New Documentary: "No Degree of Scarcity"

In his new 8 minute documentary titled No Degree of Scarcity, renowned US filmmaker Joe Callander highlights Big Lonely Doug and old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. Joe came to the island for a brief stint and followed myself and Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance through the clearcut around Big Lonely Doug by Edinburgh Mountain and to the Walbran Valley. He also spoke with Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce president Dan Hager about old-growth forests and the local economy. The video includes some of my photography and drone footage as well. Thanks to Joe for taking this time to cover this story. You can see more of his films here.

Anniversary of Avatar Grove's Protection

Today marks the anniversary of the protection of the Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew! In February 2012, after a 2-year campaign spearheaded by the Ancient Forest Alliance with support from the public, the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce and the local business community, this magnificent ancient forest was declared off-limits to logging through an Old-Growth Management Area. This was an incredible moment as shortly after I first came across the area in 2009 during a big tree expedition, it was flagged and marked for logging by Teal Jones.

The Ancient Forest Alliance began construction of the Avatar Grove Boardwalk in 2013 in order to protect the tree roots and understory vegetation from foot traffic, enhance visitor access and safety, and support the local eco-tourism economy. It's been an inspiration to lead this project and connect with the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who've worked long and hard to bring the boardwalk to life.

Avatar Grove has since become a catalyst helping to shape the fate of endangered old-growth forests across BC. Several Chambers of Commerce, led by the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce and culminating in May 2016 with the BC Chamber of Commerce, have called on the province to increase the protection of BC's old-growth forests to support the economy.

Unfortunately, damage to the Avatar Grove Boardwalk due to hurricane-force winds in an October 2016 storm has delayed the completion launch of the Avatar Grove Boardwalk until this spring. Support is still required to fully complete the boardwalk with these necessary repairs - please volunteer or donate if you can to help us complete this important project! https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/boardwalk-donation.php

2010 seems like a long time ago now but there was very real a time where the future of Avatar Grove remained highly uncertain. Below are a few old photos from when the grove was first surveyed for logging by Teal Jones in that same year. With the paint faded and the flagging tape mostly gone from the trees today, many visitors are unaware of the area's troubled past. These images help remind me to remain grateful each time I visit that we could have lost this irreplaceable forest.

Anna's Hummingbird in the Snow

I've been a little obsessed with watching the Anna's hummingbirds go about their day in my backyard this past year. We've recently had a lot of snow and cold weather here on Vancouver Island but these little guys manage to stick it out! Since the snow was supposed to melt by tomorrow, I decided I would try to capture a shot of a male with some snowflakes around him. It's really hard to get close enough without scaring them though so I made a makeshift blind out of a tent fly and it actually worked! I'd love to try perfecting this technique, especially if it snows again. I would start by making the blind more comfortable to sit in that's for sure! I have profound respect for photographers who have logged days, weeks, even months sitting stationary in a blind, muscles cramping in uncomfortable positions waiting for the perfect shot. It's difficult on so many levels but well worth the effort in the end!

My makeshift blind formed by throwing a tent fly over a chair and my tripod. After it snowed for awhile, I blended in pretty well!

My makeshift blind formed by throwing a tent fly over a chair and my tripod. After it snowed for awhile, I blended in pretty well!

Ahousaht First Nation Bans Industrial Logging & Mining In Their Traditional Territory

In what is the largest leap forward in old-growth forest protection on Vancouver Island in decades, the Ahousaht First Nation band recently announced their land use plan vision that prohibits industrial logging, mining, and oil and gas development in 82% of their 170,000 hectare territory while supporting sustainable economic development in selected areas. Their territory in Clayoquot Sound near Tofino is home to the largest tracts of old-growth forests of any Vancouver Island band. I'm deeply grateful for the incredible leadership shown by the members of this community and for the hard work of the conservation organizations involved as well. Knowing that wild places like the Sydney Valley (pictured above) have finally been declared safe is an amazing feeling. It's nice to have some good news every once and a while.

16 Favourite Photos From 2016

Well, it has been another incredible year, jam-packed with new adventures, discoveries, and photos! It's hard to pick favourites from it all but here are my personal top 16 from 2016. Do you have a favourite image? Let me know in the comments below! A huge thanks goes out to the amazing groups and individuals that I've worked with this past year and to all those who have supported my work. It wouldn't be the same with out you! For those who might be interested, prints of most these images are available in my online store as well. Here's to a happy, healthy, and wild 2017! TJ.

A tree climber makes his way up Big Lonely Doug, Canada's second largest Douglas-fir tree near Port Renfrew. Climbing this tree for a second time was something I never thought we'd get the chance to do but it was just as amazing an experience as the first time. It's hard to convey just how small you feel in comparison to this gentle giant but hopefully this photo does it some justice. You can see a drone video of the climb hereCanon 5D MK2 | 17-40 f/4L lens | 1/200sec | f/9.0 | ISO 400.

