Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Snapping Turtle stare down!

Snapping Turtle, Tiny Marsh, Ontario. Canon 1D4, 500/4 IS II & 1.4x

I stumbled across this female Snapping Turtle laying eggs at Tiny Marsh (Ontario) and clicked a few eye-to-eye photos from a distance with my super-telephoto lens. She won the stare down!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Prairie Warbler, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Ontario

Prairie Warbler, Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The park is one of the best places to see this species on its breeding habitat in Ontario. I had an awesome morning yesterday photographing out there. The boat ride out to Beausoleil Island adds to the adventure!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Piping Plover chick - eye to eye

Piping Plover chicks are ridiculously cute! This is an endangered species and they face many challenges in the areas they nest in Ontario (popular tourist beaches), so I stayed far back, used plenty of magnification (equivalent of 1400 mm) and cropped the image about 20%. Canon 1D4, 500/4 IS II + 2x.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bird to Blooms - the manic month of June!

June is a manic month for me - nature explodes with photo opportunities and I can hardly keep up with all the things I want to point my camera at. Breeding birds and wildflowers are at peak and I keep a running list of target species - ones I haven't photographed before, haven't photographed well, or those I just want to freshen up with new images. Living in central Ontario is idyllic since the biodiversity located within a couple hours drive of my house is enough to keep me busy shooting for a lifetime! 

Here are some photos I've shot in the past few weeks. So many species, so little time!    

Golden-winged Warbler, Muskoka, Ontario.
Canon 1D4 & 500/4 IS + 1.4x.
Lawrence's Warbler, Ontario.
Canon 1D4 & 500/4 IS + 1.4x.

Mourning Warbler, Muskoka, Ontario.
Canon 1D4 & 500/4 IS + 1.4x.

Yellow Lady Slipper, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario.
Canon 5D3 & Sigma 120-300/2.8 Sport + 25mm extension tube.

Ram's Head Lady Slipper, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario.
Canon 5D3 & 100mm f/2.8 macro. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala - a photographer's dream location!

Flowers frame the view of the Atitlan and Toliman volcanoes (stacked) from the village of Santa Cruz.
I'm staring out at the crystalline water of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, rimmed by verdantly forested volcanoes, thinking that I may have found paradise. It's a bit more than halfway through my trip and I'm already dreading the thought of leaving here[-15C back home in Ontario - oh shit!]. I stumbled across Guatemala while researching central American destinations for a photo trip/winter getaway. My criteria was that it was a country I hadn't visited before, an affordable rental I could use as a base for day tripping and plenty of great subjects to point my camera at. After seeing a few photos of the stunningly scenic Lake Atitlan, the decision was easy!

Dusk falls over Lake Atitlan and the town dock in Santa Cruz la Laguna. 
Lake Atitlan is in a volcanic caldera (basin) and is approximately 130kmand 300m deep. There are three inactive volcanoes (Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro) on the southern shore of the lake which create an incredibly scenic backdrop for the deep blue water!

Small to medium sized communities surround the lake, each with their own distinct character. Mayan culture dominates the area, but there are plenty of quirky expat 'gringos' living here and some of the towns are full of international travelers. The quaint village of San Marcos is particularly entertaining - it's full of spiritual seeking, crystal wearing new agers selling beads and smoking pot. Some locals refer to them as 'Trustifarians' (disenfranchised trust fund kids) - that made me chuckle!

Sunset on the shore of Lake Atitlan at Santa Cruz la Laguna with the San Pedro volcano in the back. 
Getting around the lake is easy on the public boats that inexpensively ferry people and cargo between the communities. It's a great way to explore the villages, many of which sell hand-woven textiles and other goods. Market days are especially colorful and vibrant!

Mayan girls in the Solola market, Guatemala.
Local grown veggies for sale at the small Saturday market in Santa Cruz la Laguna. 
The small, flat-bottomed dugout canoes (called cayucos) used by local fisherman are synonymous with Lake Atitlan.

