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!
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.
In October I was able to get back out to Gunung Palung in Borneo and check in on the baby orangutan born to Walimah in May. You may recall from an earlier newsletter that in July, the two-month old baby was still clinging to her mom 100% of the time. What a big change I saw in October! Now she is climbing around on branches and vines near her mom, and trying to sample fruits, imitating her mom’s feeding behavior, even though she can’t open the fruits yet. Here are a few images that show the five-month old baby, named Winnie by Pak Ari, the Director of Gunung Palung National Park that I shot in October.
Baby Winnie, five months old, reaching for fruits she’s not big enough to eat.
On the Orangutan theme, I’m excited to share that a major filming project that I worked on at Gunung Palung in 2017 and 2018 has now come to fruition! BBC newest Landmark series Seven Worlds One Planet’s Episode 2, Asia, includes a segment on the orangutans of Gungung Palung. The “Making of” section at the end of the film also features our work at Gunung Palung and the issue of orangutan conservation.
The film is already on the air in the UK, and will premier in the US on January 18, 2020.
To share just a little of what it is like do high quality filming of orangutans in Gunung Palung, it requires long days of carrying heavy gear through the forest for those occasional chances when we can get a good view of the orangutans. I carry my RED Helium 8K camera with a Canon 200-400mm and am closely followed by my assistant Bacong carrying a Gitzo series 5 tripod with a Sachtler video head. When we get a view, Bacong quickly puts up the tripod, I pop on the camera and try to get a shot off. We do this many, many times for each time we actually film something usable. But it’s worth the effort!
As always, you can learn more about my wife Cheryl Knott’s research and conservation work at Gunung Palung by checking out her website www.savegporangutans.org and following her teams’ work at @saveGPorangutans. Please consider supporting their hard work partnering with the National Park and surrounding communities to safeguard GP as an orangutan sanctuary for the long term.
Holiday sale coming up: It’s that time of year, and I’m going to be offering a special holiday discount in my Fine Art Store www.timlamanfineart.com for the last week of November. It will be a perfect time for some early holiday shopping with plenty of time for printing and shipping, so think about anyone who might appreciate a Tim Laman print, ranging in price from $100 and up and keep your eye out for the sale announcement. Thanks for supporting my work!
Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all.
One of the highlights of recent months has been a chance to dive and photograph in the Raja Ampat Islands. If you are not familiar with Raja Ampat, they are the group of islands off the western tip of New Guinea, in the Indonesian province of West Papua. I have been diving there since 2006, and documenting the incredible biodiversity of the marine environment in the Raja Ampat is one of my long-term projects. It is a very special place, not only because it is the epicenter of marine biodiversity in the world, but also because it is a place where the rain forest meets the sea. The marine and terrestrial landscape are part of the ambitious “Conservation Province” initiative by the West Papuan government, and I am working to promote this cause through my visual storytelling.
The Raja Ampat Islands are mostly uplifted limestone. This means little runoff and siltation from land, and thus corals that can grow right up to the edge of the forest. This makes for really unique photographic opportunities.
The possibilities for exploring the marine life of Raja Ampat are truly unlimited. We have just started to scratch the surface, and there is so much research to be done. As the world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity, it is so important to document, study, and spread the word about protecting this amazing place. So please follow along as I continue to work in this region. And if some of you are inclined to join me at some point, please see the workshop announcement below.
Are you fascinated by the Raja Ampat region and also an experienced diver passionate about improving your underwater photography? I am planning an exclusive workshop in the region for a small group in July 2020 with colleague Zafer Kizilkaya. Drop an email to email@example.com if you have any interest in learning more and we will keep you posted as details develop.
My solo exhibition of photographic works from Walden Pond is now on display at the Walden Pond Visitor Center in Concord, Massachusetts, and will be up for the entire fall season. Please check it out if you are in the area. We have also added a lot more options to my online Fine Art print store, including the Walden Pond Collection, so please check it out.
Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all.
I’m finally back home after an exciting two months of photography and filming in Indonesia. Its time to share a few highlights with you, and I’m going to start with some exciting news from Gunung Palung in Borneo, where I’ve been documenting my wife Cheryl Knott’s orangutan research for 25 years. Her project studies the entire population of wild orangutans in “GP” as we call it, but we get to know some individuals especially well, and none is more familiar to our team than a female named Walimah.
The first image was taken twenty years ago in 1999, when Walimah was a newborn infant. Walimah’s mother had a home range close to the research camp, and so we encountered her often and Walimah grew up seeing researchers on the ground below her as a normal part of her environment. So she has never been afraid of humans, and has been a great subject for my photography.
Some of you may be familiar, however, with the tragic turn of events in Walimah’s life in 2015. After the highlight of having her first baby in April that year, she was the apparent victim of an infanticidal attack by a rogue male orangutan (our best guess of what happened), and her first baby was lost. This story is documented in our 2016 film on NatGeo Wild Channel called “Mission Critical: Orangutan on the Edge” (and in a scientific paper by Cheryl and her team: Possible Male Infanticide in Wild Orangutans and a Re-evaluation of Infanticide Risk).
Well, Walimah is now having a second chance! She finally became pregnant again last year, and has a healthy new baby born this year in May! The images below are a couple of my favorites from my recent trip. Walimah’s new baby appears to be a female, and is now three months old and doing well. She is a great symbol of hope for the future of the orangutans of Gunung Palung, a conservation area that is turning out to be a stronghold for the critically endangered Bornean Orangutan. I’m already planning to keep going back to GP regularly over the next few years to document Walimah’s baby as she grows up.
You can learn more about Cheryl’s research and conservation work at Gunung Palung by checking out her website www.savegporangutans.org and following her teams’ work at @saveGPorangutans. Please consider supporting their hard work partnering with the National Park and surrounding communities to safeguard GP as an orangutan sanctuary for the long term.
I’m also launching an orangutan print gallery today at my art store TimLamanFineArt, so please check it out. I’ll be contributing profits from sale of these prints to saveGPorangutans.org, so please consider making a purchase to support orangutan conservation.
Here is a glimpse of some of the images in the new Orangutan gallery.
Thanks for reading and best wishes to all.
Welcome to TimLaman.com. I’m a photographer, filmmaker, and field biologist with a passion for exploring our natural world. I hope you enjoy this website, and you can also sign up for my newsletter “Wildlife Diaries” at right to get updates on my latest adventures, photo tips, and news from the field.