Making preparations for my annual Hokkaido photography tour takes about two weeks with special care, my pro-support team and I leave nothing to chance, and every detail is gone over with a fine-tooth comb. We triple check everything from participant's special needs such as food allergies to weather charts and wildlife feeding routes/locations, which change by the weather and by the day of the week. Wildlife's behavior is paramount for a photography workshop leader to know; we have to know their hunting grounds, to be able to lead our clients to the perfect photo opportunities. So the experienced local teams, take the extra time and do homework, such as my team and I, we know the situation in the wild for snow monkeys, birds such as the Steller's Sea Eagle, White-Tailed Eagle, Shima Enaga, and other wildlife. Then my team and I can rest easy collecting our participants at Haneda Tokyo International Airport, knowing we have created the NO.1 safest Japan photo tour and our clients will have the most unforgettable and unique photography workshop experiences out of any photo workshop Hokkaido Japan.
Paramount to us is only to leave our own boots footprint in the wild, and not disturb the inhabitants. Just as the First Nation’s People of Japan the Ainu strive to live in harmony with their natural surroundings, my team and I act and build our understanding regarding the sustainability and conservation efforts that are being made to protect all species that inhabit Japan and the world. The Steller’s Sea Eagle is one such species that inhabit Japan about six months out or every year. The IUCN has categorized the Steller’s Sea Eagles as ‘vulnerable.’ The Stelle's Sea Eagle is acclimated to sub-arctic temperatures, so climate change is having an impact on their access to rich fishing grounds. Melting ice and warmer waters mean a change in eating habits, and habitat. In the next 50 to 100 years, the Stellers Sea Eagle may not migrate to Japan due to warming temperatures and no pack-ice, which triggers their migration to Japan. However, we still have a chance to stop global warming, and positive impacts are being made in Japan, and other parts of Asia and Eurasia where they roost; they are now an internationally protected species, so when joining a Blain Harasymiw Hokkaido Photo Tour, you will see and photograph hundred's of Stellers Sea Eagles on the pack ice enjoying life as they have for thousands of years as they did during the age of the dinosaurs. Japan is latitudinally, over 3000 kilometers, and located in the Northwest Pacific Ocean; climates range from sub-arctic in the north to subtropical in the south. Two distinct ecological lines divide Japan’s natural indigenous plant and animal life - “The Blakiston’s Line” and the “Watase’s Line.” Due to this uniquely rare ecological condition, Japan is abundantly rich in avifauna, and it is among the top spots on our planet for birding and birding photography, and the best opportunity for an up-close and personal encounter with the Steller’s Sea Eagle.
With Blain in Japan as your wildlife photography Hokkaido birding workshop leader, you know from his 30 plus years of experience in the field, and with over 20 years spent leading Hokkaido birding photo workshops, you will have the very best birding and wildlife opportunities to photograph several vulnerable species such as The Red-Crowned Cranes, The Steller's Sea Eagles, the Blakiston's Fish Owl, and many others on and off the red list. The photo's in this article were taken on the deck of our chartered boat deep in the pack-ice, our caption is an amazingly good ships hand and friend a friend of mine, he knows how to perfectly position us in the pack-ice with the sun to our backs for the perfect lighting for our wildlife Hokkaido birding photography boat tour. My Camera gear; I used the Nikon D5; my lens was the Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports. My settings for Hokkaido birding in pack-ice is usually around 1/2500th to 1/3200th, f/11, ISO 500. For wildlife, a high shutter speed is necessary for fast movements, especially fast jerks of the head and blinking eyes. F/11 I prefer so all the bird is in focus, tack-sharp. My ISO I set depending on the skies, sometimes I have to push my ISO to 5000 or above due to overcast conditions, I like to keep my ISO under 2000, but I will push it to the maximum when out spotting bird species to enter into my birding/wildlife log books, for spotting I usually use my AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR AF-S with its built in teleconverter TC800-1.25E ED.