Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!
I'm off to the Pelee area to spend a few days visiting family, but thought I'd sneak in a quick blog post before hitting the road.

I haven't been out shooting much in the past couple of weeks, which explains the lack of blog posts. Here's an update on what I've been up to.

The hard-drive on my main computer failed a couple of weeks ago and getting that problem solved has been a huge pain. I didn't lose any photos..... they're all backed up in triple redundancy (including off-site copies) but the process of getting the problem diagnosed, ordering a new drive and reinstalling all of my programs and files has been very time consuming. It's all the more challenging when you live in a small, remote town and the nearest computer shop is an hour and a half away!

This caused a backlog of photo submissions, which I'm now just about caught up on. For all of those aspiring photographers out there who romanticize about what it's like to be a freelance photographer, the reality is that it's a heck of a lot of time at a computer!

OK, I'll confess that it hasn't been all work lately..... winter is the time of year when I socialize more, catch up on movies and chill out.... all of which I have done plenty of lately! After travelling/living in a van all of last year, I've been catching up on lots of movies. Last week I saw the mega-budget movie "Avatar". I liked the special effect, but it went way overboard in terms of action sequences. Last night I rented "The Cove", a documentary about the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. This is one of the most remarkable films I've ever seen.... beautifully filmed and produced, with a powerful and provocative message. I highly suggest watching this film.... two thumbs up from me.

On another note, you might wonder what a guy like me gets for Christmas. My Mom bought me a set of Pocket Wizards.... an FM wireless system for triggering cameras and flashes remotely. It's an awesome gift that I'll put to very good use with some creative wildlife photography! And I couldn't pass up a good deal on a pair of Swarovski binoculars for myself.... there's nothing wrong with spoiling yourself sometimes!

The most exciting news I have to share is that I'm heading to Panama next month for a bird photography trip. I've heard only great things about Panama's birdlife, wildlife and scenery, so the trip planning is fun and I can't wait to get down there!

Well that's enough rambling on..... eggnog and holiday food are waiting.

Have a fantastic holiday season and great photo opps in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Varied Thrush in Tobermory !!!!

Varied Thrush, Tobermory - December 16, 2009
EOS 1Ds mark III, 500/4 IS lens & 2x teleconvertor; ISO 800; 1/125s @ f/8
Gitzo tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head

My neighbours called me a couple of days ago to report this rare bird visiting their feeder. The bird has continued to hang around for a couple of days and was seen today on the annual Christmas Bird Count. This is just a record shot to confirm the ID.... I'll be going back to get more photos for my collection (I need to use a flash to improve detail on the dark face)! Although only about 100m from my yard, I can't seem to lure the bird over to my feeders!

By the way, sorry for the lack of posts lately. The hard-drive on my main business computer crashed a few days ago, and although I have backups of everything.... it's been a pain having to restore all the files. Aside from this, I've been out socializing lately more than blogging.... tis the season!

Check back soon for some bird photos and winter landscapes!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2010 Great Ontario Outdoor Adventure calendar released

The 2010 Great Ontario Outdoor Adventure calendar has just been released by Ontario Tourism. The calendar features many of my photos, including the cover image of Flowerpot Island, the main July image and a Birds of Ontario feature with each month. Approx 300,000 copies will be distributed through various ways including: with the Jan/Feb issue of Canadian Geographic magazine, at the 2010 Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show (February) and at select MEC and Bass Pro stores. The calendar is complimentary.... to receive your free copy, visit  or call 1-800-ONTARIO.

The cover photo is from Flowerpot Island in Fathom Five National Marine Park near Tobermory, Ontario. The weather was better than I could ever have hoped for... glassy calm with beautiful morning light! I shot this handheld, laying in the back of a boat just above water level with a Canon EOS 5D mark II body, 24-70/2.8 lens and Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer lens. The exposure was: ISO 400; 1/200s @ f/9. The models were extremely cooperative, patiently paddling by for many repeat attempts to get all of the elements lined up perfectly for the image(a huge thanks  Karen and Lauren!). Drop by the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show in February to see this photo as a huge backdrop for the Ontario Tourism display.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Camera Gear: free to a good home!

I'm cleaning out my gear closet and have a couple items that are free to the first person who emails me to claim them (North America only). All you have to do is cover shipping costs and if you're in the US, any taxes or duty are your responsibility.

