Not far from my home it can be easy to find good photo opportunities and this time of year with all the nesting birds to hunt it gets pretty intense. Intense and enjoyable. I do know how lucky I am to live where I do, ( the Canadian Rockies) and get the pictures I get. Thank you to all those great people involved deeper than I with all the great conservation efforts. Good to know that when I bring my grandchildren to these same spots the wildlife will be there. Words are not enough to properly thank Art Grunig for the many thousands of nest boxes he has built in his life time. Without Art’s efforts these photos would not be possible.
I recently entered a photo contest in my home province of British Columbia calling for photos that would present my photographic abilities. The contest boosts that it will unveil the “Best amateur photographer of B.C.” or something like that. For once I took the submission call pretty seriously. I do enter a few contests from time to time. Most often to compare my stuff to others. Nice to know how you measure up sometimes. I get surprised and once in a while get pretty close to winning or a least the top two or three. Because this contest is based in my home province I thought I would send the full list of allowed submissions. I was able to send a total of five photos. After several hours of short listing from as many as 300 I was able to reduce the first list of a couple dozen to only the five I was allowed to submit. It was sure hard to cut the list down. I wanted to show a good cross section of the photos I like best so these are the five I picked. As it turned out I was selected as a finalist and I am off to shoot with about twenty other finalists representing their regions of the province. I should know how it all turns out by Sunday night. I’ll let you good or bad…..
I had a good spring finding and staking out productive nesting sites. In the Canadian Rockies we are lucky to have an abundant wild bird population. Humans have taken up the responsibility of helping out the western blue birds by placing thousands of nest boxes on fence posts everywhere you look. I am lucky to call the main man involved a good friend of mine. With all those nest boxes it can be tough actually being in position to photograph the parents tending the nest. Most of the time I find myself 200 meters and five nest boxes too far away.
The same can be said for the northern flicker nests. There are hundreds of trees with holes in them but which one has a woodpecker nest in it and will I get the photo I’m looking for. I can tell you that it takes a lot of time and when you get the shot you want all the time and effort is worth it.
After hundreds of hours of simple observation I think I can narrow it down to just a few; The birds. Not all birds but a few varities of water birds. I’m not a wildlife bioligists and I don’t even know the correct names in some cases. Paying attention to what I’m looking at out on the water I can clearly see who is doing what with thier clildren. In my opinion the Grebes, Loons and Coots are the best parents. They spend the majority of the day light hours feeding their brood. Showing them how to do it and both parents caring for them equally, with very litle break in the activity. I know that other nesting birds do the same. But not all birds get the undivided attention of both parents. And when the nesting time is over they get at best a few days then they are on thier own. This is my basic observation and I’m sure it could be added to by a professional. I see Ospry teaching their babies how to fish with a determined amount of detication. As I say I can only talk about what I see and what I learn by hours of just looking out onto the lake. It also becomes clear that these parents that I think are the best at parenting also create very spoiled off spring. Their babies place high demands on them and they rarely say no. Grebes and Loons will pack their babies on their back for as long as they can before they become just too big to fit. They keep them away from preditors (and photographers) all the while watching to skies for Eagles and Ospry. I watched a Coot chase off a Muscrat with the deterimination of a bouncer. Loons are even more aggresive than that. All in all The spoiled babies of the Grebes, Loons and Coots seam to get the best attention from both their parents, I wonder if they will grow up to be good birds or just spoiled birds that think the world owes them a living.
Many wildlife and outdoor photographers agree that one of the most sought after money shots is a mother and her babies. Feeding and caring for their brood in the wild without interference from any of us. Watching and capturing them just doing what all mothers and father do is just too close to the heart not have strong feelings about the scene. I do feel lucky when my patients and persistence pays off with a money shot of my own. Even non-wildlife photogs stop for a photo like this. I have hundreds of these on file and here are a few photos I’ve been fortunate enough to capture.
It’s true that I find myself out with my cameras about five days a week for a few hours at a time. Even more often when I can. It’s a compulsion no doubt. Up until this year I rarely had a plan in mind when I left the house. Now I do most of the time. I plan to photograph one subject or another and gather up the gear I need for just that shot. Sometimes it backfires on me like the morning I was out for a sunrise shot and a doe and her fawn wandered into the field not far from where I was finishing up. They were too far away for my 55 mm lens and because I never planned on shooting anything that would require a telephoto so I just watched them and lost the opportunity all together. On the up side when I plan to shoot ducklings in the wildlife preserve not far from my house I carry the gear that I need and follow the plan to shoot baby ducks. The plan usually means walking right past other nature photo ops and right to where I expect the ducklings to be. This helps keep the time-table under control and the task at hand a lot easier to complete. Just wondering around the preserve can eat up lots of time and before you know it the light is gone and so are the ducks. As everyone knows the opportunities for great wildlife shots can be fleeting so not wasting time eyeing wild flowers is important if your really looking for the ducklings money shot.
This is my first post on my first blog page. I hope you will enjoy my rants as well as my photos. I started this primarily to show case the photographs. I hope to use the blog to explain the how and why of each photo. I do have a couple thousand photos I’m sure but I will keep it down to the ones I like best. Hopefully you will too. Let’s get started…..
I am fortunate enough to live only a few blocks away from wildlife sanctuary and this affords me the great opportunity to photograph rather easily what most would find hard to find. Every year we see several types of birds and in spring we watch as they tend to their young. Some days right under our noses. Weather permitting, I visit this city park two or three times a day. That’s what it takes to get the shots I’m looking for. It is not unusual for me to shoot as many as five hundred photos on any given calendar day. It means a lot of sorting but almost every day I get rewarded with something I like. Too lazy this morning to go…