National Geographic Photographer || Author || Speaker || Creator of images, stories and events to inspire wonder and concern about our living planet.
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Beyond the National Parks and National Monuments we’re all familiar with, there are scores of other public lands in the USA that are administered by the Department of the Interior. The Bureau of Land Management is charged with looking after many millions of acres of wilderness areas, but it barely has the resources to do so. And that is before the cutbacks that are now being contemplated in Washington, D.C. Here’s one amazing place I discovered while doing an aerial survey of the Colorado Plateau on assignment for @NatGeo. It’s called the San Rafael Swell and it’s located in central Utah. It’s full of shale rock and that means there may be oil and gas deposits underneath the surface. Imagine what this landscape would like with access roads for mineral extraction. Become part of the conversation if you care and check some of the links below and follow me @FransLanting for more coverage of these special places. @WildernessSociety@thephotosociety@leonardodicaprio#MonumentsForAll#beauty#naturelovers#naturephotography#wilderness#America#Conservation
Since we started posting images and stories on Instagram a year ago, it has been utterly gratifying to Chris Eckstrom and me to receive your responses. It has been heartwarming to learn how many of you share our passion for celebrating the natural world and our concern about keeping our living planet healthy for nature and for ourselves. Yesterday we reached a milestone with our Instagram endeavors when we reached half a million followers. We would like to say thanks to all of you around the world and hope you will stay with us as we continue to explore the world and share our experiences and insights with you.
Photo by @FransLanting Magic light is what I look for all the time to add an exclamation mark to my images. It can occur at dawn or dusk, when light gives way to shadows or vice versa, but in slot canyons it happens in the middle of the day. Here’s another image from one of those temples of nature. Shafts of light suffused with dust can penetrate deep into a narrow canyon whose sandstone walls are shaped by water over time. Sunlight from high above reflects back and forth between the walls and creates an ethereal luminosity deep down below like a cathedral illuminated through stained glass windows. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of these special places.
Where light and darkness meet in nature beauty occurs. This is a scene from Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument in Utah. It is one of the many federally protected landscapes that is now under scrutiny from the current US presidential administration for an unprecedented rollback of its status under pressure from other interests. The American system of preserving large wild landscapes for all generations to come has been an inspiration to every other country on the planet, but now we need to call attention to the forces that aim to darken that light. Resist the attempt to undo decades of progress to protect temples of nature. Add your voice to the conversation if you care. Check the links to find out what you can do. @WildernessSociety#OurWild#SaveOurMonuments#Monumentsforall@leonardodicaprio@natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@thephotosociety#beauty#wild#naturelovers#naturephotography
Backpacking into a deep canyon in the American Southwest is an otherworldly experience. You feel like you’re getting swallowed up by the earth itself. On this particular trip we got surprised by a flash flood caused by a thunderstorm upstream and we were pinned down on a narrow raised beach watching a raging river carry debris downstream. We had to wait for two days before we could hike out. It's the power of water that shapes this awesome world of rock. @natgeo@natgeotravel@thephotosociety@natgeocreative#beauty#awesome#amazing#colors#nature#picoftheday#earth
Usually the magic light that can transform an ordinary scene into something extraordinary occurs at dawn or dusk, but in Arizona’s slot canyons it happens in the middle of the day. That’s when a shaft of light suffused with dust penetrates deep into a narrow canyon whose sandstone walls are shaped by water over time. Light bounces back and forth between the walls and it creates an ethereal luminosity at the bottom that is reminiscent of a cathedral. This particular canyon is located on Navajo tribal land. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of special places around the world.
Video by @FransLanting with @ChristineEckstrom and @Gilholmer Tap the screen for sound. Thousands of surfers paddled out from a Santa Cruz beach into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary last Sunday to honor Jack O’Neill with many thousands more watching from the cliffs around Jack’s house overlooking Pleasure Point. It was a moving tribute to the man who was a pioneer of the wetsuit, which enabled many millions of people to plunge into the ocean to experience our blue planet for themselves. Jack passed away recently at the age of 94 after a life well lived. Many of us in Santa Cruz were touched by his spirit and scores of kids benefitted from his efforts to advance the cause of ocean education. Thank you fellow Santa Cruzans for coming together. Follow me for more images and stories about our living planet. @natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@thephotosociety#Ocean#Inspire#Gratitude#SantaCruz#MontereyBay#California#Surfing#Oneillseaodyssey
Tap your screen to hear the story! Wild horses roam free in the famous Oostvaardersplassen Nature Reserve in the Netherlands. This video was made during my field trip with the winners of the Frans Lanting Award, organized by the World Wildlife Fund Netherlands. To all our friends in the Netherlands and Belgium, I invite you to submit images for this year’s Frans Lanting Award. Learn more and submit images directly at: www.wnf.nl/photoaward. Video by @ChristineEckstrom
By crawling towards them on hands and knees, I was able to get close to these two wild stallions as they were rearing up and testing each other’s strength. I trusted that they were aware enough of my proximity to avoid trampling me as they danced around each other. The Oostvaardersplassen Nature Reserve in the Netherlands has become a remarkable habitat for large grazing mammals that once roamed wild across Western Europe.
