May 25, 2010

Hearing The Birds Sing!

Looking outdoors to see the hillsides greening up, beginning low in the valleys and slowly creeping up to the tops of the mountains, has been a real treat for me since I started to take photographs.  After a long, cold winter where about the only colors I see are the brightly colored snowmobiles and their dressed to match riders, this spring 'greening up' is akin to taking a deep breath of fresh air!

Don't get me wrong.  I have always loved winter.  But after six months of very little color and cold temperatures, it is quite refreshing to walk outdoors in sandals and t-shirt, see green grass and leaves on the trees and to hear the birds sing.

Yes, the birds are coming back!

Anyone who's paid any attention to my photos over the last few years have surely noticed that I thoroughly enjoy taking photos of birds.  Check out my Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/roninphotography/ and view the 'birds' set.  On Facebook http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=12596957&id=593680455#!/profile.php?id=665985395 I have a photo album entitled 'Friggin Birds'.  And on my website www.roninphoto.ca I have also have a gallery dedicated to birds images of all sorts.

People ask me often why I enjoy bird photography so much and there are a multitude of reasons.  First, there are so many different species of birds here in Newfoundland, quite a few ornately decorated with incredible plumage.  In total there are 350 different species of birds found here compared to about 25 native and introduced land mammal species.  We have warblers, finches, sparrows, shorebirds, seabirds, ducks, gulls, hawks and eagles and so on!  Second, birds live in almost every habitat in Newfoundland from bogs and beaches and barrens.  They are quite numerous at times and in certain locations.  These reasons make birds great subjects to be able to locate relatively easily and make wonderful images of as compared to mammals.  I am almost guaranteed that when I head out for a day I will be rewarded with great bird photos of some sorts.  I don't always know what I will encounter, but that is half of the thrill!

In the last few weeks I've noticed first the return of the Purple Finches to my bird feeder.  The male of the species has been described by Roger Tory Peterson as 'a sparrow dipped in raspberry juice'.  The female isn't as beautifully dressed as the male, but has a beauty in her own right.

*Note - Click images to view full size.


Perched Female Purple Finch.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.   ISO 200.  1/500th at f5.6.


 


Perched Male Purple Finch.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 200.  1/640th at f5.6.

The Pine Siskens are here in Corner Brook year round, but still are wonderful subjects to shoot.


Pine Sisken Perched on Rose Thorns.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.   ISO 200.  1/400th at f5.6.

Last week I decided to visit a local cove at low tide to see if some of the shorebirds had started to return or migrate though and struck out big time!   There was nothing to be seen except a few gulls.

While walking along the beach I could hear a familiar bird song from the forest edge.  Northern Waterthrush!  Have a listen to see if you recognize it.  Click the link and press play in the lower left.  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Waterthrush/id.


Precariously Perched Singing Northern Waterthrush.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  1.4X Nikkor Teleconverter.  ISO 500.  1/400th at f5.6.



Singing Northern Waterthrush On Driftwood.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  1.4X Nikkor Teleconverter.  ISO 200.  1/250th at f5.6.


Another familiar song I could hear amongst the trees along the beach was this one. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/White-throated_Sparrow/id.  Regarded as one of the harbingers of spring and summer this is the White Throated Sparrow.



Spring Harbinger.  White Throated Sparrow
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 200.  1/320th at f4.



Singing White Throated Sparrow
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 200.  1/250th at f4.


For the 24th of May long weekend my better half and I decided to head to southern Newfoundland to see what adventures we may find.  Even thought the weather in Burgeo was very cool and the winds were high we did manage to find some sunshine, a caribou or two and few birds that had either returned for the summer months or were passing through on their northward migration.



 Curious Yellow Rumped Warbler.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 500.  1/250th at f5.6
.


Perched Blackpoll Warbler.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 200.  1/1250th at f5.6.



Singing Common Yellowthroat.
 Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 250.  1/2000th at f4.



 Green Winged Teal.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  Nikkor 1.7X Teleconverter.  ISO 400.  1/250th at f8.


