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Friday, September 4, 2009

"Lizzie" The Iguana




This past week I had the opportunity to photograph a Pet Iguana, named Lizzie. This was a unique experience to work with a tame reptile of this caliber, and she provided some excellent shots for both me and her owner!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Emma"


I have been terrible in keeping up with the old Blog!! Sorry, half too tired, and half too lazy!! Yesterday I had the chance to photograph an 8 week old Chinese Shar-Pei named Emma!! What a cute little dog!! Special thanks to my friend Janet (Her mother)!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Predator and Prey


A rainy Saturday is the best medication for the addicted photographer!! Finally I have a chance to get caught up on all the editing and such!!

Today's Blog entry is a stunning set between an Eastern Garter Snake and a rather large Bull Frog. While I was out shooting around the marsh I heard the cries of a frog. Low and behold the whole episode was unfolding right beside me.

The snake first had the frog by the head, and it was his intended meal!! Well the frog did break free and dove back into the water, and hid beneath. I thought that it was all over, frog wins, and snake loses... Wrong!! The snake actually went out on the water, stuck his head below and found the frog, grabbing it by the leg. The snake then proceeded to pull the frog back onto land! In the first photo(Top left) you can see the snake has hold of the frog's leg.

Snake's have the amazing ability to unlock their jaws to allow the swallowing of large prey items such as this frog. Bit by bit they work their mouths over and around, using their sharp teeth to keep a firm grip so that the prey can not slip out. In the next shot (Right Center) you can see just how the snake accomplishes this. All the Bull Frog can do is keep himself inflated with air, to make himself as big as possible, with the hope that the snake will give up and spit him back out, which does happen.

The last shot shows the snake getting a good swallow hold on the frog, which it eventually managed to swallow! The final picture is my favorite from the shoot, and I have also entered it into the National Geographic Your Shot contest, which if it gets selected could make it into publication! Well, until next time, Put a Canon to your head, You deserve it!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Algonquin Moose




Today, as with most of my free time away from the day job, and on the weekends that I don't have my two girls, I am always planning different places to go to shoot Wildlife. Today I decided to make a run up to Algonquin Park here in Ontario Canada.

Algonquin is the most beautiful of parks we have here in Ontario, and is home to Moose, White Tail Deer, Black Bears, Wolves, Red Foxes, Coyotes, Beavers, birds of all kinds and various reptiles and Amphibians. Needless to say a trip into the park is almost always going to produce some sort of Wildlife, which is why you need to be careful when driving on the Highway #60 corridor that runs east to west through the park. Lots of signs are posted like the one in the top photo to the right warning motorists of the constant dangers from Wildlife, particularly the Moose which are very plentiful in the Park, and very big !! Sadly many are hit each year by motor vehicles.

This time of year the Moose are attracted to the roadsides by the lush new vegetation growing in the ditches, and also by the salty water left from the snow removal equipment during the winter, which the particularly love to drink up, as you can see in the middle photo to the right. This time of year the Bull Moose don't have their impressive Racks, they have already fallen off during the winter months. As you can see in the pictures of this Bull Moose, they are starting to grow out again. Moose Antlers are the fastest growing Bone of any animal. It won't take long for this Moose to once again have a nice rack, which is used during the rut in the fall against other Bull Moose as they fight for a mate. Perhaps I'll get back up their in the fall!! Until next time... "Put a Canon to Your Head, You Deserve it!!"

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Frogs are Back !!

Well, another season of outdoor photography has begun, and everything that has been asleep over the past few months is awakening to a brand new season.

For me that means the return of the frogs, most of which are heavy into their breeding season. Spring Peepers, and Leopard frogs are the first to "Jump" into the swing of things and get the ball rolling to produce this year's generation of young frogs. Here are a few shots of what I have been seeing so far this year at the marsh ! Until next time... "Put a Canon to Your Head, You Deserve it!!"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Equipment Pricing 2009

I think most of us were spoiled by last years pricing on photography equipment!! Last year our Canadian dollar was strong and buying power was great! This year as world economies struggle, and currencies fight to keep their value against the stronger Yen, we are seeing some pretty drastic price increases here in North America.

