Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Black Tern chicks

A quick post here as I'm well behind on sleep! Black Tern chicks have hatched in the past few days and parents are busy feeding. This is one of my favorite bird species!

EOS 1Ds mark III, EF 500/4IS lens amp; 1.4x TC. ISO 640; 1/800s @ f/5.6

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A few days in Algonquin Provincial Park

I'm back from a week on the road including a few days of shooting in the Algonquin Provincial Park area. It was a productive trip with some fantastic photo opportunities! Hope these look ok, I'm processing them in a weary-eyed state.

A highlight of the trip was an unusually tame moose, which walked right up to me within a meter (I was safely tucked in behind my van). At one point, I was able to lie down on the ground to shoot low level perspectives with a group of people standing behind it. What amazed me the most, however, was how foolish some people were - walking right up to it with their point & shoot cameras. The moose wasn't acting aggressively, but passing cars could easily have spooked it causing it to plough into (through? over?) the tourists. Getting run over by a moose can't be good for you. Rest assured that I would have captured the exclusive photos of 'natural selection' in progress!

Photo 1 (above): Young moose and onlookers along Highway 60 in Algonquin Park.
EOS 1Ds mark III; EF 70-200/4 lens; handheld

Photo 2 (above): Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park
EOS 5D mark II; EF 70-200/4 lens; Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer & 2 stop hard edge ND grad

Photo 3 (above): Sunset clouds over Lake of Two Rivers with Oxeye Dasies in foreground.
EOS 5D mark II; EF 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer & 3 stop hard edge ND grad

Photo 4 (above): Common Loon portrait (photographed from a canoe).
EOS 1Ds mark III; 500/4 IS lens & 1.4x TC; Gitzo tripod & Wimberly head sitting on canoe bottom.

For my travels in the Algonquin Park front country, I base out of the Algonquin Lakeside Inn motel just west of the park along Highway 60 at Oxtongue Lake. It's the most convenient place to stay with comfortable ammenities and great access to the park. Over the years I've gotten to know the owner Gary Schultz, who is a budding (and pretty damn good) nature photography. The Inn's property is a magnet for birds, so last fall I suggested that Gary put up a photo blind and some strategically located feeders with perches. He's done a fantastic job setting up the yard for bird photography and attracting various bird species throughout the seasons. I shot Purple Finches this week - it's the best shooting I've ever had for them... unfortunately I accidentally erased my best shots because of lack-of-sleep induced stupidity. I'll be back soon to reshoot them!

Here's the best part... stay at the Inn and you have free use of the photo blind. Gary is very obliging and you can fine-tune the perches to your needs. Don't miss out on this - it's a great bird setup with tons of activity!

Photo 5 (above): Male Purple Finch at the Algonquin Lakeside Inn feeders.
EOS 1Ds mark III; 500/4IS lens & 1.4x TC

Photo 6 (above): The blind and one of the feeder setups at the Algonquin Lakeside Inn.
Shot with a Canon G11, which I keep handy to capture the behind-the-scenes photos.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Random photo tip: label your camera gear

I've lost plenty of camera accessories over the years, surely amounting to hundreds of dollars worth of lens caps, hoods, cable releases, etc. Sometimes I accidentally leave them on location, especially when I'm out in the dark. Other times the gear simply gets mixed up when I'm shooting with friends (interestingly, I never seem to end up with their stuff in my bag!!).

I finally smartened up a while ago and bought a label maker from an office supply store for about $40. I spit out dozens of labels with my website address and stuck them on every piece of gear I own.  It's a cheap insurance policy that pays for itself quickly!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Bruce Peninsula Wildflower Workshop - great results!

Just finished hosting my annual "Wildflowers of the Bruce Peninsula" photo workshop in the Tobermory area. Several species of orchids were in peak condition, making for a great weekend and the participants filling their memory cards with fantastic photos! We focused on practical field techniques for creating dramatic wildflower photos. The overcast, drizzly conditions were perfect for rich color saturation!

A huge thanks to Richard, Dave, Steve, Barb and my co-leader Ian "Mr. Nikon" Brooks for making it a fun and productive weekend!

Photo 1(above): Showy (Queen) Lady's Slipper, Bruce Peninsula.
Techs: Canon EOS 5D mark II, 70-200/4 IS lens & 25mm extension tube; lighting controlled by 1 diffusor overhead and two gold-toned side reflectors. Exposure: ISO 400, 1/250s @ f/10

Photo 2 (above): Spotted Coralroot orchid (closeup of tiny individual flower) in Bruce Peninsula National Park. This is the first time I've shot this species... very exciting! Thanks to Ian for sharing his expert flash technique with the group. Techs:  Canon EOS 5D mark II, 100mm 2.8 macro & 25mm extension tube; 580EX flash off camera triggered with Pocket Wizards and diffused through an umbrella. Exposure: ISO 640, 1/30s @ f/16

Photo 3 (above): Ian photographing the Spotted Coralroot.
I carry a Canon G11 point & shoot everywhere with me to capture candid shots or photos that illustrate technique. The articulating screen made it easy for me to hold the camera up to the flower (without being too close to trample the surroundings) and still compose the photo with the LCD screen.

Photo 4 (above): It was raining so hard this morning when we left the hotel, there were ducks in the parking lot!!! Thankfully the rain subsided so we could get shooting.

Photo 5 (above): Richard sets a new fashion trend for photographers - actually storing the shower cap on his head when not using it to protect his camera from the drizzle!

Photo 6 (above): Our group after a fantastic farewell lunch at "A Mermaid's Secret" cafe - the best place to  eat in Tobermory.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Bruce Peninsula wildflowers & landscapes

A quick post with a few photos from this week....

Photo 1 (above): Stretching out at sunset on the Georgian Bay shoreline in Bruce Peninsula National Park. EOS 5D mark II; 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer

Photo 2 (above): Canoeing on Georgian Bay in Fathom Five National Marine Park, Tobermory. EOS 5D mark II; 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer

Photo 3 (above): My friend photographing a clump of Yellow Lady's Slippers in Bruce Peninsula National Park, Tobermory. EOS 5D mark II; 17-40mm lens; Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer & 3 stop hard edge ND grad

Photo 4 (above): Ram's Head Lady's Slipper in Bruce Peninsula National Park. This was the last fresh Ram's Head I shot this year.... they were finished early because of the hot, sunny weather. EOS 5D mark II; 70-200 f/4 lens with 2x teleconvertor & 25mm extension tube; mirror lock-up & cable release; 2 reflectors used (one on each side of flower).