Category Archives: nature photography

Featured in The Hum….

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I have the incredible good fortune to be the featured artist in the September issue of The Hum – a fabulous monthly arts, entertainment and ideas newspaper that promotes people and events in small towns and rural areas in the Ottawa Valley. You can subscribe to The Hum or pick it up for free at one of the many businesses in Almonte, Perth, Carleton Place, Westport, Pakenham, Carp, Arnprior, Smiths Falls, Burnstown, White Lake, Renfrew, Balderson and also Ottawa.

When I was contacted by The Hum journalist, Sally Hansen, I thought she’d ask me the typical questions about what kind of camera I use, what kinds of photography I like to do, my favourite lenses etc. Short and sweet. Instead I had the most wonderfully engaging time with Sally, sharing stories, and talking about deeper things such as my sources of photographic inspiration, what motivates me to make the images and do, and what I do with those images. She wanted to know ‘my story’. I was really thrilled to provide it as one thing I’ve always loved is to find out what makes people tick – what’s their story, their life experiences and the things that makes that photographer, writer, artist or whomever, produce the kind of work they do. It’s context. I still like to know the details of the medium they use (e.g. kind of camera they use, for photographers, lenses they shoot with, etc.). But knowing something about the person fosters a greater connection to their work and an understanding of why they produce what they do. So, a very big thank you to The Hum and to Sally Hansen, for the opportunity to share my story.

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I’m extremely grateful to Sally and The Hum for highlighting how I use my photography to enable my passion for environmental education, conservation, and environmental communication. Being able to combine my career and passion as a biologist, with my passions for photography and the environment is a dream come true and hopefully a pursuit that will continue for many more years.

The Hum article also highlights that I’ll have some of my work on exhibit and for sale as part of the Perth Autumn Studio Tour. I’ll be exhibiting at Rita Redner’s studio at 549 Brooke Valley Road. The studio tour will take place over the Thanksgiving weekend, October 11th, 12th, and 13th, from 10 am to 5 pm. Click here to see a map of the tour and here to see the tour’s Facebook page. I hope you’ll come along on the tour to see the work of a number of very talented artists who will be exhibiting everything from pottery, to paintings to hand-made chocolate…. and so much more. See you there!

Perth Autumn Studio Tour

 

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Filed under Conservation & Environment, Creative Photography, Dreams, Exhibits, nature photography

Arctic Expedition 2014 – Icebergs & Sunsets

Hi Folks,

Sorry for my lack of posting here. Madly trying to process images from my arctic expedition and keep up with blog posts on my Biosphere Environmental Education blog and Facebook page.  So for the next little while, I’ll post links to my posts on my Biosphere Blog. I promise there will lots of nice photos so even though it isn’t a photography blog, your eyes should still have a feast. I hope you’ll click on the image below to go to my Biosphere Blog. Thanks for tuning in! 🙂

 

Check out my image Icebergs and Sunset on the Labrador Sea on the Biosphere Blog.

Check out my image Icebergs and Sunset on the Labrador Sea on the Biosphere Blog.

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Filed under Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Landscape, nature photography, Sunset

Arctic Expedition 2014

Gee, I feel bad that it’s been forever since I last posted here. Especially bad when my intention was to post more regularly. Oops! But I have a good reason. Since March, I’ve been really busy fundraising, planning, organizing, and preparing. In 10 days I’m headed out on an arctic expedition. I’ll be one of 46 educators and support staff on a Students On Ice arctic expedition, with 86 high school students from around the world. Incredible!

It’s been a massive amount of work to organize and prepare, but I’ve loved every minute of it and am so excited that I’ll soon be on an amazing adventure. I’ll be teaching environmental communication to the students. Environmental communication uses photography and videography to creating environmental messaging – messages about the environmental issues our planet faces and what we can all do about it. I truly believe that the biggest impediment to making progress in addressing global climate change, habitat loss, species extinction, and other environment issues, is a lack of understanding and a lack of attention to the issues. Environmental communication strives to change that. The saying is, a picture is worth a thousand words and I think there is a lot of truth to that.

For the next little while, I’ll be cross-posting, putting the posts on my Biosphere Blog, here on my photography blog. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my adventure and the launch of my Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program.

To read about the arctic expedition on the Biosphere Blog, click HERE.

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Filed under Conservation & Environment, Dreams, nature photography

Using photography to teach environmental education

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I haven’t had a chance to post on here in a while, but there’s a great reason why. I’ve been really busy working on a BIG project. One that involves photography, but in a different way.

I recently opened up my own environmental education organization Biosphere Environmental Education. And within it, I’ve created a unique environmental education program. It’s called the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program or the YEAP.

What does the YEAP do?

