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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Reimer’

Award-winning photographer returns to Churchill Wild for Polar Bear Photo Safari

Polar Bear relaxing near Seal River Lodge - Robert Postma Photo

Polar Bear relaxing near Seal River Lodge - Robert Postma Photo

Award-winning photographer Robert Postma will be making his third trip with Churchill Wild this week when he arrives for the Polar Bear Photo Safari — in search of emotion.

That might be tough to find among the notoriously stoic polar bears, but Postma has already demonstrated a remarkable knack for injecting a sense of emotion into his photos, and it has won him numerous national photo contests.

“At the risk of sounding a little flaky, I like to try to inject some feeling into the photos I take,” said Postma.  “I just seem to have a knack for it. I want people to feel some emotion when they look at my photos. I want them to experience the feelings I had when I was taking the shot.”

Postma’s photos have appeared in numerous magazines including National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Up Here, Our Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Astronomy, as well as in brochures, annual reports and calendars. On April 2, 2012 his photo of a great horned owl bursting from an abandoned toolshed in Saskatchewan appeared as the Photo of the Day on the National Geographic Web site.

A few of his photo contest wins include the 2010 Banff Mountain Festival Photography Competition, The Nature of Things and Planet in Focus Nature in Focus Environmental Photography Competition, the Show us your Canada photo contest in 2004 and 2008, the Up Here Fantastic Photo Contest and Canadian Geographic Photo Club’s Annual Photography Contest in 2011, for which the theme was extreme weather.

“That photo was taken while chasing storms in Saskatchewan,” said Postma. “Storm chasing puts me on the edge. I don’t sit out in the open, just on the edges, but I’ve been have been caught in the middle of some pretty nasty storms. You can’t take pictures in the driving rain if you’re in the middle of the storm though. I like the storm to be tracking in front of me. Some people get their rush from mountain biking, I get mine from chasing storms.”

Postma was introduced to the power of nature, and particularly that of thunder storms, at an early age. His mother would wake him up in the wee hours of the morning as storms approached their home in Strathroy, Ontario, and they would set up lawn chairs in the garage to watch nature’s fury explode across the corn fields. Walks in the forest with his parents and his brothers as a youngster further enhanced Postma’s respect and love for nature, but it wasn’t until 1998 while visiting a photographer friend in the Yukon, that he started to become obsessed with photography to the point where he decided to make his home in Whitehorse.

“For some reason I’m just drawn to the remote northern landscapes,” said the 41-year-old Postma, who has worked on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut and travelled all over North America as well as to Iceland, Australia, Bolivia, Peru, Guyana and Lebanon. “Iceland is one of my favourite places, but there are no polar bears there. Occasionally they’ll come over from Greenland on an ice flow and eat the farmer’s sheep, but that doesn’t last long.”

The remote moon-like landscapes of Hudson Bay were a natural draw for Postma, who first learned about Churchill Wild while on a trip to Churchill to photograph polar bears.

“I went on the tundra buggies the first time,” said Postma, “But I couldn’t get face to face with the polar bears.  So I asked around and they gave me Churchill Wild’s name. It’s now one of my favourite places. From the time I arrive in Winnipeg to the time I get back from Seal River Lodge I’ve received exemplary treatment. Mike and Jeanne Reimer are incredible hosts that make me feel right at home there. I’m not that social of a person naturally, but they have me out socializing around the campfire. The polar bear guides Andy and Terry are excellent and the food is also exceptional. I have to lose some weight before I go so I have some room to play with.”

Before leaving for Seal River Lodge, Postma was heading out to photograph grizzly bears fishing in British Columbia. We asked him what the major difference was between polar bears and grizzlies, besides the size, as polar bears are quite a bit larger than grizzly bears.

“The biggest difference between polar bears and grizzlies is the sheer unpredictability of grizzles,” said Postma. “I’ll take most of the shots of the grizzlies from my car. I have been as close as 10 feet away, but I’m little more anxious when photographing them. I have a high level of respect for grizzlies. They normally won’t bother you, but you have to be prepared to back away.”

Postma is looking forward to his trip to Seal River Lodge. He’ll be hoping to add to some of the stunning Galleries on his Distant Horizons Web site, which already includes spectacular shots of Aurora Borealis, Grizzly Bears, Panoramic Landscapes, Stormy Skies and more.

The polar bears will be there, as will the windswept snowy moonscapes, and likely a little stormy weather. If the skies are clear, the Northern Lights should also be on full display. So there’s only one thing left to add. It comes from the heart.

Postma will supply that.


Images above courtesy of Robert Postma.

Great start to 2012 Polar Bear Photo Safari

This message came in today from Mike Reimer at Seal River Heritage Lodge, where our Polar Bear Photo Safari is in full swing!