A giant rainbow arcs across the ancient forests of Edinburgh Mountain near Port Renfrew. I've never seen a rainbow so intense or that hugged the land so tightly. As new roads and clearcuts continue to threaten the largest remaining intact old-growth forest here on southern Vancouver Island, I couldn't help but think that the mountain was happy to see us there, working to protect its forest friends. Canon 5D MK2 | 70-200 f/4L lens | 1/200sec | f/8.0 | ISO 200.

The little bonsai tree growing out of sunken log at Fairy Lake must be one of the most recognizable and photographed trees on Vancouver Island. That only makes for a fun challenge though, to see how you might capture it in new and unique ways. Since the lake is connected to the nearby San Juan River, water levels can rise dramatically during periods of heavy rain. When they did just this fall, it left only part of the tree poking through the lake's surface. At times, the entire tree can become submerged. How it lives through all of this I am not quite sure, but I'm sure happy that it does.  Canon 5D MK2 | 70-200 f/4L IS lens | 1/4 sec | f/6.3 | ISO 200.

I love to watch the sunrise. It's a great excuse to get out of bed early and it's wonderful to have the world to yourself, if only for a little while. Of course, it's often beautiful too, like this fiery morning sky reflected in the San Juan River estuary near Port Renfrew.  Canon 5D MK2 | 17-40 f/4L lens | 1/100 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 1600.

My heart normally pulls me deep into the woods but over a weekend this past summer, some friends and I headed for the hills instead. It was refreshing (minus the mosquitoes) to get up high and explore an open landscape with sweeping panoramic vistas. The mountain we climbed was 50-40 Peak, located about 45 minutes outside of Port Alberni, and this was the view from near the summit looking towards Cobalt Lake (where we camped) and Triple Peak in the far background. Canon 5D MK2 | 24-70 f/4L IS lens | 1/800 sec | f/10 | ISO 400.

The evergreen forests of coastal BC are dominated by a million shades of green and brown, so the autumn yellows of this vine maple (Acer circinatum) in the old-growth forests around Echo Lake appeared as though someone had splashed brightly coloured paint across the canvass of the woods. I love the way the tree's branches flow and curve so gracefully as well. Nature is the world's greatest artist! Canon 5D MK2 | 24-70 f/4L IS lens | 1/125 sec | f/5.0 | ISO 1600.

A Pygmy Owl sits perched on the branch of a maple tree next to the San Juan Spruce in Port Renfrew. Despite its cute looks and being about as small as a mini football, you can still see the feathers and flesh from a bird it must have been feeding on. The Vancouver Island Pygmy Owl subspecies is distinct and associated with older forests, and sadly, is on the decline. There may only be 500 breeding pairs left and old-growth logging is considered to be a major threat. I managed to get a single shot this little guy before he decided to fly off into the woods to carry on with his day. Canon 5D MK2 | 70-200 f/4L IS lens | 1/400 sec | f/4 | ISO 3200.

I feel most alive when alone in the woods. Your senses awaken and your intuition becomes your guiding voice. While wandering through a remote patch of old-growth forest in the Klanawa Valley between Bamfield and Nitinat Lake, I heard the sounds of twigs snapping up ahead. Eyes wide and hairs on end, awaiting to determine nature the sound, a large bull elk appeared along with a group of 4 or 5 females. Relieved (slightly), it was beautiful to see them up close as a guest in their home. As quietly as they appeared they slipped away back into the woods. As I fruitlessly tried to follow their path, I stumbled upon this incredible trio of Sitka spruce trees. You just never know what amazing experience may await around the next corner out there in the woods. Canon 5D MK2 | 24-70 f/4L IS | 0.6 sec | f/10 | ISO 400.

The old-growth coastal temperate rainforests of British Columbia are some of the most dense and impenetrable, yet beautiful, landscapes on Earth. Life sprouts from every available surface while debris from fallen trees litters the forest floor like a giant game of pick-up-sticks. Capturing this complex environment in a single image often presents a challenge as it ends up looking too busy or confused. On a cool winter day this year though in the Walbran Valley, the fog and light came together to illuminate this ancient world in just the right way. Canon 5D MK2 | 24-70 f/4L IS | 1/320 sec | F/5.0 | ISO 800.

The San Juan River estuary is one of my very favourite places on Vancouver Island. It's home to an amazing array of wildlife including elk, deer, cougars, bears, wolves, countless birds, and much, much more. It's in a constant flux as well, ever changing with the rise and fall of the tides. Here, mist washes over the meadow during a chilly autumn sunrise. Canon 5D MK2 | 70-200 f/4L IS lens | 1/20 sec | f/8 | ISO 200.

