Back in August when Canon announced that it was releasing the 5D Mark IV, and one of the first specs that I saw that it was going to be 30 megapixels, my first thought was, why do I need that, it’s just a landscape camera. While I wish I was a better landscape photographer, I just haven’t had the time to focus on it, and instead been working on wildlife photography. Seeing that the 5D Mark IV was going to be 30 megapixels, I was worried that it might not actually be usable as a wildlife camera, or I would be tethered to a tripod the entire time (which is as likely as me switching focus and only photographing people…haha).

 

Nevertheless, I decided that I would get the 5D Mark IV to try it, and if I decided that I didn’t want to keep it I would just sell it, because it was cheaper than renting one for the amount of time that it takes to really get a feel for the camera.

 

The first trip that I had the camera was the Great Bear Rainforest, however since it was pretty new to me, I didn’t use it a lot, because I still wasn’t that familiar with the image results when it was handheld, and how camera shake would impact those tiny pixels. I also brought the camera along to photograph Bald Eagles in Haines Alaska as my backup camera, and used the camera quite a bit more.

Natural Blonde

Since I’ve purchased the camera, the more I use it, the more I’m liking it. While it’s no 1DX Mark II in terms of speed (with auto focus and frames per second), the image quality is outstanding. It is also a great walking around camera, because it’s considerably lighter (without the grip) than the 1DX Mark II.

 

Can it be handheld?

As I mentioned above one of my biggest concerns with the 5D Mark IV was with 30 megapixels squeezed into the sensor would it be a scenario where it would need to be shot from a tripod the entire time, because any camera shake would be noticed due to the smaller pixel size. I’m not a tripod shooter, I will use one when it’s convenient, however it’s impracticable to use from a zodiac (where we shoot from on a lot of the trips), and also find that it can be quite restricting for animals that move a lot.

 

I’ve had absolutely no problems hand-holding and getting excellent results with the 5D Mark IV. The images have been sharper than compared to the 5D Mark III (which is 22 megapixels) when shot handheld. Obviously this will depend on your hand-holding technique, and also what lenses the camera is being used with. However, I have noticed that the results have been as good hand-holding this camera with the 500 f/4L IS II USM as it was with the 5D Mark III.

 

What About Noise?

Coming in for a Landing

My second concern was with the increased number of megapixels was would the noise on this camera be more noticeable than with the 5D Mark III. The simple answer to this is “No”, and actually I find the results to be less noisy with the 5D Mark IV compared to the 5D Mark III. I have my auto ISO setup as ISO 6400 with the 5D Mark IV versus with the 5D Mark III I had set at ISO 3200.

 

I find the noise to be very manageable with the 5D Mark IV up to ISO 6400 (and even higher for select scenes).

In addition to noise management, I find the dynamic range and tonal range holds up much better at these higher ISOs compared to the 5D Mark III.

 

The image Coming in for a landing was shot at ISO 6400 with the Canon 5D Mark IV, with a shutter speed of 1/500 (shot from a tripod). Given the snowy scene, there is actually very little noise in this image, in hindsight I should have gone a little higher on the ISOs so I could have the higher shutter speed to really freeze the tips of the wings.

 

Auto Focus:

With the improved 150,000 pixel RGB + IR sensor I expected auto-focus on the 5D Mark IV to be better than the 5D Mark III, especially after seeing how much the 1D X Mark II improved over the 1D X.

 

When I had the 5D Mark IV and the 1DX at my disposal on my recent trip to photograph Bald Eagles in Haines, Alaska, I was surprised that after the first half day I was choosing the 5D Mark IV over the 1DX. Although it’s hard to measure, I found that the 5D Mark IV was acquiring focus much faster than the 1DX (and therefore would be quite a bit faster than the 5D Mark III), and with birds in flight, or any animal that moves quickly or sporadically, I find initial focus acquisition to be key in ensuring that you get the shot.

 

Other Highlights:

I’m still getting a feel for the 5D Mark IV, but some other notable highlights of the camera is that the evaluative metering is improved, similar to the 1DX Mark II (again, this is attributed to the 150k pixel sensor mentioned in the auto-focus section). I am finding that I need to make less compensation adjustment in most scenes, and the metering tends to get it right more often than the 5D Mark III.

Pygmy on Point

Another improvement with the 5D Mark IV is that all AF points are now able to auto-focus on f/8. Although this won’t always be relevant, it is nice if you choose to use the 500mm f/4L IS II USM with the 2x extender, like I did for this shot of a Northern Pygmy Owl, than you have the ability to use more than just the center AF point.

