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OkiNature Courses

Wildlife Photography and Filming Courses in Okinawa

Hone Your Skills in the Incredible Setting of the Yanbaru Forests

Wildlife Imaging Courses in OkinawaFor the adventurous wildlife photographer and film makers we're devising the outlines for a series of courses designed to teach those who attend how to get the most from their wildlife photography and video endeavours. These courses will take place in the raw and natural environment of the Yanbaru Forests of Northern Okinawa.

If you ever wanted to learn from a team of Instructors with real world and proven success, be surrounded in a location so vibrant and natural it makes your toes curl then this is it. To get a greater understanding of just what it takes to create magical imagery you should consider joining us for one, or more, of the course options that we're planning for 2017 and beyond. A truly WILD experience!

Check out the details below, get a taste of the wildlife that you can expect to encounter, read about your Instructors and get a feel for what is in store for those looking to take their imaging to the next step. Feel free to request further information by using the email form on the Contact Page of this website. Cheers.

Wildlife Photography Courses

Our week long course covers all aspects of wildlife photography techniques from extreme macro through to birds in flight. Both this and our twelve day courses are run in the Northern confines of Okinawa amidst the expansive and impressive Yanbaru forests where a wealth of enigmatic species await the intrepid wildlife photographer and film maker.

Wildlife Filming Courses

As with our other wildlife imaging options these seven to twelve day courses are run from a location in Northern Okinawa in the wild setting of the Yanbaru forests. The main gist of this course is to instil an understanding of territorial considerations for species filming with a strong focus on fieldcraft, logistical planning and environmental impacts.

Additional Imaging Courses

Specific courses beyond the all encompassing options as outlined above are also available on a 1:1 basis if so desired. Genres covered are Landscape, Time-lapse, Extreme Macro, High Speed Photography, Long Exposure Photography, Star Trail Imaging and Milky Way Photography. All of these options also include digital editing components to round out their appeal.

Principle Instructor & Course Coordinator - Mark Thorpe

Wildlife Filming Course in Okinawa

Mark has been involved with imaging as a career for the past 25yrs. As an underwater videographer he has retained and run underwater imaging concessions in places such as the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau. He has worked in the steaming jungles of Sumatra in Indonesia, on the dusty plains of Africa and operated from small rocky islands in Southern Australia. Whilst retained by National Geographic as a cameraman and field producer he has placed animal borne cameras on Great White, Tiger and Reef Sharks as well as on Sperm Whales, Sea Lions, Leopard and African Wild Dogs. He has a passion for everything Wildlife. Mark is the driving force behind the creation of the 'OkiNature' wildlife imaging courses in Okinawa.

Mark started his imaging career in the realm of video reaching the pinnacle of broadcast industry recognition in the form of an Emmy Award for contributions made to National Geographic programming. His still photography has accompanied editorials in a growing number of International wildlife periodicals. He has also 'placed' in numerous International Film Festivals for his self produced short films. Mark's main focus on these courses is to impart his knowledge of imaging with a core focus on the main skill required of a wildlife cameraman, fieldcraft. Understanding the land to the point where it ends up working for you! As long as you have the patience to abide by 'Ma Natures' terms...

Yanbaru Specialist & Wildlife Photographer - Shawn Miller

Wildlife photographer and naturalist Shawn Miller specializes in capturing the flora and fauna of Okinawa, Japan. Equally at home on land and underwater, Shawn has documented rare and endemic species from birds and reptiles to nudibranchs and shells. Shawn specializes in creating motion in still photographs, fluorescence photography, environmental awareness and the protection of endangered species. Along with publications in scientific papers and magazines, his images were recently on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as part of “Portraits of Planet Ocean.” His work has been featured in National Geographic Magazine. Shawn has contributed images to the IUCN Red list of threatened species. Shawn Miller is a long term resident of Okinawa. He has been diving and exploring the Ryukyu Islands for over twenty years.

 Shawn Miller is the sponsor for the Okinawa Underwater Photographic Society. An International group based on Okinawa, Japan who have interest in underwater and related photography at all levels of experience. The purpose is share and discuss photos, knowledge, techniques and dive experiences with a goal of enjoyment and improvement. Professional photographers and marine life specialists as guest lecturers will be sought for meetings.

This text appeared in National Geographic in May 2015 on their editorial - 'Wildlife as Canon Sees It'

The Location

Courses take place in one of the most pristine locations in the whole of the Ryukyu Islands, the expansive and largely unexplored Yanbaru Forests of Northern Okinawa.

Courses Designed For

These courses are designed to immerse a photographer or filmmaker into a stunning location with instruction on how to get the best from their imaging exploits.

The Bugs

The very real possibility exists to encounter venomous and other potentially dangerous wildlife during these courses. Attendees need to be aware and accepting of this.

Imaging Ethics

We abide by a strict, and respectful, code of wildlife and environmental imaging ethics. Absolutely no location or species will be sacrificed just for an image or sequence. Period.

The Camera Doesn't Maketh the Man...

As the above photographs and short film can attest, the region planned for these courses has a veritable treasure trove of potential species to encounter. All of the still imagery on this page was taken by our Instructor and Yanbaru specialist, Shawn Miller. To get an idea of his extensive portfolio you can check out his Okinawa Nature Photography profile on Flickr. As the old adage goes "It's not the camera but knowing how to use it to tell a story" bears true when you consider the short film above was shot on an iPhone and GoPro camera with a head torch to light the nocturnal scenes.

Our vision for these planned courses is to instil an understanding into the techniques and ethics of wildlife imaging. This will allow attendees the opportunity to learn these finer points from a team of folks with real world experience in a number of related fields. It must be said that we adhere to, and enforce, a strict code of ethics that does not tolerate any damage to the environment or sacrificing of the wellbeing of wildlife subjects just for the sake of an image. There is always a way to 'get the shot' in a respectful way, this is what we hope to demonstrate and pass on to others.

Please check back soon and often for further information as to when our first courses will be taking place. As this is a concept idea at this time it relates specific to Okinawa based imaging adventures. We are, fortunately, located within a region of astonishing natural beauty and diversity. Should these initial trials go well there is no reason why, in the future, that we wouldn't be against the idea of exploring other islands within the Ryukyu archipelago, watch this space. Should you have any specific requests please do feel free to contact us at your leisure using the email form on the Contact Page of this website.