1) Pentax manual camera system (I inherited this from my grandmother when she died and have never once used it).
Body: Pentax ME-F
Lenses (2): SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/2, SMC Pentax 28mm f/2.8
Flashes (4): Sunpak MX118, Kako 828, Bauer E16, Black's X-28

2) Epson P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer (40GB)
This is a refurbished unit that Epson had sent me on warranty repair. It works perfectly when plugged in, but not on battery. I'm not sure if it just needs a new battery, or if it's something else.

Send me a note with your address if you want either of them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lion's Head Lighthouse, Bruce Peninsula

Lion's Head lighthouse, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

EOS 1Ds mark III, TS-E 24mm II tilt-shift lens (shifted slightly to keep the lighthouse straight); Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; mirror lock-up and cable release; Exposure: ISO 100; 1/30s at f/11

The town of Lion's Head boasts one of the most scenic harbours I've found on the Great Lakes. The lighthouse, blue water of Georgian Bay and distant Niagara Escarpment cliffs make an excellent combo for photos. Only a half hour from my place, I often drop in to shoot if the afternoon light is right.... as I did today.

Having photographed this lighthouse many times, I'm always looking for fresh perspectives and elements. I knew that having a person in the scene would add scale, but I was solo. No problem! With a remote/timer cable release set to shoot a frame every 10 seconds, I simply walked into the scene and posed myself for a series of photos. OK, so I'm not a supermodel... just a temporary fill in for the occasional outdoor photo!

Happy shooting!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yes, more sand ripples!

Sand ripples and clouds, Dorcas Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park

I couldn't resist the dramatic clouds that rolled in a couple nights ago! I shot this from a slightly higher perspective than the photo in the previous post..... and managed to stay dry for a change!

EOS 1Ds mark III, TS-E 24mm II tilt-shift lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 2 stop hard edge ND grad (4x6" size, handheld in front of lens); mirror lock-up and cable release; Exposure: ISO 100; 2.5s at f/18


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sand Ripples at Sunset, Bruce Peninsula

Sand ripples at sunset, Dorcas Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park
EOS 1Ds mark III, TS-E 24mm II tilt-shift lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 3 stop hard edge ND grad (4x6" size, handheld in front of lens); mirror lock-up and cable release; Exposure: ISO 100; 0.6s at f/16

Just a quick post....

About 10 minutes from my place, this beach faces west for unobscured sunsets and has extensive bands of sand ripples along the water's edge. When the skies look promising for a good sunset, I often race down there for a quick shoot. It's been the perfect spot to work with the new tilt-shift lens. To get these kind of photos, I lie in the wet sand with my Gitzo tripod lowered to ground level. The low perspective exaggerates the foreground sand ripples and adds depth to the photo. I end up soaked and covered in sand after shooting here, but that's part of the fun of nature photography!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunrise on Georgian Bay with the new 24mm Tilt-Shift lens

I seem to be doing more socializing, exploring and photo work lately than actually getting out shooting. There are many old friends to catch up with now that I'm settling back into life on the Bruce Peninsula. And after being on the road for a year, I'm finally tackling business projects that have been on the back burner for far too long. Top of the priority list is a searchable photo database for my website, which is pretty much essential to run a stock photography business.   

In the overall scheme of pacing, taking regular breaks from shooting keeps my photo mojo fresh!

The weather over the past couple days has been incredible, so I hiked out in darkness this morning to the Georgian Bay shoreline in Bruce Peninsula National Park for a sunrise shoot with my new tilt-shift lens. What a beautiful, crisp morning!

It's going to take me a bit of practice to become comfortable and efficient shooting with the tilt-shift lens. With full depth-of field my goal for landscape photos, getting the tilt adjusted just right and paired with an optimal aperture, requires a bit of fooling around.... I'm sure I'll have the hang of it soon. 

Although I've only shot this lens a couple of times now and am still learning how to use it, I am already amazed by the sharpness! And I'm similarly impressed by the depth of field that can be achieved at middle-of-the road apertures. Sweet!