 

Touch screen LCD makes reviewing images a little quicker and easier than with the 5D Mark III, or even the 1DX Mark II, however I still struggle to remember that the LCD screen is a touch screen, since none of my other cameras are, so I don’t use it as much as I should.

And although I’m no videographer, the video of the 5D Mark IV is actually very high-quality, and the auto-focus combined with the back screen being touch screen makes shooting videos for someone that doesn’t know what they are doing very easy.

 

Improvements – But still wanting more:

The frames per second on the 5D Mark IV is now 7 frames per second, which is an improvement over the 5D Mark III of 6 frames per second. While the 1 frame per second is an improvement, it still leaves me wanting more, because it still feels a little slow to me. I find if it’s the only camera I’m using that day, I don’t really notice it, but when I’m using it along with either of the 1DX series cameras I really notice it, and it leaves me wanting more. But I guess if it had all the features of the 1DX Mark II it wouldn’t be selling for just under $4500CAD.

 

Tying into the frames per second, the buffering (number of consecutive images before the camera starts to slow down) is about 20 images. This compares to the 15 images that could be taken with the 5D Mark III, which is a pretty big improvement, but still leaves my greedy self wanting more.

 

Another annoyance I have with the 5D Mark IV is the memory card slots, and why oh why does Canon force me to bring three different memory cards, and therefore three different memory card slots for owning their two top cameras. The 5D Mark III has a SD and CF slot, which is the same as the 5D Mark III, however the 1DX Mark II has a CF and a CFAST slot. I really wish that Canon had decided to put the CFAST slot into the 5D Mark IV, this might have also improved the buffer issues.

 

Conclusion:

The 5D Mark IV far exceeded all my expectations, and when I initially purchased it I figured I would test it and sell it, well that’s not the case anymore. Instead it’s my very capable second body whenever I travel, and I’m actually considering selling the 1DX because the 5D Mark IV is that good.

 

The image quality of this camera, with or without a tripod, is outstanding, and the ISO, autofocus and metering is improved over the 5D Mark III.

 

If you have any questions about the 5D Mark IV, feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

Back in August when Canon announced that it was releasing the 5D Mark IV, and one of the first specs that I saw that it was going to be 30 megapixels, my first thought was, why do I need that, it’s just a landscape camera. While I wish I was a better landscape photographer, I just haven’t had the time to focus on it, and instead been working on wildlife photography. Seeing that the 5D Mark IV was going to be 30 megapixels, I was worried that it might not actually be usable as a wildlife camera, or I would be tethered to a tripod the entire time (which is as likely as me switching focus and only photographing people…haha).

 

Nevertheless, I decided that I would get the 5D Mark IV to try it, and if I decided that I didn’t want to keep it I would just sell it, because it was cheaper than renting one for the amount of time that it takes to really get a feel for the camera.

 

The first trip that I had the camera was the Great Bear Rainforest, however since it was pretty new to me, I didn’t use it a lot, because I still wasn’t that familiar with the image results when it was handheld, and how camera shake would impact those tiny pixels. I also brought the camera along to photograph Bald Eagles in Haines Alaska as my backup camera, and used the camera quite a bit more.

Natural Blonde

Since I’ve purchased the camera, the more I use it, the more I’m liking it. While it’s no 1DX Mark II in terms of speed (with auto focus and frames per second), the image quality is outstanding. It is also a great walking around camera, because it’s considerably lighter (without the grip) than the 1DX Mark II.

 

Can it be handheld?

As I mentioned above one of my biggest concerns with the 5D Mark IV was with 30 megapixels squeezed into the sensor would it be a scenario where it would need to be shot from a tripod the entire time, because any camera shake would be noticed due to the smaller pixel size. I’m not a tripod shooter, I will use one when it’s convenient, however it’s impracticable to use from a zodiac (where we shoot from on a lot of the trips), and also find that it can be quite restricting for animals that move a lot.

 

I’ve had absolutely no problems hand-holding and getting excellent results with the 5D Mark IV. The images have been sharper than compared to the 5D Mark III (which is 22 megapixels) when shot handheld. Obviously this will depend on your hand-holding technique, and also what lenses the camera is being used with. However, I have noticed that the results have been as good hand-holding this camera with the 500 f/4L IS II USM as it was with the 5D Mark III.

 

What About Noise?

