Monday, January 22, 2007

A cold weekend in Algonquin Provincial Park

My girlfriend and I spent this past weekend in Algonquin Provincial Park. My goal: Evening Grosbeaks and some winter landscape photos. Her goal: snow and cross-country skiing. Life was good for both of us.

I'd been following reports of a large flock of Evening Grosbeaks feeding at the Algonquin Visitor Centre feeders, and they were there on cue. I spent about 3 hours with them on Saturday morning, in frigid -20C temps. It was painfully cold, but gratifying to shoot a bird I've had on my hitlist for years. The fact that Evening Grosbeak populations are in serious decline (for reasons unknown to researchers) added some urgency to my quest.

Evening Grosbeak, Algonquin Park
Canon EOS 1DSm2, EF 600/4 lens, 1.4xTC

Winter Sunset at Tea Lake, Algonquin Park
Canon EOS 1DSm2, EF 17-40L lens, Singh-Ray: Blue & Gold Polarizer, 4x6" 2-stop soft ND grad

Walking on snowy Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin Park
Canon EOS 1DSm2, EF 17-40L lens, Singh-Ray Warming Circular Polarizer

Cross-country Skiing through hardwood forest, Fen Lake Trail, Algonquin Park
Canon EOS 1DSm2, EF 17-40L lens, fill flash at -2 stops

I'm thawed, the photos are edited, dust spots cleaned off my digital sensor.... and ready for more winter shooting!


  1. The 2nd shot is fantastic. I love the colour hue you get in your scenes.

    I want 5 minutes in Singh-Ray's stockroom.

  2. Very nice, Ethan. Any problems with you camera or lenses in the cold weather? I'm curious how you transition back to room temperature without condensation issues.

  3. Bert, there are several things I do to avoid problems.

    1) Battery drain is a key issue when shooting DSLRs in cold weather, so I use 2 batteries and continually circulate them between the camera and an interior pant/jacket pocket (for body heat).

    2) My big lenses stay in the car trunk overnight during cold-weather shoots - so there are no acclimitization issues.

    3) I allow my gear to warm gradually by keeping them in the closed camera pack for several hours before opening. Some people put a plastic bag around their packs, so condensation occurs on the outside.

    Have never had any problems when following these steps. Hope you're out enjoying all this snow recently!

  4. Anonymous12:24 PM


    I am a young aspiring photographer and have a million and one questions about gear. I have researched alot of different gear and have narrowed my search to 2. Being a beginner I look for advice in what exactly the opinions are from the pros. It comes down to Canon Rebel with a lense kit etc. or the Nikon 80D....any comment? Thanks

  5. I always hate giving this kind of advice because both Canon and Nikon are excellent systems... and you can make great photos with either. Also, since I'm not a Nikon shooter, I don't enough about their new bodies to make satisfactory comparisons.

    Even though you're just starting to build your system, think about the future. In a couple of years, you'll likely have accumulated lenses and accessories, and you don't want to have to change systems at that point - it doesn't make good economic sense. I started out with Minolta, and ended up with $$thousands in that brand before realizing the significant limitations of their system. I sold it off (at considerable loss) and moved to Canon, where I began building a system that I'm very satisfied with. Canon has everything I need, and they lead the photo industry with many of their innovative products and features.

  6. Anonymous11:28 PM

    Thanks Ethan awesome advice...keep up the amazing work...see you in the Tub!

  7. Great shots Ethan - the sunset landscape photo turned out amazing! Missed seeing the photo of your coordination on skis... :)

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  9. Hows high-speed treating you Ethan?

  10. Ethan, I found you when i put in nature photog. search. I love your shots. I'm pretty new at this, but you can check out my blog, i just added a few shots. keep up the nice work!

  11. Craig, high-speed is awesome. Hard to believe I lived without it! Only pain is all the snow - it keeps burying my satellite dish on the roof. Have to clean it almost daily!