As a nature and adventure photographer, I tend to spend a large chunk of my time outdoors. Now, I have never considered myself to be much of a wildlife photographer, but I do get lucky from time to time. Every once in a while I happen to be driving somewhere, hiking or shooting and an animal (usually some sort of bird) happens to be nearby.
I have always been fascinated by wild animals. Some of my favourite films to watch are documentaries such as Planet Earth. The amount of effort and patience those photographers and film makers have and the shots they get are just incredible. It sounds like a dream job, but I’m sure it’s not as glamorous as I make it out to be in reality. Long hours of sitting around sound terrible for my ADHD 😅. I would love to go on some sort of wildlife shooting expedition at some point in my life, it’s definitely a bucket list item.
Here are a few of the wild encounters I have captured over the years…
Yellow Headed Blackbird
A yellow headed blackbird was flying from reed to reed in the morning golden hour. It was still quite cold this time of year, as it was early spring near Kimberley, British Columbia. We were staying at a campground, by a beautiful lake and had the whole place to ourselves. I watched this little guy for the better part of an hour and was fascinated by the way his breath hung in the cool air. It made for some really cool shots!
This photo of a lone loon was taken the same morning as the photo of the blackbird. The loon was curious and followed me along the shoreline of the lake making sure I wasn’t up to anything suspicious. The loons call is so grandiose and it makes me think of the call of the wild. That’s how you know you’re away from civilization.
Elk in Jasper, Alberta
I know what you’re thinking. I ran into this majestic elk somewhere deep in the backcountry, after trekking for days and days. The reality is, this is one of my least effort wildlife shots. This guy was casually walking beside the highway near Jasper, Alberta. If you go there in late summer – late autumn, you will see lot’s of them roaming around fairly close to town. The timing was impeccable however as the frame here lined up perfectly with Pyramid mountain in the background.
My girlfriend and I like to do a lot of hiking. Living on the road full time this year, we spent a few days in the mountain town of Fernie, BC. There is a spot I really wanted to photograph that was a 10km drive up a logging road with a lodge by a lake at the end of it. However, their season hadn’t started yet and the road was gated shut. Often times as a photographer you want to shoot in the early morning or late evening to get that good light. So we decided to hike to the lake in the dark, nobody said we couldn’t go there on foot. It had started to rain a bit, but it looked like it still might clear up enough to see the mountains beyond the lake, so we pressed on. About halfway to the lake, up the road, we came across a giant grizzly bear scat, followed by big bear prints and little bear prints. A mom and cub, something you don’t really want to accidentally run in to. We carried on to the lake nervously, making lots of noise and we never did see those bears. When we got to the lake there wasn’t much of a view, but these bald eagles were perched proudly on some nearby trees keeping a keen eye on us while they searched for fish. I’ve always thought of eagles as my spirit animal, they are just so wild and beautiful.
These young bighorn sheep were testing their luck and showing off for the nearby females. There had to be a heard of at least 30 of them. The power of that headbutt is immense, I definitely wouldn’t want to be on the other side of it. Their thick flexible skulls allow them to absorb the shock without injuring their brains. They are super agile and can manoeuvre the trickiest of mountain terrain. Truly fascinating animals.
Great Grey Owl
Owls have such an incredibly piercing stare. On a walk through the woods I happened across this incredible specimen. I’m always surprised how curious birds are when I run into them. She flew back and forth, checking me out and doing haunting circles with her face trying to get a better view of me. Great grey owls are the biggest owl in the world by length and fun fact, male owls are smaller than female ones. Those bright yellow eyes get me every time I stare at this shot though, popping right out of the frame.