Coming in for a Landing

My second concern was with the increased number of megapixels was would the noise on this camera be more noticeable than with the 5D Mark III. The simple answer to this is “No”, and actually I find the results to be less noisy with the 5D Mark IV compared to the 5D Mark III. I have my auto ISO setup as ISO 6400 with the 5D Mark IV versus with the 5D Mark III I had set at ISO 3200.

 

I find the noise to be very manageable with the 5D Mark IV up to ISO 6400 (and even higher for select scenes).

In addition to noise management, I find the dynamic range and tonal range holds up much better at these higher ISOs compared to the 5D Mark III.

 

The image Coming in for a landing was shot at ISO 6400 with the Canon 5D Mark IV, with a shutter speed of 1/500 (shot from a tripod). Given the snowy scene, there is actually very little noise in this image, in hindsight I should have gone a little higher on the ISOs so I could have the higher shutter speed to really freeze the tips of the wings.

 

Auto Focus:

With the improved 150,000 pixel RGB + IR sensor I expected auto-focus on the 5D Mark IV to be better than the 5D Mark III, especially after seeing how much the 1D X Mark II improved over the 1D X.

 

When I had the 5D Mark IV and the 1DX at my disposal on my recent trip to photograph Bald Eagles in Haines, Alaska, I was surprised that after the first half day I was choosing the 5D Mark IV over the 1DX. Although it’s hard to measure, I found that the 5D Mark IV was acquiring focus much faster than the 1DX (and therefore would be quite a bit faster than the 5D Mark III), and with birds in flight, or any animal that moves quickly or sporadically, I find initial focus acquisition to be key in ensuring that you get the shot.

 

Other Highlights:

I’m still getting a feel for the 5D Mark IV, but some other notable highlights of the camera is that the evaluative metering is improved, similar to the 1DX Mark II (again, this is attributed to the 150k pixel sensor mentioned in the auto-focus section). I am finding that I need to make less compensation adjustment in most scenes, and the metering tends to get it right more often than the 5D Mark III.

Pygmy on Point

Another improvement with the 5D Mark IV is that all AF points are now able to auto-focus on f/8. Although this won’t always be relevant, it is nice if you choose to use the 500mm f/4L IS II USM with the 2x extender, like I did for this shot of a Northern Pygmy Owl, than you have the ability to use more than just the center AF point.

 

Touch screen LCD makes reviewing images a little quicker and easier than with the 5D Mark III, or even the 1DX Mark II, however I still struggle to remember that the LCD screen is a touch screen, since none of my other cameras are, so I don’t use it as much as I should.

And although I’m no videographer, the video of the 5D Mark IV is actually very high-quality, and the auto-focus combined with the back screen being touch screen makes shooting videos for someone that doesn’t know what they are doing very easy.

 

Improvements – But still wanting more:

The frames per second on the 5D Mark IV is now 7 frames per second, which is an improvement over the 5D Mark III of 6 frames per second. While the 1 frame per second is an improvement, it still leaves me wanting more, because it still feels a little slow to me. I find if it’s the only camera I’m using that day, I don’t really notice it, but when I’m using it along with either of the 1DX series cameras I really notice it, and it leaves me wanting more. But I guess if it had all the features of the 1DX Mark II it wouldn’t be selling for just under $4500CAD.

 

Tying into the frames per second, the buffering (number of consecutive images before the camera starts to slow down) is about 20 images. This compares to the 15 images that could be taken with the 5D Mark III, which is a pretty big improvement, but still leaves my greedy self wanting more.

 

Another annoyance I have with the 5D Mark IV is the memory card slots, and why oh why does Canon force me to bring three different memory cards, and therefore three different memory card slots for owning their two top cameras. The 5D Mark III has a SD and CF slot, which is the same as the 5D Mark III, however the 1DX Mark II has a CF and a CFAST slot. I really wish that Canon had decided to put the CFAST slot into the 5D Mark IV, this might have also improved the buffer issues.

 

Conclusion:

The 5D Mark IV far exceeded all my expectations, and when I initially purchased it I figured I would test it and sell it, well that’s not the case anymore. Instead it’s my very capable second body whenever I travel, and I’m actually considering selling the 1DX because the 5D Mark IV is that good.

 

The image quality of this camera, with or without a tripod, is outstanding, and the ISO, autofocus and metering is improved over the 5D Mark III.