Someone else was out and about and not one bit shy!  It posed for both of us only feet away, dashing back and forth into the brush for another cone.  Hey, it can't be all birds all the time, right?



Snacking Red Squirrel.  
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR.  ISO 200.  1/400th at f4.


Spring has finally sprung and summer is just around the corner.  The leaves are filling in, the birds are singing, and I'm one happy camper!  I truly love this time of the year!

Pretty soon I will be well into wedding season and will be shooting one or two or three per week all summer and fall.  This will limit the amount of wildlife photography I will be able to participate in as I spend considerable time behind the computer after each wedding making the photos 'sing'.  People photography is a different ball game.  It is a highly rewarding experience as it gives me great pleasure to hear "thank you so much...we love our photos!"  Hearing those words consistently makes me feel great!

On that note, I am almost entirely booked for the 2010 wedding season.  If you are considering getting married and have yet to book a photographer I would suggest that you contact me ASAP.  I also have a considerable number of weddings booked for the 2011 wedding season.  If you want to secure your special date you may want to drop me a line.  My contact info is attached below.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this.  I sincerely hope you've enjoyed the images as much as I enjoyed taking them!

All the best!



Walking the beach of Sandbanks Provincial Park, Burgeo, Newfoundland. 
Photo by Leanne Rose.


All the images you see in this blog post are available for sale in digital format and in print.  Custom framing is available.  I print all images myself on a wide format professional series Epson 7880 printer.  Please contact me by email or by the phone number listed below.

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, printing and enlargement services, photographic and post processing instruction, and wedding, graduate and portrait photography.  If you would like to contact me please do so at scott@roninphoto.ca or call at (709) 634-3693.  I'm located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, in Canada.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit www.roninphoto.ca.



May 16, 2010

Gros Morne Moose

With an area of about 1800 square kilometers Gros Morne National Park is second in size in Atlantic Canada's national parks only to the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve in Labrador.  Gros Morne has even been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage due to its richness in geological history.

This post isn't about the geological history of Gros Morne, but about its abundant moose population!  Alces Alces (moose) was introduced in Newfoundland in the late 1800's.  The first attempt with a cow and bull from Nova Scotia was a failure.  1904's attempt near Howley on Grand Lake was an outstanding success.  By 1941 moose sightings were recorded as far away as the Avalon Peninsula!  Today, Newfoundlands moose population bridges the entire province and is thought to be around 150,000 ungulates strong.


*Please click all images to view larger.

 
Gros Morne Cow Moose.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/100th.  f4 @ ISO 1600.  Finished in Capture NX2. 

Even though much of the park is inhospitable to moose, Gros Morne boasts one of the highest densities of moose anywhere in the world!  Between 7000 and 8000 moose are thought to be living within the boundaries.  This extremely high density is very evident to motorists traveling through in the early mornings and late evenings along the main highway through the heart of the park.  This is especially true in the spring months when new growth begins to grow low in the valleys, providing moose with a new source of nutrition after a long winter of browsing balsam fir.


Grazing Moose.
Nikon D700. Nikkor 70-200mmVR. 1/30th.  f2.8 @ ISO 3200.  Flash as fill.  Finished in Capture NX2


 Browsing Balsam Fir.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/500th.  f4 @ ISO 200.  Finished in Capture NX2.


A few weeks back a friend of mine called twice within a week late in the afternoon asking if I would like to join him on 'moose runs' to the park.  "Hell yeah!"  This friend of mine is something else.  I've been kidding lately that he could find a couple of moose in downtown Toronto!  I honestly know of no one who spends more time in the woods.  He almost always has his camera with him just in case of an encounter of some sorts.  In the last little while he's produced photos of countless moose, snowy owl, and even pine martin!

Maybe he has a sixth sense?  Maybe he can smell them?  Or maybe he just has a ton of experience with wildlife.  He seems to know where the moose will be and when.  Heading out with him is always a great pleasure and an thrilling experience!


 The Moose Whisperer.  
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/500th.  f4 @ ISO 200.  Finished in Capture NX2.