Above photo: Predawn glow over Georgian Bay in Bruce Peninsula National Park; EOS 1Ds mark III; TS-E 24mm II tilt shift lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 3 stop hard edge ND grad (handheld in front of lens); mirror lock-up and cable release; ISO 200; 4s @ f/16

Above photo: Waves crash at sunrise, Georgian Bay shoreline in Bruce Peninsula National Park; EOS 1Ds mark III; TS-E 24mm II tilt shift lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 3 stop hard edge ND grad (handheld in front of lens); mirror lock-up and cable release; ISO 400; 1/15s @ f/11

For this photo, I needed a shutter speed of 1/15s to blur the wave slightly, yet still have defined streaks of water. I also wanted full-depth-of field in the photo. The solution: tilt the lens and set a moderate aperture which allowed for the desired shutter speed.

Check back soon for more tilt-shift photos. And if you want to see some results from Canon's new 17mm tilt-shift, check out this post on Mac Danzig's blog.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Photoshop and Nature Photography: How Far is Too Far?

Here's a link to a brilliant article written by Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou on online magazine/forum:

Photoshop and Nature Photography: How Far is Too Far?

Entertaining and thought-provoking, they tackle the great debate between the "Purists" and "Processors". Their photos are, of course, excellent too. Kudos to Darwin and Samantha for hitting this one bang on!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Trip retrospective on the Singh-Ray filters blog

Check out the latest post on the Singh-Ray Blog - a retrospective look back at my travels over the past year. Their blog is well-worth following.... the photos are inspirational and it's an excellent resource for learning how to use filters in outdoor photography!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

First photos - Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens (TS-E 24mm II)

Above photo: Sunset over Dorcas Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park
EOS 5D mark II; TS-E 24mm II tilt shift lens; Singh-Ray 2-stop reverse edge ND grad (handheld in front of lens); mirror lock-up and cable release; ISO 200; 1/6s @ f/11

Above photo: Sunset over Dorcas Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park

EOS 5D mark II; TS-E 24mm II tilt shift lens; Singh-Ray 3-stop hard edge ND grad (handheld in front of lens); mirror lock-up and cable release; ISO 200; 1s @ f/11

I've been dying to get out with my new 24mm tilt shift lens since buying it last week, but the weather has been so dull... I had resorting to shooting in my kitchen and living room! You can imagine how elated I was to see the skies shaping up for a great sunset this evening. Off I raced to a prime sunset spot along the Lake Huron shoreline.
Becoming proficient with a tilt-shift lens takes some practice, and I am far from good at it yet. But the initial results have me extremely excited. This lens is razor sharp from corner to corner, without the soft edges, vigneting and barrel distortion issues that plague Canon's other wide-angle lenses [these problems are most obvious on full-frame sensor bodies]). I expect the tilt-shift is to become my bread-and-butter lens for landscape and outdoor recreation photography... and it's only a matter of time until I get the 17mm version too.
For the above photos, I used the tilt feature to increase depth of field so everything was in focus from the foreground (only inches from the lens) to the distant horizon at f/11 - amazing! With other (non tilt-shift lenses), it would have taken a small aperture of f/22  to get the same depth. The tilt-shift lens allows you to shoot at more optimal apertures for lens sharpness and with faster shutter speeds.   
By the way, I would normally use a polarizer for these photos (to cut the bluish glare of the water and wet stand) - but I had to order a larger size to fit the new lens (it has an 82mm front end). Once it arrives - look out - this will be a deadly landscape photography setup! More to come.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

VW Van Farewell, Canon's new 24 Tilt-Shift lens and Twitter

Much to tell you since the last post!

Above photo: "Turtle" and I on the Texas coast in April.

I've parted ways with "Turtle", my VW Westfalia van/home for the past year. Why the name "Turtle", you ask? It was my shell, providing refuge from intense desert sun, frigid nights and coastal downpours during my travels. And like most VW Westy vans, it was very slow... especially on hills!

Turtle and I had a love/hate relationship, exploring incredible landscapes but also stopping frequently to share my life savings with repair shops. A young couple bought the van yesterday to begin their own journey southwest. Lucky for them, most of the major repairs have been completed!

Above photo: Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens

With some extra cash in my pocket from selling the van, I bought the new Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens yesterday. There have been some great reports about this lens from other photographers (FYI, I never buy a piece of camera gear as soon as it's released... I wait for several months until its been tested by others). 

