In the Fall/Winter 2015 Issue (#35) of Outdoor Photography Canada magazine Leslie and I reviewed the Nikon COOLPIX P900 digital camera and we thought we would show some of the images we took with the camera. Overall we were impressed with the performance of the Nikon P900, especially its 24-2000mm super telephoto lens (equivalent 35mm focal length). If you are interested in reading our full review of the P900 you can click on the following link (OPC Nikon P900 Review) or go to Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine’s web site and look it up under Gear. – Mark
When winter comes, most of us seem to go into a hibernation mode. We want to get out to make some winter photographs but maybe we don’t want to go out alone and if we don’t know other photographers to go with, we tend to stay at home and not get outdoors to embrace winter. Over the years I have found that my personal development and growth in photography increased considerably when I was out with other photographers.
So if one of the best ways to improve your photography is to get out with like-minded photographers, what better way than to sign up for a tour where photography is the main agenda? Alan Ernst, the owner of Aurum Lodge and an outstanding photographer in his own right, and I just happen to have a winter photography tour coming up on January 13th to 17th, 2016. Space is limited to only 6 (six) participants and the dates are fast approaching, so don’t dwell on it to long or the opportunity will pass you by. To find more information on this tour here is a link to the Winter Mountain Magic Photo Tour or go to the page at Aurum Lodge Mountain Magic Photo Tour Page. Here are a few images that show off the area. – Leslie
In our previous two blogs of Leslie’s trip and Mark’s trip to Churchill, we mentioned our 2009 trip with Classic Canadian Tours that we took to Churchill Manitoba to see the polar bears. Although it wasn’t our first trip to Churchill, it was the first time we went there to see the polar bears. We had a fantastic time as we saw around 25 polar bears and 2 Arctic foxes. Unlike this year, the polar bears were more active on our 2009 trip and we were able to witness several bears, mostly males, sparring and playing fighting with each other. Although at quite a distance away, we also witnessed a mother polar bear nursing her two cubs. Here are a few of the images that we took on that trip. – Mark and Leslie
In late October Leslie and her friend Lee did a whirlwind one-day trip to Churchill, Manitoba to see and hopefully photograph the polar bears that gather on the shores of Hudson Bay waiting for the sea ice to form (see our previous blog posting for details on Leslie and Lee’s experience). A number of people asked me why I didn’t go with them; was it because it was a “girls only” day out and I wasn’t welcome? No, that wasn’t the case as they did ask me to come along with them, but I decided that it might be a better idea that I go on another date so that we broaden the photographic opportunities that different days might bring. Well it appears that it was a good decision on my part and what a difference going two weeks later made. Leslie and Lee saw two polar bears on their trip and I also saw two polar bears – times ten for a total of at least 20 different individuals.
The first polar bears that I saw and photographed were a mom with two cubs near the platform where you board the Tundra Buggies. So I hadn’t even boarded the Tundra Buggy and I had already seen more polar bears than Leslie and Lee saw on their entire trip. It took over an hour on the Tundra Buggy before our group came across our next polar bears, another mom with two cubs. Throughout the rest of the day we slowly came across a number of other bears, including two more moms each with a single cub and a number of single bears. Unfortunately most of the polar bears that we encountered were either resting or just slowly wandering around, so I didn’t get to see some of the interesting behaviours, like males sparring, that Leslie and I saw in our previous trip in 2009.
The weather was quite variable and constantly changing, which is unusual for Churchill at this time of the year as it is often just cloudy. We started out with some clear skies and a bit of sun, but that was quickly replaced with cloud, then snow and finally blowing snow as the winds picked up. However, as the Tundra Buggy was heading back at the end of the day we were treated to a rare break in the clouds to the west and a brief sunset that capped off a very enjoyable visit to Churchill to see polar bears.
Both of our trips this year were tours organized by Classic Canadian Tours based in Calgary, which offered a number of one-day trips to Churchill from Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon. This is the second year that we have gone on one of their polar bear trips; the first was in November 2009. We have been really pleased with the tours that we have taken with them; they have been well organized, professionally carried out and also educational and informative.
When I told Leslie how many polar bears I saw, and that there were a number of moms and cubs included in that total, she said she was very happy for me, but I could also hear the disappointment in her voice that she wasn’t as lucky. She has gotten to at least partially experience my trip through viewing the photos and videos that I took, but it’s not the same as seeing the polar bears firsthand. I guess that we will just have to go again. Mark
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but spending the day with a good friend – priceless! Last Sunday I joined one of my best friends, Lee Charleson, on a one-day trip to Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears. After having to leave home for the Edmonton International Airport at 4:45 a.m. and a couple of hour flight to Churchill we were finally on the Tundra Buggy around 10:30. We were given a mixed bag of weather, a lot of cloud, some sunshine, some snow and a strong constant wind blowing. With the temperature at -10 C and the wind chill around -25, we didn’t linger very long when we went out to the rear deck of the Tundra Buggy.
Tundra Buggies are not the most stable of vehicles; they are actually very rocky and bumpy when they are in motion. Hence you are to remain seated while they drive and are only allowed to move around and go outside on the rear deck when the buggy is stopped and the motor is turned off. The tires on the Tundra Buggies are the same as what they use on farm combines, but with less air in the tire making it softer and spongier on the roads.
It was at least an hour after getting on the Tundra Buggy that we came across our first polar bear. There he was, creamy white, laying down resting at the edge of the shoreline of one of the many lakes and ponds. Everyone quietly watched in hopes of any movement from the bear, and there were big oohs and aahs every time the bear would move, we would joke that the bears probably tally the oohs and aahs that they caused and brag to the other bears how many they each get in a day.
