Last summer I posted about our adventures with Bob Ballard and the team from production company Lone Wolf while shooting a film for the PBS series NOVA. The show is on tonight and then will be available online

For show details go to


Traveler’s Picks

Traveler’s Picks

by David Wright

Jan 2015

“I miss everyone” (“The broom of the system”, by David Foster Wallace). For David, award-winning filmmaker and photographer, those who stay back at home while he’s away on his expeditions are always with him: Maine, his wife and chef MiMi, and Rosie, “a golden retriever trapped in a poodle’s body” (from Rosie’s fan page, curated by David). His hearty, warm laugh says it all about his personality. Generous, shy and sociable at the same time, he’s the ideal travel companion. A soul that can’t stop getting amazed and sharing his enthusiasm even after years spent travelling all over the world. A curriculum that is difficult to contain within a globe. He knows how to keep a positive attitude even when facing misfortunes and moments of tiredness. We’ve walked with him in the tundra of the Russian Far East. A man so knowledgeable about countries, men and animals, which doesn’t stop being impressed by how much beauty is there still to be found in the world around us. – Twitter @LunaSeaFilms – Instagram @planetearthpictures

If you could close your eyes and be somewhere else, where would you want to be?

Am I allowed to time travel? If you give me an option like this, I may as well make full use of the opportunity. My choice would be at the table of some good friends that lived in the wine producing district of Victoria, Australia. They ran a small vineyard and farm where my wife and I spent many happy nights eating some of the best food and drinking some of the best wine I have ever tasted. This region, just north of Melbourne, is blessed with some of the best ingredients a chef could want. Combine this with great friends and you have a perfect meal, and times I will always remember. I would recommend a visit to Melbourne and the surrounding wine country to anyone. Sorry Sydney, but in my opinion the restaurants in Melbourne are some of the best in the world. The city is also so ethnically diverse that you can also order just about anything you can imagine.

The restaurant where you feel at home

This is a hard question as my wife is a very talented chef and her cooking is hard to beat. Although we both love food, we also try to eat in an ethical way to minimize our impact on the planet, so eat primarily a plant based diet. That makes restaurant choices challenging. I love food from both SE Asia and India, so gravitate to restaurants serving that kind of food. But to be quite honest, they can be hard to find in the US, so I tend to make the most of these options when traveling…. I might have to disappoint you on this question and say eating with family and friends at either our own home or one of theirs would be my choice, but if I was going to recommend a restaurant, it would be Tasca in the town of Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Strangely enough they cooked me a fabulous Indian dinner, the atmosphere and location were great and our group had a wonderful time. This place felt like eating out at a friend’s home…

A hotel room that makes you nostalgic

I have traveled a lot, but making documentaries often means staying in not the most fancy of hotels or where the average traveller might choose. This can definitely have its benefits, but has also meant staying in some pretty challenging locations as well. One of the most memorable hotels was Mario’s in the town of Broken Hill, Australia (Now The Palace). A Victorian miners hotel, it was kept dark so as not to upset the vision of the men that had been underground all day, but the owner spent years painting the interior to look like the Sistine Chapel. It was used in the classic Australian film Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I still remember waking up to angels on the ceiling in this Outback town also known as the location for the movie Mad Max. But as far as nostalgic, I would have to say a room at the Inn on Little St Simons Island, Georgia in the US. This is where I met my wife, when she was the chef. We spent some very happy years living there before heading to New England. We have gone back to stay at this gem an many occasions and still love the place.

A travel you could do over and over again without getting bored

I love India and have been lucky enough to travel extensively in the southern part of the country. It is a place of extremes and contrasts, the best and the worst, from absolute beauty to the most unimaginable horrors that a person can endure. As a traveller, you see it all, although luckily only have to observe the dark side of the continent. And the good certainly far out weighs the bad! so don’t let my reaction put you off from visiting. I could go back again and again to experience the natural wonders, the kindness and grace of the people, as well as the food, which is always a highlight of any visit! Plus India is also a visual feast, which makes it a photographer’s paradise.

A dish that recently surprised you

I mentioned Tasca in Ponta Delgada. Going to a Portuguese restaurant is not where you would immediately go to find good Indian food but they had it on the menu. I enjoyed a wonderful lentil curry, accompanied by fresh vegetables and great local wine. The place also had classic local dishes that were enjoyed by the group I was working with, which numbered eight. Everyone had some different and were all delighted with their selections. I think the key was that the ingredients were all fresh, good quality and well prepared in a healthy way…. No processed ingredients, just fresh.

