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Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Cayman Brac, BWI

Brown Booby in Flight

I returned on March 4th from a two week stay on the remote Caribbean island of Cayman Brac. It was by far a very productive trip with a multitude of great images captured.  As usual the nesting Brown Booby birds put an an awesome show from nesting activities to in flight opportunities.

Sunrise and sunsets were a little trickier to be had this year due to heavy clouds out on the horizon, but nonetheless perseverance paid off. Virtually all of my sunrise and sunset imagery was created using stacked ND and reverse grad filters. The ND filters coupled with the reverse grads allowed me to slow the shutter speed down sufficiently to allow the incoming ocean waves to blur out nice and soft. My choice of filters for these scenes were the Singh-Ray Filters 3-Stop ND Filter, Mor-Slo 5-stop ND FIlter, and the 3_stop Reverse Graduated ND Filter

During my snorkel excursions my Nikon D500 and Nikkor 18-35mm lens inside an Ewa Marine Housing proved perfect for many of the ocean fishes encountered. I had great success with Octopus, Spotted Scorpionfish and many other often difficult to photograph while snorkeling species. I will do a full blog post on the underwater success I had in the near future.

I was also quite ecstatic with finding a very co-operative, female Sister Islands Rock Iguana. These iguanas are sadly critically endangered now, but efforts are underway to lend a helping hand, which entails eradicating  invasive Green Iguanas.

As you scroll down through the images you will see a host of wonderful opportunities that were to be found during this trip. Stay tuned for announcements for the 2021 trip very soon.

Pre-dawn light on Cayman Brac, British West Indies

Daybreak on Cayman Brac

 

Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)

Spotted Scorpionfish

 

Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis)

Sister Island Rock Iguana

 

Daybreak on the Caribbean Sea at Cayman Brac, BWI

Daybreak on Cayman Brac

 

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Cayman Brac, BWI

Brown Booby Preening

 

West Indian Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna arborea), Cayman Brac, BWI

West Indian Whistling Ducks

 

Nesting Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Cayman Brac, BWI

Brown Booby Family

 

Yellow Stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis), Cayman Brac, BWI

Yellow Stingray

 

Daybreak at Pollard Bay on Cayman Brac, British West Indies

Sunrise at Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac

 

Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Octopus

 

Green Heron (Butorides virescens), Cayman Brac, BWI

Green Heron

 

Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), Cayman Brac, BWI

Willet

 

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White-spotted File Fish

 

Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), Cayman Brac, BWI

Cuban Tree Frog (invasive on Cayman Brac)

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Milky Way Night-scape at the Algonquin Radio Observatory

I decided not to wait until January to share with you my personal 20 favorite images that I captured during 2019. Many of the selected images were created during several of my workshops this past year. I always teach by example and capture various images to share with participants, in-the-field, so they too can create similar photos. The first image in this post was created during the Lake Traverse Photography Retreat with night-scape scenes of the massive satellite being the highlight of the trip. We have been blessed with clear skies every year for this workshop and hopefully 2020 we will be blessed with the same conditions.

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In-camera Pan Blur of Birch Trees, Wawa, Ontario

Even when photography conditions seem to be less than ideal there is always something to photograph, which is what I demonstrated during my Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat when I created the above in-camera vertical pan blur of birch trees in late day light.

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Over-Under Bullfrog, Parry Sound, Ontario

During some my personal photography days I made good use of my final days with the family cottage to create my all-time favorite frog-scape scenes as can be seen in the above and below images of a large male Bullfrog in it’s watery home within the wetland on Horseshoe lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. These two frog-scapes were created using the Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens on a Nikon D500.

Bullfrog (lithobates catesbeiana) on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Bullfrog-scape, Parry Sound, Ontario

The following two photographs were created in March on a personal excursion with two past workshop participants. We had an incredible afternoon exploring the icy shoreline and caves of Georgian Bay on the Bruce Peninsula. In fact we loved it so much we will likely be going back again this winter 🙂

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Ice Cave, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

 

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Halfway Rock Point, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

My first-ever Bruce Peninsula Workshop was a great success with many wonderful opportunities, especially those we encountered on two separate mornings at Half Way Log Dump on Georgian Bay. The image below was created during a foggy morning with the Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens. Stay tuned for the 2020 Bruce Peninsula Workshop announcement in the new year.

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Halfway Log Dump, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

Personal trips to the North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail in Parry Sound always yields impressive vistas. Watch for single day workshops at this location to be announced for the 2020 season.

Georgian Bay at sunset, Parry Sound, Ontario

Sunset on Georgian Bay, Parry Sound, Ontario

Late October found me on the shores of Lake Superior with two back to back events and some of the absolute best landscape photography conditions I have encountered in the area to date. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to photograph this impressive area of the province. Registration is open for the 3rd Annual Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat.

