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Posts Tagged ‘wilderness photography’

For the Love of Reading: Polar bear trip results in children’s books for New Jersey physician turned photographer

Polar Bear Dreams by Daniel D'Auria

Polar Bear Dreams by Daniel D'Auria

Special to Churchill Wild
by +George Williams

It’s unlikely physician Daniel D’Auria thought his photography hobby would turn him into an author, but that’s exactly what happened after his Polar Bear Photo Safari with Churchill Wild.

The 54-year-old from Tabernacle, New Jersey, has now created three children’s books about polar bears, each featuring a selection of photographs from the 17,000 he captured at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Heritage Lodge. Images from his trip can also be seen at his LifeScapes Imaging Web site.

“I never knew where wildlife photography would take me,” said Daniel. “But I had an idea for a book for preschoolers – a whimsical, rhyming book about polar bears.

“We have four children ages 8-23, and some of my fondest memories are of reading to them to when they were growing up. I wanted to create something that would get parents reading to their children and get children interested in wildlife. Parents are interested in the beautiful photos. Children are curious about the bears. And because parents are spending quality time with their children reading the books to them, it gets the children more interested in reading.”

Polar Bears Aren't White You Know by Daniel D'Auria

Polar Bears Aren't White, You Know! by Daniel D'Auria

A noble cause to be sure, and it’s been a long journey to get to the stage of published author, but Daniel has enjoyed every bit of it. He took up photography in high school and spent the last year or so photographing weekly in New Jersey before being able to participate in some of the more elite photography adventures.

Daniel’s wife probably had something to do with ramping up the photography hobby in the family. A former dental hygienist with an interest in sports, she participated in the Sports Photography Workshop at the Summit Series of Photography Workshops. Daniel tagged along and this led to him attending the Summit Landscape and Wildlife photography workshop a few years later. Unfortunately, his medical career still didn’t leave him the time he would have liked to have spent on photography — until recently.

About two years ago, Daniel hired an associate, which allowed him to free up some time for longer trips to elite photography havens that included the Richard Clarkson Photography at the Summit Workshop in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming; the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico; the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico; and finally the Polar Bear Photo Safari at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Heritage Lodge on the West Coast of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada.

I Wish I Had a Polar Bear by Daniel D'Auria

I Wish I Had a Polar Bear! by Daniel D'Auria

“The Churchill Wild experience was the trip of a lifetime,” said Daniel. “We first heard about it from Scott Fryer and his wife Paula, who he met while at the Photography at the Summit Workshop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We went on the trip as part of a group with Bob Smith of Elk Meadow Images, who organized a photography workshop for 14 people at Churchill Wild.

“The trip from Winnipeg to Churchill with CalmAir was wonderful. And we had a lovely flight on a small plane from Churchill to the Lodge. It was my first trip on a small plane and we had an excellent pilot. Seal River Heritage Lodge is beautifully hand constructed and extremely comfortable. The staff was unbelievably accommodating and the food was outstanding. It was just like home.

“Our guides, Andy and Terra, really made us feel like we belonged, not like we were goofy outsiders. They would scout the polar bears first to see where they were at, and then we would go on two hikes a day. The furthest we had to go was about a mile and we were able to set up for polar bears, arctic fox, ptarmigan and briefly an arctic hare.”

Being able to take on-the-ground photos of wildlife has been Daniel’s modus operandi in photography, so the daily hikes worked out perfectly for the group. This despite the fact that Daniel brought his 28 lbs. 2½ foot 600 mm lens, which it was suggested he consider leaving at home.

Polar bears playing near Churchill Wild's Seal River Heritage Lodge

Three is not a crowd! - Photo Credit: Daniel D'Auria

“I’m used to carrying my lenses in the wilderness,” said Daniel. “Whenever I’m photographing I have one smaller lens on my right shoulder, the heavier one on my left, and my backpack. So that wasn’t a problem.

“And we weren’t interested in going out in tundra buggies. I wanted to be on the ground with the polar bears. I like the freedom of the out of doors, the solitude of hiking the trails, and the beauty of observing nature. I don’t want to do it from inside a vehicle unless it is an absolute necessity. Whenever you’re out in the wild there will be certain element of danger involved. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I carry bear spray. In New Jersey it’s not an issue.

“Sure there is some fear of bears. But we learned there is a mutual respect between the polar bears and the people up there in Churchill. If done carefully and properly there is an acceptable risk. We never felt unsafe at any time. I think our group would uniformly say we would like to repeat our experience at Churchill Wild.”

