This page appears to be obsolescent, but more information and pictures can be added if sent to the webmaster

A home to the various information concerning photography of nature. (While we love animals, this section should be dedicated to those found in the wild - or even a zoo - but, sorry, not pets.) Think of it as a nature 'column' that you'd see in a magazine. Please avoid putting any locations with the stories or pictures - please just discuss them among yourselves. The whole world can see this page - and we don't want the whole world disturbing the animals.

What this page needs:
  • Pictures
  • Technique and equipment tips
  • Any descriptive stories, essays etc of your adventures in nature.
  • Links to other Nature photographic sites
  • "The Ethics of Nature Photography" are spelled out clearly here, and I recommend we adhere to their guidelines.

    The words of CAPA (as prescribed by the FIAP)....

    "Nature photography depicts living, untamed animals and uncultivated plants in a natural habitat, geology and the wide diversity of natural phenomena, from insects to icebergs. Photographs of animals which are domesticated, caged or under any form of restraint, as well as photographs of cultivated plants are ineligible. Minimal evidence of humans is acceptable for nature subjects, such as barn owls or storks, adapting to an environment modified by humans, or natural forces, like hurricanes or tidal waves, reclaiming it. The original image must have been taken by the photographer, whatever photographic medium is used. Any manipulation or modification to the original image is limited to minor retouching of blemishes and must not alter the content of the original scene. After satisfying the above requirements, every effort should be made to use the highest level of artistic skill in all nature photographs. No composites. HDR techniques are acceptable as long as the result is what the eye naturally sees".

    A couple of points about the above....
    The 'rules' above apply to competition entries in a Nature category at any CAPA-affiliated club (or CAPA itself). It doesn't necessarily mean every display of nature photographs, but it's a convenient guide to what is acceptable in the world of nature photography. The rules are not essential for pictures shown on this page but, of course, it's good practice to stick with the above. I haven't seen much HDR that depicts 'nature' - but it might be interesting to see some.

    From one of the world's top bird photographers, David Hemmings.... "The world must become more aware of the importance of conservation and respect for the natural world. As a planet we are losing species at an alarming rate. It is my hope that through my photography I can share my passion and love of birds with all who care to look. Raising awareness of nature through the appreciation of my work is all I can ask."

    To set the ball rolling... Mike sent me this item. It sets the scene and tone for the kind of contributions that would be very welcome..

    Wildlife Photography in and around Kingston
    Am truly grateful to have this opportunity to contribute to the new Nature section for the KPC. It was only last winter that I photographed my first owl here in Kingston Öa Barred Owl, . This was to mark a major turning point in my photography. I had dabbled for a short time in BW Portraiture back in Montreal some 15 years ago, and had recently been lucky with a few small birds and a Downy woodpecker, but when my wife and I stumbled across a gorgeous Barred Owl not more than 15-20 feet off the trail sitting in a pine tree, well, it wasnít long before I was looking for a new lens, and a renewed interest. I now shoot almost exclusively with the Canon EF 400 5.6L lens on my T1i(500D) mounted on a Manfrotto 190XB Tripod/496RC2 ball-head. I carry a small Nikon S600 (10mp) P&S on my belt which has served me well on many occasions. I try to be up early enough to ensure that Iím ďout thereĒ as the sun comes up. Iíll usually be treated to *something* about 75-80% of the time.
    My tripod is fully extended on the back seat ready to be grabbed if needed. I always have a spare fully charged battery and 2 spare SD cards in my pocket. As of yet, I never use flash for wildlife. The idea is to acquire photos, not to instil fear or startle my subjects. This could also leave them temporarily blinded and leave them vulnerable to predators. My approach is always slow, steady and quiet. Sometimes using trees/bushes as cover, and trying to be downwind to avoid my scent being picked up. If Iím in the wild outside the city, I need to be mindful of coyotes, andÖbears. Itíll be interesting, to see what variety of wildlife will be photographed and identified as being local to Kingston, with the different styles/techniques usedÖ. Cheers everyone! Michel (Mike) Soucy