Well, we’re just starting out, but our program will take kids on expeditions around the world, to experience nature first hand, to see its beauty, understand how it works and how valuable they are. They’ll learn about the human impacts on it and what their generation can do to reduce those impacts.

Our program is different than other environmental education programs out there. It uses photography and videography to teach environmental ed. We’ll be teaching high school students how to shoot and edit photos and videos with impact. They’ll be documenting the environments that we’ll be experiencing, what’s unique about them, what’s beautiful about them, what’s valuable about them and what the human impacts are on them. And then we’ll teach them how to use those stills and video to put together stunning visual presentations that they’ll give to their schools, their clubs, their communities and most of all, their peers. So, we’ll be teaching them how to become environmental ambassadors, sharing their own messages about the environment and how we need to make changes to lessen the human impacts on it.

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Our mission…. is to mentor a new generation of leaders, innovators, and world citizens who believe that the long term health of earth’s environments is at least as important as profits and development, and who will guide their generation toward a sustainable way of living.

We’ve been given a golden opportunity. We’re collaborating with a fantastic organization called Students On Ice. They’re an award-winning organization that runs youth expeditions to the arctic and antarctic. They’ve been doing this for 14 years and have taken over 2,000 kids on these expeditions.

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Students On Ice has provided us with the opportunity to launch our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program on their July 2014 expedition to the arctic. We’re so excited about this! But the expedition is expensive. It’ll cost over $10,000 each, for me an my co-teacher to be on that expedition, delivering our program. And so we’ve created an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to raise the money we need to be on that expedition.

We would love your support! Click HERE to visit our funding campaign. Watch the video that tells you what we are doing. And then click on one of the ‘perks’ to donate. We have funding levels from $20 all the way up to $2500. Each and every dollar matters!

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We really need your support. If you can donate to our campaign, we’d be extremely grateful. And we’d also love it if you could share the link to our campaign with your friends – either by clicking on one of the social media buttons on our campaign website. Or sharing this post. Or emailing your friends directly.

Our campaign will be running for another 38 days. We’d love your support. Visit our campaign website and let us know what you think.

As many of you are fellow photographers, I hope you can see how using photography and videography to teach environmental education, can provide a new way to interest and motivate youth to learn about our environment and to take action to be the generation that does something big about the human impacts on it.

Thanks so much for your support!

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Filed under conservation, Conservation & Environment, Digital Photography, Dreams, nature photography, photography

Pileated Woodpecker

Last weekend I was coming in from filling up the bird feeders when I noticed a beautiful Pileated Woodpecker on a tree in the woods beside our house. It was madly ‘drilling’ holes in the tree, in search of juicy insects to eat. I didn’t think I’d get back into the house without disturbing him so instead I just enjoyed watching it for a few minutes and soaking up the beautiful sight. I went inside and was amazed that it was still there, busily excavating the tree trunk. So I grabbed my camera, my 600 mm lens and crept out the door. I was sure it would fly away before I could get my camera set up. Nope. So I took a few shots and then moved closer. It still seemed oblivious to me. So I took a few steps closer. Still ok. At one point the bird looked at me, but it certainly didn’t seem very concerned. It just went back to busily excavating in search of dinner.

Here’s one of the images that I made that day. I’m thankful for such a tolerant woodpecker. 🙂

Pileated Woodpecker excavating for insects

Pileated Woodpecker excavating for insects

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Filed under Birds, Digital Photography, nature photography, Wildlife Photography

When opportunity knocks…

Last week I came home from work and walked into the bedroom to grab my iPad. Something out the window caught my eye. It was a movement I saw out of the corner of my eye, but at that point wasn’t sure what it was. I waited a minute. Out from behind the big ‘lump’ in our backyard (that’s the name I give to our pile of dirt that’s now covered with a million weeds rather than gracing our flower beds…) walked a beautiful doe – a White-tailed Deer. She lazily grazed her way across our backyard, nibbling on grass and twigs. I was enjoying just watching her, when I saw more movement. This time, her fawn came wandering out from behind the ‘lump’. She wandered over to Mum, who then began to lick her face. Wow… what a moment.

The nature-lover in me was just soaking up this sight. But then the photographer in me said “quick, grab the camera!” And so I ran upstairs and grabbed my D7100, which thankfully was already attached to my 600 mm lens and on my tripod. I carefully made my way down the stairs and slowly walked into the bedroom. It was clear that there was a snowball’s chance in hell of going outside and getting photos out there. One crack of a twig and Mum and fawn would be gone. So, the alternative was to shoot photos through the window. It’s times like this I lament that I’m not better at keeping our windows clean. But hey, when opportunity knocks….