Daniel went on to describe how much he enjoyed the spectacular landscapes, sunrises and sunsets over Hudson Bay. Flat, rugged and desolate, “it was like looking out over the surface of mars when the tide was out. You’d think you just went to another planet.

Polar bears cuddling near Seal River Heritage Lodge in Manitoba.

Cuddling on the Coast - Photo Credit: Daniel D'Auria

“But that’s the best thing about wildlife photography. You can never predict what you’ll see. Every day is a little bit of joy. And when I get back from a trip like this – my family notices the difference in me.”

Besides being a new author, Daniel also donates framed polar bear and wildlife prints to his local hospital. “I sell a few prints,” he said, “But the people at the hospital love them. They have them up on the walls and they always get nice comments from the patients and visitors.

“Wildlife photography has made me a much happier and more content person. It’s like being rich… but in different way.”


Daniel D’Auria’s polar bear books for children can be found on Amazon.com at the links below. He’s also working on two more children’s books about birds and is always interested in pursuing joint ventures that will also benefit a good cause in some way. Thank you Daniel!

 

Black and White Adventure Offers Canadian Wildlife In Living Colour

Black and White Adventure - Black bears, Polar Bears, Killer Whales and Beluga Whales

Black and White Adventure

Presented by Canada’s Churchill Wild and Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

For the very  first time, wildlife adventurers and photographers will have the opportunity to get up close and personal to Canadian black bears and polar bears, humpback whales and beluga whales, during a spectacular summer trip in 2011.

The Black & White Adventure has been created by two of Canada’s top wilderness resort operators, Churchill Wild and Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.  Both specialize in wildly incredible nature holidays with top notch amenities, and discovered that once guests experienced one species of bear and whales, they crave the opportunity to view, photograph and learn more about other species. The only package in the world to offer this intense wilderness combination, this adventure takes guests from the UNESCO protected biosphere reserve and rainforests of Clayoquot Sound to the rich and vibrant northern wilderness of Churchill Manitoba’s Hudson Bay Coast, with opportunities to stay in Vancouver and Whistler, BC,  in one mind blowing trip.

This photographer’s dream experience is being offered during 13 different dates, July and August 2011, ranging from 10 – 14 nights.  Rates for the package start at CDN$12,795 per person, based on double occupancy. Included are overnight accommodations, meals, guided activities and local transportation including seaplane transfers to/from Vancouver and Clayoquot Wilderness Resort and aerial and ground transfers at Churchill Wild, and ground transfers to Vancouver and Whistler.   Not included are flights to Winnipeg or Vancouver and between Vancouver and Winnipeg.

At Manitoba’s Churchill Wild, (www.churchillwild.com) guests have on the ground and in the bay access to polar bears and beluga whales as well as spectacular northern flora and fauna, and birding during the summer months.  Churchill Wild is the only company on earth that offers fly in eco-lodges in remote Arctic locations that have been strategically built to follow the path of the polar bear during its seasonal migrations. Sensitive to the fragile environment that surrounds the eco-lodges, guests enjoy Arctic luxury accommodations and gourmet meals, with a light environmental touch which is one of the reasons most of the wilderness excursions are done on foot or by boat.

“For 15 years, we’ve specialized in light-footprint, personalized eco-tours into Canada’s North,” said Mike Reimer, co-creator of Churchill Wild. “There’s something pretty awesome about coming face-to-face with a polar bear or nose to nose to a beluga whale for the first time and making that genuine connection with nature. We’re proud to partner with Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, a well-respected and like-minded company to offer such a wide ranging experience that celebrates whales and bears.”

The Canadian eco-safari experiences of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort (www.wildretreat.com)  first began 13 years ago, just off the coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino, BC.  The resort has popularized the term “glamping”  for glamourous camping, with its award winning blend of upscale tent accommodations, with fireplaces and ensuite washrooms, antique furniture matched with Persian carpets, Healing Grounds spa, exceptional dining and adventure opportunities tucked deep within what National Geographic has termed an “upside down rainforest”.

“We have built our business on providing guests with the type of experiences they can not get any where else in the world,” says John Caton, managing director of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. “When people see their first black bear they are hooked and want to know more, including how they relate to the Polar Bear of our northern areas.  Knowing the quality of experiences offered at Churchill Wild, it was a natural fit to see how we could offer this expanded experience to guests.”

People are encouraged to call either Churchill Wild (1-866-846-9453) or Clayoquot Wilderness Resort ( 1-888-333-5405) and speak to one of the resorts’ travel experts to learn more about the Black & White Adventure package, and arrange for the type of personalized experience that is the specialty of each company.  Additional information may be found at www.wildretreat.com or www.churchillwild.com.