    Also from Mike.....
    8 Nov 10 - Hi everyone, I suppose that since the introduction of the NATURE section was accompanied by two owl photos, I might offer my most recent capture.
    I had decided that with last night's (Sunday) clear skies, I was going to be up early for sunrise. Setting my alarm for 4:30am, I had time to have breakfast, check my emails, gather my equipment, get a tea made for my wife and at 6:30 I was out the door with gear in hand.
    I try not to have any expectations when arriving, this keeps my mind open to everything going on, looking but not looking for anything in particular. Actually, I tend to find my gaze heading into the trees along the trails, especially when nearing an open field/clearing. I do this now almost automatically. Not more than ten or 15 minutes into my walk I spot the owl. So open and visibleÖI can hardly contain my excitement. Its gaze is concentrated on the ground, seeking breakfast.
    Iíve learned to really take my time in approachingÖtake a few shots from where Iím at, circle around the long way, never directly towards the bird. Behind a bush perhapsÖtake a couple of shots. Pause. Donít move. Click-click-click. The owl is now checking me out periodically. Click. It appears itís seen something move and flies 20 ft and lands on another branch. Iím too close with this big lens to capture it in flight. Something for me to practice over the coming months!
    Itís been about 80 minutes and I have added to my collection of Barred Owls. Iím now seeing the progression in quality from last years first photos.
    Please understand that I am a newcomer when it comes to nature and wildlife photography. Perhaps this explains my excitement each time I acquire new images! Not that I know a whole lot about owls (or birds in general), but I try to read up a bit on the subject once Iím at homeÖ unless house chores dictate otherwise! :) Barred Owls are non-migratory and territorial. Theyíre harder to see in the summer due to the dense foliage, but at this time of year they stick out like a sore thumb. Itís turning into an interesting activity for me. Learning to properly identify the bird(s) photographed is proving to be quite the challenge. Iíve two books I use, but the internet is proving to be my most useful resource, comparing various angles, etc.
    My equipment thus far is a Canon T1i/500D which came bundled with two lenses, an 18-55 IS & 55-250 IS. My first Barred Owl photo shown on this page, above, was with the 55-250 IS (at 250mm f/11 1/400sec ). Iíve since included the Canon 400mm 5.6L series lens and am about to acquire a 1.4 Teleconverter. Iím now torn between getting a 2nd camera body, or, a macro lens for close-ups. I suspect itíll be the TC. As my photography begins to evolve into a more serious hobby, I need to consider all equipment at my disposal, this includes migrating from a PC to a Mac in the not too distant future.
    Iíll often bring two lenses with me, the 55-250 IS and the 400 f/5.6, a spare battery and SD memory card. Making sure my lenses and filters are clean before I leave the car is a must. Imagine getting back home and finding the images are not acceptable due to dust, smudges, etc!
    I now almost always use a tripod, I end up with more keeper images, and I could not have gotten this morningsí images without one! My early images had shutter speeds as slow as 1/90 sec with an ISO of 800........
    At times itís not easy leaving a shootÖbut I do have a job that I need to hold onto, that means getting to work on time. This morning felt really good walking away from the owl, leaving it to do what it needs to doÖfind breakfast.
    I've looked at the weather forecast and the coming days promise clear skies. I'll see the sun come up and who knows what else!
    Mike Soucy

    10 Nov 1000 Wonderful photo of a Doe by Antoine Hanain. Antoine is a frequent contributor of nature pix on his Flickr site . He can often be found seeking new nature photo opportunities. I first met Antoine last year as we were photographing a small herd of deer. We look forward to seeing more from Antoine. Great shot!

    Common Garter Snake: Most active in the spring and in the fall, but also throughout the summer. This picture was taken in the fall, where I found this fellow warming up on a rock in the cool afternoon weather. Chipmunk: Very common sight in North American woods. Many will come right up to you if they think you have food, providing a wonderful opportunity for close-up pictures. Cedar waxwings, in my experience, are commonly seen in late March into early spring flying in large flocks feeding on berries from the previous growing season that have managed to stay on the branches throughout the winter. They are wonderful birds to photograph while they are busy reaching and climbing branches to get to their food source.