There are a couple of huge benefits of Tilt-Shift lenses for landscape and outdoor adventure photography: 
-not distorting objects such as lighthouses, trees or people (which 'bend' with typical wide angle lenses)
-more depth of field... allowing for faster shutter speeds and sharper images because you are able to shoot at optimal apertures such as f/8 or f/11 and still get full depth-of-field.

Expect to see some images with the new lens in coming posts.... I can't wait to get out shooting with it!

Incidentally, I would have preferred the extra wide focal length of  Canon's new 17mm TS lens, but the front lens is convex, so it's not possible to put a polarizer on it. Darn!

Twittering? Yes, it was only a matter of time before I'd get with the times and start twittering. Click this link to stay current with what I'm up to: Follow Ethan on Twitter

Thanks and happy shooting!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 Awards

The Wildlife of the Photographer of the Year competition just announced the 2009 winners. Check out some of the finest nature photography in the world... lots of inspiration here:

My favourite photos from among the winners are:

-Sardine round-up by Paul Nicklen (Canada) in the "Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals" category
-Starling wave by Danny Green (UK) in the "Nature in Black and White" category
-Deer in the grove of giants by Floris Van Brugel (US) in the "Animals in the Environment" category
-Wild, wild wolverine by Sergey Gorshkov (Russia) in the "Animal Portraits" category
-Ice Fox by Henrik Lund (Finland) in the "Animals in the Environment" category
-Wild spring garden by Floris Van Brugel (US) in the "In Praise of Plants" category

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A full year on the road!

Today marks a full year of traveling since hitting the road last autumn. What a wild trip it has been.... many miles, incredible places and experiences..... and more photos than I probably know what to do with.  After such a long time living wanderlust, I've decided to settle back down in Ontario for the foreseeable future. Life on the road is grand, but a year is a long time to live in a van (especially by yourself!) ..... so I'm looking forward to being in one place for a while. I've rented a beautiful house near Georgian Bay and will be working on some cool projects,  getting my new photos into circulation and recharging my bank account (van repairs were damn expensive!). I'm particularly going to enjoy regular showers, home-cooked food and an indoor plumbing (versus always having to pee behind trees)!  

Thought you might be interested in a few basic trip stats from the year....
- 78,500 km driven
-  1,020 km waked carrying my camera gear
- 87,000 photos taken
- $16,500 spent on van repairs/maintenance
- 433 bird species seen
- favorite place: giant redwood forests of northern California
- 19,000 different blog visitors

If you've been following the blog, you'll be pleased to know that I did not break my 6 day record of wearing the same t-shirt. And I only ate 3 bags of Oreos during the entire trip!

How about my favorite photos from the past year? Here are a few that stand out in my mind:

Above photo: Star trails over Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Above photo: The Subway canyon in Zion National Park.

Above photo: Salt Creek cracked mud, Death Valley National Park, California

Above photo: American White Pelican landing, Salton Sea, California

Above photo: Painted Bunting, central Texas coast.

So what are my next big trips? Aside from some shorter trips within North America, my top destinations are Madagascar and Australia. Those are fairly expensive destinations, so I'll be saving my cash for a while.... even if it requires surviving on dried cat food and cheap wine.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wood Ducks in autumn colors

I'm in Cleveland, Ohio for the weekend at the North Chagrin Reservation pond, considered the premier location to photograph Wood Ducks with fall color reflections. I arrived at the pond (next to the Nature Centre) around lunch time and by the time I stopped photographing at dusk, I'd shot 973 images. The pond has many tame wood ducks, beautiful reflections and gets bathed in soft evening light. What more could you ask for?

I've been back in the hotel room all evening editing the photos... my eyes are bugging out from staring at the laptop.

Here's a travel tip: I stay in hotels often and save a pile of cash by booking them through discount sites such as hotwire or priceline. Tonight's room (in a 3.5 star hotel) cost about half the usual price.

Here are a few quick picks. All shot with an EOS 1Ds mark III; 500/4 IS lens (first two with a 1.4x teleconverter). More coming in the next post.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Point Pelee National Park & Holiday Beach Conservation Area

Sorry for the long wait for another post, but I've actually been working this week! My photo collection had outgrown my storage system, so I shifted to an upscalable Drobo storage system (a bank of hard drives). At the same time I've added all of the photos from the past year (hundreds of GBs). I have a well-edited collection, but it's still over a terrabyte of data. All the files are backed up in triple redundancy (you can never be too careful) and it takes a heck of a long time to complete a major backup!

I'm down in the Pelee area (my mom lives here, so I am visiting) and have been doing a bit of photography  when not at my computer. I've been mostly chasing birds and shoreline images.

For the first photo at the tip of Point Pelee National Park, the light was fairly flat and the beach lacked strong foreground elements. To create a more dramatic image I used a 2-stop hard edge ND grad (Singh-Ray) to darken the clouds and a slow shutter speed (1/4 second) to blur the water for a sense of movement in the foreground. In landscape photography, these kind of tricks are akin to pulling a rabbit out of a hat. When conditions are dull, there are always creative techniques to make a stronger photo.  EOS 1Ds mark III; 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo polarizer & 2 stop hard edge ND grad; ISO 200; 1/4s at f/18; mirror lock-up & cable release

For this next photo of a White-throated Sparrow, I had set up a blind in my Mom's backyard (it's an incredible yard for migrating birds) and put out some feeders. Dozens of sparrows came in to ground feed and one would occasionally land on a strategically placed log. EOS 1Ds mark III; 500/4IS lens & 1.4x teleconverter; 580EX II flash (fill set at -1 2/3); ISO 400; 1/200s at f/5.6   

I spent a few mornings trying to photograph migrating hawks from the famous tower at Holiday Beach Conservation Area. It seems that every day I missed, the hawks were low and plentiful. On the days I was there, the birds were flying high... except for this flock of Mute Swans (an exotic species that nest in the marsh at Holiday Beach) which flew by the tower - low - in early morning light. EOS 1Ds mark III; 500/4 IS lens & 1.4x teleconverter. ISO 400; 1/2000s at f/5.6.  

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Monarch Butterfly Migration at Point Pelee National Park

I stumbled across good numbers of roosting Monarch Butterflies yesterday morning at the tip of Point Pelee National Park while leading a private photo workshop. There were easily a thousand monarchs, including some groups nearing 100 individuals. It was a sunny morning, the monarchs were low.... what more could we ask for!

Photo 1: Canon EOS 1Ds mark III; 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; Exposure: ISO 400, 1/80s, f/14

Photo 2: Canon EOS 1Ds mark III; 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; 580 EXII flash (fill set at -2/3); Exposure: ISO 400, 1/125s, f/11

Photo 1: Canon EOS 1Ds mark III; 70-200/2.8 lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; Exposure: ISO 400, 1/60s, f/8

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Canon EOS 7D camera body

I'm down in southern Ontario visiting my family and waiting for better light to photograph migrating raptors in flight at Point Pelee and Holiday Beach. Peregrine Falcons were moving yesterday but the weather was overcast and drizzly, so no photo opps. Crossing my fingers for some clearer skies!

I've been getting many emails from photographers asking for my thoughts about the just released Canon EOS 7D. I'm not in the market for a new body right now, so I haven't had a 7D in my hands yet. But I have been reading some of the reviews in the online photo forums and it sounds like it could be a great value body for bird & wildlife photography. When looking for information about new cameras, these are the websites where I start my research:

Rob Galbraith - Digital Photography Insights

Canon Rumours

The Luminous Landscape


Naturscapes.Net (forum discussion about the 7D)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

EOS 1D Mark II N for sale; Aspiring bird photographer

A couple of quick notes here:

1) My friend Bryan Holliday from Phoenix, AZ has a Canon EOS 1D Mark II N for sale in great shape. Interested? Check out Bryan's blog for more information.

2) A couple years ago I met an aspiring young birder named Brendan Toews after he discovered the first nesting Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach, Ontario in decades. Brendan quickly became hooked on bird photographry and has been building a good portfolio of images ever since. Check out some of his work on his website.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Algonquin finale

Just finished a great weekend photo workshop with a keen gang of photographers in Algonquin Provincial Park. A huge thanks to all the participants, my co-leader Ian "Mooseman" Brooks (see your call on YouTube soon!), workshop host Outdoor Photography Canada magazine, and Gary & Tina Schultz of the Algonquin Lakeside Inn. We had an incredible sunrise on Saturday morning and vibrant autumn colours to fill our memory cards!

Photo 1: The workshop group at the Algonquin Lakeside Inn.

Photo 2: Autumn river colours, digital "Orton" effect. EOS 5D mark II; 24-70/2.8; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; Exposure: ISO 100; 8 seconds at f/16
I knew this scene was perfect to create an "Orton" image, merging an out-of-focus photo with a sharp version of the same scene (once done by combining two exposures, now easily accomplished digitally from a single image). Here's the link to instructions on how to do it: Orton Imagery
Photo 3: Algonquin Park wetland; EOS 5D mark II; 17-40/4 lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 2 stop hard edge ND grad (4x6" size, handheld in front of lens). Exposure: ISO 200; 0.8 seconds at F/20. Mirror lock-up & cable release.
I put on hip waders and carefully trudged into this pond to get a low perspective on the lilypads for this wide-angle landscape photo.
Photo 4: Moose; EOS 1Ds mark III; 500/4 IS lens; Exposure: ISO 400; 1/40 second at f/4
During the workshop we showed the group where and how to find moose, but explained that wildlife photography is usually most productive when you're out shooting by yourself. After the workshop ended, co-leader Ian and I were out searching for moose when we found this bull along Opeongo Lake Road. Ready to shoot, we had only a few moments before the moose ran off into the woods. I shot this image from the car window using a Blubb beanbag.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Algonquin Park fall colours - part 2

Fall colours are progressing well in the Algonquin Park region. I've been having a great time roaming around the park in search of the best pockets of colour, in prep for leading the Outdoor Photography Canada magazine photo workshop here this weekend.

Photos taken with Canon EOS 1DsIII or 5D mark II bodies; 24-70/2.8 lens and 17-40/4 lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Algonquin Fall colours begin

I arrived in Algonquin Park yesterday to photograph fall colours and scout for the upcoming workshop this weekend. There are many places in the park along the Highway 60 corridor where fall colours are already vibrant - approaching 50% of the canopy. It should build towards peak in about a week - around the last few days of September and first days of October. This is my favourite time of year here..... great colours and no bugs!

Photo 1: Leaf detail; Canon EOS 1DsIII; 24-70/2.8 lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; Exposure: ISO 200; 1.3 seconds @ f/11; mirror lock-up & cable release

Photo 2: A photographer admires the fall colours. EOS 1DsIII; 17-40/4 lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; Exposure: ISO 200; 5 seconds @ f/16; mirror lock-up & cable release
Photo 3: Leaf on rock in flowing river. EOS 1DsIII; 17-40/4 lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer; Exposure: ISO 200; 30 seconds @ f/22; mirror lock-up & cable release

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beware: Nature Photographer loose in the City!

As a freelance photographer, I am often consumed with the business.... either out in the field photographing or spending long hours at my computer managing images and communicating with clients. It's rare that I don't have photography on my mind.

A mental break every now and then helps me to stay energized, so I've taken a couple days off this week to chill out in Toronto. Last night I saw Regina Spektor in concert at the Sound Academy (beautiful view of the Toronto skyline from there). Tonight I'm going to the U2 concert and have great tickets for the show. I listen to music non-stop when I'm on the road, and U2 is my favourite band, so I'm very excited to see them live tonight!

Photo 1: That's me last night at the Regina Spektor concert. The sunset over the Toronto skyline was amazing. Thanks to my friend Vera for getting the photo of me.

Photo 2: My friend and I sat outside the public library in Portal, Arizona this winter at 6am to use the internet connection to buy U2 concert tickets for the Toronto show tonight.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A great Bruce Peninsula landscape photo workshop

I just finished hosting a weekend landscape photography workshop on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. The weather was incredible and the participants were great to work with! A huge thanks to Judy-Ann C, Sterling G, Lisa D, David T ("Sherpa"), Richard M, Dave & Barb B, Craig B (assistant) and David G for joining along!

During the weekend we visited some of the most scenic locations on the Georgian Bay shoreline to focus on practical field techniques in landscape photography. I don't photograph much during the workshops because I'm busy helping other people shoot, but I couldn't resist a quick image of this co-operative Herring Gull posing in the foreground with Niagara Escarpment cliffs behind.

