2015 Eco-Hero Award Nominee - Hemp & Company

I'm honoured to be among the 6 finalists nominated for Hemp & Company's inaugural Eco-Hero award! Lots of great people & friends doing amazing things. Voting is open until Feb. 28th at the bottom of this page: http://www.hempandcompany.com/pages/vote-for-your-favorite-eco-hero

Big thanks to Bill and Lorna at Hemp & Company as well for running an exceptionally green business in Victoria and for promoting and supporting sustainability wherever they can.

Times Colonist - On the Street: Vote for your local Eco-Hero

Portrait of Claudia Li for Canadian Wildlife

In late 2014 I had the chance to photograph friend and fellow environmentalist Claudia Li for the Local Hero section of Canadian Wildlife magazine. Claudia is a co-founder of the Hua Foundation, who's mission is "to build solutions for the Hua community, the ethnic Chinese community, around environmental sustainability and cultural heritage." She has also been leading Shark Truth, a project which focuses on shark conservation and the shark-fin issue. To highlight her work in promoting healthy, local, and organic eating within the Chinese community, I was looking for a vibrant market to shoot at. After hunting the streets for a couple hours and almost turning up empty handed, I met up with Claudia and went to a colorful store that she'd been directly working with. The setting was perfect and we managed to capture the shot during a short break in sidewalk traffic. Big thanks to Claudia and to the market owner for working with me on this! Gear: Canon 5D MKII, Canon 70-200 f4 IS, Canon 580ex Speedlite.

Mountain Life Magazine Feature

Mountain Life Magazine has published a little feature on the new Ancient Forest Alliance documentary along with some questions and answers from friend and filmmaker Darryl Augustine. You can check out the article and view the short film (which highlights some of the conservation photography work I do) here: http://www.mountainlifemag.ca/2015/01/saving-giants-ancient-forest-alliance/ It was great to work with Darryl on this - especially with the RED Epic camera - and I highly recommend him for any of your video needs! Very professional, kind, and talented individual.

Looking towards Big Lonely Doug from the top of a giant redcedar stump clearcut in the Gordon River Valley near Port Renfrew in 2012.

10 Favourite Images from 2014

2014 was an adventurous year and full of new experiences. From the thousands of images shot, I've tried pick a few favorites and create a personal top 10. Here they are (in no particular order). Hope you enjoy and here's to a fantastic 2015!

I've always wanted to photograph a full moon rise and this year I finally remembered on the right day. After racing to Cattle Point in Oak Bay, I laid down behind a patch of camas flowers which provided a unique frame and caught it just in time.

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for sunrises and sunsets. It's a great excuse to get out into nature and the colorful display is always something beautiful and different. Here's a classic coastal sunset as seen amongst the idyllic Gulf Islands.

Even though I have been to Carmanah Provincial Park many times before, it wasn't until this year that I actually made it to see the famous Three Sisters - a tight cluster of giant Sitka spruce trees with a spot you can sit down in the middle of.

This past summer I visited the Canadian Rockies for the first time and was blown away by their raw magnificence. Here, mountains and forest are reflected in the crystal clear waters of a small lake, creating a surreal landscape view.

Also from my trip to the Rockies, a golden-mantled ground squirrel curiously approaches during one of our day hikes.

Spring in the deciduous forests near Lake Cowichan is breathtaking. After my partner came across this magnificent bigleaf maple tree in the Fall, I was excited to see it bloom. A 15mm fisheye lens allowed me to capture its full glory.

One constant throughout the years is the stunning and surprising beauty of nature. Almost like magic, fleeting moments of sheer natural wonder pop in and out of existence, treating one to the most dazzling displays of colour and form. Seen here, rainbow fog beams shine through the old-growth forests of the Upper Walbran Valley early in the morning.

Certainly not the most beautiful place I visited in 2014 but definitely the most shocking, this burnt old-growth clearcut in the Klanawa Valley was like a scene from Armageddon. The photos from this expedition provided a stark reminder of the continued gross mismanagement of BC's endangered ancient forests.