    From Julia McKay... 10 Nov 10
    I went for a walk down an unfamiliar path this fall with my camera and tri-pod. I had just left work and needed to unwind. There were a lot of joggers and dogs walking their people who passed me - but I just took my time. I wanted to take time to just notice things, like the fall colours, the little chickadees (that kept dive-bombing me) and the sunset.
    I saw a hawk on top of the old water tower, and a red squirrel munching on something (turns out to be an apple core). I was trying to apply some of the new skills/ideas that I had picked up at the meetings - "Record nature but do not disturb", focus on "what is your subject", and using my tri-pod. I don't think I would have seen half the wildlife that I did if I hadn't been taking my time, paying attention and trying an unfamiliar path. I kept walking until I realized that it was getting dark and should head back to the car. On my way back (in the near dark) I saw a flash of white that turned out to be some deer. I tried to get my tri-pod set up but wasn't quick enough.
    I was amazed at the amount of wildlife I saw in the hour I was out there. I saw tonnes of chickadees, a hawk, lots of dogs, a red squirrel and 4 deer. Even though I didn't take pictures of everything I did take the time to enjoy the experience - a simple walk in the woods with my camera (almost in the dark).

    (Location removed but you probably know where I mean) Owls

    5 Nov 10. Worth checking out this link. For the sake of the landowners and relationships with the Kingston Field Naturalists, the KPC recommend that KPC photographers keep away. I went there myself two winters ago and I was very surprised by how many people were there - perhaps not 100, as mentioned in that post, but getting up towards that number. About six of us were being shown around - I don't think I would have spotted a single owl if they hadn't been pointed out to me by an expert (Alex).
    I think the only course for the club is to declare that "We discourage our members from visiting there, and will not be planning any outdoor group meetings there. Individuals must decide for themselves but we advise that they certainly never go there in groups of more than two".


    Edwin Kats - from the Netherlands James Barrett - from my home county in UK Ben Hall - around the world
    David Hemmings - Birds of all kinds Natural History Museum (UK) Nature Photography  

    11 Nov 10 - Lots of joggers around - why do they have to talk (shout) to each other when they're running side-by-side? That and a family with the noisiest, whingey kids you could imagine pretty much put the kibosh on the trip - plus the fact that it was nearly dark by then. Nature? One black squirrel and a chipmunk. Oh well, maybe again tonight....... 12 Nov 10....OK, I went again, much earlier this time, getting into the woods by 1500..... lots of people there again, dogs all over the place.... and I've seen more bird varieties in my backyard. The only interesting critter was a red (ish) squirrel, though not the sort I used to see a lot of in the UK. Lots of black and grey squirrels, chickadees, a tree-creeper of some sort, one Robin and one Cardinal. On a positive note, there were absolutely no bugs!
    Update! Went again at around 8.30am Sunday 16 Novv - it was worse!

    Conservation Area Photo Competition

    Interesting Competition being run by Conservation Ontario. Be careful with the rules of this but it's not a bad competition - even if they don't actually mention the prizes. It's also a bit annoying that the organizers would have the right to use photographs from the competition in any way they want.... "grants Conservation Ontario and its partner Conservation Authorities the unrestricted and exclusive rights to use the photograph(s) for any purpose. This includes, but is not limited to, publishing your photograph(s) in print or electronic form for promotional purposes without further compensation or notification." - so if your picture appeared on the front cover of 100,000 leaflets distributed by the 'Conservation Ontario', you wouldn't earn a cent... or, for that matter, any credit. It also mentions not using the images in another competition (which, strictly speaking would include our Club Competition and Online Competition). It also says, "Compositional changes to digital files are not acceptable and will be disqualified; tonal or colour cast corrections are acceptable. All entries and contest materials received become property of Conservation Ontario and will not be returned." So, strictly speaking, cropping wouldn't be allowed - seems a bit silly and indicates that it's being run by people who don't have a clue what they're talking about.
    7 Dec 10.... from Mike Soucy.
    I hadn't had any decent shots for about a week and was starting suffer from withdrawal, so I arranged my agenda to allow me to spend my lunch hour in the woods. I was not disappointed! I quickly came across a Barred Owl about 45 feet in, but was able to get closer as he was sitting just off another trail. He was really relaxed with me being there. I pumped my ISO to 800 to allow good shutter speeds [since I was on a tripod, I knew I could handle 1/60 sec but preferred 1/350th or faster] The click-click-click of the shutter gets the owl's attention but it quickly gets back to napping.
    After a bit I decided to see what else I could find. A couple of Downy's show up...or maybe a Hairy? They sometimes can be hard to distinguish, but I had fun with one as it played hide-and-seek with me from behind a bird feeder. Lots of Chickadees. Wouldn't mind seeing a Red-Breasted Nuthatch!
    Then the Red Bellied Woodpecker shows up! I'd never seen one and he's right...there! CLICK-CLICK.
    For the cold I had woollen gloves (my wife's I think!) but they did the trick. The T1i handled really well and I continue to be excited with the ef400 5.6L lens...what a beauty!
    Before I know it it's been 45 minutes, time to get back to work and I'm feeling really great, can't wait to look at the pics.