 

If you have any questions about the 5D Mark IV, feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

Top 10 of 2016: #1a – Focused

My top image that I captured during 2016 is a no brainer for me, it’s the “Focused” and “Fearless” image of a Grey Wolf that I saw for just a few minutes in Banff National Park. I have travelled to Banff National Park a number of times looking for wildlife to photograph and always hoping to see a wolf, and if I’m lucky, grab a shot because they usually don’t stick around for very long. This was a different situation in that I was just going to Banff to meet up with a ride to the Khutzeymateen, so I wasn’t there for photography, just as a central meeting location.

 

While I was waiting for my drive, my boyfriend said he thought he saw something that might have been a dog, but could have been a coyote, and since we were early we decided to go check it out. I was shocked when we realized it was a wolf, and and since I wasn’t in Banff for photography, none of my camera gear was out, but instead was packed away from two days of driving.

 

This wolf allowed me a few minutes to get some really great shots of it.

 

It was raining during this interaction, which actually added some great details to the fur, as well as really made the greens standout.

Top 10 of 2016: #1b – Fearless

I was also thrilled that it was a grey coloured wolf, as in the past I most often saw the black wolves, which are really cool too, however I love the colours and details of this wolf.

 

Shortly after I took this image it hit the news that Grey Wolves were approaching and being aggressive towards humans, and I can only assume that this Wolf was part of that pack, given that I saw it in the same general area as the “aggressive” wolves. Unfortunately this lead to multiple members of the pack having to be killed by conservation officers because they became too used to human, and associated humans with food. I think it’s unfortunate that humans ultimely lead to the death of members of this wolf pack (and potentially even this wolf), because they were obviously fed by humans, or food left out that the Wolves got at.

 

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to get to photograph this Wolf, especially because I wasn’t there looking for photo opportunities. But I also feel sad that humans have negatively impacted this wolf pack and ultimately leading to members having been killed.

 

I am looking forward to see what 2017 has to offer, and already have confirmed plans to go back to the Khutzeymateen, Great Bear Rainforest, and Fishing Grizzles of the Taku, and working on going on some other new trips.

Top 10 of 2016: #1a – Focused

My top image that I captured during 2016 is a no brainer for me, it’s the “Focused” and “Fearless” image of a Grey Wolf that I saw for just a few minutes in Banff National Park. I have travelled to Banff National Park a number of times looking for wildlife to photograph and always hoping to see a wolf, and if I’m lucky, grab a shot because they usually don’t stick around for very long. This was a different situation in that I was just going to Banff to meet up with a ride to the Khutzeymateen, so I wasn’t there for photography, just as a central meeting location.

 

While I was waiting for my drive, my boyfriend said he thought he saw something that might have been a dog, but could have been a coyote, and since we were early we decided to go check it out. I was shocked when we realized it was a wolf, and and since I wasn’t in Banff for photography, none of my camera gear was out, but instead was packed away from two days of driving.

 

This wolf allowed me a few minutes to get some really great shots of it.

 

It was raining during this interaction, which actually added some great details to the fur, as well as really made the greens standout.

Top 10 of 2016: #1b – Fearless

I was also thrilled that it was a grey coloured wolf, as in the past I most often saw the black wolves, which are really cool too, however I love the colours and details of this wolf.

 

Shortly after I took this image it hit the news that Grey Wolves were approaching and being aggressive towards humans, and I can only assume that this Wolf was part of that pack, given that I saw it in the same general area as the “aggressive” wolves. Unfortunately this lead to multiple members of the pack having to be killed by conservation officers because they became too used to human, and associated humans with food. I think it’s unfortunate that humans ultimely lead to the death of members of this wolf pack (and potentially even this wolf), because they were obviously fed by humans, or food left out that the Wolves got at.

 

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to get to photograph this Wolf, especially because I wasn’t there looking for photo opportunities. But I also feel sad that humans have negatively impacted this wolf pack and ultimately leading to members having been killed.

 

I am looking forward to see what 2017 has to offer, and already have confirmed plans to go back to the Khutzeymateen, Great Bear Rainforest, and Fishing Grizzles of the Taku, and working on going on some other new trips.

Top 10 of 2016: #2a – On Top

The second best image of 2016 in my top 10 series of images is a set of images, instead of just a single image. These images were photographed in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in British Columbia.

 

In the Khutzeymateen we do our shooting from an inflatable zodiac that we use to travel through the estuary looking for Grizzlies. When we came upon this Grizzly Bear, this was scene that we couldn’t believe was unfolding as we watched it. This Grizzly Bear climbed up on rocks, where she had to stand on her hind legs, and climbed onto an actual small rock island to have an afternoon nap. She even broke her claws from the big climb, especially because the tide was pretty low at the time. Our guide who has been guiding in Khutzeymateen for many many years, since before it was designated as a sanctuary, had never seen anything quite like that before.