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Afternoon Light on Lake Superior in Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

 

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Sunset on Lake Superior, Wawa, Ontario

In July I bid farewell to 35 years at the family cottage and will miss exploring the wetland on the lake as it is where I created a significant number of memorable imagery over the years. Below are two photos that were created in the weeks leading up the departure.

Water Lilies in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Fragrant White Waterlilies on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

Storm Clouds at Dusk in Wetland, Parry Sound, Ontario

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River is a highlight of the Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop and I am really looking forward to being back in the area this coming weekend for the 3rd annual event. If you are looking for a last minute photography workshop in beautiful Muskoka there are still a couple of spaces available. Please contact me by clicking here if interested.

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River in winter, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Hatchery Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

When I discovered the newly emerging Green Darner Dragonfly this summer it was a perfect opportunity to test out my dual flash system for macro photography. More to come on that later 🙂

Green Darner Dragonfly, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

Green Darner Dragonfly, Parry Sound, Ontario

The Lake Superior coast in Pukaskwa National Park near Marathon, Ontario as long been a favorite of mine. When I had a couple of personal days in between my two Lake Superior events I made the trek further north to explore the impressive ruggedness of the area.

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Lake Superior, Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario

I do not particularity do a lot of bird photography but when a rare visitor of Ontario’s boreal forest over-winters 20 minutes from home it is worth every effort to capture it. My favorite image of the Northern Hawk Owl was created during a light snow flurry on a bitterly cold day. It was not until after the owl landed in this tree that I became aware of the meadow vole it had cached in the tree earlier.

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owl, Schomberg, Ontario

In April I hosted an Ohio State Reformatory Workshop with Sherry Butts. It was a great success and we look forward to meeting the new participants for the 2020 event. If you wish to sign up for the 2020 Ohio State Reformatory Photo Tour please reach out to me by clicking here. The image below with the red chair was created in the library and the sunrays were added using Luminar for a creative effect.

Ohio State Reformatory, Manfield, Ohio, U.S.A.

Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

The Tan Jumping Spider below was my first attempt at photographing very small subjects using a 105mm macro lens with a Raynox DCR-250 diopter and dual flash tubes. My wife had informed me of a spider on the ceiling in the kitchen. I said I would get me camera ready 🙂  I carefully moved the spider onto a small piece of bark for a natural setting. In 2020, once insects emerge from hibernation please watch for many posts about extreme macro photography.

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

Tan Jumping Spider, Thornton, Ontario

The final two images that are among my personal favorites for 2019 were created in the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve in Muskoka, Ontario on a glorious morning with clear skies and cool temperatures. These conditions were perfect for creating a significant amount of mist rising from the surrounding wetlands, that began to glow a fiery orange when the sun rose over the horizon. A Nikkor 200-500mm lens was used to create each of these images.

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Daybreak in the Torrance Barrens, Muskoka, Ontario

 

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Red Maple in the Mist, Muskoka, Ontario

As 2020 approaches I am looking forward to the new opportunities that will arise, and to meeting new and past workshop participants.

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Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) in tree with cached Meadow Vole, Ontario, Canada

On the morning of December 19th fellow photographer and friend Don Johnston and myself made an early morning trip to a location, near my home, with an over-wintering Northern hawk Owl. It was a bitterly cold morning with temperatures hovering around -21 degrees Celsius. Upon our arrival the owl was sitting high in a tree with no possibility for any successful imagery. We set-up near a small tree along one of the roads to keep an eye on the owl’s movements and chatted while drinking our coffees to stay warm. Soon the forecasted snow flurries began with large fluffy flakes falling. After waiting for over an hour the owl decided to leave its perch high in the tree and descend to a lower perch, which just so happened to be in the tree we were standing in close proximity too. This tree, unknown to us held a previously cached Meadow Vole. Northern Hawk Owls are known for hunting and caching their kills in the crooks of branches, behind tree bark, and even burying them in the snow. They can reserve precious energy this way by returning to cached prey to feed, rather than to go on the hunt again. The owl remained in the tree for about 10 minutes allowing us a wonderful opportunity to capture numerous horizontal and vertical poses amid the beautiful falling snow. Indeed it felt like an early Christmas present 🙂

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Focus on Frogs-1

My long anticipated eBook on frog photography has just been released by Birds As Art Books and is available for purchase by clicking here. This extensive resource is 246 pages in length and is illustrated with approximately 250 photographs.

Product Description by Arthur Morris from the BAA On-line Store:

As you can clearly see while checking out Andrew’s amazing frog and toad images in the blog post here, you will realize that his work might well appear with the credit line reading Andrew McLachlan/FROGS AS ART. That Andrew has worked long and very hard at his craft is quite evident. That Andrew has mastered the use of the gear needed for macro photography is quite evident. That Andrew has perfected the use of electronic flash for both daytime and night-time frog photography is quite evident. That Andrew is creative and has a great eye for image design and color is quite evident. That Andrew has an understanding of how important backgrounds are in nature photography is quite evident. And that Andrew has developed all the skills needed to create outstanding images of frogs and toads – both captive and in their natural habitats, is also quite evident. In short, Andrew is the Frog Whisperer.

Focus on Frogs is a comprehensive guide to photographing frogs and toads. In the wild; in the tropics; in home-made terrariums; and at set-ups. Andrew covers it all: camera systems, bodies, and lenses (of all focal lengths!), the use of polarizers and graduated ND filters, how to dress for frog photography, the essentials accessories that will save you time and money, the use of flash, keeping you and your gear safe, in-the-field tips and techniques, finding the best perspective, Photoshop tips and techniques, frog conservation concerns, all aspects of froggy habitats, getting the right exposure, frog biology and behavior, creating attractive set-ups, over-under frog photography, and artistic renderings. The book ends with a spectacular Webfoot Gallery to inspire you.

 

 

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Water Lilies in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Water Lilies in Wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

All good things come to an end eventually. On July 31, 2019 I bid farewell to the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario as it was sold to new owners. I will miss the area dearly as it is where my love of nature photography took hold. It is where I began to explore woodlands, beaver ponds, and wetlands to gain the knowledge that has allowed me to photograph many of my most cherished images. It is also the place where I perfected my Bullfrog-scapes

After spending a couple of weeks there prior to the closing date of the sale I was lucky enough to be graced with numerous photographic opportunities, so there will be plenty more images to share in the coming weeks. During these two weeks it felt like all the wildlife I photographed over the years had come to bid farewell as I had so many amazing close-up encounters with many of the species that inhabit the lake, and surrounding forest.

I hope to return to the area at least once a year to continue to document the wildlife in the large wetland near the cottage property and to continue my explorations of the small lakes hidden in the forest, but for now here is a selection of imagery that I created during my last two weeks at the cottage. I do have many, many more unprocessed image files from Horseshoe Lake that I will continue to share as time and temperment allow 🙂

Sadly, after 35 years, this chapter of my life has come to an end. However, as one chapter closes another will open and it only takes one step to start that journey.

Stay tuned

Bullfrog_1847

Bullfrog in wetland habitat, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

 

Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta), Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Eastern Painted Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Green Darner_573

Green Darner Dragonfly, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Tree Swallows, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Over-under Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Common Merganser, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Milky Way, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Milky Way over Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Phyllobates terribilis_8368

Phyllobates terribilis – captive bred

Yesterday, Saturday June 8th Understory Enterprises and yours truly hosted another sold out Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop at the Crinan Community Hall near West Lorne, Ontario. Everybody had a great time and captured many stunning images of the numerous species that were featured. We had two new species to highlight during this recently concluded workshop. An Argentine Horned Frog and a Madagascar Painted Frog.

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Madagascar Painted Frog – captive bred

 

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Argentine Horned Frog – captive bred

 

Ameerega Bassleri_8382

Ameerega bassleri – captive bred

 

Cruziohyla craspedopus_8462

Fringed Leaf Frog – captive bred

 

Phyllobates terribilis_8480

Phyllobates terribilis – captive bred

 

Epipedobates anthonyii_8388

Epipedobates anthonyi – captive bred

 

Argentine Horned Frog_8434

Argentine Horned Frog – captive bred

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Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) kits

Several days ago I made a visit to a Red Fox den with 6 kits in the litter. Prior to visiting the location I deliberately delayed my arrival until the last half an hour of sunlight. Not only does wildlife become more active at the edge of the day, but the light is low on the horizon and thus much softer, without the harsh shadows of mid-day conditions.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) kits at play

My timing was perfect as the litter of 6 was out playing and exploring the surrounding area. They were not the slightest bit concerned with my presence and I was able to create numerous compositions in the short time I spent with them.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) kits at the den

The kits are a good size at this time of year and almost the same size as their mother. Perhaps this is an early litter or our spring weather has been so horrible, with cold temps and snow flurries, that I have finally ventured out to photograph foxes at the den later than in previous years.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) kit at the den

All photographs in this post were created with a hand-held Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200-500mm lens with an ISO of either 500 or 800. The latter being selected as the daylight began to fade away quickly.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) kit

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