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!
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 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.
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.
Here is the latest drone video that I filmed and produced with the Ancient Forest Alliance. It features the endangered ancient forests found at Echo Lake, which lies in the territory of the Sts'ailes First Nation band between Mission and Agassiz about 100 km east of Vancouver, BC. Since the introduction of HD video to DSLR cameras, photographers have increasingly become expected to produce video alongside stills. They really are two very separate things though that require you to think, frame, and shoot differently. Without formal training in film making, many of us photographers are having to learn on our own through searching the internet or asking our videographer friends for tips. This was the first video I've made that includes interviews with people and I've learned a lot through the process for next time. Many of the location visits that we do with AFA are shot under super tight timelines as well - usually a single afternoon visit - that involve running around the forest capturing photos, switching to handheld video for some clips on the fly, quickly flying our drone (DJI Phantom 3 Pro) for an aerial view, before speaking with someone about the issue and heading home! It makes for a challenging work environment to capture it all in one go on your own to say the least. I'm having a lot of fun flying the drone lately though and am excited to continue incorporating it into our conservation efforts. It's just a perfect fit! Hope you enjoy :)
Please take a second to send a letter to the BC government as well at: www.ProtectEchoLake.com
I recently had the pleasure of touring a journalist from Victoria's Shaw TV to both Big Lonely Doug and the spectacular, yet endangered Eden Grove right next door. Check out the two resulting news pieces below, which also feature some of my drone clips and new video from my trail camera of a black bear climbing a giant cedar tree!
Well, the moment that I've been waiting half my life for finally happened. I saw a cougar. Not just one cougar though, TWO cougars!! After spending over a decade exploring Vancouver Island's old-growth forests (home to the highest concentration of cougars on earth) and driving thousands of kilometers of remote backroads, I was starting to wonder if it would ever happen. Did these giants cats truly even exist? They're so elusive you start to eventually wonder.
On the drive home though from the Walbran Valley Convergence, a celebration organized by the Friends of Carmanah-Walbran of the 1991 environmental protests in the valley, a large female cat bounded directly in front of my van from a small side road. The distance she coverage with casual effort was incredible. After quickly stopping in disbelief, I looked up the side road to see a second smaller cougar slowly sauntering off. After fumbling for my phone and shutting off the vehicle, I managed to capture a short clip of the animal walking away. We then reversed down the road to give them some space while I frantically asked friends in the back seat to pass me my camera bag which, of course, was buried within all of our camping gear. As I scrambled to unpack and assemble my camera and zoom lens as fast as humanly possible, the large female cougar walked back out across the road to follow the juvenile, presumably her cub. I had just enough time to snap a single photo of her through the front window as she looked directly at use before she too was gone.
Though I wish I'd managed to get a clearer shot, I'm so incredibly thankful to have had such an up close and intimate view of these almost mythical creatures. Instead of just catching a brief glimpse of a tail disappearing into the forest at night, we were treated to a nearly minutes-long experience - enough time to make eye contact with one of the most beautiful and powerful creatures to call the island home. It's a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life!!
Resulting news coverage:
As 2015 comes to a close, I've taken a look back and picked 10 of my favourite images from the past year. Never an easy task when you have thousands to choose from, but for one reason or another, these ones stand out for me personally. 2015 was the year of the plane and with many incredible aerial trips made across the island, it was hard to not choose only images taken from above. But the time spent on the ground and in the woods proved to be spectacular and beautiful as well. In 2016 I look forward to exploring more uncharted terrain, flying over new locations, and taking on some fresh personal projects as well. Here's to a great New Year and a happier and healthier planet for all!