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! www.hhcc.ca

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 bvsingh@lightoncanvas.com 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.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

SOLD: Canon 17-40mm f/4 L USM lens

Note: Item has sold.

For Sale: Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L USM wide angle zoom lens with accessories as listed below. The lens is about 5 years old and has been used for landscape photography. It is in perfect working condition, both mechanically and optically. I can't find any cosmetic wear on it.  

Serial # 916954

It comes with the following:
-original box
-user manual
-lens hood (aftermarket)
-lens cap (aftermarket)
-Canon lens pouch

Price: $550

Includes shipping within Canada (+$10 for continental US).
Payment by interact transfer or PayPal (no additional fee).

Please email (serious inquiries only): info@ethanmeleg.com

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SOLD: Canon 5D Mark II body with Really Right Stuff L Bracket


I'm selling my Canon EOS 5D Mark II body with a number of accessories as listed below. This has been my 'landscape' camera body for the past few years. It is in perfect working condition and shows some minor cosmetic wear (a bit of paint scuffed off the bottom of the grip - see photos).  The camera has been regularly cleaned and serviced professionally.

Serial # 0620305822
Shutter Count: 72,700

It comes with the following:
-Really Right Stuff L-bracket
-original box
-user manuals (English and French)
-neck strap
-battery charger
-1 battery
-AV cable

Price: $1350

Includes shipping within Canada or continental US.
Payment by interact transfer or PayPal (no additional fee).

Please email (serious inquiries only): info@ethanmeleg.com

I took the RRS L-bracket off so you can see it better.

Some of the paint is scuffed off on the bottom of the grip. It is merely cosmetic.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Upcoming presentation for the Huronia Land Conservancy fundraiser evening - August 8 in Midland, Ontario

If you're in the neighborhood, I'll be presenting "Confessions of a Crazed Photographer" at a fundraiser evening for the Huronia Land Conservancy in Midland, Ontario on August 8. Come on out and support this great cause! Details are on the poster. Thanks! 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Shooting landscapes photos @ Lake Superior Provincial Park and Wawa

I was up on the north shore of Lake Superior shooting photos this week at some of my favorite haunts. Lake Superior Provincial Park tops my list of the best landscape photography locations in Ontario, boasting wildly rugged shorelines and big topography. I love the place. 

My girlfriend and I camped out the first night in an amazing campsite on the water (where the first three photos below were taken). We had planned to spend several days camping there, but the mosquitoes were so bad that even the drone from outside the tent screen made it difficult to sleep. The sounds of buzzing mosquitoes is psychologically tormenting to me! So after one night, we wimped out.... packed up our camping gear and rented a cabin as a base to shoot around the area. [for the record, the mosquitoes aren't usually this bad, so don't let them stop you from visiting the park or camping.... go in late summer or fall].

Lake Superior Provincial Park, Canon 1D mk IV, Sigma 12-24mm lens,
Singh-Ray 2 stop hard ND grad. 

Lake Superior Provincial Park, Canon 5D mk II, Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens,
Singh-Ray 3 stop hard ND grad.
Lake Superior Provincial Park, Canon 5D mk II, Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens,
Singh-Ray 2 stop hard ND grad. 

For our last night, we stayed at Rock Island Lodge near the town of Wawa. To say this lodge is ideally situated for landscape photography is an understatement. I shot the next photo (below) just steps from our room at the lodge. I can't wait to stay there again soon and am contemplating hosting a workshop based out of the lodge next year! 

Rock Island Lodge, Lake Superior, Canon 5D mk II, Sigma 24-70/2.8 lens,
Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer and 2 stop hard ND grad. 

One morning while waiting for the light to improve, I re-enacted the famous scene from the Karate Kid to entertain my girlfriend. An outdoor photographer has to have a few tricks in the bag to keep things fun when you're standing around on the shore of Lake Superior!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cedar Strip Canoe on eastern Georgian Bay

Strutting with my canoe, eastern Georgian Bay.
I've officially survived my busiest time of year and am stoked to have more time to get out to shoot for fun... and catch up on long-overdue blog posts!

For most of my life, I've dreamed about paddling my own cedar strip canoe. I serendipitously found one for sale at a great price this year and couldn't resist. My girlfriend and I decided that an epic location was necessary for the maiden trip, so we pointed the bow towards a small chain of islands on eastern Georgian Bay, characterized by spectacular granite patterns. We lucked into superb weather for paddling, camping and photography!

Gear: Canon 1D mk IV, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 fisheye, Gitzo tripod. 
My favorite location is an island I dubbed "The Ramp" because of the smooth sloping rock that tapers off into the the water. The striations here are remarkable and it's easy to walk into the shallow water to shoot from that perspective.

During the middle of the day when the light was too harsh for serious shooting, I decided to show my girlfriend how stable the canoe was and how great my balance was. As I stood on one foot and lifted the paddle over my head, I promptly fell over backwards and flipped the canoe. She clicked at the right time to capture the decisive moment (above). Thankfully, I'd taken all of the gear out of the boat! 

As sunset approaches, I become completely focused on shooting images at the top  locations we've scouted out previously. The hour around sunset it downright intense.... it's a race against the light! Here are a few of the images we captured during the evening shoot.   

Gear: Canon 5d mk II, Sigma 24-70/2.8, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer.

Gear: Canon 5d mk II, Sigma 35/1.4, Singh-Ray 2 stop soft edge ND grad. 
Gear: Canon 5d mk II, Sigma 35/1.4, Singh-Ray 3 stop hard edge ND grad.

Gear: Canon 5d mk II, Sigma 35/1.4. 

After sunset, we paddled back to our campsite under twilight on glassy calm water. I snapped this photo of my girlfriend with the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens, which is superb in low light!     

Gear: Canon 5d mk II, Sigma 35/1.4.  

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Algonquin Park triple score (Great Gray Owl, Pine Marten, Boreal Chickadee)

Great Gray Owl in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Canon 1D mk IV and 500/4 IS lens. 
When the alarm clock went off at 5:30 this morning, I desperately wanted to go back to sleep. But the weather forecast was too fantastic to allow it, so my girlfriend kicked me out of bed. We made it to Algonquin Provincial Park shortly after sunrise and started working our way east across the park. It wasn't long before we found a half dozen cars scattered along the highway with cameras trained on something next to the road. It turned out to be a Great Gray Owl hunting a small bog. The bird was working its way westwards, flying from one telephone post to the next. All of the photographers were following it from behind (shooting into the sun) and instead of joining the pack, I walked down the road, anticipating the direction the owl was moving. Sure enough, after a few minutes it flew right past me and I got the above shot. What a great way to start the day!
We hit a bunch of the bird photography hot-spots in the park and were excited when this Pine Marten came out in the open along Opeongo Lake road several times at close range. I've photographed martens here before, but today was the most cooperative one I've seen and I ended up with my best shots of the species.

Pine Marten, Algonquin Park. Canon 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS & 1.4x extender. 
Our last stop of the day was at the Spruce Bog, which has become an excellent bird photography location since park staff started putting out a suet feeder each winter (huge kudos to the park for doing this!!). This is the best spot I know to photograph Boreal Chickadees.... they come in regularly to the suet feeders and are quite tame (one landed on the end of my lens this afternoon; others were being hand-fed by birders). As the light was fading this evening, I got my best shot of a Boreal Chickadee so far. What a great way to end the day!

Boreal Chickadee, Algonquin Park. Canon 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Snowy Owl and Black-backed Woodpecker

I haven't been home quite a week yet since my trip to Vietnam and Laos. I'm still messed up from the jet lag (wide awake at 3am most days), but this hasn't stopped me from taking advantage of the great winter conditions in central Ontario! I met up with Len Sylvester a couple days ago to shoot Snowy Owls in the Barrie area. This turned out to be a great afternoon and I ended up bagging a bucket-list shot of an adult male (all white) Snowy Owl against a pure white background of snow. [note, the bird was lured in with food]
If you want to get some incredible photos of these owls, join Len for one of his Snowy Owl workshops: http://www.ttlphoto.com/snowy-owl-photography-workshops-ontario/

Snowy Owl. Canon 1D mk IV, Sigma 300/2.8 lens. 
After visiting my girlfriend yesterday for Valentines Day, I headed north to Algonquin Provincial Park to photograph birds today. Boreal Chickadees are regularly visiting a suet feeder on the Spruce Bog Trail, so I parked myself there for about 5 hours this afternoon. I was ecstatic when a Black-backed Woodpecker landed in a nearby tree and spent about 10 minutes working its way along the trunk 'scaling' the bark in search of insects. I managed to get a few clean shots, my first decent photos of this species. Thank the camera gods for image stabilization, because I was trembling with excitement..... this is a bird I've wanted to photograph for a long time! Two bucket list bird photos in one week makes me a happy photographer!
Black-backed Woodpecker. Canon 1D mk IV, Canon 500/4 IS & 1.4x extender.