 

On my first trip to the Khutzeymateen in 2015, I remember seeing this particular little rock island covered and different moss and thinking it would be cool to see a Grizzly Bear on there, little did I know that the following year I was going to have the opportunity to drop my jaw in awe and watch her climb up there.

 

Top 10 of 2016: #2b – Tranquil

We were also fortunate that while she was napping she moved around on the island a few times and therefore provided us the opportunity to get a bunch of different shots, and use different apertures and focal lengths to really capture this unique scene, and unless you were there you may not know that they were all captured in one spot.

 

The first image in this sequence “On Top” shows just how high the rock island actually was, and this was taken a little while after the Grizzly climbed up there, and the tide has risen quite a bit by the time I took this photo. Looking back at this image I don’t even know that I would be able to climb up on this island like she did.

 

The next image in the sequence “Tranquil” show the Grizzly Bear as she dozed on a bed of mossy greens, I actually think that I would be able to fall asleep in a place like that. What I like about this image is that it’s pretty simple, with really the Bear and the moss attracting all the attention. I also really like that the Bear is eyeing us at the time, and you can see the whites of her eye.

 

The final image in the sequence (although this winter I hope to process even more images from this scene, so stay tuned to my Khutzeymateen gallery) is “Grizzly Sanctuary”, because this Grizzly Bear found just that, her own personal sanctuary.

Top 10 of 2016: #2c – Grizzly Sanctuary

This was probably one of the best sleeps that she had gotten in a while, knowing that it was unlikely that some of the larger males that were roaming the estuary wouldn’t easily get to her. This image also highlights her claws, and you can even see how some of them are broken off. When I went back to the images of her climbing up, you could see the can see when her claws were all long, and now you can see them all broken off.

 

One of the key things that allowed us to capture all these great images is patience. There were many times when she was dead asleep, and we didn’t always have the best angle, however, everyone on the trip was willing to wait it out, instead of chasing whatever else could have been going on in the estuary, and this allowed us to capture a number of very different images, even though they were all taken from this rock island.

 

I can’t wait to go back to the Khutzeymateen in just five months.

Top 10 of 2016: #2a – On Top

The second best image of 2016 in my top 10 series of images is a set of images, instead of just a single image. These images were photographed in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in British Columbia.

 

In the Khutzeymateen we do our shooting from an inflatable zodiac that we use to travel through the estuary looking for Grizzlies. When we came upon this Grizzly Bear, this was scene that we couldn’t believe was unfolding as we watched it. This Grizzly Bear climbed up on rocks, where she had to stand on her hind legs, and climbed onto an actual small rock island to have an afternoon nap. She even broke her claws from the big climb, especially because the tide was pretty low at the time. Our guide who has been guiding in Khutzeymateen for many many years, since before it was designated as a sanctuary, had never seen anything quite like that before.

 

On my first trip to the Khutzeymateen in 2015, I remember seeing this particular little rock island covered and different moss and thinking it would be cool to see a Grizzly Bear on there, little did I know that the following year I was going to have the opportunity to drop my jaw in awe and watch her climb up there.

 

Top 10 of 2016: #2b – Tranquil

We were also fortunate that while she was napping she moved around on the island a few times and therefore provided us the opportunity to get a bunch of different shots, and use different apertures and focal lengths to really capture this unique scene, and unless you were there you may not know that they were all captured in one spot.

 

The first image in this sequence “On Top” shows just how high the rock island actually was, and this was taken a little while after the Grizzly climbed up there, and the tide has risen quite a bit by the time I took this photo. Looking back at this image I don’t even know that I would be able to climb up on this island like she did.

 

The next image in the sequence “Tranquil” show the Grizzly Bear as she dozed on a bed of mossy greens, I actually think that I would be able to fall asleep in a place like that. What I like about this image is that it’s pretty simple, with really the Bear and the moss attracting all the attention. I also really like that the Bear is eyeing us at the time, and you can see the whites of her eye.

 

The final image in the sequence (although this winter I hope to process even more images from this scene, so stay tuned to my Khutzeymateen gallery) is “Grizzly Sanctuary”, because this Grizzly Bear found just that, her own personal sanctuary.

