It is the worst trying to hold the lens still, when you feel the mosquitos landing on your hand starting to sting
Remember this moment, when you peacefully lay in bed on a warm summer evening, you close your eyes and want to finally relax and slip off into dream world……. and then suddenly you hear this single little mosquito flying around your head. You hear the ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii ziiiiiiiiii coming closer to your face and you try to feel where this damn mosquito lands, so you can hit yourself over the head and hopefully smash the little bugger. Most of the time however your face may flinch in anticipation of the oncoming hand, giving this mosquito just enough time to escape its fate.
Well now multiply this mosquito by a thousand, NO! by tenthousand and you may be able to imagine the kind of hell you might find yourself in on an arctic river in summer. The noise level of mosquitoes resembles a concert of dog wissles that are just within the realm of the human ear.
So you are still with me? – ok; then you imagine my idea to wade through a river and sit patiently in the tundra near a wolf den to see if I might get lucky to get a photograph. Well yeah, this is the thing with me. If I have a glimpse of hope, my will can be pretty strong.
So what was I after? I had know about this wolf den the year before. Together with my pilot we checked the location this year again to confirm that the wolves were actually still present. We did one round over the den and saw a grey wolf peacefully resting on the river bank. I got one image and this observation gave me reason to come back. When we planned to come back in July we thought about mosquitoes; I bought a mosquito net last minute, because I had forgotten mine. Thank god! As we arrived at the river and flow over the den site we still saw a black wolf nearby. That wolf never even looked up but just shook his fir. It was a sign. As soon as we landed, we know what was going on. This poor creature was so miserable, it could care less what we were all about. Aerial wolf-hunters? Who cares! Put me out of this misery!
Good thing we were of the other kind! Longer story short: After crossing the river, I sat down near the den for a couple of hours. For some reason the mosquitoes always found away to work their ways to my skin. I tried to stay calm and the dream of the wolf images kept me pretty upbeat. The bigger problem for me was that I saw not much sign of activity on the river bank. The sand seemed not disturbed from tracks of playing wolf pups, nor was there an obvious path where they would emerge. I checked out different angles but I just could not convince myself that these wolves would ever appear in the open, if they were there at all. So I decided to leave, one of the many times where a hope for an image did not result in success.
Maybe it saved my life, that there were no fresh signs! With my stubbornness I may have stayed out there until the mosquitoes would have sucked the last drop of blood out of me and just left my dried up outer shell – mummified; of course with camera in hand.
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- NANPA Outstanding Nature Photographer of the Year 2019
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- Florian featured in CNN TV report
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- Exploring the Western Arctic
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- The Underwater World of Cabo Pulmo
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- Encounters with the Giant Blue
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- "Trust Me" on the water…
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- Wild Migrations: Surviving the River Crossing
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- Award goes to Florian's Quetzal Panoramic Image
- Conservation Photographer of the Year 2008
- Expeditions in the Alaskan Arctic, Part 1
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