

Krista-Rossow-Workshops-Galapagos-Nazca

The Nazca boobies in the Galapagos Islands are not as famous as their blue-footed brethren but equally beautiful.

I’m also teaching two private photo workshops with my friend and colleague Jennifer Davidson; one in Coastal Maine and Acadia National Park and the other in Miami and the Florida Keys. If you are interested in a personalized photo workshop, please let me know.

I hope to cross paths with you in the not-so-distant future on one of these trips!

Return to the Rainforest

If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to go on this trip. I was deep into a homebody rut after four months at home. And I had other projects in the works that I was hesitant to set aside for two weeks while I didn’t have any internet connection in the jungle. 

For me it is typical before every trip, even the ones I’m most excited about, to have a little freakout where I’m mentally kicking and screaming, “I don’t want to go!” But then the bags get packed and the passport comes out. Once I’m on the plane I am forced to set aside all of the things I wanted to get done before I left. Muscle memory kicks in and I transform into a traveler again, ready for another adventure.

This was my second trip to the Peruvian Amazon and although I knew better from my prior experience, I still harbored a fantasy that the rainforest would look like a Ravensburger puzzle where toucans and macaws dripped from tree branches, monkeys and sloths kicked it together, and butterflies flitted over the heads of caimans. The rainforest is indeed a riot of species, so abundant that it pulses with life, but that doesn’t mean all of that life will line up for the perfect photograph. 

As the National Geographic Photography Expert, I taught the guests I traveled with how to photograph in extremely challenging photographic situations where deep, dark forests and overcast skies called for drastic changes to exposures from one sighting to the next. And I hopefully instilled the idea that although not every wildlife sighting we had made a good photograph, it was always a worthy experience. 

So I shifted my expectations and did my best to just soak up the humid decadence of the rainforest. I looked again to reflections and quiet moments and would ask the skiff drivers to stop or multiple occasions to photograph something subtle like flowers or vines. I reveled in feeling like I was in a Dr. Seussian world when floating past islands of skinny palm trees in a flooded forest or navigating a waterway flanked by giant white-barked ceiba trees. On forest walks, I had the time to appreciate the small species and even discover leaves carved by hungry insects into modern art. I watched blackwater and whitewater rivers converge into a hypnotic, constant stirring of cream into coffee. The staff on board the Delfin II ship spoiled me again with their hospitality, amazing meals, and their patience for my rusty Spanish. And I was able to revisit locals I’d met and photographed the year before and gift them with prints.

And although it turns out we had blips of internet connectivity when we’d pass certain communities, I decided to remain blissfully unconnected and instead tuned into the sounds of downpours, choruses of frogs and birds, and took in the unique experience of plying the swollen tributaries of the mighty Amazon River.

07-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-sloth

Brown-throated three-toed sloths, with their charismatic half-smile, were delightful to spot, especially in close proximity during forest hikes.

03-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-reflection

Something as simple as a patch of water lettuce could transform into abstract art with the right background reflections.

04-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-toucan

The sighting of this white-throated toucan was my favorite encounter of the entire trip. This bird, the largest of the toucans, had eluded our view earlier during a skiff excursion on Magdalena Creek, but on a return visit, we found it roosting in a nearby tree before it then flew into perfect view.

10-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-vines

I loved simple, beautiful scenes like these roots and vines hanging from the rainforest canopy. As much as I enjoyed photographing the wildlife in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, I think it was moments like this that conveyed the magic of the region.

06-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-skiff-ride

A naturalist looked for wildlife during a skiff excursion on the Pacaya River. Most of our mornings and afternoons were spent motoring on the glass-like tributaries of the Upper Amazon.

08-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-leaf-holes

Precise caterpillar holes formed a pattern on a tropical green leaf, turning the leaf into nature’s own artwork.

09-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-tamarind

A tiny saddle-backed tamarin, who is about the size of a squirrel, nibbled on fruit from a tree over Nauta Creek.

02-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-wooly-monkey

Watching the woolly monkeys swing and play from trees was a highlight of each week. Unfortunately, the curiosity we experienced from these animals was caused by some tour operators allowing people to feed and pet these animals.

11-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-sunset

A group of great egrets gathered in treetops at sunset on El Dorado River.

12-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-feathers

The graceful tailfeathers of a great egret blew in the wind as it hunted for fish.

13-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-confluence

Blackwater (colored by tannins) and whitewater (colored by sediment) converged and looked like cream being poured into coffee on the Pacaya River.

14-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-frog

During a night walk, we encountered plenty of insects, snakes, spiders, and frogs like this Manaus slender-legged tree frog.

15-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-canopy-walk

A walk on a suspended bridge at Amazon Natural Park was an interesting change of perspective on the rainforest canopy.

16-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-butterfly-eggs

A heliconia butterfly rested on a green leaf to lay tiny white eggs.

