Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wilson's Warbler in winter - great way to end the year!

Wilson's Warbler, Oakville, Ontario - Dec. 30, 2014.
Gear: Canon 1D4, 500/4IS II and 1.4x III.

I've been following the bird reports about the ''famous five" lingering warbler species hanging out near a sewage treatment facility in Oakville, Ontario this winter.  After visiting my family down near Point Pelee for the holidays, I thought I'd swing by on the way back home to try my luck. I left Leamington at 5am and made it to Oakville shortly after 8am. It was cold (around -7C) - not exactly the kind of conditions you expect to look for warblers in! I bundled up and hit the trails with my camera.

I spent a few hours wandering around the small area and was able to easily find five warbler species: Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Tennessee and Wilson's. Although I manged to get photos of all of them, the densely tangled thickets made for busy backgrounds - not ideal for photos. Except for the Wilson's Warbler, which landed on a completely unobstructed open perch right in front of me. It posed for about 30 seconds, long enough to capture some great photos. I never expected to get my best ever Wilson's Warbler photos in Ontario on December 30. What a great way to end the year! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Black Bears and the Barron Canyon - a great day in Algonquin Provincial Park

Black Bear cub, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS + 1.4x 
My plan was simple: go to bed early, wake up at 2:30am, have a shower, fill a travel mug with coffee and drive to Algonquin Park in time for sunrise. The plan fell apart at the going to bed early stage. I finally dozed off after midnight and the 2:30am alarm rang far too soon. I debated skipping the photo shoot and staying in bed, but my conscious wouldn't allow it.... so I battled with the snooze button for an hour before mustering the willpower to get moving. And I am sure glad that I did!  

Miraculously (ok, it was a lack of traffic and some speeding) I made it to the park in time for dawn. Sunrise was a bust due to a heavy morning mist, but no worries... that wasn't what I was after. My morning target was a blueberry patch that I'd heard was attracting bears. Sure enough, the bears were there and very cooperative. Photographing the sows and cubs was a great way to start the day. I hardly noticed how tired I was!

Black Bear sow (ear tagged), Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS + 1.4x 

Once the light started to get harsh (bear fur does not photograph well in bright light), I left the bears, had breakfast with a friend and then started driving east. I'd always wanted to explore the Barron Canyon on the east side of the park, so I fought through my lack of sleep and made it into Pembroke by mid afternoon, checked into a hotel and immediately fell into a coma-like nap for a few hours.  

I woke up refreshed and ready to explore, but not before a nutritious dinner (a hot dog and a cookie) from the gas station. The drive from Pembroke to the Barron Canyon hiking trail lot was only 45 minutes, and the hike up to the canyon overlooks was surprisingly short. I spent the next couple of hours in awe of the striking scenery of the Barron Canyon, shooting photos until the sun went down behind the hills, and then hiked down at dusk, elated after a great evening. 

Happy shooting!

Selfie at the Barron Canyon, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 5D III, Sigma 24-70/2.8, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer and 3 stop hard edge ND grad

Barron Canyon, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.
Canon EOS 5D III, 16-35mm, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer and 2 stop hard edge ND grad

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Canon EF 24mm L f/1.4 II lens for sale

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L II USM lens
Serial # 2072544

Price: $1150 US or $1225CAD
Price includes insured shipping within the ConUS or Canada and PayPal fees. 

Comes with (all original Canon):
-lens cap
-body cap
-cloth pouch

Item condition: 9 (shows some signs of use, but very clean).
The condition is excellent - it looks new with the exception of some minor scuffing on the lens barrel that doesn't show in the photos. Sorry, the photos don't do it justice because of the glare from the pot lights in my house (I'm an outdoor photographer, not so good at artificially lit photos inside)!

I'm selling the lens because I barely use it and have other similar lenses covering the range. 

If you've read the reviews of this lens, you know it is very sharp with a fast aperture that is great for shooting in low light, and has shallow depth of field for artistic effects. 

Sorry, not interested in trades.

Please contact me if interested: 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A wicked week for warblers!

I've been busy photographing warblers this past week... and feeding the mosquitoes! Here are a few results from Awenda Provincial Park and Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

All the birds were taken with a Canon 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS II lens + 1.4x and fill flash using a Better Beamer. The wildflower at the bottom was taken with a Canon 5d mk III and Sigma 120-300/2.8 with a 25mm extension tube.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Prairie Warbler
And for the wildflower enthusiasts, here's a Showy Lady Slipper:

Showy Lady Slipper

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So many species, so little time!