Polar Bear Mom with Cubs at Seal River Lodge - Missi Mandel Photo

Polar Bear Mom with Cub at Seal River Lodge - Missy Mandel Photo

This week guests from the US, Netherlands, Germany, France, the UK and Russia are finishing up as a group, and guests from France, Hawaii, Thailand and Taiwan are about to settle in.

Hey all you Polar Bear lovers out there!

Our bear season is once again off to a “roaring start” with wildly variable weather wreaking havoc with flight schedules but nonetheless offering visitors some incredible wildlife opportunities.

Freeze up appears to be right on target as our bears wait patiently for the coming ice, which will once more usher them out to their hunting grounds. The bears are all in excellent condition, no doubt due to the late ice breakup this past summer which gave them good access to seals and continuous hunting opportunities all the way through to the end of July.

Missy Mandel has been kind enough to share some of the fantastic ground level polar bear shots that our ecolodges have become famous for.

 Photo credits to Missy Mandel.

Seal River Heritage Lodge Receives TripAdvisor.com 5-Star Award!

Churchill Wild Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2012

Churchill Wild TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012

We regularly monitor our pages at TripAdvisor, as many of our guests post glowing reviews of their experience. When we checked the mail last week we found this “Certificate of Excellence” from TripAdvisor.

A sincere thank you to all of our guests who posted reviews and made us #1 for Speciality Lodging in Churchill!

Here is an excerpt from one of our reviews at TripAdvisor:

The word  “unique” is often used to describe travel experiences and all too often you are left disappointed as the reality often fails to live up to your expectations. Mike and Jeanne Reimer and the whole team at Seal River deliver an exceptional experience that allows you to observe Polar Bears up close and at eye level whilst staying in a lodge so comfortable that it is easy to forget just how remote this part of the world is… Words or pictures cannot really describe the thrill of being just feet away from a Polar Bear in its natural surroundings looking into its eyes…

Read more about Churchill Wild and Seal River Heritage Lodge at TripAdvisor.com

Churchill Wild enhances environmental stewardship programs with installation of VBINE Vertical Access Wind Turbines at northern eco-lodges

VBINE ENERGY Vertical Access Wind Turbine - VAWT

VBINE ENERGY Vertical Access Wind Turbine - VAWT

Churchill Wild has always been devoted to minimizing their environmental footprint at their remote northern eco-lodges. Now they’re enhancing their environmental stewardship programs even further with the installation of Vertical Access Wind Turbines (VAWTs) manufactured by VBINE ENERGY in Winkler, Manitoba.

The combined power generated by the VAWTs and the solar panels currently in place at their eco-lodges will virtually eliminate the need to use fossil fuels at Seal River Heritage Lodge, Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, North Knife Lake Lodge and Dymond Lake Lodge. Generators will still be in place for backup power, but the combination of the current solar-panel system combined with VAWTs is expected to provide for almost, if not all, their power needs in the future.

“The beauty of it is that we have a battery storage system,” said Mike Reimer of Churchill Wild. “The power generated from the VAWTs and the solar panels is stored in the batteries and we draw off of them. And they’re eco-friendly and economical. There’s less noise pollution, less of a carbon footprint and we’ll be paying substantially less than the $1-$1.30 per kilowatt it costs for diesel generated power.”

The VAWTs were invented by Barry Ireland about six years ago and refined by an engineering team. Their showcase installations include the Dr. David Suzuki Public School in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Wayne State Universityin Detroit, Michigan, but the rugged VAWTs were also designed to work in remote northern locations. “They were originally designed to work on smokestacks and silos,” said Ireland. “We had to build them so that the center wouldn’t rotate. We also had remote communication towers in mind when we built them. Many of those towers are powered by diesel and the VAWTs cut costs by quite a bit. That also means they will be popular with many northern lodges and outfitters.”

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VBINE is currently working with Canadian Solaron a combination wind/solar solution that will work for northern communities. “VAWTs are generating a large amount of interest because of the significant cost savings that can be realized,” said Ireland. “And the fact that the big windmills won’t work in the north. They ice up, they have too much vibration and they won’t go into the permafrost. The VAWTs are the only ones that will work up north.” VAWTs mount easily on existing buildings; they’re only two meters in width; they’re quiet and they’re suitable for grid tie-in or battery storage. And because of the vertical design, VAWTs can take wind from any direction. They start generating power at wind speeds of 1.2 meters per second and run 24/7 generating 5 kilowatts of power with a 25 mph wind. They have a permanent magnet generator with two long-life bearings, no drive shaft and no slips springs or brushes. The lifespan of the VAWTs is estimated at 30 years with very little maintenance. Their sleek design also minimizes interference with wildlife.