A fisherman paddles his cayuco (dugout canoe) at sunrise on Lake Atitlan.
The plume of steam and ash is from an eruption of the distant Fuego Volcano. 
A fisherman's dugout canoe (cayuco) on the shore of Lake Atitlan. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wilson's Warbler in winter - great way to end the year!

Wilson's Warbler, Oakville, Ontario - Dec. 30, 2014.
Gear: Canon 1D4, 500/4IS II and 1.4x III.

I've been following the bird reports about the ''famous five" lingering warbler species hanging out near a sewage treatment facility in Oakville, Ontario this winter.  After visiting my family down near Point Pelee for the holidays, I thought I'd swing by on the way back home to try my luck. I left Leamington at 5am and made it to Oakville shortly after 8am. It was cold (around -7C) - not exactly the kind of conditions you expect to look for warblers in! I bundled up and hit the trails with my camera.

I spent a few hours wandering around the small area and was able to easily find five warbler species: Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Tennessee and Wilson's. Although I manged to get photos of all of them, the densely tangled thickets made for busy backgrounds - not ideal for photos. Except for the Wilson's Warbler, which landed on a completely unobstructed open perch right in front of me. It posed for about 30 seconds, long enough to capture some great photos. I never expected to get my best ever Wilson's Warbler photos in Ontario on December 30. What a great way to end the year! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Black Bears and the Barron Canyon - a great day in Algonquin Provincial Park

Black Bear cub, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS + 1.4x 
My plan was simple: go to bed early, wake up at 2:30am, have a shower, fill a travel mug with coffee and drive to Algonquin Park in time for sunrise. The plan fell apart at the going to bed early stage. I finally dozed off after midnight and the 2:30am alarm rang far too soon. I debated skipping the photo shoot and staying in bed, but my conscious wouldn't allow it.... so I battled with the snooze button for an hour before mustering the willpower to get moving. And I am sure glad that I did!  

Miraculously (ok, it was a lack of traffic and some speeding) I made it to the park in time for dawn. Sunrise was a bust due to a heavy morning mist, but no worries... that wasn't what I was after. My morning target was a blueberry patch that I'd heard was attracting bears. Sure enough, the bears were there and very cooperative. Photographing the sows and cubs was a great way to start the day. I hardly noticed how tired I was!

Black Bear sow (ear tagged), Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS + 1.4x 

Once the light started to get harsh (bear fur does not photograph well in bright light), I left the bears, had breakfast with a friend and then started driving east. I'd always wanted to explore the Barron Canyon on the east side of the park, so I fought through my lack of sleep and made it into Pembroke by mid afternoon, checked into a hotel and immediately fell into a coma-like nap for a few hours.  

I woke up refreshed and ready to explore, but not before a nutritious dinner (a hot dog and a cookie) from the gas station. The drive from Pembroke to the Barron Canyon hiking trail lot was only 45 minutes, and the hike up to the canyon overlooks was surprisingly short. I spent the next couple of hours in awe of the striking scenery of the Barron Canyon, shooting photos until the sun went down behind the hills, and then hiked down at dusk, elated after a great evening. 

Happy shooting!

Selfie at the Barron Canyon, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 5D III, Sigma 24-70/2.8, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer and 3 stop hard edge ND grad

Barron Canyon, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 5D III, 16-35mm, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer and 2 stop hard edge ND grad

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Canon EF 24mm L f/1.4 II lens for sale

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L II USM lens
Serial # 2072544

Price: $1150 US or $1225CAD
Price includes insured shipping within the ConUS or Canada and PayPal fees. 

Comes with (all original Canon):
-lens cap
-body cap
-cloth pouch

Item condition: 9 (shows some signs of use, but very clean).
The condition is excellent - it looks new with the exception of some minor scuffing on the lens barrel that doesn't show in the photos. Sorry, the photos don't do it justice because of the glare from the pot lights in my house (I'm an outdoor photographer, not so good at artificially lit photos inside)!

I'm selling the lens because I barely use it and have other similar lenses covering the range. 

If you've read the reviews of this lens, you know it is very sharp with a fast aperture that is great for shooting in low light, and has shallow depth of field for artistic effects. 