UBC researcher Vincent Hanlon provides scale from the forest floor to the towering trunks of two giant Sitka spruce trees in the Randy Stoltmann Grove in the Carmanah Valley. The group of researchers secured the help of expert tree climbers to assist them with a study on tree genetics in the valley which involved collecting samples of young needles from the tops of over 20 trees. I joined them to help document the project and at the end of the last day was given the opportunity climb the tallest tree in the grove - a 275ft (84m) tall Sitka spruce. The feeling of hanging in mid-air amongst giants like these is one of humbling awe. Canon 5D MK2 | 24-70 f/4L IS lens | 1/100 sec | f/6.3 | ISO 1600.

Waves wash across the ocean and the sky along the west coast of Vancouver Island. The patterns found in nature, from big to small, are something to marvel at. Canon 5D MK2 | 70-200 f/4L IS | 1/2000 sec | f/8 | ISO 400.

During a stormy weekend in Port Renfrew this fall, thousands of gulls gathered along the shoreline to avoid the windy weather. Every now and then, something would startle one of them and they would all take off in unison. I loved the way it looked against the green cedars so I hid behind a large piece of driftwood and waited for the moment to happen again. It was hypnotizing to watch but the spell was quickly broken by the sound of a million bird droppings landing all around me. Thankfully, I escaped unscathed. Canon 5D MK2 | 70-200 f/4L IS | 1/800 sec | f/8 | ISO 640.

I've waited and dreamt my whole life o a cougar and this year, it finally happened. While heading out of the Walbran Valley innot one but two cougars walked in front of our vehicle. After being passed my gear, which was packed away in the back of the van after a long weekend of shooting, I franticly worked to assemble my camera and lens in time to get a shot. In the end, I only had time to get this one image, which was taken through the front window of my van while the cougar stared directly at us. From a photographer's perspective, it would have been nice to get a clearer image, but on a personal level, I'm just extremely grateful to have seen them with my own eyes - a moving experience that I will never forget.  Canon 5D MK2 | 70-200 f/4L IS | 1/1000 sec | f/4 | ISO 1600.

A male Anna's hummingbird sits perched on the branch of a cedar tree. After closely watching this little guy's patterns early each morning, I noticed he tended to land in a few particular places. So, with the hopes of capturing an image of him in his natural setting, I carefully set up my camera with remote shooting and began to watch the branch for the next 4 hours. Getting the timing and focus just right was extremely tough but after some narrowly missed attempts, it finally worked out! It took a lot of patience and planning to create this image but I'm super happy with it and have a newfound love for this beautiful bird. Canon 5D MK4 | 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro lens | 1/400 sec | f/3.5 | ISO 1600.

Fog drifts across the clearcut surrounding Big Lonely Doug in winter time. This might be my favourite photo of BLD. I love the way the passing fog acted as backdrop for the tree and set the solemn mood. Doug has become quite the star over the past few years, with people coming from around the world to pay their respects. Although he's lost some of his closest relatives, I hope he senses that we humans do indeed care about him and the fate of our remaining ancient forests as well. Canon 5D MK2 | 24-70 f/4L IS lens | 1/125 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 1000

Snapshot: Male Anna's Hummingbird

A male Anna's hummingbird sits perched on the branch of a cedar tree. After closely watching this little guy's patterns early each morning, I noticed he tended to land in a few particular places. So, with the hopes of capturing an image of him in his natural setting, I carefully set up my camera with remote shooting and began to stare at the branch for the next 4 hours. Getting the timing and focus just right was extremely tough but after some narrowly missed attempts, it finally worked out! It took a lot of patience and planning to create this image but I'm really happy with it and have a newfound love for this beautiful bird. Click here to order a print of this image.

Canon 5D MK4 | 100mm 2.8L IS Macro lens | 1/400 sec | f/3.5 | ISO 1600.

A second shot of the hummingbird on one of his favourite perches. His colours and cute little feet are just the best!

Snapshot: Anna's Hummingbird

An Anna's hummingbird pauses in flight early this frosty morning. Weighing about as much as a nickle, their wings beat from 40-50 times per second while their heart beats around 1,220 times per minute! Amazing little birds.

This is the first image I’ve captured using the new Canon 5D MKIV’s WiFi feature, which allows you to adjust settings, see live view, & shoot remotely from your phone. That let me stand inside the house and avoid disturbing the bird. Quite an awesome feature! It meant pre-focusing the image though and then hoping that the bird would pause for an instant in that razor-thin plane of focus. In the end, one shot worked! Exposure: 1/4000 sec, f/3.5, ISO 3200. Canon 100mm f2.8L macro lens.