Category Archives: Wildlife 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

A new book worth buying – The Masters of Nature Photography

I saw a post today on Jim Brandenburg’s Facebook page, announcing the release of the new book, The Masters of Nature Photography. It’s a fabulous new coffee table book containing over 100 images from the world’s top 10 nature photographers. All have won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. The ten photographers featured in the book are: Jim Brandenburg, David Doubilet, Pal Hermansen, Frans Lanting, Thomas E. Mangelsen, Vincent Munier, Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, Paul Nicklen, Anup Shah and Christian Ziegler. Each photographer presents a 20 page portfolio of images, as well as describing their style of photography, influences and aims and the equipment used to make the image.  It also includes descriptions of why the pictures have special meaning to the photographer as well as telling the stories behind them.

Jiim Brandenburg_book1

For only $45 U.S., you can purchase a copy of the book, signed by Jim Brandenburg. Just click on the thumbnail above to go to Jim’s blog site. You can purchase the book directly from his blog site.

I plan to buy one and oggle over the amazing images by ten of the world’s best. A book containing that many images by the top wildlife photographers from around the world is not only brain-candy for me. It is also a great opportunity to study the images, to learn why these are winning images – what is it about the composition, lighting, perspective and other aspects that give these images that “wow factor”? I figure if I can’t be taught directly by these masters, I can certainly learn something from studying their images. I think we all strive to be better photographers. I know I am never satisfied with my images. Oh sure, my photography has improved and matured immensely over the years. But that’s different from being satisfied with my images. I’m always looking forward, looking to improve. And I have no doubt the images in this book with provide a lot of fodder for contemplation as well as just a great evening of pouring over a book of spectacular images.

Let me know if you buy one and if so, what you think.

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Wandering Doe – Photo of the Week

Sorry folks! I’ve been absent for a while. Tons going on and then away from home for work for a week. Busy times! But I’m back and have posted another Photo of the Week. This time, it’s an image taken with my new Nikon D7100. Am very happy with the camera so far. It’s early days, but so far, I like it. I look forward to lots more photography to really put the camera through its paces. And hopefully, there will be more opportunities to photograph the beautiful doe, the subject of this week’s Photo of the Week from 44th Parallel Photography.

Click on the thumbnail below to view the Photo of the Week.

 

18 August 2013

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Filed under Digital Photography, Mammals, nature photography, Photo of the Week, Wildlife Photography

Swimming Through Salad – Photo of the Week

This week’s Photo of the Week has an odd but fitting title. I’m going to let you tune into my Photo of the Week webpage to read about it, rather than telling you what it’s about. Note that no salad dressing was used in the making of this photo. 😉

Click HERE or on the thumbnail below to visit 44th Parallel Photography’s Photo of the Week.

27 July 2013

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Filed under nature photography, Photo of the Week, Wildlife Photography

Ending soon – my bird photography exhibit at Gilligallou in Almonte, Ontario

Hi Folks! It’s been a busy, busy time and things have kept me away from my blog posts, but I’ve re-surfaced and so you can expect more posts from me from now on.

Just wanted to let those of you in the Ottawa, Ontario area know, that the exhibit of my bird images at the Gilligallou Bird Shop in Almonte, Ontario will be ending this weekend. So while the weather is cool, the humidity is down, and you want to get out for a nice drive in the country, do it now. The exhibit will be coming down at the end of July.

Me, in front of my display of bird photos. They'll be on display for the month of July, so drop on by to have a look.

Me, in front of my display of bird photos. They’ll be on display for the month of July, so drop on by to have a look.

A big thank you to Bob and Louise at Gilligallou for their kindness in letting me show some of my images in their store. Be sure to check out their store. It’s packed full of great things – anything to do with birds. They sell very high quality bird seed for birds of all kinds.

Gilligallou_bird seed

And check out this new bird bath. I have my eye on this… ;o)

Bird bath

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Filed under Birds, Featured Wildlife Photographer, photography, Wildlife Photography

Birds, Birds, Birds!

With early mornings filled with the melodic sound of bird song, it’s a great time of year to enjoy hearing and seeing  our local birds. Thanks to Bob and Louise at Gilligallou Bird Inc shop in Almonte, Ontario, yesterday I was able to help people see what some of our local birds look like close up.

Bob and Louise have a fabulous shop that is all about birds – feeders, houses, seed, books, binos, and a ton more! It’s one of my favourite shops in Almonte and my visits there usually take a while as I look at all the fantastic things they have in their store. I have my eye on a gorgeous glass bird bath they sell, so I know I’ll be back soon.

Bob, outside the Gilligallou Bird Shop in Almonte. It's a fabulous shop for all things bird..... :o)

Bob, outside the Gilligallou Bird Shop in Almonte. It’s a fabulous shop for all things bird….. 🙂

Bob and Louise very kindly provided me with the opportunity to exhibit 14 of my bird images in their shop. So as of today, I am Miss July – my photos will be up in their shop for the month. 🙂

Me, in front of my display of bird photos. They'll be on display for the month of July, so drop on by to have a look.

Me, in front of my display of bird photos. They’ll be on display for the month of July, so drop on by to have a look.

I have 14 photos on display in the store. All the birds in my exhibit are species that occur in the Ottawa area.

I have 14 photos on display in the store. All the birds in my exhibit are species that occur in the Ottawa area.

If you’re in the Ottawa area, I hope you’ll pop down to Gilligallou to check out my images. While you’re there, you will have to take some time to look around the shop at all the amazing bird feeders, houses and other incredible things. I guarantee you that you can’t just pop in for a quick look. There are too many neat things to see. If you’re needing a new bird feeder or have run out of seed, this is the place to shop. And if you have questions about your feathered friends – what to feed them, what kind of feeder you need for them – Bob and Louise are incredibly knowledgeable and will be able to help you.

Gilligallou Bird Store in Almonte - for everything you need for your birds

Gilligallou Bird Store in Almonte – for everything you need for your birds

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Thanks Bob and Louise, for such a great opportunity!

Visit Gilligallou at:

https://www.facebook.com/GilligallouBird

14 Mill Street, Unit #3, Almonte (Almonte, ON)

Store-1_900px

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Filed under Birds, Exhibits, Featured Wildlife Photographer, photography, Wildlife Photography