Bhutan Adventure

This was a trip we did with Cheeseman Ecology Safaris. We have used the Cheesemans once before for the Galapagos. I have liked the size of the groups and the mix of people has been great. The food is wonderful and the guides are extremely knowledgeable.

Our guide for this trip was Hishey Tshering. He told me that people don’t really have first and last names in Bhutan. They just have names. “Mr. Tshering” would apparently not be entirely correct. He was extremely responsive to “Hishey” the whole trip!

I can’t say enough about the hospitality offered by the Bhutanese people. Hishey is a shining example of the people of Bhutan. He showed us how his country balanced development and economy with protecting the environment. I suppose that one might argue that both would really be the same category as eco-tourism blossoms.


Above are images of Hishey’s recently-opened hotel called the Trogon Villa. A gorgeous location with expansive views of the sub-tropical forests in the surrounding valleys. The staff at the Trogon were polite and professional as was the rule at all the hotels we experienced in Bhutan.

Published in Saving Land Magazine

I was published in the “Winter 2015 Saving Land magazine.” The image is “Swans over Barney Lake.” I made the centerfold! Check out page 20 of that issue. Unfortunately, it is not available online anymore.

Swans Over Barney Lake

I volunteered my services to photograph the Skagit Land Trust properties and they asked if I could get swans on their newly acquired Barney Lake property in Mount Vernon. I captured the image early one morning on December 30th, 2012.

West 90, Skagit County

I was curious what I would find on a Spring morning at the West 90. The fields surrounding are mostly plowed with a small wet piece left with tall cattails. I felt that I was almost in the way of the farmers. I parked allowing enough room for their equipment go through the gate and headed out with just my 400 DO. There were a couple of ducks and some very happy Red Wing Blackbirds.

Red Winged Blackbird

Spain and Portugal

A week ago today, we returned from our wonderful trip to Spain and Portugal. The hike and wildlife survey of the Picos de Europa was the highlight of our trip followed by three nights in Madrid, a couple in Seville and a couple in Lisbon.

In my Flickr Sets, you will find a set entitled Spain and Portugal 2013. You will notice some might be entitled TBD or only have only a filename. I didn’t take good notes in the field. The voice memo feature is only available on my 1D Mk IV (more later) and I forgot to turn the tracking on. My Garmin GPS 62s is a wonderful, dependable and durable machine though it doesn’t lay a track down unless you tell it to. Fortunately, Dan Logen had his GPS working on one of his bodies so I now have an idea where and when we were.

This post unfortunately still stands incomplete. I am happy to note however, that Teresa Farino and Jeff Clarke have published the Review of this trip. I will provide the link as soon as it is published. It is quite well done I might add.

I have nothing but the best to say about these two. They provided a great balance of expert biology and humor for the sometimes bleak and unseasonably cold weather we endured. Thanks to them for a wonderful adventure!

If you current images, check out my Flickr photostream. This seems to be the place where the travel magazines find my images so I get them posted there as soon as possible.

Back to equipment. Let me talk about my kit (new term for me learned from Jeff Clark, one of our excellent guides):

I bought a new bag for the trip as I wanted something that:

  • Didn’t look like a camera bag
  • Was small enough to go on board the plane but large enough to have all the valuable components of gear
  • Could also serve as the backpack for our 2-4k hikes in the Picos.

After buying a Lowepro RoverPro 45L and deciding that it was a fine bag with many features though borderline on size for carry-on,  I ended up with the ClikElite Klettern. Kenmore Camera was a jewel about giving me a full two weeks to check out a bag. They have a great selection there and I understand they are soon to have a much larger store in the adjacent mall.

My only complaint about the Klettern bag was the mechanism for closing the top flap. This part is actually the cool part of the bag as the flap is a camera compartment into which I would fit my Canon 1D MkIV pro body.

ClikElite Klettern
Clik Elite Klettern









Here is a photo of me in the field trying to shoot an orchid.

Shooting orchids the Picos de Europo - photo Judy Bishop
Shooting orchids the Picos de Europo – photo Judy Bishop

Notice the flap hitting me in the back of my head.

I have since modified the mechanism slightly using a field repair buckle from SeaToSummit. I also called ClikElite on the phone and they were most willing to understand my issue and work with me to make the bag exactly the way I want it. That was cool and appreciated. We eventually decided that replacing the buckle mechanism which had gotten sprung when loaded for air travel, would be a good thing to try. This is in the mail as I type this. I will also ask them for some more of the 3/4 webbing. It is hard to find such with this thickness and a nice grey color locally.







The rest of my kit included:

  • Leica M9
  • Leica 50mm f2 Summicron
  • Leica 28mm f2.8 Summarit
  • Canon 580 flash and remote cable
  • Canon 100mm f2.8L
  • Canon 70-200mm f2.8L
  • Gitzo GT1542T Traveler tripod

 The Picos de Europa

We left Mount Vernon on Friday the 10th of May, 2013. Susie was intrigued by an optional leg of the tour which meant a ferry from Plymouth, England aaaallll the way over to Santander, Spain. I did want to deal with sea sickness so we parted ways in Amsterdam. I flew to Madrid and she to London.

After Madrid, I caught a small jet to Santander and then spent two nights waiting for Susie to experience the whales and the waves.

After arriving at the Santander airport, there was a city bus waiting to take the passengers into town. I arrived at the Santander bus station in 20 mins or so. The cab driver next in line gave me directions to walk to my hotel. I wasn’t sure if it was to save me the fare or if he couldn’t be bothered.

I enjoyed the hotel and walked around a bit. I found the city inviting. The next day was Sunday when many people walked. I walked for miles.

10/30/13 – Still plugin away …
2/25/14 – updated some links and announced the tour review by Jeff Clarke and Teresa Farino.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS and the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS

I sold my Canon 100-400mm lens a few months ago because I was not getting very many sharp images with it. I was intrigued when I heard about the Canon 70-300 so I got a hold of one for a few days and borrowed a friend’s 100-400. I found that there was not much difference in IQ between the two lens. The 70-300 was noticeably lighter and seemed to focus faster than the 100-400. IS was faster too. Another advantage was in its macro capabilities and ability to shoot as close as 47 inches.

These were shot at f/5.0 and 200mm:

Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-6 IS @ f/5.0
Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-6 IS @ f/5.0 and 200mm


100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS @ 5.0 and 200mm
100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS @ 5.0 and 200mm


70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS @ f/5.0 and 200mm
70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS @ f/5.0 and 200mm


100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS @ f-5.0 and 200mm
100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS @ f-5.0 and 200mm



I just returned from an excellent adventure in Northern Spain hiking the Picos de Europa for ten days. It was a small group of which almost half were advanced to professional photographers.

One of the photographers had just purchased the 70-300mm for the trip. A great deal of what we shot included butterflies, various insects and orchids of the region. Since there was frequently need for many of us to shoot the same subject, the close focusing range of the 70-300mm was an advantage him a space that wasn’t occupied by other macro shooters who tended to be in closer.

He generally was not please with his bird shots due to insufficient reach and low light and 300mm was a challenge. This combination of shortcomings which didn’t allow enough of the bird to fill the focusing point caused seeking between obstructing branches and leaves. His comments about the weight compared to the 100-400 was a blessing and the macro shots done at 4 ft had a good percentage of keepers. He said that overall he was pleased with the lens.

Here are some more shots I made with this lens during the time Canon CPS let me borrow it:


70-300mm  f/4-5.6L IS @ f-11
70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS @ f-11
70-300mm  f/4-5.6L IS @ f-11
70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS @ f-11