Each December I visit the Harrison Mills area on the Lower Mainland to photograph the thousands of bald eagles that arrive during the fall salmon runs. This year however, high water levels covered up the dead fish causing the eagle numbers to drastically drop while I was there. Luck did afford me this one close-up view though of an eagle fanning his/her feathers in the warm sunlight.

Not only a highlight of my year but a highlight of my life, the climb of Big Lonely Doug - Canada's second largest Douglas-fir tree - is something I will never forget. One of my hopes was to catch a classic side-on view of a climber looking like an ant on the tree - much like the famous National Geographic photos of tiny people dangling in the giant Sequoia. The nearby logging road provided a unique vantage point and helped achieve the perspective. To see the rest of the photos of the climb, please click here.

3 Days at Echo Lake - Hiking, Tree Climbing, & Eagles!

The last weekend of November, I had the chance to spend 3 days with friends at Echo Lake, located located between Mission and Agassiz on the Lower Mainland. It was a freeeeeezing cold trip (-15 with windchill) and harsh reminder of just how painful it can be to hold a metal camera for hours while trying to manipulate the finicky buttons with seized fingers! The breaker in our cabin shorted the first night as well - no lights and no heater makes for long, cold evenings.. The weekend was still filled with fun and adventure though. We hiked up a currently unprotected ridge to see some old-growth Douglas-fir trees growing at the higher elevation and caught some beautiful sunlight scenes with the snow. Thanks to my friend Matthew with the Arboreal Collective, a few lucky ones also had the opportunity to climb a tall Douglas-fir tree along the lake shore. You really only comprehend their size once a tiny human is up amongst the branches - wow!

In 2012, about 60% of the ancient forests around the lake were thankfully protected through a campaign lead by the Ancient Forest Alliance. However, 40% still remain unprotected on the north slope, where we hiked. Besides the impressive trees, the lake is also home to the world's largest night roosting site for bald eagles, who feed on salmon in the nearby Harrison-Chehalis River Estuary each fall. The eagles are the main reason why I visit each year at this time but unfortunately the numbers were really low during our visit due to recent flooding which covered up their fish supply. I still managed a few photos but missed the epic scenes of thousands along the river from previous years. That's nature for you I guess ;)

Presentation Time

I'm always honored when the opportunity arises to speak about photography and our environment - big or small, all talks present a great chance to have a personal conversation about our human experience on this planet. This week I spoke with a Victoria high school photography class on the topic of Conservation Photography & BC's Ancient Forests. It was around their age when my interest first peaked in photography and I hope that it may have planted some seeds along their path's to the future. If you're a local school group or organization, and would like to host a slideshow presentation, please just shoot me an email! Thanks :)

New Documentary Film on the Ancient Forest Alliance

Super happy to share this new documentary on the Ancient Forest Alliance, produced by friend and filmmaker, Darryl Augustine. The 16 minute video features an overview of the history of the Ancient Forest Alliance, spectacular images of BC’s old-growth forests (shot in 4k), and interviews with myself and Ken Wu, tourism business owners, forestry workers, First Nations, politicians, and individuals in the BC forest conservation movement. It was fun and adventurous working in the woods with Darryl on this and hopefully the film will shed more light on what we do as an organization as well as my role as a conservation photographer in BC. Enjoy!

Endangered Upper Walbran Valley - Photos & News Coverage

Anyone who has been to the Upper Walbran Valley knows it is a truly exceptional place. At the heart of the valley lies the largest contiguous tract of unprotected, lowland old-growth forest left outside of parks on southern Vancouver Island; which includes the Castle Grove and the Central Walbran Ancient Forest. I recently visited the area to photograph signs of new potential logging plans in the core area and the amazing forest that is threatened there. Subsequent to the trip I wrote a blog for Huffington Post British Columbia which they just featured on the front page on their website (above)!

To read the story, see photos, and learn more, please visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tj-watt/not-all-is-well-bc-woods_b_6201668.html

We also received news coverage on the issue from other major news sources:

And here are a few short clips I filmed while exploring the at-risk forest with my partner Jackie:

It's time to see this jewel of nature saved once and for all!