I like to get up close and personal with animals. I was lying flat on my stomach with a wide-angle lens aimed at these two wild horses when they reared up to challenge each other for dominance over a herd of mares grazing in the Oostvaardersplassen Nature Reserve in the Netherlands. More than 1,000 wild horses thrive there, less than an hour from Amsterdam, in a place where a generation ago, there were none. It’s a remarkable example of how the Dutch are restoring nature in the midst of one of the most densely populated countries in the world. If you’re a photographer based in the Netherlands or Belgium, I would like to encourage you to submit images for the next Frans Lanting Award, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. Go to www.wnf.nl/photoaward to learn how you can participate. Video by @ChristineEckstrom
Lemurs are descendants of primitive primates that once ranged across Africa, Europe, and North America, but were later displaced by monkeys. Now more than a hundred kinds of lemurs survive only in Madagascar, where monkeys never occurred. Roaming with troops of ring-tailed lemurs, I fell under the spell of the rhythms of their daily lives, and watched this baby learn to see the world through its mother’s eyes. Images from my work in Madagascar are featured in my exhibition, “Into Africa,” which opens today at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and will be on display through October 22, 2017. If you are in the Cleveland area, we invite you to visit the show.
The spiny desert of southern Madagascar is a world unto itself. Ninety-five percent of its plants are found nowhere else—not even elsewhere in Madagascar. A waxy coating on its leaves helps this aloe minimize moisture loss. I kneeled down to silhouette it against a sunset sky reddened by dust from a volcanic eruption in the Philippines, 5,000 miles away. This image is featured in my exhibition, “Into Africa,” which will be on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History from July 1 through October 22, 2017. If you are in the Cleveland area, we invite you to visit the show.
I was spellbound when I saw the multicolored tentacles wave from the pin-striped bell of this extraordinary flower hat jelly, a drifter in sea currents which also spends time moving along the ocean floor. The ancestors of jellies were among the first animals whose bodies exhibited an organized architecture, with groups of cells joined together as tissues that performed unified functions.
This is one of the signature images for my project “LIFE: A Journey Through Time,” a lyrical interpretation of the story of life on Earth from the Big Bang to the present. It is also featured in the documentary film “Frans Lanting: The Evolution of LIFE,” which has won several film festival awards and was shown last month as a part of the 2017 @Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, CO. Thank you, we are honored! @thephotosociety@natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@MountainFilm#Jellyfish#MontereyBay#Nature#PhotooftheDay#LifeAJourneyThroughTime
At the awesome amphitheater of South America’s Iguassu, many spectacular waterfalls plunge down to form one of the world’s natural wonders, equally powerful whether viewed from the Argentinian or Brazilian side of the falls. Known as Iguaçu in Brazil and as Iguazú in Argentina, the falls straddle the border of the two countries, both of which protect these thundering waters with contiguous national parks that draw millions of visitors each year. I made this photograph at dawn, when the landscape was saturated with water vapor from an overnight rainstorm mixed with mist rising from the falls. @natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@thephotosociety#Iguassu#Iguaçu#Iguazú#Waterfall#Beauty#Wonder
Photo by @FransLanting “Jungle River” A primeval forest in northern Borneo shows why people comparing the architecture of forests on different continents have called those of Southeast Asia the most majestic. Their stately appearance is dominated by towering dipterocarp trees that reach heights of 200 feet. We’re all dependent on trees—what they exhale, we inhale. We are linked together in the cycle of life. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of our amazing earth.
Right now in Antarctica, emperor penguin females are laying their eggs. After they do, their nutritional reserves are exhausted, and they immediately transfer their eggs to the feet of their mates, who cradle the eggs on their feet to keep them warm and off the sea ice. The emperor penguin males do this for two months in the depths of the Antarctic winter. It takes heroic parenting skills to raise a chick in this brutally cold environment where temperatures can drop to 40 degrees below zero with winds of more than 100 miles per hour. I spent a month camped on the sea ice near an emperor penguin colony to document how the chicks grow up. Here a young emperor chick leans against its father. I share this image in celebration of Fathers Day!
