I am drawn to the natural world, and Boundary Bay, British Columbia, is one of the premier places in Metro Vancouver within which to bird and photograph wildlife. Located immediately north of the U.S. border on the Pacific Coast, Boundary Bay is recognized as a Canadian Important Bird Area (IBA), with its coastlines, marshes, and mudflats, comprising the staging grounds for the mass migration of hundreds of thousands of birds every spring and fall. The biannual voyage of so many species of ducks, shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds to and from breeding grounds to wintering grounds, and vice versa, is a spectacular phenomenon that I have had the privilege of witnessing over the past four years. However, photographing birds–especially birds in flight on cloudy days–is a tricky proposition. While there are no harsh shadows or overblown whites to deal with, noisy images courtesy of hideously high ISOs can often obscure detail. Fortunately, my subject below, a 2nd-year Bald Eagle, was flying quite leisurely and fairly close to the trail (about 25-30 feet above my head) that I managed to track and get him/her to fill 75%-80% of my field of view. There is so much detail, in fact, that even after zooming and close cropping my original, you can see my subject’s “white eyebrows.”
2nd-Year Bald Eagle in flight at Centennial Beach (Mar 27, 2017)
f/10, 500mm, 1/400, ISO 800
Macro photography is a secondary interest of mine, and public gardens like the UBC Botanical Garden are great places to see not just birds but other amazing pollinators, like the honeybee below, at work, too. Having everything in focus required a very high aperture, and a somewhat higher than usual ISO. I didn’t have to worry about tracking my subject around — or else the exposure speed would also have to be quite high – even 1/1600 shutter speed under ideal lighting conditions for a bee in flight may not ensure a crisp image.
Honeybee gathering pollen from Coneflower – UBC Botanical Gardens (Aug 21, 2016)
f/20, 1/400, 100mm, ISO 1000, diffused flash
The bird for whom the adjective “reclusive” was invented is the Varied Thrush, one of the Pacific Northwest’s more colorful winter time “specialties.” Although it lives here year round, actually finding one out in the open is like finding the Easter Bunny. Getting the Varied Thrush below during a week of snow in early February 2017 involved sitting out in near zero temperatures for (thankfully, only) an hour, some 20-25 feet away, while all the other fall and winter birds were present, helping themselves to the free grub. Patience paid off when this handsome male finally showed up. Keeping my subject in focus while the snow fell around him required a higher aperture, fixed ISO, and relatively slow shutter speed to compensate.
Male Varied Thrush in the driving snow in a Metro Vancouver backyard (Feb 8, 2017)
f/11, 1/100, 500mm, ISO 800
With a melody that has been likened to the opening of a rusty farm gate, the song of the Yellow-Headed Blackbird can hardly be called pleasing [to the human ear] — but the males make up for that shortcoming with their sunny yellow heads and midnight black feathers. My third encounter with this migratory species proved to be the most fruitful and closest, as this male was constantly returning to perch in this bush above my head, often times with mouthful of worms for his growing brood.
Yellow-Headed Blackbird in the marshes of Iona Regional Park (May 29, 2016)
f/8, 1/1600, 439mm, ISO 500
Black-Eyed Susans, or rudbeckias, are some of the most iconic flowers of summer. So immediately drawn to the warmth of that particular flora was I, that I couldn’t resist capturing this prolific member of the sunflower family in all its golden glory at a local community garden.
Rudbeckias in bloom at Colony Farm Community Gardens (Aug 14, 2016)
f/8, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 125
I discovered Light’s #VantagePoint Project and decided to contribute a post about my favorite photo locations. Light is the maker of the L16, a compact, 52 megapixel camera that employs a unique breakthrough optic design to deliver DSLR-quality imaging in the palm of your hand — all without the need to haul around the added bulk of a tripod or separate, specialized and expensive lenses. Visit light.co to learn more, or see more photos to the #VantagePoint Pinterest board here.