It was Lee that spotted the first Ptarmigan, at first thinking it was a piece of garbage till it moved and she saw the distinct shape. Then she spotted another one hidden further into the dense willow shrubs. Against the shrubs they stand out but when they are on the patches of snow it is tougher to spot them. After spending quite awhile with this bear, the driver finally concluded that it was only going to sleep away the day and we moved on in search of other bears.
I found the geography of the area very interesting, as it is a transition zone where the Boreal forest (Taiga) meets the Tundra. The Tundra Buggies are limited in where they can travel, having to stay in a certain area that has a network of roadways. As they travel around the area they are constantly weaving around numerous lakes and ponds and along the Hudson Bay coastline.
Most of the lakes and ponds were frozen but the ice was still thin and a few still had some open water. Hudson Bay was ice free with just a hint of ice forming at the edges. Later in the afternoon while working our way back we passed the first bear, still lying about. We came across more Ptarmigan this time about 10 hunkered down staying out of the wind. Finally, around 3:00 we saw a second bear. This one was farther away than the first, but like the other it was just laying down not doing anything. So for the second time in the day we played the waiting game but to no avail as it just laid there, probably just conserving its energy waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so that they can head out onto the sea ice to hunt seals.
We were a little disappointed that we only saw two polar bears, especially since when Mark and I went in November 2009 we saw around 25 polar bears. However, it was still a great time, especially since I was able to spend it with Lee. I am sure that there were more bears around, just unfortunately not where we went that day. – Leslie
A few years ago while out at Nanaimo, B.C. in mid November I went for a walk along the downtown waterfront. Many leaves were on the ground but some were still on the trees, something not usually seen in the rest of our country by that late in the year. What I particularly noticed were the small red Maple trees in the park, I hadn’t realized how many reds could be found in that region of Canada. When I think of reds I tend to think of central Canada. In Alberta most of the leaves change to brilliant yellows and are on the ground by early October. I also decided it was time the header changed. – Leslie
Jasper National Park is one of our favourite locations both for photography and just experiencing nature, so when we heard that there was a forest fire in the Maligne valley area we were quite concerned. The Maligne valley is place we spend a considerable amount of time when in Jasper and we have taken lots of great photos in the area over the years. The Excelsior Creek fire was started by a lightening strike in the afternoon of July 9th and burned, uncontrolled at times, for a number of days before it was finally put out. We realize that fire, especially naturally started ones, is beneficial for mountain forest ecology but were curious how the fire impacted the region.
So a couple of weeks ago when we were driving through Jasper National Park we decided to take a quick trip up the Maligne Lake road to see how much effect the Excelsior Creek fire had on the Medicine Lake area. From the Maligne Lake road we first saw the burn on the Maligne Range at Excelsior Creek, just across from the Watchtower parking area. The fire continued heading southeast to Medicine Lake along the Maligne Range till it was finally put out three quarters of the way down the lake. The fire also crossed over the road just before the north end of the lake and burned around the north end of the lake and a little bit down the north east side of the lake. Fortunately none of the infrastructure was damage by the fire, thanks to the hard work of the fire fighters who battled the blaze.
Although the local scenery has changed due to the fire, it has also opened up some new photographic opportunities, both now and as the forest slowly regenerates over time. We are looking forward to spending time photographing the burn.
The first images are from the north end of Medicine Lake.
Later we stopped at the south end of Medicine Lake to get a different view of the burn. The extent of the burn fallowed the length of Medicine Lake’s south west shore. – Mark and Leslie
On Friday we will be loading up our van and driving south on Highway #2 to Cochrane, Alberta where we will be joining our very good friends and fellow Outdoor Photography Canada magazine columnist and contributors, Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou from Oopoomoo, for a joint Photography Gear and Print Garage Sale. Over the years the four of us have acquired a lot of photography gear and it is time to make room for new stuff so we are getting together and holding a Garage Sale. In addition to selling or giving away a whole ton of photo gear we are also have a number of prints of our photographs, including some limited edition ones, available for sale at rock bottom prices. So if you are in the Cochrane area (just west of Calgary) it could very well be worth the trip out to Darwin and Samantha’s house to see what is available. Even if you don’t find anything worth picking up, just come by for a visit.
When: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Saturday, August 22, 2015 (Rain or Shine – the garage door will not open before 9:00 a.m.)
Where: 22 West Terrace Close, Cochrane, Alberta
For more info on some of the items available click here: http://www.oopoomoo.com/ print and photo accessories garage sale
Recently Mark and I reviewed the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 and thought we would show some of the images taken with the camera. If you are interested in reading the review it is in the Spring/Summer issue #34 of Outdoor Photography Canada magazine currently on store shelves, or you can go to Outdoor Photography Canada’s web site and look it up under Gear. – Leslie
As we go into Canada Day, we thought about what symbolizes Canada and for us the Common Loon is a top contender as it appears on our dollar coin (the Loonie) and it is found throughout most of Canada. Why not post an image or two, or maybe three, of such a grand bird that we recently took in Jasper National Park. (We’re changing the header at the same time)
Although many Canadians assume that the Common Loon is Canada’s National Bird, but surprisingly Canada doesn’t have an official bird. Hopefully by the time Canada turns 150 years old in 2017 we will finally have a national bird. If you want to weigh in on what bird you think symbolizes Canada the best, you can place your vote for Canada’s national bird on the Canadian Geographic website (http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/nationalbird/).
This is our salute to Canada Day, may it remain wild and free. Happy Canada Day everyone! – Leslie and Mark