Sorry, not interested in trades.

Please contact me if interested: 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A wicked week for warblers!

I've been busy photographing warblers this past week... and feeding the mosquitoes! Here are a few results from Awenda Provincial Park and Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

All the birds were taken with a Canon 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS II lens + 1.4x and fill flash using a Better Beamer. The wildflower at the bottom was taken with a Canon 5d mk III and Sigma 120-300/2.8 with a 25mm extension tube.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Prairie Warbler
And for the wildflower enthusiasts, here's a Showy Lady Slipper:

Showy Lady Slipper

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So many species, so little time!

It's peak season in Ontario for breeding birds, wildflowers, lush green vegetation, reptiles and amphibians. There's never enough time to sleep at this time of year for a nature photographer!

Here are a few photos from the past week. 

Blanding's Turtle, a threatened species in Ontario. Muskoka area.
Gear: Canon 5d3 & Sigma 120-300/2.8 with 25mm extension tube. 

Brewster's Warbler (Blue-winged x Golden-winged hybrid),  Muskoka area.
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II & 1.4x. 

Prairie Warbler, Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II & 1.4x. 

Upland Sandpiper, Carden Alvar
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Mini review of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM "Sport" lens for nature photography

I'm a big fan of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM telephoto lens that is part of their new "Sport" lineup. I borrowed one from Sigma Canada this past winter and spent quite a bit of time shooting birds in Florida with it (see the attached promo that features some of the resulting photos). Many people have asked me for my thoughts on this lens, so here are the highlights according to my experience (several months) of using the lens extensively:  
  • A highly versatile focal length for nature photography - notably wildlife, large birds, wildflowers and telephoto landscapes. It's fills a key gap for me between my medium telephoto and super-telephoto lenses.   
  • Fast aperture is great for shooting in low light, or for achieving smooth backgrounds because of the shallow depth of field when wide open.   
  • Very sharp (I used it routinely with 1.4x and 2x Canon extenders and the results were still razor sharp).
  • Moderate AF and OS performance (in comparison to the Canon 200-400mm lens, which costs about 3x the price).
  • The lens is fairly heavy, as expected for an f/ 2.8 telephoto. Carrying it around helped beef up my biceps!  
  • Great value for a lens of this speed/focal length. At 1/3 the price of the Canon 200-400mm f/4, I consider the Sigma to be the affordable alternative in this focal range.   
Disclaimer: Although I'm a Sigma Canada pro, I don't get paid to endorse their gear. These opinions are my independent conclusions based on personal shooting experience. I share honest opinions only, good or bad. 

To summarize, I've found the Sigma 120-300 to be an excellent value lens and have used it to produce many pro-quality images. I love the versatile focal range, especially when paired with a 1.4x extender. It's not inexpensive (at just under $4000 CDN) but that's a bargain for a lens with this focal range and speed. Thumbs up from me - I routinely recommend this lens to nature photographers looking for a fast lens in this focal range.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sigma Canada photo contest - win a trip to Japan!

Time is running out to enter Sigma Canada's awesome photo contest for a chance to win a trip to Japan. The deadline is May 31. Click for details and get your photos in!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Catch my keynote presentation "All About Bird Photography" this Saturday (May 3) in Toronto

Catch my keynote "All About Bird Photography" and other great presentations this Saturday (May 3) at the Greater Toronto Council of Camera Clubs special education day located at the Centennial College Riverdale Campus on Carlaw St in Toronto. For details and registration info, click here:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Presentation this Saturday (March 22) @ Halton Hills Camera Club (Georgetown)

I'm looking forward to presenting for the Halton Hills Camera Club this Saturday night in Georgetown, ON. If you're in the neighbourhood, come on out!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

My friend is selling some Nikon gear.....

My friend Bhupendra has some Nikon gear for sale that he no longer needs. 
The equipment is available individually as priced below or $900.00 for all of it together. 
Everything comes with the original packaging. Buyer pays shipping (from Ottawa, Canada). 

Please contact Bhupendra Yadav by email at if you have any questions or are interested (he can provide images if required). I can vouch for him - good guy and 100% trustworthy. 