The problem with shooting through the window wasn’t the glass. It was the patch of rather tall, dying goldenrod plants right behind our window. Lovely as they are in late summer, right now they were annoying. I could get glimpses of Mum and her fawn through the weeds, but that was it. It was clear that if I was going to shoot from inside, I needed to be up higher. Given that I’m only 5 foot 2 (and that’s on a good day), this was a problem. But I quickly remembered the step stool we have in our kitchen. So I ran out and grabbed it. Better. I was up higher. But I couldn’t get my lens at the right angle to get at least partly above some of the goldenrods and find open patches big enough to shoot through, if the deer wandered that way.

So, I repositioned the step stool and stood with one foot on the end of our bed, the other on the step stool, shooting through the window. Not the typical pose for a wildlife photographer. But as I said, when opportunity knocks…

It was worth the effort. Mum and fawn didn’t see me and so I was treated to 20 minutes of them wandering through our backyard. At one point Mum was probably 16 feet away from the back window. If she’d come any closer, she’d be too close to the minimum focusing range of my 600 mm lens. The absolute icing on the cake, was watching Mum spend a few minutes licking her fawns face. It was reminiscent of childhood, when my face was covered with tomato sauce from my lunch of Alpha-getti and Mum rather roughly cleaned me up using a face cloth. I’m sure this fawn was having the same experience because you could see her fuss and move her face away. I’m sure Mum was telling her to stay still….

Below is a series of images I made of these moments. What I love about these images is that in most cases, I was forced to shoot through the patch of dead goldenrods outside the window. When you shoot ‘through’ something that is close enough, it has the effect of creating a hazy patch in your image. It’s like your shooting through a lens smeared with Vaseline, depending on how close the thing is that you are shooting through. Sometimes it creates light blobs that are nothing but distractions and which ruin the image. But sometimes it helps to create a wonderful softness to the image, as if you used a filter.

None of these images have had anything done to them, other than a teeny bit of cropping on a few and some basic tweaks such as a slight bump in vibrance, brightness, contrast and colour temperature, where needed.

Shooting through objects certainly can give images a more ‘artsy’ creative feel, which is something I love with wildlife photography. Don’t get me wrong, standard documentary style shots are great. But for me, having a more artistic style to wildlife images is what I love best and what makes me want to hang wildlife images on my wall…

Mum caught a quick glimpse of me but not enough to frighten her off. I was camouflaged behind those tall goldenrods.

Mum caught a quick glimpse of me but not enough to frighten her off. I was camouflaged behind those tall goldenrods.

Shooting through the dead goldenrod seed heads created this soft, blurred effects.

Shooting through the dead goldenrod seed heads created this soft, blurred effects.

Our backyard wildlife...

Our backyard wildlife…

Sometimes you get lucky in that the animal manages to position themselves in a way that the entire scene isn't blurred and as in this case, there are a few brightly coloured leaves to help frame the image.

Sometimes you get lucky in that the animal manages to position themselves in a way that the entire scene isn’t blurred and as in this case, there are a few brightly coloured leaves to help frame the image.

Mum and her fawn have their moment together.

Mum and her fawn have their moment together.

As Mum moved closer, it was possible to get a few clearer shots with fewer goldenrods to shoot through.

As Mum moved closer, it was possible to get a few clearer shots with fewer goldenrods to shoot through.

What a treat to have this doe about 16 feet from my window.

What a treat to have this doe about 16 feet from my window.

Clearly she was relaxed and not bothered by me because she and her fawn spent some time browsing on the wild plum tree by our garden

Clearly she was relaxed and not bothered by me because she and her fawn spent some time browsing on the wild plum tree by our garden

Mum was so close that with my 600 mm lens, I couldn't get her entire head in the frame.

Mum was so close that with my 600 mm lens, I couldn’t get her entire head in the frame.

Wildlife photography doesn’t always entail enduring harsh field conditions or fending off hordes of hungry biting flies. Not that I’m advocating that your only wildlife photography should be through a window, in the comfort of your own home. But when opportunity knocks…. you answer. 🙂

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Filed under Creative Photography, nature photography, Wildlife Photography

Early Morning Mist on Brewer Lake – Photo of the Week

After my continuing delinquency from posting my regular Photo of the Week, I’m hoping today’s image makes amends for my recent absence. Life has a way of throwing you curve balls – things that challenge you to your core. But photography is my oxygen. It nourishes my soul and gives me something positive to focus on. The hours of pleasure I can have in working on my images is a gift and often, in the process of working on an image, I’m transported back to that moment when I pressed the shutter release. That’s certainly the case with this image of the morning mist on Brewer Lake, in Algonquin Provincial Park. I hope you enjoy seeing this image as much as I enjoyed making the image of the stunning view before me.

Click on the thumbnail below to view and read about 44th Parallel Photography’s Photo of the Week.

7 September 2013

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Filed under Landscape, Nature, nature photography