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Hello All,

I was happy to discover on July 3rd that the common loon chick had successfully hatched. The new family was very receptive to me spending time with them, often swimming and feeding less than twenty feet from the boat.

It has been a goal of mine to capture on film a chick hitching a ride atop its mother’s back. I had many opportunities on this day and I am very pleased with the way the images turned out.

It will be fun to follow this family over the next few months, to watch the chick age, change colour, and become an adult itself. I hope to share those adventures with you all.

In all of these images the chick is 5/6 days old.

Loon01

Loon02

MotherLoonBaby

LoonBaby3

LoonBaby4

FeedingTime1

FeedingTime3

I was also able to shoot this short video while out on the water, showcasing the interactions between mother and chick.

Some of these images are available for purchase as photographic prints. Please click on tab at the top of the page for more information.

Yours in the Outdoors,

Justin

(click on images to view in full size)

Hello All,

Although generic only by moniker, the Common Loon is one of the most visually stunning and hauntingly sounding water bird to inhabit North American lakes and rivers. Easily recognizable with their ‘tuxedo’ plumage, these large birds are a definite delight to watch and photograph.

I was fortunate this past week to locate my first nest, with a female sitting atop a single egg. It was hidden amongst the reeds and cattails, less than a foot from the waters edge. It was a rare and wonderful find and I will be checking back this week to see if her little one has hatched.

Loon

Loon2

LoonStretch1

Loon04

Loon11

Loon10

Loon12

Loon13

 

Yours In The Outdoors,

Justin

(click on images to view full size)

Hello All,

For those that have expressed interest in purchasing my fox images as prints, the following four will be stocked for sale. If you have a preference for another image that is not listed here, it can still be fulfilled, although shipping times may be a bit longer.

My May Promotion for a FREE 5 x 7″ photographic greeting card was set to end tomorrow, but for those that place an order by midnight June 3rd, I will be happy to send you your choice of card (one for each print ordered) for free.
All prints are 8 x 10″ in size, except the image of the six kits – it is 8 x 12″.

Red Fox - Print #16

Red Fox – Print #16

Red Fox - Print #17

Red Fox – Print #17

Red Fox - Print #18 (8 x 12")

Red Fox – Print #18 (8 x 12″)

Red Fox - Print #19

Red Fox – Print #19

For full ordering information and prices, click on the tab “Prints and Greeting Cards.”

Thanks for the support.

Yours In The Outdoors,

Justin

(click on images to view full size)

 

 

 

 

 

Hello All,

I feel a certain affinity to Algonquin Provincial Park since visiting for the first time this past fall. The wealth of wildlife, the serene peace and beauty, as well as the wonderful friends you meet along the way, are just a few of the selling points that will have you sold upon entering through the gate.

I was fortunate to meet a pair of red foxes back in November that have allowed me to photograph their daily interactions with each other, and within their home territory. Each subsequent visit I have met up with them again – and it is always a pleasure to record their inquisitive nature with my camera.

This past week I made a return trip to the park to photograph the abundant moose that call Algonquin home. As the day wore on, myself and a new-found photographer friend made the trip up to see my foxes. Strangely enough, none were visible this afternoon, and after searching the woods for close to an hour, we made the decision to head back to our parked cars. It was then that I saw one – visible just through a tree and laying on the ground. Immediately Wesley exclaimed “it has kits with it!” To say we were excited was an understatement. My goal has always been to find a fox den. I knew this family had one in the immediate vicinity, but after searching numerous times, my hopes of finding it were slim.

As we rounded the corner of the tree, a number of kits scrambled up an embankment and scampered out of sight. The mother stayed put, sunning herself amongst the moss and lichens that line the forest floor. After giving the kits some time, I headed up the hill in the general direction that they went. The sight that met me was nothing short of incredible.

RedFoxDen3

There were six kits in total and all were inquisitive, playful, and beyond cute. As I snapped photos the mother hung out mere feet away, either sleeping in the sun or scampering up the hill. She was also attentive to each and every one of her family.

