Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wicked waves on Georgian Bay compliments of Sandy!

I watch weather forecasts closely and when I saw potential for 90km/hr NE winds on Georgian Bay compliments of Hurricane Sandy, I paid attention! Northerly winds smash the Georgian Bay shoreline of Bruce Peninsula National Park with great power. Would Frankenstorm deliver photographic awesomeness?

I arrived on the shoreline at 8am decked out in clothing for a, ummm, hurricane. The waves were the largest I've ever seen on the Great Lakes and were engulphing the 50 ft cliffs adjacent to Indian Head Cove. The best protection I could find was in the lee of Halfway Rock, which offered modest protection from the torrential spray. A plastic bag was all I had with me to protect my Canon 5d mk II and Sigma 70-200/2.8 lens from the water. For an hour, I battled blowing spray to shoot still photos and videos of the best waves I've ever seen. Here's a still photo of the wave smashing over the west side of Indian Head Cove (often mistakenly referred to as the Grotto):

And I couldn't resist shooting video of the same scene:

This was one of the most incredible scenes I've ever shot! My cameras (and myself) were totally soaked, but everything survived without any problems. What fun!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Birds – the cure for late autumn photography blues!

Once the leaves have dropped off the trees and the landscape turns brownish, many nature photographers fall into a slump of low photo motivation. The good news is that there is a cure and it’s flying towards you…. birds. In fact, late fall and early winter is one of the best times to photograph some families of birds as they stream through Ontario, or settle in here for the winter.  Pull on your toque and get your zoom lens ready!

Common Redpoll

The finch family tops my list of fall favourite birds to photograph in Ontario. There are a whole bunch of different finch species that can be found here during late fall and winter including goldfinches, siskins, redpolls, crossbills and grosbeaks. They all share an appetite for seeds and will travel widely in search of the best wild crops, especially the seed cones of conifer trees.  Finches are also fairly easy to attract to bird feeders. Hey, why pass up an easy meal?!

Evening Grosbeak

Finches can be found all over Ontario at this time of year, although I hone in on central Ontario to get the best mix of species.  Algonquin Provincial Park, in particular, ranks as one of the premier finch locations in the province.  In addition to cruising along the park’s Highway 60 watching for finch flocks, I always check out the Spruce Bog Trail, along Opeongo Lake Road and the feeders located at the park Visitor Centre.

If you’re a beginner birder and photographer, be sure to park a field guide to help identify the finches. Or better yet, learn the bird calls so you can find them with your ears! But be careful, before long you’ll become a bird geek like me, wandering around Ontario with your camera in pursuit of finches!

Click here for more exciting Ontario outdoor adventures.

Pine Grosbeak

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wildlife Photographer of the Year - my favorite images

The winners of the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest have just been announced. I always look forward to browsing through the categories. Here are my favorite images from among all of the winning and commended photos. Which ones do you like?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alan Murphy's e- book "The Photographer's Guide to Attracting Birds"

Here's a plug for Alan Murphy's new e-book "The Photographer's Guide to Attracting Birds". Alan is one of the top bird photographers on the continent, best known for his images of birds in stunning settings (beautiful perches, in flowers, etc). If you read birding or nature magazines, you've seen his photos grace many covers.    

I've been photographing birds for about 20 years, often with setups involving attractants (food, calls), and yet I still learned so much from this book. Alan goes into great detail about how to attract different families of birds, including species that I didn't think could be easily coaxed in. This book is an instant classic, in my opinion the very best resource about bird photography since Arthur Morris' 1998 landmark book "The Art of Bird Photography" which helped to popularize the activity.  

Alan's e-book is available for $50 from his website at this link. Some people might think that's a lot of cash for an e-book, but it's worth every penny and more. If you want to capture incredible bird photos, this book is one of the best investments you'll ever make to learn the techniques to attract birds in front of your lens!