05-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-village

I ran into many of the people I’d met last year when I visited the community of San Francisco de Loreto on the Marañon River, including Safira, the girl on the far left. I brought her father prints of the images I’d taken of his family as a gift.

17-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-woman

I met this woman, Nora Tapujima Chavez, while I explored the small community of Amazonas. She let me spend time with her while she weaved a basket using the plastic from old rice sacks.

18-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-bow

The Delfin II ship never anchored in the vast waterways of the Upper Amazon but instead tied up to familiar trees.

19-krista-rossow-peru-amazon-photographers

Photographers knew that the bow of the Delfin II was the place to be at sunset on the Ucayali River.

If you are interested in this expedition to the Peruvian Amazon, you can find out more here. And to see more of my images, visit my Photoshelter gallery.

The Shape of Ice

I’m very belated in sharing about my trip to Antarctica (which I took last year…in January), but I realize that I’m right on time in keeping with one of my New Year’s resolutions from 2018 which is to return to Antarctica. I’m pleased to share that in November of 2019 I’ll be the National Geographic Expert on the Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands itinerary with National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions.

Antarctica is one of those places that defies description and imagery. It is the most immense and remote place I’ve ever experienced. To get there you have to hopscotch down the South American continent all the way to the end of the world, the town of Ushuaia, Argentina. From there you board a ship which must cross the (occasionally dreaded) Drake Passage. After a day and change of navigation, depending on your fortunes with the crossing, you begin to see ice and then eventually land.

To imagine the Antarctic islands and continent, envision the majesty of an Alaskan mountain range, strip it of trees and other vegetation, pepper in some penguin colonies, and layer it with a thick frosting of glaciers and snow. What threw my mind for a loop was realizing that without trees and only an occasional man-made structure for reference, getting a sense of scale was nearly impossible. What I could sense, and what remains elusive from truly explaining to someone who has never been, is that everything around me was immense, remote, and beautiful.

I surprised myself with how charmed I was by penguins. It was pure entertainment to watch them tending their adorable chicks on rocky nests or scurrying back and forth from fishing duties. I loved watching the ruckus caused by thieving penguins, the lazy (or ingenious!) penguins who steal rocks from other nests rather than trudging down to the shoreline to fetch their own.

But what I was most enchanted with was the ice. I loved the patterns along the top of tidal glaciers, the artistry in icebergs being sculpted by waves and time, and the sheer awe inspired by massive tabular icebergs floating in an open ocean. I still daydream about the beautiful shapes of ice that I’m missing out on thousands of miles away at the end of the earth.

But now I know I’ll be back. Join me November 19th through December 12th, 2019, and experience the beauty of ice in Antarctica and unparalleled wildlife encounters in South Georgia.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-sea-ice

Guests stand on the bow of the National Geographic Explorer as the ship navigates through sheets of sea ice in the beautiful landscape of Crystal Sound.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-ice

Have you ever peered into the heart of an iceberg? I’d paint my world in this blue if it could be reproduced from a can.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-ice-castle

The face of a tidal glacier looks like a castle made of ice in Paradise Bay.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-zodiacs

Two inflatable boats filled with guests are dwarfed by the immense icy waters.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-fast-ice

A favorite experience was “parking” the National Geographic Explorer in fast ice to have a stroll around Crystal Sound.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-penguins-diving

Adelie penguins gather on the shoreline of Brown Bluff before diving into icy waters which harbor their predator, the leopard seal.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-penguin-chick

During my January visit, there were plenty of chicks nuzzling underneath penguin parents in all of the colonies we visited.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-penguins-ship

Three gentoo penguins walk in a row up a snow-covered hill with the National Geographic Explorer in the background.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-orcas

A pod of killer whales swim in the ice-filled waters of Cape Green.

krista-rossow-antarctica-photography-base-w

We were able to visit a few bases and historic sites, but my favorite was Historic British Base W on Detaille Island, which remains frozen in time since being abandoned in the 1950s.

To find out more about the Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands itinerary, click here. To see more of my images from Antarctica, visit this gallery.

Patagonian Dreams

Once upon a time, I flew south in the springtime to find autumn in the Austral lands. I boarded a ship named Orion that took me through turbulent channels and calm coves on an expedition of wonder. I was enchanted by gnarled forests of windswept beech trees and lighthouses dangling over the ends of the earth. I was charmed by orchestras of elephant seals. I felt wind and mud in my face as I galloped a horse across the pampa. I was brought to tears by the sheer beauty of mountains. And I even licked a glacier.