A holiday place from your childhood

It’s funny looking back on childhood vacations. For many years my parents packed caravan and took us to the same campsite again and again in North Wales. You would have thought preparations were in place for a journey to some exotic far off land, but in fact we drove to a location that would normally be three or four hours away, but my poor Dad was so scared of towing that he took back roads and made the drive last an entire day, in fact making his experience much worse than it needed to be. Still, there are many happy memories of hiking, fishing and spending time with my Dad and beginning to learn how to use a camera, which has led to a wonderful career. Thankfully more exotic travels have followed, but strangely enough, I would love to tour Wales one more time.

If a kid asked you to take him/her on a trip, where would that be?

I have been lucky enough to see Australia from one side to the other and it is a lucky country thanks to its grandeur, unique and spectacular wildlife and, the great welcome you always receive. The space of the Outback gives you the feel of stepping back in time and that would be a wonderful experience for a child to see a world less impacted by people. (Although as a side note, go see it soon as the Australia I knew is changing due to the lack of support from the Government for environmental concerns such as climate change).

If you could choose a dream place to celebrate, what would that be?

Over the years my wife MiMi has been able to travel with me to many of the locations where we have shot. Sadly the television business has changed a lot and we rarely get to spend the time we used to in the field. For the last few yeas, this has made it hard to bring her along. I know on the occasions she travels and leaves me at home, it is hard to be the one that is left behind, so I greatly value her patience when I return after working in an far off place and regale her with stories of adventures she only gets to share infrequently. So if you asked me to choose a dream place to celebrate, it would be taking her to a place I have been lucky enough to see but not had the chance to share with her. I think I will choose a champagne birthday breakfast overlooking the falls on the King George River in the Kimberley region of Australia. The energy from the cascading water and the endless view make you feel so alive.

A view you will never forget

I have been lucky enough to work in over 50 countries and see some of the great wonders of the world on all seven continents. It’s hard to choose a view from the spectacular waterfalls of the Guyana to dawn over a waterhole in Sri Lanka with herds of elephants taking their morning bath, but if pushed, I think the beaches of South Georgia (and as great as they are, not the South Georgia beaches of the US) like Gold Harbor or Salisbury Plain. To see, hear and smell hundreds of thousands of king penguins, accompanied by elephant seals, fur seals and well as all kinds of other birds is quite incredible. The surrounding mountains frame a scene that is hard to describe. The enormity of the experience and place can perhaps only be understood by people that have been lucky enough to visit.

A place you wish it was just round the corner

While I love South Georgia and wish I could go back to photograph the wildlife and landscape, the place I wish was closer is Australia. I love the land, the wildlife, the forests but most of all have made friendships there that I know will be the most important of my life. As much as the wildlife draws me back as a photographer and filmmaker, these bonds are more important and connections like this make traveling so worthwhile. My wife MiMi and I feel we have a whole other family in Australia, many of who are sadly no longer with us, but that connection never seems to weaken.

I have been a long time Nikon shooter. One of the biggest attractions is that I can use the high quality lenses on all kinds of camera that I use. Starting out in the business shooting on a 16mm film cameras like the Bolex, Eclair and then Aaton, all had adapters available for Nikon. My first professional Nikon body was an F3… later I started using a D100, especially to create digital timelapses, now I use a D810.

At the same time, I still use the Nikon lenses on my favorite video camera, the Phantom from Vision Research. After shooting a commercial is Savannah GA with the Phantom, I decided to shoot a demo piece that would push the camera and lenses to their limit. We had a very talented member of the  Flaming Hot Toddies Flaming Cabaret group working with us. I had previously worked with Emerald on another shoot and knew she is an amazingly talented fire dancer. With only the light from her torches to illuminate the scene, we shot a short film at 500fps in otherwise total darkness. The short film was captured with  Nikon 16mm, 28mm and 105mm macro  lenses shooting wide open in order the gather as much light as possible.

As well as Emerald, I would also like to thank Jody Schiesser and Pierce Berolzheimer for their help on a very late night in GA

Traveling to location is not getting any easier, especially if you have to fly. To help you prepare for your next shoot, I just wrote a blog piece for Nikon Cinema

Although it would be great, my dog Rosie does not travel with me. She doesn’t like me to leave and hates to see the bags being packed but she stays by my side until the very last minute.

I will be heading to Photo Plus in New York at the end of the month to do some presentations for Nikon. Its the US’s biggest gear expo for equipment, so should be a lot of fun!

To help demo the Nikon gear that I have been using (primarily a D800, 17-35mm & 28-300mm lenses), I spent a day shooting with friends that operate a schooner, the J&E Riggin, here on the Maine coast.

Using a very simple kit that included one DSLR body, two lenses and a great microphone from MyMyk, I ran the video signal into an Atomos Samurai Blade recorder to capture broadcast quality images. The external recorder also gave me the advantage of having a monitor giving me a small and ergonomically useful hand-held rig. The recorder is equipped with a 240Gb SSD drive also giving me extended record times and 10 bit Apple ProRes files ready to drop into Final Cut for editing.

The Blade is equipped with SDI inputs, so to interface with the camera, I also used the Connect from Atomos. This takes the HDMI signal from the camera and converts it to SDI, it also is brilliantly designed to piggy-back on the recorder to keep the system compact and simple.

Equipment definitely has moved on in the last few years. I am looking forward to upgrading to a Nikon D810 very soon with increased video functionality, this should make a great combination with the Blade and the Atomos Star. The Star another recorder produced by Atomos, there is no monitor screen but the tiny form factor more than makes up for this design decision. Sitting on the DSLR hot-shoe, this amazing device also records Apple Pro Res files at a much higher quality than your camera is able to do internally. At less than $300, it has to be the best camera accessory you can buy!

Exploring the Kamchatka coast


I just returned from exploring the rugged coastlines of Chukotka and Kamchatka to photograph native villages, wildlife and the region’s landscapes in this far outpost of the former Soviet Union. Based on board an expedition ship, life is easy, but each day, trips ashore meant transferring into a zodiac and braving the turbulent oceans, relentless salt spray and waves crashing over the bow. This is followed by a ‘wet landing’ on a beach, dodging the surf and attempting to get onto dry land as soon as possible.

On shore, we then faced the uncertain weather conditions that the wilds of Siberia would send our way. There to take photographs, it meant keeping camera equipment safe in these challenging conditions, one mistake could mean it is swamped by salt water and ruined. I watched this very thing happen a year ago while making a landing at Gold Harbor in South Georgia. It is a truly spectacular wildlife location as the beach is home to hundreds of thousands of king penguins. Eager to get a shot, a fellow traveler has his new digital camera around his neck and ready to shoot as we approached the beach. Six foot swells pounded the landing site and as the zodiac hit the beach, it was pushed sideways by the powerful swell and a wave dumped right on top of us. In an instant, $6000 of camera equipment was lost and to make matters worse, the photographer no longer had his camera to use and we still had two weeks to go, visiting some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife locations on the planet. This must have been heart-breaking.



D24wXeds_000140Over the years of doing this kind of expedition D24wXeds_000139everywhere from the heat of the Kimberley coast in Australia, Antarctica and now the Russian coast of the Bering Sea, I have tried many different combinations of cases, dry bags and packs. The pile of packs in my office closet tells the story of never finding quite the right solution. Then on a recent trip to start shooting a story on the water crisis in the Owens of Valley of California, I decided to take a look in an outdoor equipment shop in the town of Bishop. A pack immediately caught my eye. Light weight, waterproof and made of a very durable material it looked ideal for my ship borne adventures. Produced by Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I researched the company and to my surprise found out that is based in my home state of Maine. Its great to see such a well made product that is made locally. Their innovative product line is ideal for everyone from hikers wanting to keep the weight of their packs to a minimum, to adventure sports fans that play around the water as the roll top closures make the bags waterproof.

During my trip to the Russian Far East, we visited villages like Tymlat and Lorino where I shot a portraits of the villagers, we also hiked in the mountains of Kamchatka experiencing everything from sun to torrential rain. My new Hyperlite 2400 accompanied me on all these adventures, providing a ideal way to get my camera gear ashore safely, as well as giving quick access through the roll top when I needed to quickly change lenses or a battery. Although the model I have is designed for ice climbing, the outside pockets and straps also provided an ideal place to keep a can of bear spray handy, essential as we passed dozens of brown bears on our shore trips.

I have more adventure planned that include sailing around the coast of New Zealand and Macquarie Island, back to the Kimberley and also exploring the coast of Chile. The Hyperlite pack will be with me all the way.


Special thanks for the photographs go to fellow adventurer Luca De Santis. A talented photographer & graphic designer, he also helps produce the Italian travel magazine Meraviglia Paper

Dawn Aug 27

Dawn on Appleton Ridge


Good morning from the Ridge here is Appleton, Maine. There was a beautiful sunrise this morning, so ran outside to shoot a photograph capturing the late summer season. Fall feels like it is just around the corner….

The sun was just a little too high in the sky for an open shot of the St George valley, plus I wanted to include the turning grass and wildflowers to better capture the feel of summer coming to an end. This was a great opportunity to use the dew covered grass as foreground. Not only does this help capture the mood, but on a practical note, cuts the brightness of the sun, while allowing me to see the textures of the vegetation.

To ensure a wide dynamic range (seeing details all the way from the shadows to highlights), I set the camera to continuous high, or burst rate, and shot five frames with one stop differences in exposure and then blended them with HDR Efex Pro.

I also chose to have a relatively large depth of field, bot not push this too far, as the out of focus elements would help add depth to the photograph.

Shot at 1/200th sec at f8   17mm lens on a Nikon D800


PS  I also grabbed a quick shot of my trusty camera assistant using the same technique


Trusty camera assistant- Rosie

Trusty camera assistant- Rosie