Documenting Orangutan Diversity

 

An adult male Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) sits in the sleeping nest he has made in a small tree.

An adult male Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) sits in the sleeping nest he has made in a small tree.

 

Currently, Tim is in the rainforest of Indonesia working on his orangutan project for the summer.  Part of the project is a new National Geographic story which he will document their behavior in several different populations around the country.  Check Instagram for pictures from Tim in the field.  @TimLaman

 

 

Exploring a “Lost World” in Australia

Our pilot Bungie flies his helicopter low over the rainforest and boulders of the Cape Melville Range as he comes in to pick us up from on top of one of the giant boulders and move us to a better location.  Herpetologist Conrad Hoskin and were dropped off in this remote mountain range for several days, and I documented Conrad's discoveries of several new species of reptiles and amphibians, including the spectacular new "Cape Melville Leaf-tailed Gecko". Cape Melville Range, Cape Melville National Park, Cape York Peninsula

Our pilot Bungie flies his helicopter low over the rainforest and boulders of the Cape Melville Range as he comes in to pick us up from on top of one of the giant boulders and move us to a better location. Herpetologist Conrad Hoskin and were dropped off in this remote mountain range for several days, and I documented Conrad’s discoveries of several new species of reptiles and amphibians, including the spectacular new “Cape Melville Leaf-tailed Gecko”.
Cape Melville Range, Cape Melville National Park, Cape York Peninsula

See the blog post about this expedition here.

Also see the “In the Media” page for links to various news reports about this expedition and its discoveries.

The Timeless Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Marine Iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs are pounded by a rain shower on Santiago Island, Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Marine Iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs are pounded by a rain shower on Santiago Island, Galapagos Islands.

See a series of blog posts under “Expedition Notebook” for photos and notes from my trip working as a photo instructor with Lindblad/National Geographic Photo Expeditions.

The Story Behind a Dream Shot

A Greater Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) male greets the sunrise from his tree top display perch in the Aru Islands, Indonesia.

A Greater Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) male greets the sunrise from his tree top display perch in the Aru Islands, Indonesia.

This is one of my true “dream shots”.  I had imagined a shot like this with a bird-of-paradise in the foreground and a view out over the rain forest for years, but never found a place where I might be able to make it.  Finally in the Aru Islands in 2010, I saw my opportunity.  But the problem was getting the camera in the right place.  I solved the problem by developing what I called the “leaf-cam”, a camera well hidden in leaves, and controlled remotely.

Here is a short video that tells the story of how I set this up, and finally got the shot.

 

 

 

Borneo – My Rain Forest Roots

Rhinoceros hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros) perched high in canopy of the lowland rainforest behind.  Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, on the island of Borneo.

Rhinoceros Hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros) perched high in canopy of the lowland rainforest. Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, on the island of Borneo.

Borneo is where I got my start in exploring the tropical rain forest and getting really serious about my wildlife photography.  I first went to Borneo as a research assistant for a year.  Then I did my Ph.D. research there over several years.  I turned my Ph.D. project exploring the rain forest canopy and studying strangler fig trees and associated wildlife into my first National Geographic magazine article back in July 1997.  Since then, I have been back to Borneo over 25 times working on various National Geographic articles and other projects.  It will always hold a special place in my heart.

This photograph of Rhinoceros Hornbills in the rain forest canopy is one that I dreamed about for years.  It was actually on my very first day in the rain forest in Borneo that I saw a Rhinoceros Hornbill flying over head, way up in the upper canopy, and thought “I have to find a way to get up there to get pictures in the canopy”.  It took many years for me to perfect my tree climbing skills and create the opportunity to get this shot by rigging a blind very high up in a large dipterocarp tree on a hillside near a fruiting Ficus tree.  I spent a great many hours in that blind over many days, until one day a group of hornbills stopped in this tree before visiting the Ficus, and I got this shot.

See a full gallery of my Borneo rain forest images at www.timlaman.com.

Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

Cobalt-winged Parakeets (Brotogeris cyanoptera) at a clay lick south of the Napo River, Yasuni National Park, Orellana Province, Ecuador

Cobalt-winged Parakeets (Brotogeris cyanoptera) at a clay lick south of the Napo River, Yasuni National Park, Orellana Province, Ecuador

For the January 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine, I was part of a team of five Nat Geo photographers including Ivan Kashinsky, Karla Gachet, David Liittschwager and Steve Winter.  We went to Ecuador for one month to document the biologically richest place on the planet, Yasuni National Park, and the important conservation issues and human cultural issues surrounding it.  Here is the feature story at Nat Geo.

You can see how all our efforts came together to tell the story in this interactive.

Also, Spencer Milsap of Nat Geo produced this video piece, which my assistant Anand Varma and I also helped to shoot.  It captures what it was like to work on this story in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador.