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Gadwall Drake Wing Flap, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/640 sec

I have been spending some of time over the last week traveling between the cities of Barrie and Toronto, Ontario to photograph migrating waterfowl. Kempenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe in Barrie had a mix of Common Loons and Pacific Loons in full winter plumage, while Humber Bay on Lake Ontario in Toronto was productive for Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and Mallards. An alternate location to Humber Bay and located nearby is High Park, it turned out be productive for Wood Ducks, which are still hanging around due to our warmer than usual start to winter. This slow start to winter has also led to some late season fall colour that adds a lovely pop of colour to some situations as it reflects in the water. Here are a few of the images I created last week during these outings.

Mallard Drake, High Park, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/60 sec

 

Mallard Hen quacking, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1640 sec

 

Common Loon (winter plumage), Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1160 sec

 

Pacific Loon (winter plumage), Kemenfelt Bay, Barrie, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 1/250 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 1/2500 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Hen, Humber Bay, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @1/500 sec

 

Wood Duck Drake, High Park, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/500 sec

 

Wood Duck Drake Wing Flap, High Park, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500. Nikon 200-500mm VR lens
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/1000 sec

 

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Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/2000 sec

I spent much of last week on Horseshoe Lake enjoying the last week of my daughter’s summer break from school. We were treated on more than one occasion to the resident Common Loons bringing their late season chick into our bay to feed. Each time they arrived I paddled out into the bay in my canoe with my Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm VR lens to create some fresh, handheld, imagery. I much prefer using a canoe over a motor boat for photographing loons as it allows for a peaceful approach that does not cause any distress to the birds.

This year the loons have what appears to be a late season chick that has only recently began to molt. Why late season? We had a very cool spring and early summer and Horseshoe Lake has experienced extremely high water levels all summer with the lake level sitting at roughly two feet higher than normal – the highest I have ever witnessed in 35 years on the lake. This high water level negatively impacted nesting sites on the lake. I have never before seen an adult Common Loon coming into winter plumage with a chick of this size, at this time of year.

Here are a few newly processed images from my time with the Common Loons last week. My favorite is the tender moment shared between adult and chick. It was fun watching the chick diving and swimming while following the parent underwater. Each time the chick surfaced a wing flap would occur. The adult was having great success catching crawfish for the chick to eat. If the parent surfaced without any food the chick would bite the adults neck gently – perhaps to say “I am hungry, you need to do better than that”

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger versions.

Common Loon with chick, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f11 @ 1/800 sec

 

Common Loon juvenile, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 240mm (35mm equivalent = 360mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

Common Loon juvenile, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f11 @ 1/1250 sec

 

Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 500
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

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Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 500
f5.6 @ 1/800 sec

Without a doubt the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) is North America’s most beautiful duck. In the late 19th and early 20th century they were hunted to near extinction, but in 1918 after the hunting season was closed they steadily grew in numbers and now there is estimated to be more than a million Wood Ducks in North America. I frequently encounter them in the woodland ponds and quiet lake shores throughout the Parry Sound region however, they are often very quick to take flight and disappear into deeper, inaccessible areas of the wetlands. During a recent trip to Toronto’s High Park to photograph the famous Sakura Cherry trees in full bloom I encountered a large flock of very co-operative and very tame Wood Ducks. I spent roughly three hours photographing the ducks until the lighting began to turn too harsh and created close to 3,000 images. The photos featured in today’s blog post represent a small number and my favorites of the initial edit from the day. The proximity of the pond that the ducks were foraging in provided a nice mixture of sun and shade which allowed for capturing the ducks in various lighting scenarios. My preference is to create images of the Wood Ducks in shade or overcast light for beautiful fine feather details.

Each of the featured images were created with the amazing Nikon D500 and the Nikkor 200-500mm VR lens handheld. Being able to capture images at 1o frames per second with the Nikon D500’s 200 image buffer ensures that I never miss a shot due to exhausting the camera’s buffer, which will happen often with my Nikon D800 due to the large size of the image files. I do however selectively use the 10 fps on the Nikon D500 in very short bursts. I will only hold down the shutter for longer bursts during periods of intense action whereby I am hoping to capture the best possible image for the corresponding action.

Please remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper view.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 410mm (615mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/200 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake wing flap
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/400 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake taking flight
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/2000 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/800 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 200
f5.6 @ 1/320 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/400 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake wing flap
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 370mm (555mm equivalent)
ISO 200
f8 @ 1/320 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/500 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 410mm (615mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/200 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – hen
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/100 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 500
f8 @ 1/500 sec

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) – drake
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent)
ISO 640
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

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Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/640 sec

High-Key lighting in portraiture has a very classic look and feel in the resulting imagery, with bright white, distraction free backgrounds and minimal shadows on the intended subject. While on my recent trip to Cayman Brac I had a few opportunities to explore using this high key technique on some very co-operative birdlife that I encountered. Each of these high key images were created using the Nikkor 200-500mm lens on a Nikon D500. Each of the birds were photographed in a backlit situation whereby I simply dialed in additional exposure to open up the shadows, allowing the background to fall where it may, ignoring any blinkies (highlight warnings) on the background, but ensuring there were no blinkies on the subject. While making my initial edits to each of the images in Adobe Camera Raw I varied the amount of brightness in the backgrounds, allowing the endangered West Indian Whistling Duck portrait to be the brightest as I felt it complimented the lighter tone of the ducks feathers.

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper version.

 

West Indian Whistling Duck, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/125 sec

 

Green Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/200 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

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Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 410mm (650mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/100 sec

 

Aside from Cayman Brac being a premier location for photographing Brown Booby there are also a number of other bird species that are often easily photographed. One of my preferred locations on the island for bird photography is at the Westerly Ponds. As evening approaches many species of herons and ducks arrive at the ponds to seek shelter among the mangrove trees at night. Many heron and shorebird species can often be seen foraging along the sandy sections of shoreline as they search for fish, crabs, and mollusks. The threatened Cayman Brac Parrot is best discovered while slowly driving along the bluff road towards the lighthouse. Each time I have had success photographing these beautiful parrots I have found them among almond trees and most often I was alerted to their presence by noise as they are not the quietest of birds and will often be very vocal.

This post features some of my favorite bird images that I created during my two week trip to Cayman Brac. Please do remember to click on each photo to view the larger, sharper version.

 

Black-necked Stilt, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/1250 sec

 

Royal Tern, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 100
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

Great Egret, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500 (1.3 sensor crop activated)
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (1000mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/160 sec

 

Cayman Brac Parrot, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 330mm (495mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f8 @ 1/250 sec

 

Willet, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/320 sec

 

Green Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 330mm (495mm effective focal length)
ISO 800
f5.6 @ 1/500 sec

 

Ruddy Turnstone, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

 

Brown Booby with Chick, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 210mm
ISO 400
f11 @ 1/500 sec

 

Cayman Brac Parrot, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 360mm (540mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/400 sec

 

Green Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 260mm (390mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/320 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 250mm (375mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/3200 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 330mm (495mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/800 sec

 

Tri-colored Heron, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 320mm (480mm effective focal length)
ISO 800
f10 @ 1/640 sec

 

Black-necked Stilt, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (750mm effective focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

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Northern Shoveler drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

A couple of weeks ago I made my way down to Humber Bay Park in Toronto, along the Lake Ontario shoreline. I was pleased to see a beautiful Northern SHoveler drake in one of the ponds however, he was not being the most co-operative fellow. Yesterday I return for a follow-up visit to see if he was still hanging around. To my surprise there were numerous Northern Shoveler drakes present at the pond and they were being most co-operative. In roughly two hours I had created hundreds of image files of these ducks that have eluded me for a very long time. To gain the low angle perspective I laid down on one of the boardwalks beside the pond. This low perspective will give the resulting imagery a duck’s eye view and help create the soft out-of-focus background. Here is a selection of images created during yesterday’s visit.

Any folks that are interested in private-in-the-field instruction to hone their waterfowl photography skills can contact me at info@andrewmclachlan.ca to discuss booking a session for four hours of my undivided attention.

Northern Shoveler Drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1600 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1600 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake - wing flap Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake – wing flap
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake - wing flap Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake – wing flap
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/2500 sec

 

Northern Shoveler Drake Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1250 sec

Northern Shoveler – drake
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500 VR Lens
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1250 sec

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Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka near the town of Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Its hard to believe that another year has flown by and that we are now heading into 2016. It is also that time of year when I like to share with you some of my favorite images that I created throughout the past year. One of the highlights of the past year for me was to spend two weeks on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, where I quite literally spent more time in the ocean than I did on land, and while on land I spent much of that time photographing Brown Booby birds at the nest with chicks. The day before I boarded the plane for Cayman Brac I was rewarded with our resident, over-wintering Snowy Owl perching in a dead tree across the road from my home. I also spent quite a bit of time photographing frogs, as I usually do :), and created my most favorite Bullfrog-scape to date. My travels throughout much of the year was somewhat limited as I was staying closer to home to assist my elderly parents. I was however able to attend a personal invite to the Algonquin Radio Observatory on Lake Travers in Algonquin Provincial Park and do stay tuned as I will be setting up a workshop at this location during the summer months. In September I finally made the trek up to The Crack in Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park despite a bad flare-up with my lower back and a bad right foot. My foot problem was corrected with a small surgical procedure that prevented me from doing much hiking in October and November, but I am all healed now and ready to hit the trails in 2016.

I hope you enjoy viewing these images again here in this Top 10 for 2015 post and do remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper versions.

See ya in 2016 🙂

Happy New Year to all and safe travels to those of you who are traveling during this time.

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Pollard Bay Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Sunrise on Pollard Bay
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Snowy Owl in dead tree Thornton, Ontario, Canada

Snowy Owl in dead tree
Thornton, Ontario, Canada

 

Brown Booby (male) with chick Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Brown Booby (male) with chick
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Octopus Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Octopus
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake LaCloche Mountain Range Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake
LaCloche Mountain Range
Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Lake Travers Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Sunrise on Lake Travers
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

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