Hudson Bay CAT Train in Blizzard

CAT Train in a pending Hudson Bay blizzard

The first of the Churchill Wild VAWTs were hauled up to Seal River Heritage Lodge last week via CAT train (caterpillar pulling a freight sled) across the Hudson Bay sea ice, which is still about six feet thick.

Hauling tons of freight across the Hudson Bay ice in -20 degree weather is actually better than doing it at 0 degrees. The ice can get sticky and wet in warm weather, making for dangerous conditions. While there is generally no immediate danger from polar bears, which are still further out on the ice filling up on seals before the ice melts, the weather can still cause problems.

“The wind chills can get to as low as -40,” said Reimer. “And there’s always the possibility of blizzards, flooding sea ice and slush holes. CATS have actually gone through the ice on a couple of occasions.”

The trip takes about 15 hours from Dymond Lake Lodge to Seal River Heritage Lodge and Churchill Wild utilizes one of their two CAT track-type tractors, 1956 and 1972 models built by Caterpillar.  But how fast does that CAT really go? “About two miles an hour downhill with a tailwind,”  said Reimer.

To learn more about how VBINE ENERGY VAWTs can benefit your operations and goals for a greener future, please visit http://www.VBINE.com, call their head office at (204) 325-0228 or e-mail info@vbine.com

Churchill Wild polar bears to appear on CBC’s The Nature of Things in Polar Bears: A Summer Odyssey

Polar bear being filmed at Seal River

Filming polar bears at Seal River. Photo Credit: Nick Garbutt

Special to Churchill Wild
by +George Williams

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to visit the polar bears at Seal River Heritage Lodge or Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, you’ll want to make sure to watch the world premiere of Polar Bears: A Summer Odyssey on Sunday, April 8 at 7 p.m. on CBC TV’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. You’ll see some of our Churchill Wild polar bears!

The wildlife documentary, much of which was filmed over a 12-month period in the vicinity of Churchill Wild’s polar bear lodges, tells the story of a young male polar bear who must survive his first summer alone on land without his mother, after the ice breaks up early on Western Hudson Bay and prevents him from hunting seals. The youngster’s struggle to survive is back-grounded and influenced by one of the most important environmental stories in history: climate change.

Directed by Adam Ravetch of Arctic Bear Productions and produced by Arcadia Content in association with CBC’s Science and Natural History Documentary Unit, Polar Bears: A Summer Odyssey features stunning images shot with eight different types of cameras including: a polar bear collar-cam; a remote control truck-cam; a mini heli-cam and several underwater cameras.

“Filming in 3D was much more work,” said Ravetch. “But we wanted immersive images so the audience could experience what it’s really like to be up close at ground level with polar bears. It required multiple cameras operating at the same time to produce the special 3D effects and three of us including Stereographer Indy Saini and Camera Engineering Specialist Stewart Meyer to get the distances between the objects and between the lenses just right. Stewart also developed a smaller mobile camera system that could produce some very rare images.”

Churchill Wild’s Mike Reimer and polar bear guides Terry Elliot and Andy MacPherson were also essential in getting the ultimate polar bear shots.

“It’s a huge challenge to film in 3D in the arctic,” said Ravetch. “The guides have to have experience specifically with polar bears. They concentrate on safety so we can focus on camera angles and getting the shots we need. Being up close with the bears is quite spectacular for a filmmaker, but safety is paramount. The last thing we want is for a person or a bear to get hurt. You’re not in a cage or a vehicle, you’re at ground level with the polar bears. I’ve always worked at ground level, but there are very few places where you can photograph polar bears like this. Seal River and Nanuk are among the best places on the planet for this type of wildlife photography.”

Polar bear sees reflection on Hudson Bay.

Reflection of a polar bear. Hudson Bay.

Ravetch is no stranger the arctic. He and Sarah Robertson co-directed Arctic Tale for National Geographic. Ravetch also directed some amazing in-field sequences swimming with polar bears and walruses for the IMAX production To The Arctic and was cinematographer for one of the segments on the BBC series Frozen Planet, to name just a few of his many illustrious wildlife and nature film credits.

Ravetch sometimes camps out for 4-6 weeks at a time while making his films in the arctic, which makes for a very serious and sometimes dangerous adventure (see full interview here), but Churchill Wild was lucky to have him and his crew as guests at Seal River Heritage Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge during various segments of the filming process in 2010 and 2011.

“I woke up to Jeanne’s (Reimer) omelettes every morning,” said Ravetch. “Churchill Wild offers people the very unique experience of getting up close on the ground with the polar bears. Within a day of a arriving at the Lodge people can see polar bears on the tundra. But they still have a warm safe bed at the Lodge to come back to, and of course the delicious food.”

Thanks Adam! And just to clarify for future guests, Churchill Wild doesn’t actually “own” any polar bears.

They simply get close to them.

Polar bear at sunset near Seal River Heritage Lodge.

Nature at its finest.