National Geographic Magazine cover!

To be honest, I would have never expected to be published in NG, let alone on the cover. As unbelievable as it may seem, this was also my first cover!

Thanks to all for your interest in my blog; I hope to have more images here to share with you. Check out some of the many new images I have uploaded at my website.

UPDATE: It seems Stephen Colbert featured this issue quite prominently on the March 3 episode with lots of air time with the cover showing!


Red Fox Portrait - National Geographic Cover March 2011

Canon’s 1D Mark IV – one year later

I’ve had the 1DIV for almost exactly a year, and 40,000 shots later I have some more thoughts on the camera. Not only is it Canon’s fastest camera, but I’d also argue it’s the best all-around camera in their current lineup. I’ve grown so accustomed to the incredible speed and control I have. Compared to previous cameras, the noise is much more randomly distributed and there is no banding, as I have noticed at higher ISOs with the 5DII. I’ve photographed birds at ISO1600 without hesitation and could probably go higher, assuming cropping was within reason and I had enough feather detail.

Initially I thought the AF was a bit slower than the MkIII. While that is probably still true for the initial lockon time, with some custom function customization the AF is incredibly fast and surefooted. While I developed more skill handling the very quick, but twitchy MkIII AF, I’d prefer the more stable and predictable, if slightly slower MkIV AF system. I’m sure some of the skills I acquired handling the MkIII have translated into better results with the IV – I’ve been able to track flying birds in conditions that I would have easily lost focus with the MkIII, and have standardized on using left/right point expansion, with the surrounding point expansion only being used with a large or slower subject, or if it was being photographed against a clean background like a blue sky.

Image quality is excellent, and the 16MP makes for a reasonable amount of resolution and more leeway with cropping. I find it rare that I’m reaching for my 5DII these days; even with the extra 5MP resolution, the IV’s out of camera file’s colour and white balance just looks so much better, and also needs almost no tweaking in post. Couple that with the amazing speed and AF advantages of the 1DIV, and you can see why I have hardly used my 5DII since then.

I do give the 5DII credit for being smaller and lighter, and having an AF system that is a bit more precise if trying to focus on a small subject against a busy background. It’s actually remarkably surefooted, and while tracking in some cases can be as good or better than the MkIV, it can’t compete for fast action. Full frame is of less importance to me when photographing birds and wildlife, although for travel or landscapes it would be an advantage.

Bottom line: anyone want to buy my 5D Mark II? 🙂

The Big Year (movie)

It looks like a release date of October 14, 2011 has been set. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and if the movie is anywhere near as good, it should be an enjoyable watch. You don’t have to be a birder to enjoy this story!

For those that aren’t aware, here is a short overview:

Three obsessive bird watchers go off on their “Big Year,” duking it out to spot and record the highest number of species in 1998–the year El Nino brought an unprecedented number of species to North America. During the course of their wild, ultra competitive adventure, the guys learn that there just may be other things more important than winning.

Snowy Owls in sweet light

I’ve added two more images of snowy owls from last winter, photographed here in Ontario, Canada. I have many more photos to go through. I really liked the light on both of these, and it was great to have this co-operative female snowy to photograph as she hunted.

Snowy Owl hunting prey (male)

Snowy owl hunting prey (click to enlarge) - Canon 1DIV - 300/2.8IS

Snowy owl landing in corn field at sunset (male)

Snowy owl landing in corn field at sunset (click to enlarge) - Canon 1DIV - 300/2.8IS + 1.4x

View more, or order a print at my gallery!

New Gallery Design

I just updated the gallery component of my site. The design is a bit cleaner, likely much easier to navigate, and most importantly, better for search engine optimization. Check it out!

Note that if you had subscribed to my previous gallery’s RSS image feed, you will need to modify the URL you’re using, as this has also been changed.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

A very sharp looking woodpecker, the yellow-bellied sapsucker is quite common further north in Ontario, especially in the Algonquin Park area. Their distinctive “wells” that they drill in trees serve as a food source for hummingbirds, who arrive in the northern forests well before plants begin to flower, and are thus very dependent on the sapsuckers for the sap their wells produce. The sap attracts bugs and other prey items for the sapsucker. As a result of the damage to the tree, sapsuckers are important agents of change in the northern forests.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (male)

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker with food (click to enlarge) - Canon 1DIII - 800/5.6IS

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at its wells

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at wells (click to enlarge) - Canon 1DIII - 800/5.6IS

View more, or order a print at my gallery!

Canon 7D for sale (SOLD)

Selling my Canon 7D: 5000 clicks, no signs of wear, complete with all accessories. I originally purchased it as a higher res action-oriented body until I could get a 1D IV. I’m so accustomed to the 1 series line that I haven’t used the 7D much since then, and therefore can’t justify keeping both.

Asking $1400 CAD, please email me for any other details or if interested.
Now sold, thanks!

Greater Scaup

Greater Scaup is a duck species in decline in North America. They winter in significant numbers locally, and are seemingly more common then their Lesser Scaup cousins. Here are a few photos taken from a dock in Hamilton as they mingled with the other ducks.

Greater Scaup male

Greater Scaup (drake) (click to enlarge) - Canon 50D 600 f4 IS

Greater Scaup hen/female

Greater Scaup hen (click to enlarge) - Canon 50D 600 f4 IS

Greater Scaup preening

Greater Scaup preening (click to enlarge) - Canon 50D 600 f4 IS

View more, or order a print at my gallery!

Eastern Screech Owl youngsters

Eastern Screech owls are among one of the most common owls in many areas, but their small size and retiring nature make them very difficult to find. Nesting in cavities, their whinnying and spooky calls can be heard most readily at night in the mating season. Many people are shocked when they find out that these owls often live close to their homes in ravines and other natural areas.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to learn of an Eastern Screech owl family that had nested in a local park. While extremely hard to find (and often only found because of other birds mobbing them), I had a few successful photo sessions with them. The young “owlet” fledglings were especially cute with their comical, big eyes and downy feathers. To my surprise and disappointment, I have not been able to find them this year, and only saw them briefly early in the season last year.

I’ll post some adults next!

Eastern Screech

Eastern Screen Owl youngster (click to enlarge) - Canon 1DIII 600IS x1.4

Baby Screech Owl

Curious baby Screech Owl (click to enlarge) - Canon 1DIII 600IS x1.4

View more screech owls, or order a print at my gallery!