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Owl hunting

A Great Grey Owl listens for rodents under the snow while hunting from a thin aspen sapling

Great grey owl hunting from thin aspen sapling

I’ve written about this image before, and I wanted to print it today, as it’s got a very distinct separation between the sharp, in-focus owl and the completely blank sky where any grain or texture is purely an artifact of sensor noise and sharpening in post-processing. As I mentioned yesterday I tried the strategy of pushing the clarity and sharpening as far as I think looked good on my monitor, before backing off a bit. Yesterday the print came out looking really good (although it had a slight greenish cast that I hadn’t noticed on-screen), so I figured I’d try it on a much less forgiving photo today. We’ll see how it turns out…

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Warbler along mountain creek

A male Audubons Warbler watches for flying insects from his perch on a freshly budding willow sapling overhanging a small creek in Banff National Park, Alberta

Yellow-rumped Warbler on budding willow

I’ve always liked this photograph, and the memory of the day that I took it (which often confounds a photographer’s ability to tell if a photo’s any good or not). I’ve even written a post about this image before (which you can read here). Even so, I’ve never printed it, so I figured this Daily Print project was just the excuse I needed.

Bonus questions for this post: +1 point if you can tell me the sex of the bird, +5 points for the subspecies, and +50 points if you can tell me the age (hint: click the image to view it full size, and remember that this photo was taken in May…)

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Great Gray Owl hunting from thin aspen

A Great Grey Owl listens for rodents under the snow while hunting from a thin aspen sapling

Great grey owl hunting from thin aspen sapling

The photographs from my two previous posts were both taken while I was doing owl surveys and waiting for the sun to set (with camera at the ready, of course). So I thought I’d post an image of what we were out there looking for.

I don’t shoot a lot of wildlife, but I simply could not resist filling up a memory card while watching this owl hunt for rodents under the thick, spring snow. It was amazing to watch him (or her, I’m not sure) listening from the tops of these small aspen trees before swooping down and diving feet-first into the snow after his prey. I had the pleasure of watching from a distance for over an hour before he finally gave up, or got full, and slowly moved off.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Red-winged Blackbird flock

Red-winged blackbirds perch in the bare branches of early spring near Beaverhill Lake in Alberta

Blackbird flock in bare trees

I recently received a request from a woman to use this photograph in a blog post she’s writing, which gave me the great excuse to re-visit this image and to share it here (it hasn’t made it into the new website yet, but watch for it in the Birds section of my catalogue, hopefully in the next few months).

I took this photo near the Beaverhill Bird Observatory near Tofield, AB in the spring of 2007. At the time, I was experimenting with defocusing images, or portions thereof, for creative effect. In this case, the original image was mostly sharp, and I “painted in” the blurred effect in post-processing. I was inspired to try this technique by another photographer who would create the same effect in the darkroom by spilling chemicals over the drying print and using a brush or sponge to blur the image.

It’s always fun to try new techniques, and although I haven’t taken many defocused photographs lately, you can view a selection of these images in my “Boreal Impressions” portfolio. I’d also recommend having a look at William Neill’s “Impressions of Light” portfolio for more great blurry images that were an inspiration to me (although he achieves the effect mostly through long shutter speeds and camera movement, rather than manually defocusing the lens).

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Trumpeter Swans at Ministik Lake

A Trumpeter Swan floats with a raft of ducks on Bray at the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Trumpeter Swan at Ministik Lake

A pair of Trumpeter Swans float with a raft of ducks on Bray Lake at the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Trumpeter Swan Pair at Ministik Lake

I was walking the Waskahegan Trail though the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary a couple days ago (Oct 5th, to be precise), and came across this pair of swans. While it’s fairly common to see migrating Tundra Swans flying (and honking) overhead in flocks this time of year, I am pretty sure these are the much less common Trumpeter Swan—but I would really appreciate if someone more familiar with Trumpeters could confirm (or contest) my ID. These two birds were on Bray Lake, right in the middle of the sanctuary, and were there when I first passed the lake, and still there later in the afternoon on my way back. This is what I love about Ministik—there’s always something new to see, you just have to get out there and look for it.

Flock of waterfowl at Ministik

A flock of ducks flies up from Oliver Lake on an autumn evening at the Ministik Lake Bird Sanctuary

Waterfowl rising from Ministik Lake

Here’s another photograph I made last week, along Oliver Lake out at the Ministik Lake Gamebird Sanctuary. As the sun was setting, hundreds (if not thousands) of ducks were settling on the lake, rising in large flocks if unnamed photographers (or their dog) moved too quickly. I normally try hard when processing a photograph to make sure that there is detail in both the highlights and shadow. In this case however, I found that pushing the brightness up really did a better job of capturing the mood of looking west across the lake into the sun, watching the birds against the brilliant, backlit fall colours. They say the rules are there to be broken, right?

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Waterfowl on a misty Minsitik lake

A pair of Canada Geese and a small flock of ducks rest on a calm lake on a foggy morning at Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Waterfowl on misty morning lake

Here’s another photograph that I made the same morning as the one in my previous post. Although I took it less than ten minutes later than the previous photo, from nearly the same spot on the lake shore, and rotated only about 90 degrees, this photograph has a completely different feel to it—and that’s one of the things that I love most about photographing the landscape.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $