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.
In live and wonder in the Canadian Rockies. That being said I am blessed with an abundance of wildlife all around me, if you know where to look. I’m also pretty lucky in that I don’t have to travel far in most cases to get the photos I want. Since early December I’ve been on a hunt to capture two big horn sheep butting heads. While I did get a shot it’s not a great one. In the process I did get some good photos of some of the sheep in the heard of nearly 60 animals. The rams challenging each other is hard to capture. Most of the time you hear it and don’t see it. Or in my case it was going on behind the trees. I have been on location several times this last month and hold the hope I will get the shot I want. I will post it when I get it, cross your fingers.
Perfecting HDR photography is still perfecting photography in that I think you never really get it right, you just get better at it . Oh yes you can get better at it but if you are your own harsh critic you will always find ways to make improvements. Ways to tweak things so you can see progress from the early beginnings. It’s a fun journey but some times a long and slow one. When it works it can really work. That’s the reward I suppose.
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.
The trouble with being your own boss is that you have to work when you have to work and not when someone else suggests it. The result is I have been busy the last few weeks, a little too busy for my cameras or my blog. However I did take a 36 hours holiday on the first of the month and I did pack my cameras like a baby tote. I ended up with some pretty good shots that I’m happy with but this one stands out as my favorite. While boating with a pal of mine I noticed this young couple wading in the shallows and kissing. I asked them if they would do it one more time and they were more than happy to comply. Too bad they didn’t take my invitation to contact me because I would have happily gave them a print in exchange for the photo release I will surely need for this one. Oh well, that’s photography.
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.
Over the weekend Susan and I made an effort to get some photos of Western Blue birds. Our good friend Art Gruenig is responsable for producing and placing thousands of nest boxes. They can be found all over western Canada on fence posts along countless road ways. The Blue Birds and the world will never be able to thank Art enough for his work. A wonderful man and a life long naturalist. The strong presence of the western Blue bird can be atrubuted to his efforts alone.
It didn’t take long to find a mating pair working their magic outside one of these mounted boxes. After looking a bit further we found about a dozen more going through their spring ritual. They were so busy paying attention to each other they didn’t care that we were standing only meters away.
Finally the local wildlife sanctuary is starting to stir. The lake has been clear of ice for more than a week now. Some days the temperature is over 15 c (60 f). The birds are busy securing mates and nesting sites. Some mornings the battles appear to be pretty intense but the outcomes produce few loss of feathers. The photos can be a little bland with all the vegetation still dry and colourless. But never the less the water fowl are as busy as they can be. Only a couple of weeks ago I watched the same birds sitting quietly waiting on small patches of open water. Now they are chasing each other all over the lake with what looks like endless energy.
We are still waiting for the majority of the population to return and by then Elizabeth Lake will be a hot bed of breeding activity. All the conditions appear to be in their favor and it’s only a few short weeks before we can expect to see small goslings swimming behind their parents in parade. This year should be a great year for Liz lake photogs.
It’s hard to hold back too long without posting a set of fly fishing photos. It would be a stretch to say I have thousands of them but I probably have several hundred. I was a fly fishing guide for many years here in British Columbia. Mostly the South East corner, (where all the fish are). Not many people would disagree with the thought that the S.E. corner of this province is the real fly fishing Mecca of North America. Some in Montana fight me on this one but my only response is to say, “Come try it out for your self”. I packed a camera along on every trip. For myself and for my fishing customers.
It would take me hours to go through them all to find the ones I like the best. Here are a few that I have always liked. Photos where I did get the results I was going for. Grip and grin photos are what you get most of the time with fishing snap shots. I always tried to get a photograph and not just a snap shot. Because I live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains it’s kinda easy to get a great back ground scene and wonderful water colours. I don’t think I could ever pick out a favorite photo. I do know that I have a few hundred that I enjoy looking at over and over again. Lots of great memories are attached to them. I have decided to post a few fly fishing photos in this blog because even for non-fishers I think we all can imagine being there at that moment. All the fish I ever photographed were released live shortly after the grip and grin.