Lightly used D300s Camera body ($600)
No visible marks on body
27000 frames
2x MH-18a chargers
EN-EL3e battery
Misplaced Nikon DK-23 eye cup ($5 value)
Original packaging & strap
Unopened software, manuals and cables etc.

Nikon MH-21 battery charger ($100)

Nikon EN-EL4a batteries x2 ($50 each)
Battery grip related ($40)Nikon BL-3 battery chamber cover for EN-EL4a
Vello BC-N1 battery chamber cover for EN-EL4a 
Nikon MS- D10 AA battery holder for MB-D10 x2 
Vello BG-N8 battery grip for Nikon D300s 

Kirk BL-D300G Compact L bracket for D700/D300s ($110)

Wimberley lens replacement foot for Nikon 500f4 and Nikon 200-400f4 (

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Why I love to photograph icicles....

Here's a link to a blog post I wrote for Ontario Tourism about my love of shooting icicles. It seems fitting with winter looming. In fact, I was out shooting icicles on the Georgian Bay shoreline this past week... yes it's already happening! 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Muskoka fall colours + waterfalls = a landscape photographer's dream!

Photo 1. Fall color scene on the Magnetawan River near the town of Magnetawan, ON.
Gear: Canon 5D mk III, 16-35mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer.

Nothing beats a drizzly, overcast day to get me motivated to shoot fall colors. Those are perfect conditions to bring out the rich red, orange and yellow foliage... and create beautiful images of satin-blurred creeks and waterfalls. I spent a few days this past week touring around the Muskoka area searching out the best scenes, just as the fall colors peaked. Since I've only recently moved over to the east side of Georgian Bay, I'm still learning new locations. Thankfully, there's a great resource to help! Fellow Ontario photographer Andrew McLachlan's ebook "A Photographer's Guide to the Ontario Landscape" is packed full of great locations. It would have taken me years to find all of these spots without Andrew's book!

In photo 1 (above), I laid down in the creek with my wide angle lens to get an intimate portrait of the bubbles and leaves (yes, I arranged some of them). It was worth getting soaked for this shot! I tried to balance the shutter speed.... slow enough to slightly blur the cascading water, but still keep the bubbles and leaves sharp as they were moving slightly. It was shot at 1/2s, f/11.

Photo 2. Fall foliage along the Magnetawan River near Burk's Falls.
Gear: Canon 5D mk III, 16-35mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer.
In photo 2 (above), the red foliage was so amazing I climbed into the centre of the small tree with my wide angle lens to shoot through the leaves and have the river running in the background. It took quite a few images to get a composition that I liked.

Photo 3 (below) is one of the most well known fall river scenes in Ontario - the Oxtongue River Rapids just west of the Algonquin Park west gate. These scenes are very easy to shoot. Here's my recipe: 1) go on a overcast or drizzly day, 2) use a tripod for stability and polarizing filter to cut glare and give you rich saturation, 3) set a low ISO speed and stop down your lens to a smaller aperture (eg. f/11 or 16) which results in a slower exposure that will render the water blurred. My favorite shutter speeds for blurred water are around a 1/4 to 1/2 second.

Photo 3. Fall colours at Oxtongue River Rapids west of Algonquin Provincial Park.
Gear: Canon 5D mk III, Sigma 24-70mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer.
 The most dangerous part of shooting these kind of scenes is slipping on the wet rocks. I almost wiped out when I was shooting photo 4 (below) of Rosseau Falls. Good footwear and agility is critical!
Photo 4. Rosseau Falls and fall colors.
Gear: Canon 5D mk III, 16-35mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer.
Stubbs Falls in Arrowhead Provincial Park (photo 5 - below) is one of the most picturesque of all the falls I photographed this autumn. As a bonus, the access is very easy... a short hike! I liked it so much, I posed for a self-portrait next to the cascade.  
Photo 5. Self portrait at Stubbs Falls in Arrrowhead Provincial Park.
Gear: Canon 5D mk III, 16-35mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer.