Monday, December 29, 2008

Tucson birds - part 2

Tucson is a great city for bird photography.... there are birds all over the place. I've been hooked on a small flock of Canvasback that have found a small pond as their desert oasis. This is a tough species to shoot - I've never had a good crack at them until now - so I'm taking full advantage of the great opportunity. They're one of my favorite duck species.

Here are a few photos from the past couple days. All shot with EOS 1Ds mIII and 500IS with 1.4x or 2x teleconverters.

Photo 1: Canvasback incoming

Photo 2: Canvasback portrait

Photo 3: Cactus Wren

Photo 4: Northern Mockingbird

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I thought this photo might help to spread the holiday cheer! This was some kind of domestic hybrid duck that was hanging out in a flock of ducks I was photographing in New Mexico. I nick-named it "Fluffy" and smiled every time it swim past us. Although I've been photographing amazing natural landscapes and species almost daily, this is one of my favorite trip photos because of the character it evokes.

The holidays are going great..... I'm spending time with my folks at a beautiful rental house in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains in Tucson. Since the weather has been dull, I've been enjoying being lazy..... vegging out in front of the television, fattening up on great food and drinking fine red wine. What a perfect break from life in the camper van.

I wish everyone a great holiday season!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2 Month Trip Update with Stats

Today marks 2 full months on the road since departing from my father's house in Kingsville, Ontario on October 20,2008. The trip has been incredible so far.... and I sure appreciate being down south when my friends tell me about all the snow back home right now. I'll take blowing sand over blowing snow, any day!

First, let me thank everyone who has been following the blog and especially those who've taken time to post or send comments. A huge THANKS!

I thought you might be interested in some of the trip stats which are current as of today:

  • 19,955 photos taken
  • 14,180 km driven
  • 170 km walked carrying my camera gear
  • 77 species of birds photographed
  • 1,156 unique visitors to this blog (don't worry, I don't know who you are!)
  • 5 days - longest time I've gone without a shower
  • 13 times eating Mexican food for dinner
  • 7 pieces of camera gear damaged or wrecked
  • 1 hard drive ruined (backed up)
  • $1.49 US/Gallon - cheapest gas [equals about 50c/litre CDN]
  • 3 Mexican residents seen climbing the fence between Mexico/US border then running
  • 1 public washroom found with bullet holes straight through both walls

Every day has new adventures and photo opportunities. Thanks again for continuing to read the blog!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tucson birds - part 1

This morning I met up with legendary raptor photographer Ned Harris, who very generously took me to some outstanding bird photography opportunities around Tucson. It was such a good morning, I was nearly in a state of bird photography euphoria!

Lunch was at a Tucson diner called "Luke's Italian Beef". If you're ever in town, be sure to stop by for a delicious sandwich at a bargain price.

I'll be in Tucson for the next couple of weeks spending the holidays with my folks. Expect to see many photos of birds and Saguaro cacti.

Photo 1: Peregrine Falcon (Catalina Mountains in background).
EOS 1DsmIII; 500IS lens + 2x. Image cropped about 30%.
What better way to start a day than with peregrines in sweet light!

Photo 2: Canvasback drake; EOS 1DsmIII; 500IS lens + 1.4x TC
Close Canvasbacks....what a dream! I shot about 10 gigs of them. Will post more later.

Photo 3: Ring-necked Duck drake; EOS 1DsmIII; 500IS lens + 1.4X
I could shoot RN ducks all day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Madera Canyon

This week I spent a couple of days shooting in Madera Canyon in the beautiful Santa Rita Mountains. Although the weather has been fairly cloudy and windy over the past 5 days, there were a few excellent photo opps. Two cooperative Painted Redstarts in Madera were a highlight! The birding was pretty good too..... I had great looks (and got so-so photos) of Arizona Woodpecker and Elegant Trogon.

Unfortunately I spent today in a repair shop in Tucson getting work done on the van (new CV joints). But it was a good chance to hunker down at my laptop and catch up on photo work, which will pay for the van repairs!

Over the next few days I have some superb bird photography lined up, so check back again to see the results!

Photo 1: Painted Redstart
EOS 1DsmIII; 500/4IS + 2x

Photo 2: The Santa Rita Mountains at Madera Canyon
EOS 1DsmIII; 17-40mm; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer and 2 stop hard edge ND grad

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alex Mody photo road trip

One of the cool things about travelling to beautiful natural areas is that you end up meeting lots of other outdoor photographers. I bumped into Alex Mody at Bosque del Apache and it turns out that he is also on a photo road trip/adventure (for 3 months).

Alex is a young photographer with outstanding talent. When I was his age I think I was still photographing with a Kodak disk camera!

Be sure to check out Alex's website:
And follow his trip blog:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona

This past week I've been photographing mostly near the Whitewater Draw in the Sulphur Springs Valley of SE Arizona. This is a great birding area with a wide variety of species to shoot, and is especially known for raptors.

I've been staying in the town of Bisbee, which is a vibrant community full of eccentric folks.... a haven for hippies and artists. It's a cool town!

Photo 1: Mule Deer
EOS 1DSmIII; 500/IS + 2x

Photo 2: Loggerhead Shrike
EOS 1DSmIII; 500/IS + 2x

Photo 3: Ferruginous Hawk in flight
EOS 1DSmIII; 500/IS handheld

Photo 4: Northern Harrier
I've been trying to get a half decent shot of a harrier for years. It finally happened this evening!
EOS 1DSmIII; 500/IS + 2x
Photo 5: Sunset over Mule Mountains
EOS 1DSmIII; 70-200/2.8; no filters

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nikon Humor

I don't get caught up in the debate between which camera system is best (it's obvious to me that the system you're out shooting with is the best!), but when my friend sent me this humorous link - a Nikon rant - I laughed so hard I nearly spit coffee all over my laptop:

Advance apologies for anyone who might be offended by the Hitler reference, but take it for what it is....

Monday, December 08, 2008

Southeast Arizona

I'm camped out in the desert tonight under a bright moonlit sky. Although I'm in the middle of nowhere, there is good cellular coverage (I guess there's nothing to block the signal)... that's how I'm able to make this post.

Photo 1: There was a beautiful sunset last night with dramatic clouds over the Mule Mountains. This one is for my stepdad Tom, who has a general dislike for sunset photos!
EOS 1Ds mIII, 70-200/2.8 lens; Singh-Ray 2 stop ND grad on the sky; 3.2s @ f/14

Photo 2: Vermillion Flycatcher is one of the birds I most wanted to photograph this trip, but I wasn't expecting to have much luck until spring. Boy was I wrong! I found several relatively cooperative birds today. I'll probably spend most of this week photographing them.
EOS 1Ds mIII; 500/4 IS lens with 2x; 1/1000s @ f/8

Photo 3: Self-portrait from atop the Mule Mountains, overlooking the town of Bisbee, Arizona. Here's me this afternoon, proof for my family and friends that I'm still alive and eating well. Craig, thanks for the reminder to shoot some self-portraits!
EOS 1Ds mIII; 24-70/2.8 lens; 1/15s @ f/22

Note: For self portraits, I now use the fancy Canon cable release/interval timer (the one that is ridiculously expensive). I set it to shoot a frame every 10 seconds, which means I don't have to run back and forth to the camera for each shot.

I've got so many more photos to share, but I have to ration the use of my laptop out here in the desert so I don't deplete the batteries. More to follow later...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

White Sands National Monument

I stopped for a brief overnight at White Sands National Monument on my way south from Bosque del Apache. When I arrived mid afternoon, it was rainy and heavy overcast so it was an ideal time for a nap (I was completely exhausted). When I woke up a couple hours later, the sky was breaking with dramatic clouds and light. I ran into the dunes and took advantage of the brief conditions. Although I went back the next morning, there were no clouds in the sky and it just didn't measure up to the night before!

I'm now in southeast Arizona..... doing some hiking, photographing birds and catching up on photo work. The weather is fantastic and there is good coffee in town, so life is good!

White Sands Photos:
All taken with EOS 1Ds mIII and either 17-40mm, 24-70mm or 70-200mm lenses.
Singh-Ray circular polarizer and 2 stop hard edge ND grad.