Thanks to my assistant Craig - an excellent photographer and founder of - for capturing the following photos of our workshop in action.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bird Photography Calendar

My friend Bryan Holliday has just released a 2010 calendar featuring his stunning bird photography. The 16 month calendar "Winged Journey" is available through his website:

Be sure to check out the calendar and browse Bryan's website to see his bird images.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Upcoming Presentation - Tue Sept 8 in Toronto

I'll be presenting "Freedom 35: Living the Dream" next Tuesday evening (Sept 8) at the Toronto Digital Photo Club. Come on out to see the photos and hear the stories from my North American travels in a VW camper van over the past year. The presentation is full of tips about nature photography and photo travel.

For more information, visit my website:

If you make it to the show, be sure to say hi.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sunrise at Forillon National Park

On the way back from Newfoundland, we detoured through the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec because I wanted a chance for better light to shoot the spectacular shoreline at Cap Bon Ami in Forillon National Park. The weather cooperated and the predawn glow lit up the wet foreground rocks beautifully. The combination of layered rocks, water and cliffs makes this a magical location for landscape photography.

Photo: Cap Bon Ami, Forillon National Park, Quebec;
EOS 1DsIII; 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray Gold'n'Blue Polarizer & 2 stop hard edge ND grad; ISO 200; 6 seconds @ f/22.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Newfoundland luck

I'm not a big believer in the notion of luck. In photography, you have to be out in the field and prepared for the unexpected. In essence you create your own luck. The photos below are two examples of being in the right place and ready to shoot.

Photo 1: Red Fox (silver/black morph), northern Peninsula, Newfoundland; EOS 1DsIII; 500/4IS lens & 1.4x teleconvertor.

This fox was walking along the roadside, so I quickly got my camera ready and doubled-back. I photographed it out of the side door of my van..... there was only enough time for about 10 shots before it took off.
FOX ID UPDATE: Thanks to a couple of other photographers emailing me about the fox - and some internet research - here's more info about it. The species is indeed Red Fox, but the colour morph is commonly known as the "Silver Fox". Apparently this colour morph was created through selective breeding for the fur industry. Animals in the wild may be decendents or cross-breeds with once captive individuals.

Photo 2: Sunset, Trout River area of Gros Morne National Park; EOS 1DsIII; 24-70mm lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 2 stop hard edge ND grad

After cooking an exquisite surf & turf dinner over a campfire and sitting down to enjoy a glass of wine, I noticed some glowing clouds (it had been heavy overcast all evening). My friend and I raced over to a grand landscape vista we'd scouted earlier in the afternoon. We had only a couple minutes to shoot one of the most spectacular sunsets of the trip to Newfoundland.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Newfoundland Puffins, Whales & Lobster Traps

When you're out photographing all the time, you have good days and bad days. Weather plays a big role in your photographic success. After numerous foggy/overcast days and Hurricane Bill forecast to hit eastern Newfoundland, I was hoping for a good day. And then I found puffins - lots of them flying and landing within close range. To say that my photo mojo peaked is an understatement. As birds go, puffins are way up on the very cool list. I had only 2 hours with them before the remenants of the hurricane ended the shoot with heavy overcast skies, rain and winds. But those two hours were magical!

Photo 1: Atlantic Puffin, eastern Newfoundland; EOS 1DsIII; 500/4 IS lens & 1.4x teleconvertor; 580EX II for fill flash

Photo 2: Atlantic Puffin landing, eastern Newfoundland; EOS 1DsIII; 500/4IS lens & 2x teleconvertor

Photo 3: Beluga Whale, eastern Newfoundland

Departing eastern Newfoundland to travel back westwards across the province, we started the drive on a scenic coastal road. My friend spotted several humpback whales feeding on capelin schools in a scenic bay, so we stopped to see if we could hire a local fisherman to take us out for close photos. Although we couldn't hire a boat at that time, a local guy mentioned that a Beluga Whale was hanging out in the harbour. No sooner had the words come out of his mouth, and the beluga surfaced right next to the dock. For about an hour, we watched the beluga at close range, and played tug-o-war with the tame whale, as it playfully grabbed onto mooring lines from a fishing boat. What a great experience!

It was hard to leave the beluga, but we had a long drive across the province to make our next destination. At sunset we stopped near Castors River on the northwestern coast to camp for the night. Here's the view from where we camped....

Photo 4: Lobster Trap at sunset, Castors River, northwestern Newfoundland; EOS 1DsIII; 17-40mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 5-stop hard edge ND grad (handheld during 8 second exposure)