Last year you could purchase a Canon 500mm F4L IS lens for $5986.16 CND. Right now that same lens is retailing for an astonishing $8449.99 CND!! A difference of $2463.83 CND!! Those who purchased last year will be undoubtedly happy with that decision!

For the most part, prices will remain high until the world's economies can repair themselves, if that is possible... There aren't many deals on New photo equipment these days, so it pays to know the market, watch the exchange rates, as plummeting currencies are a sure bet of high prices in the future... Until next time... "Put a Canon to Your Head, You Deserve it!!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Spring Wildlife Opportunities

In this addition I want to talk about the season that is fast approaching us.. Spring! This is my favorite of seasons, partly because, the snow goes bye bye, and mostly it brings so many migratory bird visitors through our region here in the Quinte area, which makes it the best time for photographing them.

The early spring always brings lots of different waterfowl, and they can be found and best photographed in areas of open water. Small areas that open up early, before the larger sections of ice go out. It's these early areas of open water that really can attract some interesting water birds. Some of my favorites are the Bufflehead Ducks (Top Right Photo), a diving species that is readily seen here in the spring, but others that include non Migratory species, such as the Common Golden Eye, Lesser Scaups and two species of Mergansers, the Common and the hooded, the later Drake is a spectacular looking bird (Middle Right Photo). Remember when I talk about early areas of open water? These Hooded Mergansers were photographed at the Belleville Reid's Dairy pond out back!! Any early open water has the potential to bring in waterfowl, even in the heart of a busy city.
Next I am going to talk about setting up around these open areas. Wild ducks and other waterfowl are extremely skittish where people are concerned, so an approach to limiting the human form is required, because to get great shots, you have to be able to get close in their environment. Yes, you can get lucky, as I did with the above shots, but the whole time I was there, they seen me, and my presents inevitably caused them to fly away!!
This year I am going to be trying out a product from the U.S (doesn't everything have to come from there!) called the Kwik Camo (Bottom Right Photo). As you can see from the picture on the bottom, this great product allows you to set up in an area you want and cover yourself, camera, and tripod with a zippered up camouflaged material! With this type of set up, you should be able to get extremely close to your intended targets. I say should here, because I have not used it yet, but it stands to reason that with most any wild creatures, if you can eliminate the human form from an animals view, you should be successful. My thinking is to set up in the early morning hours, and wait... Ducks that fly in, will be completely unaware of my presents, and those that had seen me, should lose interest rather quickly of my hidden self. Time will tell, but I certainly look forward to trying out his new technique come spring, and a complete review of this piece of gear will be posted as soon as I have given it a full go, right here on my blog... Until next time, happy shooting!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cleaning Lenses

The one thing I use to always hate to do was cleaning the front of my lenses! No matter how hard I tried to get the front element clean, it would always looked smudged after I was done!

I am going to explain how I clean my front lens elements, and what I use to give you the brand new, streak and smudge free look.

Before I get into this any further, it has always been said that cleaning less is better! The front element is a delicate surface on a lens, and you can damage the lens coating if you don't do it right. Remember dust on the lens element has to be extremely severe to show up in your pictures!! I have actually seen shots from a lens that was badly cracked, and you could not easily see from the pictures it took that there was anything wrong with it!! So my word of advice is don't obsess about dust that collects on it. The only time you really need to clean a lens, is when you say get a fingerprint on it, or perhaps water spots or other organic things coming in contact with your lens and leaving something behind, that could damage the lenses coating.

