Friday, May 28, 2010

The pinnacle of peak photo season!

I live on the Bruce Peninsula - an incredible place for nature photography! From mid May through late June, my life is turned upside down as I try to photograph the plethora of subjects that are at their best. This brief window of time is the peak for breeding birds, plants (wildflowers & ferns) and landscapes with fresh green foliage. On any given day I'm off in many directions and forced to make hard decisions about what to shoot. I don't get to sleep much at this time of year!

These three photos, which I've photographed in the last few days, exemplify that wonderful dilemna! The first is a landscape from one of my favorite spots in Bruce Peninsula National Park. The second is a Bobolink in full song. And the third is an Ostrich fern, backlit by by evening light.

Photo 1 (above): Self portait at sunset in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
 EOS 5D mark II, TSE 24mm tilt shift lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer & 2 stop soft edge ND grad (Z-pro sprocket setrup), Canon TC-80N3; horizontal flip in photoshop for optimal cover composition.The Canon TC-80N3 timer remote controller is ideal for shooting self portraits. I set it to expose every 10 seconds, which gives me plenty of time to pose for the next photo.

Photo 2 (above): Bobolink singing, Bruce Peninsula. EOS 1Ds mark III, 500/4 IS lens & 2x teleconvertor.
Photographed from my van window with the lens/camera resting on a Blubb beanbag. Bobolinks are a grassland bird species facing serious declines in many part of their range. I'm lucky to have many in the fields near my place!

Photo 3 (above): Ostrich Fern, Bruce Peninsula
EOS 5D mark II, 70-200/4 IS, 25mm extension tube; cable release & mirror lock up.
In the evening, these ferns are beautifully backlit and the distant forestedge becomes a dramatic black background.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Great Opportunity on Georgian Bay (stay in an amazing photo location!)

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, through its Monitoring Station near the Cabot Head Lightstation, tracks the migration of birds on the Bruce Peninsula. I was a founding board member and the organization has now been operating for 10 years.

For 8 weeks from June 12th to August 7th, when banding and monitoring are not taking place, the non-profit organization invites conservation-minded people "stewards" to stay at Wingfield Cottage for weekly sessions. This helps to pay for the spring and fall migration bird banding activities. At this time, the weeks open are: June 12-19 (ideal for wildflowers), June 26-July 3, July 3-10, Aug 7-14.

The one-week visits, Saturday to Friday, cost $550.

Stewards usually do small maintenance projects and have a wonderful experience.

The location is majestic and the rustic cottage has Georgian Bay on one side and Wingfield Basin on the other. It's a dream spot for landscape and wildlife photography!

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory is located in a provincial nature reserve on the edge of Wingfield Basin on the side opposite the Cabot Head Lightstation. Cabot Head is on the northeast side of the Bruce Peninsula just past the cottage village of Dyers Bay.

Check out the website  and if you are interested call or email Ron Baker at (519) 795-7652 or

Enjoy a spectacular location on Georgian Bay and support conservation at the same time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Birders gone Wild !!!

It's the calm before the storm... the countdown to the start of my annual birding marathon! At 1:30am, I'll be heading out to join my buddies (and fellow birding geeks) Mark Weircinski and John Haselmayer for about  18 hours of fast-paced birding all over the Bruce Peninsula region. Our goal is to identify (by seeing or hearing) as many different species of birds as possible. We do this every year and our long-standing record is 174 species. Conditions are looking good this year for a shot at a fairly high total. This year we have a cameraman joining us to film the adventure... with any luck you'll be able to watch a short documentary "Birders Gone Wild" at some point in the future!

Our day that starts in darkness listening for owls and other birds that call only at night. Shortly before sunrise we visit wetlands to find a variety of marsh birds that are most active in early morning. We then race (with me at the wheel, driving like mad) to MacGregor Point Provincial Park for dawn chorus. The first 2 hours right after sunrise are critical - that's when bird activity is the highest. We'll be ticking off species at a fast rate and should be left with a good sense of how successful our day is likely to be by 8am. The rest of the day we'll meander our way north towards Tobermory, stopping at various habitats and locations which we select to target specific birds. Sometime around 8-10pm we'll drink a celebratory beer before collapsing in exhaustion.

I have the cooler packed with a grossly unhealthy selection of junk food and caffeine drinks to fuel us through the day. The van is loaded with binoculars, scopes and field guides. Now it's time to chill out before the adventure begins... wish us luck!

I'll try to post a few updates throughout the day on Twitter... follow them at

The bird at the top of the post is a Virginia Rail.... an elusive marsh bird that we'll hear calling early in the morning.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Presentation in Toronto area (Henry's show) this Saturday

This Saturday, I'll be presenting a photo show "The Passion of Nature Photography" at the Henry's Photographic, Video & Digital Imaging Show in the Toronto area

The presentation is sponsored by Outdoor Photography Canada (OPC) magazine and is a fun and inspiring look at what it takes to be successful in nature photography. I'll share my best photos, stories and tips! After the presentation I'll be hanging out at the OPC booth (#6 across from Nikon) for a meet & greet. I'll also be in the booth on Sunday morning from 11am to noon.

Here are the details:
When: Presentation at 4:45pm on Saturday, May 15
Where: International Centre, 6900 Airport Road (Hall 5)

Hope to see you there. If you make it out, be sure to say hi!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Outdoor Photography Canada - Spring Contest

Want a shot at winning some great camera gear? The Outdoor Photography Canada 2010 Spring Photo Contest is underway with the theme "Human Impact on the Environment". Contest details can be found by clicking here. The number of entries has been lower than usual, so hurry up and enter! 

Here's the grand prize list to tempt you: 
•Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Wide-Angle Lens (Canon, Nikon, Sony or Pentax mount)
•Velbon Sherpa PRO CF-535 Carbon Fibre Tripod and QHD-61Q Magnesium Ball Head
•Niagara School of Imaging tuition to attend Mike Grandmaison’s course on “Making a Living as a Nature Photographer”
•Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200
• Flight Logistics Photographer’s Sun Position Compass
•One-year subscription to OPC magazine and publication of winning image in OPC

Good luck!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Red Fox kits (cute warning!)

Acting on a tip (thanks Steph!) about a Red Fox den, I've made several visits to track them down and finally lucked out this morning. The den is under a shed, which doesn't make for a great background, but I'm banking on the cute factor of the kits to help carry the photos!

These were photographed out of the window of my new mini van (first shots taken from it) with my lens resting on a "Blubb" beanbag. All shot with a Canon EOS 1Ds mark III and 500mm f/4 IS lens; the tightly framed shots were using teleconvertors. In the bright morning light I was able to stop down the aperture to achieve enough depth of field so both animals were in focus and still have a fast enough shutter speed for sharpness. You can bet I'll be making many more visits to try to get similar images with a better background!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Presentation in Cornwall, Ontario - Wednesday night

I'll be doing a presentation in Cornwall, Ontario next Wednesday night (May 5). I don't make it to eastern Ontario often, so if you're in the area be sure to come on out and say hi!
Here's the info:

"Confessions of a Crazed Photographer" [a humorous and inspiring show about what it takes to be a nature photographer].
St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences
17th Annual International Conference

7:30pm presentation in Aultsville Theatre
Details at:

Or phone for tickets: (613) 936-6620