    From Mike Soucy, Jan 19 2011....
    I've discovered a new way to spend my lunch hour... photographing wildlife local to the Kingston Area. Once upon a time (not that long ago!) it was tough to get me outdoors during the winter, but of late, I can't wait, especially if there's new snow!
    The birds have fattened up considerably for the winter for added warmth, and their colours seem much more vibrant against the white snow. The Cardinals and Blue Jays congregating near bird feeders offer great photo opps.
    If it's snowing, I use a Rain Sleeve bought at Camera Kingston for my camera and lens. It protects both my lens and camera body while allowing me to shoot through an adjustable opening at one end. Shooting with the EF 400 5.6L, I always come with a tripod, I want my images to be keepers. My wife gave me a Kenko Pro 300 1.4 tc turning my lens into a 560mm. With the 1.6 crop factor on my Canon 60D...that makes it a 896mm lens! But, to use the TC I need bright sunlight as I've lost one stop from f5.6 to f8. With careful processing and the use of a good tripod, I can get really decent close-up shots. I can't wait to try this combo on the Bobolinks next summer!
    On the 400mm f5.6 and the TC combo, autofocus is maintained if I use the centre focus point and have LOTS of light. Otherwise the lens hunts and I need to go to manual focus. The American Kestrel shown here is taken with the 400mm & TC on a Canon 60D. I must say that the Kestrel allowed me to get amazingly close! The Cardinals were taken with the 400mm on the 60D during a recent snowfall with the Rain Sleeve.
    Oh yeah...dressing warm also helps! :))
    Cheers everybody, Mike

    The Bald Eagles are coming back!

    (by Mike Soucy, 27 Feb 2011) The majestic Bald Eagle has been returning to the Kingston area in increasing numbers over the past few years. Here, and in other areas of the St. Lawrence, an increasing number of Eagles are being seen after nearly disappearing in the early 1970's. Over the past 2 1/2 weeks, I've been fortunate enough to get a couple of photos. All were taken with a Canon 60D and the EF 400 5,6L series lens along the downtown Kingston waterfront.
    1 - An Eagle flies past the Royal George Condominium
    2 - An Eagle sits on the ice in front of the Shoal Tower.
    3 - An Eagle perched in a tree near the Kingston waterfront.
    4 - A mature Bald Eagle soars over my head.
    5 - Mature bald Eagle soaring through the downtown area.

    22 May 2011.... (by Mike Soucy) Here we are, full into spring with all of the photo opportunities it presents.
    Iíve a habit now of being up well before the sunrise. This allows me to have some breakfast and my first coffee before heading out. I like shoreline areas with a marsh-like environment for maximum exposure to various species. A *must* have is a sturdy tripod for low light shooting as the sun is just coming up, or shortly after.
    The birds have migrated back, fixed up their nests, and are preparing to bring their new young into the wilderness. For this photographer and being new to wildlife photography, itís an exciting time with new discoveries. Whether itís driving around the countryside, or walking near the shoreline or a marshy area, sunrise always brings new surprises.
    Here are some of my recent photoís, all taken with a Canon 60D and the EF 400 5.6L series lens:

    Royal Tern

    Common Loon

    Double Crested Cormorants

    Great Blue Heron

    Great Blue Heron


    Mother Canada Goose with new goslings

    Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
    Find Mike's pictures on Flickr.

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