It does feel like some sort of wonderful dream now, months later, as I write this while Christmas lights twinkle outside of my window. The trip I took in March as a National Geographic Expert for National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions to Argentina’s Staten Island and Chilean Patagonia was one of my favorites to date. Although I don’t yet have a scheduled return, I’m working on it and dreaming about Patagonia in the meantime. Here are a few images to inspire your own Patagonian dreams.

krista-rossow-argentina-isla-de-los-estados-landscape

A long cry from the other Staten Island in New York, Argentina’s Isla de los Estados is a rugged, unkempt landscape; just the way nature intended it.

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-cape-horn-rainbow

The weather in Patagonia can be capricious. We arrived under clear skies at the famed Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. But after climbing the wooden stairs from the landing to the top of the island, I could see a dark storm approaching. Most of my visit was conducted under torrential rains, but as I made a dash for the last zodiac to the ship, the sky parted and this rainbow appeared.

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-garibaldi-glacier

This expedition was my first on the beautiful National Geographic Orion. Here she is looking especially dainty in front of the Garibaldi Glacier inside of Chile’s Alberto de Agostini National Park. If anyone ever thinks that I’m “roughing it” on these expeditions, don’t feel bad for me when I come home to a fully stocked bar and multi-course fine dining.

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-magellan

Whipping winds couldn’t keep me from venturing onto the deck of the Orion to photograph the sunset along the Strait of Magellan.

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-karukinka

Southern elephant seals in Karukinka Natural Park blend into the beach like logs when they’re resting, but they cannot be ignored when they cause a ruckus. In fact, this bunch interrupted an interview I was doing with Video Chronicler Mark Coger (and you can see the blooper here).

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-karukinka-trees

For the love of trees! I adored the shapes of the Southern beech trees in Karukinka Natural Park.

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-torres-del-paine

I’ve seen the Torres del Paine massif in countless photos and nothing could prepare me for how overwhelmed I’d feel when I finally gazed at such beauty in person. I decided then that Torres del Paine National Park is in the top five most beautiful places I’ve even been.

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-torres-guanaco

We took various hikes throughout Torres del Paine National Park and had many guanaco as willing subject matter to pose in front of the gorgeous mountain backdrops.

krista-rossow-chilean-patagonia-horse-gaucho

Although I didn’t photograph while galloping on my horse, that experience is seared into my mind forever.

If you’re interested in coming to a photo workshop with me in Torres del Paine (the place that brought me to tears), shoot me an email to let me know. And if you’d like to see more images from this expedition, visit the full galleries of Chilean Patagonia and Argentina’s Staten Island.

Into the Jungle

One of my travel habits is to compare the place I’m visiting to other places I’ve been. Cape Town reminds me a bit of San Francisco and New Orleans. The Oki Islands in Japan are reminiscent of the rugged coastline of Oregon. But when I found myself floating the waters of the Upper Amazon in Peru, I was shocked at where my mind went…..to Disneyland.

Specifically, the sounds of dripping water and calling birds, long sinuous vines, and vegetation that looks like tropical houseplants gone wild reminded me of being on the jungle ride in Disneyland. The allure that the ride hinted at was amplified in person and, to be sure, the humidity and mosquitos made it undeniably real.

During the two weeks I spent cruising the brown, and sometimes black, waters of the headwaters of the Amazon River, I realized that a tropical rainforest is a place of subtle beauty where patience and time are rewarded with sightings of exotic creatures. I saw brief glimpses of the elusive pink river dolphin, was tormented by macaws and toucans who always seemed to keep their distance, reveled in watching wooly monkeys swing from tree to tree, and fell totally in love with sloths, the slow-moving, wiry-haired guardians of the canopy. I learned to appreciate the quiet beauty of the rivers and creeks we explored on daily skiff rides, looking for splashes of color in a riot of green vegetation, staring into reflections as if in a trance, and I secretly loved getting caught in downpours where the rain forced me to do nothing else but enjoy the reason the rainforest gets its name.

As much as I enjoyed the natural beauty of the Amazon, I was absolutely surprised and delighted by our interactions with the local people who live along the river’s edge, the ribereños. The people were generous in giving us a glimpse into their daily lives.

Next year I’m fortunate enough to already be booked on two photography-focused departures in January with National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions on this itinerary. I’d love to explore the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve with you on board the Delfin II.

2-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-reflection

On the still waters of the Yanayacu River, I couldn’t get enough of the reflections. Luckily every afternoon seemed to have these gorgeous pile-ups of clouds in the sky.

3-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-woolly-monkey

We were able to spend time photographing groups of curious woolly monkeys as they swung from limb to limb hanging from their tails.

4-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-victoria

Every time we came across the impressive Victoria amazonica giant water lilies, I had to make pictures. The blooms begin as white buds and then unfold into pink splendor before wilting away in a brief two-day life cycle.

5-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-skiff

During this expedition, we maneuvered along the river, up creeks, and into flooded forests on skiffs, our reliable metal steeds.