I spent weeks inside Borneo’s tropical rain forest on assignment for @NatGeo to document its intricate natural history. One morning I took a helicopter up for an aerial perspective. When we rose above the canopy, my view expanded from single trees to the forest as a whole. I saw morning mist wafting through the treetops and envisioned the collective exhalation of these trees as the breath of a living planet. Trees are responsible for the air we breathe—what they exhale, we inhale. We are linked together in the cycle of life. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of our our amazing earth. @thephotosociety@natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative#Borneo#RainForest#Nature#Trees#NaturePhotography#jungle
I live next to a forest of giants. From my home on a meadow overlooking the Pacific Ocean I can see them towering over all other trees. They are redwoods, and they have a long history. In the days of dinosaurs they were widespread, but nowadays they only thrive in the narrow strip of California coast where hot land meets cold ocean. That is where fog forms which provides them with moisture during the summer months when there is no rain. One day when I flew above a dense layer of fog moving inland, the tops of these giant trees emerged like ramparts in the sky. @thephotosociety@natgeo@natgeotravel#BigSur#MontereyBay#California#Redwoods#Giants#Fog#Nature
This close-up portrait of a leopard made recently in Botswana’s Okavango Delta would have been very difficult to do 30 years ago when I first started looking for leopards in Africa. Back then, they were elusive and nearly invisible. When I did my coverage for @natgeo in Botswana in the late 80s, I rarely saw any leopards at all. They were ghost cats. Today sightings of leopards are common. The difference is better protection and especially, lack of hunting pressure. Botswana banned trophy hunting in 2014 and leopards like this one are beneficiaries. It is ever more important to recognize that every wild animal has its own life and that every one of them deserves our respect. Follow me @FransLanting for more tales of leopards and other big cats.
Surfing legend and ocean advocate Jack O’Neill was a pioneer. As a surfer in the 1950s he got tired of being cold in the water, and that led him to develop the wetsuit. The rest, as they say, is history. Thanks to that invention many millions of people have been able to get into the ocean themselves and experience its wonders firsthand. Jack passed away last week at the age of 94, and his home in Santa Cruz overlooking the Monterey Bay—in front of a sweet surf break which he rode many times in his life—has been covered in flowers since then. Here’s an impression of that floral tribute along with a picture of another tribute sculpted in the beach below. Thank you, Jack, for all your good work and all that you inspired in all of us.
“Home Sweet Home” Emperor penguins are among the hardest birds in the world to get to. Their colonies are scattered around the edges of Antarctica and often far inland from open water, which makes them difficult to reach by ship. For our expedition we chartered a Twin Otter on skis with an experienced ice pilot from the Yukon. After we spotted a colony on the Weddell Sea ice, we landed the plane at a respectable distance and set up camp for a month. It was a bare-bones camp, but who needs luxury when you can be with emperor penguins 24/7! The weather was rough. During one ferocious blizzard, I had to hang on to the poles on the inside to make sure the tent wouldn’t blow away. Stay tuned for more images and stories of wild places and wildlife.
Once emperor penguin chicks are a month old, their parents leave them alone in the colony while they go off foraging at sea. The chicks gather together and wait. Emperors and their offspring recognize each other by voice rather than sight. So when adults return to the colony with food, they find their young by calling. Parents trumpet, and the chicks chirp in response. At the edge of a crèche where chicks gathered in a huddle that keeps them warm, one emperor parent listens for the sound of her chick. Follow me@FransLanting for more images and stories from Antarctica and the lives of the creatures dependent on ice. @natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@thephotosociety#Penguins#EmperorPenguins#Antarctica#PenguinChicks#HopeSpots#OceanOptimism#SouthernOcean
We are pleased to announce that “Frans Lanting: The Evolution of LIFE” film will shown as a part of the 2017 @Mountainfilm Festival, at the historic Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, CO on Saturday, May 27th at 9:15 AM and again on Sunday, May 28th at 3:45 PM. For more info visit: https://tinyurl.com/mpcv3yy and https://tinyurl.com/lw82rqb
Making contact with a mountain gorilla silverback is a humbling experience. Gorilla custom requires meekly bowing your head as a submissive pose when you are challenged by a 400-pound male rather than fleeing, as instinct tells you. This big male lived in the highlands of Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains, one of the last strongholds for these remarkable great apes. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of wildlife around the world. @natgeo@natgeocreative@natgeotravel#Gorilla#MountainGorilla#GreatApes#Rwanda
I don’t have to go far from home to witness awesome wildlife spectacles. Half an hour from where I live, sea lions haul out by the thousands on a rocky outcrop at the northern tip of Monterey Bay. It’s a great testimonial to the natural abundance and the resurgence of life that happened here after the protection of the California coast and the wildlife offshore. Follow me @FransLanting for more scenes from Monterey Bay.