Firstly, before any cleaning takes place a good rocket blower is needed to blow away any dirt, dust and debris. The rocket blower for the most part is the only regular cleaning anyone really should be doing to their lenses. For finger prints and other contaminates that happen to get on a lens, I use a disposable Pec Pad and Regular Eclipse Fluid that is made for cleaning optics. This fluid evaporates very quickly, and really helps to leave a nice streak free cleaning. This combination will remove fingerprints and other contaminates very well. Another excellent product I use on occasion after the above, is a Lens Pen. This is a carbon based dry cleaner, that absolutely works wonders at cleaning the front glass. It has a soft front tip that you simply rotate around the lens to remove smudges and even finger prints. One of the cheapest tools to put in your kit, and an absolutely must have item for cleaning lenses. Most times it is unnecessary to clean the entire front element. I commonly only do a spot clean, if say a water drop, or perhaps bug excrement hits my lens(Being a Wildlife Photographer, this happens a lot). On a large lens element such as what you find on the big Canon Telephotos, cleaning the entire thing is a bit more tricky. What I do for my 500mm is stand it up on end, and with some Eclipse Fluid, and a soft cotton Q-Tip, I carefully remove the spot from the glass. I usually polish it up after with the Lens Pen, and everything is as good as new!!

That pretty much does it for cleaning lenses, and is what I have learned from my own personal experience. I hope that this will help all of you that want to keep their glass clean, and in great shape!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Photographing Waterfowl during Winter

As the cold winter months continue here in Canada, one has to wonder when it will all end! Temperatures and precipitation amounts have been about normal here this year, so one really has to wonder about global warming!!
One of the best opportunities one can find during these months is photographing waterfowl that congregate in areas of open water. Many species of Ducks and even Mute Swans that don't migrate can be found. Use your car as a blind if possible, birds don't usually react to seeing a vehicle, but the human form almost always sends them running! The pictures I have included today have been shot with either the 300mm F4L IS or the 300mm F2.8 IS which I have just recently acquired and starting shooting with. The best glass for these opportunities are within the 300-500mm focal length range. A 1.4X converter goes along way to help you out with lenses at the 300mm end of this range. I always use Full Manual on my camera to carefully expose not only the white in some of the birds, but the snow too. It's not hard to over do it, so I do recommend using Manual, and watching what your exposure is, adjusting the shutter speed accordingly. Watch you histogram, and if your camera has the blown highlights warning feature, that can be seen once the shot has been taken, make adjustments as needed. Most of all, Have Fun !!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wild Turkeys




One of Ontario's biggest success stories lies with the re-introduction of the Wild Turkey. In the early 1980's Wild birds from various parts of the U.S were trapped and re-located to the region. Today the wild turkey population is greater than 40,000 birds, and is a rather common fixture, even along the edges of large cities!! The re-introduction allows for hunting to take place, and given the fact that each hen produces around a dozen eggs, they are quit capable of sustaining and at the same time increasing there populations. That said, because they nest on the ground, and eggs take 6 weeks to hatch out, predation is also high. After chicks hatch, it is a further 2 weeks before they can fly, and are able to roost in the trees with the adults. Predators include Raccoons, Foxes, coyotes, birds of prey and even dogs and cats. Fortunately turkeys have a high reproductive potential, and one good hatch can significantly increase populations and offset previous poor hatches.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

How do you Photograph Frogs like that ???

One of the most common questions I get is about frog photography, and just how I manage to capture such sharpness and detail. Here I will try to address the basics, and techniques that allow myself to photograph these amazing creatures. The Bull frog on the left was shot on a nice bright sunny morning, light and good light, is very important. The second most important thing is the angle of the shot, the more eye level you can get to your subject the better. An eye level focal plane will always yield a more "real Life" result than say a shot that has been taken at a higher angle. So yes, this does mean that to make the shot you have to hit the ground and get low!! When shooting Wildlife, I recommend no shorter than a 200mm lens, and for best, and more workable results a 300-400 works best. Use a tripod, and make sure you use a fast shutter speed to get sharp images!! I define a sharp image as something that when it is view at 100% on the computer screen, it still looks rather crisp and not too soft. A sharp image is much easier than a soft one to crop, which is regularly required when shooting frogs and other wildlife. When approaching your subject, do so quietly, and avoid casting shadows over top, as this can spook a frog very easily!! Always keep the sun to your back, and shot the high lighted features of the frog the best you can. A back lit subject will lose a lot of highlights and details. Most important thing to remember, is to have fun!!