6-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-passionflower

The tropical rainforest can feel like a verdant dream and one quickly learns that a flash of any other color means a wonderful find. Whether that is the spectacle of a toucan or macaw’s bright feathers or the pop of red from a passionflower bloom hidden below the canopy, it is always worth observing.

7-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-caiman

After night fell on el Río Dorado, we used a high-powered light to spot caimans along the river’s edge by looking for the red reflections of their eyes from afar.

8-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-night-monkeys

Our local guides took us to a favorite roost of a family of adorable night monkeys.

9-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-hoatzin

The hoatzin, or what I refer to as the prehistoric chicken, was one of the many animal species I came across which I’d been unfamiliar with before.

10-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-bromeliads

I was entranced by the details of the jungle like the gorgeous curtains of bromeliads that adorned many of the trees along the river.

11-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-baby-sloth

Most of the sloths we spotted were perched high in the treetops except for this one occasion where we spotted a baby hanging out on a low cecropia tree, snoozing in between nibbles on the leaves.

14-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-san-francisco-village

As much as it felt that we were far away from civilization during our explorations we often passed by small river communities. We were able to take time to visit San Francisco, a typical river village filled with wooden homes with aluminum roofs.

12-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-riberenos

During our visit to the community of San Francisco on the Marañon River, we were welcomed with smiles, waves, and curious looks, especially from children.

13-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-smiling-woman

I photographed this lovely woman during a dance performance in the community center of San Francisco.

15-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-squirrel-monkey

It was common to see local families living with pet monkeys, macaws, and sloths.

20-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-instax-girls

I love to photograph people when I’m traveling and I try, as often as possible, to find a way to share the images with the people I photograph. On this trip, I knew emailing images wouldn’t be an option so I brought along a Fujifilm Instax printer from B&H Photo Video which enabled me to print and share photos I’d taken with the locals I’d meet. I won over these young girls who chatted with me and stayed by my side during the entire visit.

17-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-smiling-camera

In Puerto Miguel, these young boys enjoyed seeing the photos one of the Lindblad guests had taken of them. The boys kept telling him, “otro” and he would humor them by taking another photo and the cycle of giggles and grins would continue. 

18-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-pet-coati

On Supay Creek we met this young boy who was keeping a coati, which is a member of the raccoon family, as a pet.

19-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-handicrafts

Locals all along the river make handicrafts to sell to visitors. Tarantulas and frogs woven out of dyed chambira palm fiber were a popular item.

20-Krista-Rossow-Peru-Amazon-delfin-river-cruise

The Delfin II was a luxurious home away from home while exploring the Upper Amazon of Peru.

To see more images from this expedition on the Peruvian Amazon, visit my Photoshelter gallery.

A small ship passes through a narrow passage in Alaska.

On Assignment with National Geographic Expeditions: Photography in Alaska & British Columbia

This past May I had the opportunity to travel as a National Geographic Expert on a voyage from Seattle, Washington, along the Inside Passage of British Columbia and Alaska. The National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions A Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia & Haida Gwaii photography voyage was one of my favorites because as a Pacific Northwest native I felt right at home experiencing the lush forests and moody weather.

On September 3rd-17th of 2017, I’ll be joining as a National Geographic Expert on another Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia, and Haida Gwaii on board the National Geographic Sea Lion. Come join me on this intimate ship as we get up close and personal with the beauty of landscapes, wildlife, and culture of British Columbia and Alaska. I’ll be working with a talented photo team to provide insightful lectures and give tips and advice while on photo walks and photographing from the ship.

Here are a few images from last May’s expedition as a teaser of what the experience is like. To see more images from that voyage, visit my archive.

Two photographers on the bow of a ship.

On these expeditions, you’ll often find the photo team, like Photo Instructor Ryder Redfield (right), out on deck giving photo tips, especially during the beautiful sunset we had while navigating Frederick Sound.

A glacier calves in front of a zodiac filled with people.

The morning we spent on zodiacs photographing the awe-inspiring Dawes Glacier calve was something I’ll never forget. It was an experience for all the senses, from the crackling sound like lightening in the ice to the giant aftershock waves that rocked the ship anchored over a mile away.

krista-rossow-alaska-expedition-inian-islands-4

I never tired of photographing bald eagles, like this one perched on a tree branch in the Inian Islands, which were ubiquitous in the rugged Alaskan landscape.

krista-rossow-alaska-expedition-1

In Petersburg, also known as Little Norway, we had a photo walk through the picturesque fishing village, capturing scenes of everyday life.

krista-rossow-alaska-expedition-5

On the last full day of the voyage, we spent over an hour photographing orcas as they swam around the ship in nearly still waters on the Peril Straight.

I’d love to see you join the voyage with me in September of 2017. I can promise beautiful vistas, amazing wildlife, and loads of photographic learning…….but I can’t promise the same beautiful weather I had last May!