Once over 'Sou'East hill' you can almost guarantee moose sightings.  Both sides of the road are great places to view the beasts.  One needs to keep their eyes peeled.  It seems at times a moose can walk behind an small bush and almost disappear!



Smelling the Air.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/1250th.  f4 @ ISO 200.  Finished in Capture NX2.


 Moose Burp.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/250th.  f4 @ ISO 640.  Finished in Capture NX2.


There are a few great spots to view moose off the side of the road in the area.  On one of our trips we pulled up to one such place to see if there was either one in the clearing but there wasn't a sign.  As we were about to return to the road I noticed two coming out into the open....then two more....then another two!  We sat quietly waiting to see if either would dare come close.  Amazingly all six walked right out into the open in front of our lenses!  I would have had an image with the full group but I only had telephoto lenses with me.


 Moose Trio.
Nikon D300.  Nikkor 70-200mmVR.  1/100th.  f2.8 @ ISO 560.  Finished in Capture NX2.


 
Gros Morne Moose Congregation.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/250th.  f4 @ ISO 640.  Finished in Capture NX2.

Even stepping out of our vehicle and mounting my 500mm lens on my tripod seemed to have no effect on them!  My friend accidentally leaned on the vehicles horn without either animal spooking!  Minutes later a cell phone ringing still had no effect!  Incredible!  One of them even walked to within 40 feet of our parked vehicle, noticing us, but not worried in the least.


Bull Moose Portrait.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/125th.  f4 @ ISO 1400.  Finished in Capture NX2.


We were lucky enough able to witness behavior that neither of us has seen before!


Cow and Bull Moose Kisses.
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/100th.  f4 @ ISO 1100.  Finished in Capture NX2.

There is nothing I like more than getting out with my camera to shoot wildlife, especially when the action is nonstop!   Coming home from Florida was a little tough at times for me as almost every day I had a great wildlife photography outing down south, if only for an hour or two.  I was worried that coming home would be disappointing in that regard.  However, shooting the moose in Gros Morne rated right up there with anything I had experienced in Florida!  What a great feeling to be stood downwind from such a magnificent creature, only tens of meters away.  They see you but can't smell you, wondering what this strange creature before them may possibly be.  

Thanks for the adventures Mike!  I had a blast!

Till Next time.....
All Tongue!
Nikon D700.  Nikkor 500mm VR.  1/250th.  f4 @ ISO 500.  Finished in Capture NX2.


All the images you see in this blog post are available for sale.  Custom framing is available.  I print all images myself on a wide format professional series Epson 7880 printer.  Please contact me by email listed below.

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, printing and enlargement services, photographic instruction, and wedding, graduate and portrait photography.  If you would like to contact me please do so at scott@roninphoto.ca or call at (709) 634-3693.  I'm located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in Canada.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit www.roninphoto.ca. 

May 12, 2010

Photography is my Therapy

I've spent the last four weeks cramped up in my little office in front of the computer busting my butt getting work done.  No, that's a lie.  I got out two nights to shoot moose in Gros Morne.  Other than that it has been all assignment work.

By lunchtime today i was rearing to get out!  I ate a great lunch of leftover pork chop and sweet potato and looked out the window to see what kind of day i was faced with...... 

Heavy overcast, rain, drizzle, and cold temps.  Hmmmm.  'Silver lining' right?  Great weather for shooting waterfalls! 

I grabbed my rain gear, trusty D200 (it's base ISO is 100 compared to ISO 200 on the newer bodies) a polarizing and ND filter and headed out to see what i could find.

Please click image to view larger.

Nikon D200.  Sigma 10-20mm.  ISO 100.  f16 at 1.6 Seconds.  
Polarizing Filter and Tripod.  Finished in Capture NX2.

Ahhhh!  That feels better!

Photography is my therapy!

All the images you see in this blog post are available for sale.  Custom framing is available.  I print all images myself on a wide format professional series Epson 7880 printer.  Please contact me by email listed below.

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, printing and enlargement services, photographic instruction, and wedding, graduate and portrait photography.  If you would like to contact me please do so at scott@roninphoto.ca or call at (709) 634-3693.  I'm located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in Canada.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit www.roninphoto.ca.