Inspired and Grateful!

After ten years off I did the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Christmas Show this past weekend. I had many friends and visitors come in to say hello and talk about my photography and their own wildlife experiences. The many positive comments keep me inspired to get out there and keep at it! I thank all of those people who decided they would like to live with one of my prints or my 2010 Calendar or to give them as gifts!

My dear friends, Gwen and Gerry DeForest, went above and beyond the call to help me set up and take-down my display. They even came in during the day to check up and see if I needed anything. Now I have to consider what improvements I can make to my displays to make it easier and faster to set up. Of course, all improvements cost money and/or space in both a booth and in the vehicle. My physical limitations do mean that I need help doing these things so that is another consideration. The success of the weekend did encourage me to try it again.

The Snow Geese from my Quebec trip continue to run through my mind. My friend, Tom Hayman, who has been writing a bird and nature column in the London Free Press for many years, wrote an article about my experience and an image was published as well.

The image, above, was taken on my visit to Nanuk Lodge at Cape Tatnum, Manitoba in Augsut of 2008. The geese were migrating south and are some of those that nest in the central Arctic. It was easy to see where they had pulled up the grasses by the roots and left huge patches of bare mud. The next image shows their saw-toothed bill that allows them to feed only too successfully.

The above image shows the staining that was noticeable on some of the Snow Geese in Quebec. Although I knew it was from the geese feeding in areas where the earth had a high iron content, Ron Pittaway told me that the staining would have occurred someplace on their southern migration route as the geese would have molted before leaving their breeding grounds.

The image, above, shows just a small part of one bare mud patch at Cape Tatnum.

Even though scientists believe the numbers of Snow Geese are a problem their beauty and grace was wonderful to see and photograph.

All the above images were taken with my 500 mm lens.

There is still lots of time to order calendars for Christmas!

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The Magic of Monarchs

I learned a lot while I was processing images for my new presentation, “The Magic of Monarchs”.

During the summer I spent quite a few hours photographing some of the events in the life cycle of a Monarch butterfly. Last week I put together more than 700 images as a presentation that was given for the first time at the AGM for Kids for Turtles in Orillia, Ontario.

My idea, at the time I was doing the photography, was to be able to see just what was happening in each step as some of the action takes place so quickly that it is difficult to take in just what has occurred.

Some of the things that helped me put this presentation together: First of all, Photoshop. CS4 is the version I am using now. In Photoshop I wrote a few Actions. By clicking on the action I was able to automate several of the things that had to be done over and over and over again. This kept the job down to five days instead of three weeks!

In Breezebrowser Pro when I first bring my images onto my hard drives from my compact flash card I rename/renumber all images consecutively no matter what camera I am using. That allowed me to give the files a letter and leave the file numbers so that they organized themselves in the slideshow software. That was a huge time-saver.

Another thing I have learned the hard way is that it is essential to keep your camera sensor clean at all times!! I have not been as meticulous as I should have been and removing spots from all those images wasted a huge amount of time. A few of Canon’s new camera bodies have a self-cleaning feature that works extremely well.

I don’t add music to my presentations as I talk over the images and this allows for questions during the show. The software I use is called Pictures to EXE and is only for Windows. It produces an executable file that can be put on any type of medium such as CD, DVD, Flash Drive. It is clickable and your presentation opens and starts itself. A person could set up the presentation, send a CD or Flash drive to somebody else and they could run the show without having to have the software program themselves. It can be password protected as well.

The Magic of Monarchs will be presented for the Muskoka Field Naturalists on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm, Church of the Latter Day Saints, Bracebridge, ON. Everyone is welcome.

This weekend, November 28th & 29th I will be in the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Christmas Show at Monk School in Bracebridge. It is open Saturday from 10-5 and Sunday from 11-4. Hope to see some of you there!

I’m not sure why the images are so small in this post but I will figure that out for the next one. It will have more Snow Goose images!

Snow Geese Everywhere!

Last weekend it looked like the weather might be good for photographing Snow Geese at a staging area in Quebec and I made a decision to try for it. With an eight hour drive each way it isn’t one of those decisions I could make and leave an hour later. Of course, the weather wasn’t as great as predicted but it was my first visit there and that made it good. For the location you hope for sunny skies and a west wind.

To get the beginning of the blast-off you need to be there well before sunrise. My first views from the road were of skeins of thousands of geese in the sky flying out to the fields to feed.

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I pulled over 7 am and got images of some of the undulating strings in the sky with the full moon.

Not really knowing what to expect I then raced to their overnight stopping place. I had no need to worry that they all would have left!

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This was a wildlife experience that I could never have imagined! A hundred thousand Snow Geese at one of their stop-overs during their migration South from the Eastern Arctic of Canada. They begin arriving in October and leave sometime in late November to spend the winter along the Atlantic coast.

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As thousands and thousands more took off the noise was deafening! You can hear them coming closer and the birds around you continue calling and add to the din!

Soon there are Snow Geese wall to wall!

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They fly off to the fields and some begin arriving back about 11 am. Many come and go all day long with the largest numbers arriving back in late afternoon.

There weren’t as many Dark Phase or Blue Geese as I had expected. Very few in fact. The Eastern population is dominated by Light Phase geese with there being more Blue Geese further further West which I experienced during their Southern migration at Cape Tatnum, Manitoba at the end of the summer in 2008 along the Hudson Bay coastline.

Lots more to come in future blogs!

All the images in this post were taken with the Canon 7d and my 100-400 or 28-135 lenses.

All images are the property of the photographer and may not be used for any purpose without the written permission of the photographer