Helmeted Hornbills have interested me since I first saw one in Borneo in 1987. But it took me years to capture the image I wanted of this spectacular but rare and little known bird of the Southeast Asian rainforest. Read the story below of how I captured this favorite image.
Helmeted Hornbills have been a major focus of my wildlife photojournalism efforts in recent years. In addition to articles in National Geographic magazine and Living Bird, I collaborated with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Rangkong Indonesia to produce a short film called “Hunting the Helmeted Hornbill”. I’m excited to announce that since premiering last year at Mountainfilm, this film has been circulating to different film festivals. Most recently, it was featured at the New York Wild Film Festival on Feb 29, and then on March 3, World Wildlife Day, it was a finalist in the United Nations Development Program’s film showcase event at UN Headquarters. It’s important and exciting that this film is getting out there and reaching more people. It’s 12 minutes long, and features not only footage of wild helmeted hornbills, but tells the story of the poaching pressure they face. If you haven’t viewed it, you can now watch it on the Cornell Lab’s YouTube channel here:
And please share this film with your network, especially if you have any connections in Asia, where the hornbill products are primarily consumed. We even have a version in Chinese so please reach out if you would like to share that one. The best way we can reduce hornbill poaching is by educating potential consumers about the source of these products and the harm they are doing by buying them. I hope that together we can make a different for this iconic species.
Gallery Update: We regularly add new images to my galleries at www.timlamanfineart.com. Recent additions include hummingbirds from Sunnylands added to the open edition paper prints category, and also a collection of favorite East Africa images from my recent trips. Please have a look!
Warm regards to all!
For a little inspiration as 2020 begins, I’m sharing a favorite winter image of a pair of Japan’s Red-crowned Cranes performing a duet. Considered an auspicious symbol in Japan, cranes also have a lot of meaning for all of us who believe in the importance of protecting nature. Their sheer elegance and beauty is unsurpassed, and I don’t think anyone would want to see them disappear. But they almost did in Japan! Now however, they are an example of a conservation success there, where their population has been brought back from near extermination in the early 1900’s to a healthy breeding population today through human determination and effort.
The challenges that we face to protect nature are many, but I believe we are up to the task if we strive together. Thanks for joining me on my journey as my cameras become our “windows” to see wildlife in some of the remote corners of the world that you may not get to yourselves. Your interest and support make it all worthwhile, and I believe that together, we can spread awareness and make a difference. Here’s to all the possibilities that lie ahead in the New Year for all of us. Lets make it a great one!
I’ve revamped my website with a lot more information about my projects and with new galleries of my work. You can also read my past Wildlife Diaries newsletter posts archived there, and see a lot more behind-the-scenes content. Hope you enjoy it, and maybe find a little inspiration yourselves for your own photography, your conservation endeavors, or life in general!
One of the things I’m asked about most often is what went into creating some of my unique images, especially those made at the top of rain forest canopy. So I thought I would share the story behind one of my most iconic images – The Bird-of-Paradise Sunrise – an image that has been used to champion the conservation of rain forests of the New Guinea region.
Making this image required over a week of preparation and lots of tree rigging and climbing. It was made with a remote camera attached to the tree where the birds displayed. I climbed the tree in the dark every morning, and hid the camera by wrapping it in leaves. I controlled the camera from a neighboring tree, where I had constructed a blind with the help of Aru Islanders out of poles and palm fronds, and run a cable from the camera in the display tree over to the blind tree. After rigging the camera I descended to the ground, and then climbed the blind tree (all in the pre-dawn darkness), carrying my laptop up into the canopy, where I connected it to the cable, and used it to remotely control the camera. A wide-angle view of a bird-of-paradise displaying in the canopy like this had been a dream shot of mine for years. On the particular morning when I got this shot, the sun cracked the horizon and lit up the mist just as the Greater Bird-of-Paradise spread his wings overlooking the canopy. I clicked the shutter, and I knew I had something magical. At moments like this, all the effort is forgotten.
The remote camera in position, facing the display branches.
The remote camera hidden in leaves, with my blind in the tree behind.
Blind under construction in the canopy.
In the blind with my laptop set up, ready to shoot.
The view from the blind with a 400 mm lens allowed me to also capture images such as this – two males displaying in unison!
If you have read this far, I hope you got a bit of a sense of how much work can go into creating one special image. To me, it’s worth it.
33% Off Holiday Sale Ends Dec 8! The Bird-of-Paradise Sunrise and many other Tim Laman images are available in our gallery, and there is still time for printing and shipping before the Christmas. Just saying!
Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all.
Today is Giving Tuesday, and I’d like to invite you to consider supporting the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program, a group that I support and work closely with. For all orangutan prints purchased from my store from now until the end of my Holiday Sale on December 8, I will donate 100% of proceeds to this NGO to support their work.
This includes my most famous orangutan image, “Entwined Lives” (below), winner of the 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and eight other favorite orangutan images in my Orangutan Gallery.
About the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program:
Gunung Palung National Park is one of the key strongholds of the Bornean Orangutan in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. GPOCP works closely with the communities around the park to:
- Obtain the legal title to their customary forest lands, preventing logging and conversion to farm land or oil palm plantations
- Switch to sustainable, organic agriculture practices that prevent further slash and burn destruction of the rainforest
- Develop alternative livelihoods that use sustainable non-timber forest products that create incentives to protect forests as well as provide income from sources that don’t destroy orangutan habitat
- Teach young people about the value of protecting Indonesia’s unique rainforests, endangered wildlife and educate the next generation of conservation leaders
- Study wild orangutans and learn about their nutritional requirements, reproductive viability and population health
To learn more about GPOCP, visit there website www.saveGPorangutans.org. And of course, please consider a donation beyond a print purchase as well if you are so inclined.
My 33% off Holiday Sale continues through Dec 8. As long as you order by then, we can assure delivery by Christmas.
Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all.
I have just returned from a great experience in France, where I was a special guest of honor at the International Photo Festival at Montier en Der. It’s a unique festival with a hundred photographers exhibiting, and over 40,000 visitors over four days. I selected twenty of my best rain forest bird images for my exhibition at the festival, in keeping with their forest theme. I thought I’d share the story behind one of my new favorite images, that was also one of the crowd favorites. See below.
Rhinoceros Hornbills have been one of my favorite rainforest birds ever since my very first trip to Borneo, and I was excited to capture this new image in Thailand during my recent hornbill assignment for National Geographic. To get a shot like this, the key thing is to be up in the canopy at the level where all the fruit is, so first we had to find a fruiting fig tree with a suitable nearby tree for climbing. Then climb the tree and construct a platform and turn it into a blind with camouflage cloth. Then come back before dawn and climb the tree by ascending the rope, pull up camera gear and set up. Then wait…. hoping the birds will come. In this case, with all these ripe figs, how could they resist? But you still need a lucky moment when the bird pops his head out from among the foliage to look around for the ripest fig. That’s when I captured this image.
My biggest sale of the year starts this Saturday the 23rd!
We are prepping a new set of Bird-of-Paradise square prints that make ideal gifts.
We have also added my “Feathers of the Forest” gallery of favorite forest bird images exhibited at Monteir en Der to the fine art site. Please have a sneak peak at www.timlamanfineart.com. Prints will be on sale starting the 23rd, so please come back then.
Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all.