It's peak season in Ontario for breeding birds, wildflowers, lush green vegetation, reptiles and amphibians. There's never enough time to sleep at this time of year for a nature photographer!

Here are a few photos from the past week. 

Blanding's Turtle, a threatened species in Ontario. Muskoka area.
Gear: Canon 5d3 & Sigma 120-300/2.8 with 25mm extension tube. 

Brewster's Warbler (Blue-winged x Golden-winged hybrid),  Muskoka area.
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II & 1.4x. 

Prairie Warbler, Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II & 1.4x. 

Upland Sandpiper, Carden Alvar
Gear: Canon 1d4 with 500/4 IS II 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Mini review of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM "Sport" lens for nature photography

I'm a big fan of the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM telephoto lens that is part of their new "Sport" lineup. I borrowed one from Sigma Canada this past winter and spent quite a bit of time shooting birds in Florida with it (see the attached promo that features some of the resulting photos). Many people have asked me for my thoughts on this lens, so here are the highlights according to my experience (several months) of using the lens extensively:  
  • A highly versatile focal length for nature photography - notably wildlife, large birds, wildflowers and telephoto landscapes. It's fills a key gap for me between my medium telephoto and super-telephoto lenses.   
  • Fast aperture is great for shooting in low light, or for achieving smooth backgrounds because of the shallow depth of field when wide open.   
  • Very sharp (I used it routinely with 1.4x and 2x Canon extenders and the results were still razor sharp).
  • Moderate AF and OS performance (in comparison to the Canon 200-400mm lens, which costs about 3x the price).
  • The lens is fairly heavy, as expected for an f/ 2.8 telephoto. Carrying it around helped beef up my biceps!  
  • Great value for a lens of this speed/focal length. At 1/3 the price of the Canon 200-400mm f/4, I consider the Sigma to be the affordable alternative in this focal range.   
Disclaimer: Although I'm a Sigma Canada pro, I don't get paid to endorse their gear. These opinions are my independent conclusions based on personal shooting experience. I share honest opinions only, good or bad. 

To summarize, I've found the Sigma 120-300 to be an excellent value lens and have used it to produce many pro-quality images. I love the versatile focal range, especially when paired with a 1.4x extender. It's not inexpensive (at just under $4000 CDN) but that's a bargain for a lens with this focal range and speed. Thumbs up from me - I routinely recommend this lens to nature photographers looking for a fast lens in this focal range.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sigma Canada photo contest - win a trip to Japan!

Time is running out to enter Sigma Canada's awesome photo contest for a chance to win a trip to Japan. The deadline is May 31. Click for details and get your photos in!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Catch my keynote presentation "All About Bird Photography" this Saturday (May 3) in Toronto

Catch my keynote "All About Bird Photography" and other great presentations this Saturday (May 3) at the Greater Toronto Council of Camera Clubs special education day located at the Centennial College Riverdale Campus on Carlaw St in Toronto. For details and registration info, click here:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Presentation this Saturday (March 22) @ Halton Hills Camera Club (Georgetown)

I'm looking forward to presenting for the Halton Hills Camera Club this Saturday night in Georgetown, ON. If you're in the neighbourhood, come on out!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

My friend is selling some Nikon gear.....

My friend Bhupendra has some Nikon gear for sale that he no longer needs. 
The equipment is available individually as priced below or $900.00 for all of it together. 
Everything comes with the original packaging. Buyer pays shipping (from Ottawa, Canada). 

Please contact Bhupendra Yadav by email at if you have any questions or are interested (he can provide images if required). I can vouch for him - good guy and 100% trustworthy. 

Lightly used D300s Camera body ($600)
No visible marks on body
27000 frames
2x MH-18a chargers
EN-EL3e battery
Misplaced Nikon DK-23 eye cup ($5 value)
Original packaging & strap
Unopened software, manuals and cables etc.

Nikon MH-21 battery charger ($100)

Nikon EN-EL4a batteries x2 ($50 each)
Battery grip related ($40)Nikon BL-3 battery chamber cover for EN-EL4a
Vello BC-N1 battery chamber cover for EN-EL4a 
Nikon MS- D10 AA battery holder for MB-D10 x2 
Vello BG-N8 battery grip for Nikon D300s 

Kirk BL-D300G Compact L bracket for D700/D300s ($110)

Wimberley lens replacement foot for Nikon 500f4 and Nikon 200-400f4 (