RedFoxNursing4

After taking a short break back at the cars to apply bug spray, we watched the mother fox emerge from the woods carry a ruffed grouse in her mouth. We grabbed our camera gear and made our way back to the den. Unfortunately, nothing remained of that meal other than feathers, but the sight on top of the small knoll was a moment that every wildlife photographer dreams about. The mother was nursing all six kits.

RedFoxNursing5

RedFoxNursing6

RedFoxNursing3

I watched in amazement the next couple of hours. Each kit had its own personality, and watching them interact with each other – and their mother – was definitely special.

RedFoxDen5

Kits

YoungFox3

YoungFox

Spending time with this family was definitely a highlight in my photography career. I plan on heading back to the park later this week. Can’t wait to see these little ones once again.

I will be offering photographic prints for purchase from this set. For those interested, details will be announced next week.

Yours in the Outdoors,

Justin

(click on images to view full size)

Hello All,

To celebrate Mother’s Day, I have decided to offer a Photographic Print Promotion for the entire month of May.

For each 8″ x 10″ Photographic Print ordered, receive a FREE 5″ x 7″ Photographic Print Greeting Card!

Valid from May 1st to May 31st, 2013.

To view available Prints and Cards, as well as ordering information, please click on the tab “Prints and Greeting Cards” above.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the great Mom’s out there….

Yours in the Outdoors,

Justin

Red Fox - Print #03

Red Fox – Print #03

Hello All,

It has been written that a picture is worth a thousand words. This adage holds true on many levels, but gaining an understanding of what was involved in capturing an image, the thought process of the photographer, or why the image was taken in the first place, are often unknown tangibles to the viewer of art.

My idea for “Behind the Camera Lens” is to share the elements that were involved in taking a specific image, including the technical aspect of the photograph, but more importantly my thought process, and what transpired prior to that click of the shutter.

The image chosen for this first column is titled “Solitude.” It depicts a Great Gray Owl, captured during a brief snow fall in the heart of Algonquin Provincial Park. The light, pose, and mystique of this bird seem a perfect fit for the title.

"Solitude" - March 7, 2013

“Solitude” – March 7, 2013

I left my home in Ottawa the morning of March 7, 2013 and made the two-hour and forty-minute drive to Whitney, Ontario – and the eastern entrance to Algonquin Provincial Park. My goal for this two-day trip was to capture on film moose, pine marten, and owls. The latter I knew to be a strong possibility, as the reports I had read suggested that a number of Great Grays were visible throughout the highway 60 corridor.

I arrived in Whitney at 10:35am. After checking in to my motel room, I traveled the five-kilometres to the east gate and purchased my day passes. My adventure had officially begun. I began driving along the highway that traverses the park, scanning the treeline and topography for both birds and mammals. My plan for this first day was to travel the full fifty-six kilometres to the west entrance. I felt this would give me the best chance of spotting my intended quarry.

I only made it a fraction of that distance. Less than eight kilometres into my trip, I passed two vehicles parked on the east-bound shoulder. Standing metres away, and up on the snow bank were two photographers. In Algonquin Park this sight generally signifies a moose spotting, but as I drove slowly past, a Great Gray Owl was visible perched in a tree, down in a slight valley off the side of the road.

Since I didn’t expect to see anything so soon, my snowpants and winter boots were not on me, but instead, sitting in the back of the truck. Not knowing how long this owl would be visible, though, I opted to grab only my camera gear and leave the winter clothing behind. As I crossed over the two lane highway it became obvious that getting images of this owl would not be an easy task. Trees obscured its view from the roadside snow bank, and climbing down the steep bank for a better shot didn’t seem the easiest of tasks. Noticing a photographer at the bottom of the bank already, I chose to follow his path. It quickly became obvious how inadequate my clothing was at this point. The snow depth was half way between my knees and crotch. Certainly not the best for the jeans and summer hiking boots I was wearing. And although it was a relatively warm day in winter terms, leaving my gloves in the truck was also not the smartest decision.

I took my first image of this Great Gray Owl at 11:19am. For the next fifty-two minutes I would watch it fly to various perches, actively hunt, and provide me with a variety of pleasing back drops for the photos I was shooting. In terms of photographs, I took 574 up to this point. As I climbed back up the steep bank I realized how wet both my pant legs and feet had become. My fingers were also starting to feel the chill.

After chatting with the two photographers present, and debating about leaving, the owl swooped out from its perch and landed very close to us. Of course, I began shooting images once again. This lasted another twenty-five minutes and brought the image count up to 984. At this point I realized I needed to get out of my wet clothes, and bid farewell to those photographers present and walked back to my truck. Wet jeans and saturated cold feet make for an unpleasant feeling, and I was forced to strip down at the side of the highway and change into dry clothes and my winter gear. And yes, while stripping down to only my underwear a lady photographer made a joke about taking some snapshots. Funny bunch photographers can be.

Now, the next part of this story highlights how going with your gut and acting on a hunch is something that should never be doubted. As I sat in my truck with the heat on high, I had a quick snack and reviewed some of the photographs I had just shot. Ten minutes went by and I noticed in my rear view mirror that the only photographer that remained was Art. He was set up on the snowy bank, camera aimed on the owl as it perched in a birch tree. It was then it struck me. Chances like this are few and far between. I told myself what I needed to do was get back out there and take more photos. Clad now in my snow pants and winter boots, I walked back over to the owl and set up close to Art. His first comment made to me was, “I thought it was crazy that you’d leave when you did!” And he was right. The time was now 1:31pm. Twenty-six minutes later I captured a series of four images – showcasing the owl dive-bombing out of a birch tree for a meadow vole it had detected. I was set up perfectly and those shots alone were a significant achievement for my owl portfolio. The two of us continued shooting together for the next short while, at which point we were joined by Karen and Len – two friendly photographers that belong to the same photo club.

The owl at this point flew out to a far treeline, then took off parallel to the road, but along the edge of the lake and line of trees. I confess, at that moment I believed the shoot for this owl was done for the day, and realistically speaking, I had already shot 1,375 images. A good day in most photographers books. But, Art had a different plan, and began trudging eastward along the edge of the shoulder in search of the owl. He made it some 200 yards down the road before waving his arms back at the three of us. Recognizing he had found it again, we made our way over to him. This is when a number of cool things came into play. First, it began snowing rather heavily. Not really light, fluffy flakes, but more so snow/hail showers. Also, the owl was magnificently perched at the top of a dead tree trunk, almost at eye level and only a short distance from where we stood. Lastly, the Great Gray had positioned itself against an uncluttered background. I began feverishly shooting.

The snow lasted no more than three minutes. The owl stayed perched on this stump for nineteen minutes, during which time I took 241 images. However, I only captured it in the pose you see above in two photographs. “Solitude” was taken at exactly 2:38pm and was one of 1,927 images I took of this one owl. To crunch the numbers even more, this image happened after shooting for three hours and three minutes. It was image number 1,421.

So what makes this an interesting image in my eyes? The snow falling gives this picture both a feeling of stillness and tranquility. The old stump imparts a barren look, or really, a sense of isolation. The colours and texture of the back ground – which showcase the washed-out forest situated on the other side of the lake – make the subject prominently stand out. But, it is the owl that steals the show for me. The pleasing curves of its body and head. The furled feathers being lifted by the wind. And if you look closely, the isolated snowflakes that have collected on the delicate feathers of the face.

As for the technical side of this image, here is the equipment used and settings:

Canon EOS 7D
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 OS Telephoto Lens
f/6.3
1/400 sec.
ISO 400
Focal Length – 500mm 
Setting – Aperture Priority
Manfrotto Monopod

Perhaps there is more to an image than what meets the eye. In this case, it was a combination of team work, a gut feeling, environmental conditions, and shooting a tonne of images in hopes of capturing that single shot that makes it all worthwhile. And also to a friend named Art for finding the owl in the first place.

Thanks for reading…and allowing me to share my views of nature and the wilderness around us with you all.

Yours In The Outdoors,

Justin

(click on image to view full size)

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