Top 10 of 2016: #2c – Grizzly Sanctuary

This was probably one of the best sleeps that she had gotten in a while, knowing that it was unlikely that some of the larger males that were roaming the estuary wouldn’t easily get to her. This image also highlights her claws, and you can even see how some of them are broken off. When I went back to the images of her climbing up, you could see the can see when her claws were all long, and now you can see them all broken off.

 

One of the key things that allowed us to capture all these great images is patience. There were many times when she was dead asleep, and we didn’t always have the best angle, however, everyone on the trip was willing to wait it out, instead of chasing whatever else could have been going on in the estuary, and this allowed us to capture a number of very different images, even though they were all taken from this rock island.

 

I can’t wait to go back to the Khutzeymateen in just five months.

Top 10 of 2016: #3a – Breathtaking Breach

Images of a Breaching Whale captured during the Marine Mammals trip that I went on in August. On this trip we travelled the BC Coast from the Johnstone Strait to the Northern tip of Vancouver Island. Breathtaking Breach shares the number 3 spot on my list of top images of 2016 because witnessing it was just that – Breathtaking. Jumping for Joy was another image in this same breach sequence.

 

Why Humpback Whales breach isn’t really well known, but one of the the reasons of why they might do it is to remove barnacles and other parasites on their body. Another reason why they breach might be as a form of communication among other whales and/or boats to let them know where they are (the sound of a breach can be heard for long distances both above and below water). A third reason is that it is fun for them, and just something to do. While I don’t know why this Humpback Whale decided to breach, witnessing it was simply amazing. We were even more fortunate that this was a serial breacher, and it breached more than 10 times (I can’t remember the exact number of times that it breached).

 

One of the hardest parts about photographing marine mammals is that you can’t often see where they are going below the surface, so you don’t often know where they will come up, so it’s usually a big guessing game.

Top 10 of 2016: #3b – Jumping for Joy

This particular Humpback made our lives quite a bit easier because where it went down was the same general area where it came up and breached, so we were able to be focused on the right spot as it exited the water. Having a camera like the 1dx Mark II or the D5 really prove their worth when shooting a breaching sequence, because of their super fast auto focus coupled with the high frame rate, you can walk away with a number of sharp images.

 

It’s hard to tell from these photos how large the Humpback Whales are, but they can be 11 meters long and weigh 40,000 kg so to witness them launching out of the water like it’s no big deal is jaw dropping.
If you would like to see more images from the Marine Mammals trip, visit my journeys gallery.

Top 10 of 2016: #3a – Breathtaking Breach

Images of a Breaching Whale captured during the Marine Mammals trip that I went on in August. On this trip we travelled the BC Coast from the Johnstone Strait to the Northern tip of Vancouver Island. Breathtaking Breach shares the number 3 spot on my list of top images of 2016 because witnessing it was just that – Breathtaking. Jumping for Joy was another image in this same breach sequence.

 

Why Humpback Whales breach isn’t really well known, but one of the the reasons of why they might do it is to remove barnacles and other parasites on their body. Another reason why they breach might be as a form of communication among other whales and/or boats to let them know where they are (the sound of a breach can be heard for long distances both above and below water). A third reason is that it is fun for them, and just something to do. While I don’t know why this Humpback Whale decided to breach, witnessing it was simply amazing. We were even more fortunate that this was a serial breacher, and it breached more than 10 times (I can’t remember the exact number of times that it breached).

 

One of the hardest parts about photographing marine mammals is that you can’t often see where they are going below the surface, so you don’t often know where they will come up, so it’s usually a big guessing game.

Top 10 of 2016: #3b – Jumping for Joy

This particular Humpback made our lives quite a bit easier because where it went down was the same general area where it came up and breached, so we were able to be focused on the right spot as it exited the water. Having a camera like the 1dx Mark II or the D5 really prove their worth when shooting a breaching sequence, because of their super fast auto focus coupled with the high frame rate, you can walk away with a number of sharp images.

 

It’s hard to tell from these photos how large the Humpback Whales are, but they can be 11 meters long and weigh 40,000 kg so to witness them launching out of the water like it’s no big deal is jaw dropping.
If you would like to see more images from the Marine Mammals trip, visit my journeys gallery.

Top 10 of 2016: #4b – Fishing Hole

Continuing with my Top 10 of 2016 number 4 are a series of images of River Otters in Yellowstone National Park, with both enjoying “Fish for Lunch”.

 

As I mentioned in my post on the Northern Pygmy Owl, Yellowstone provided me a couple “firsts” in 2016, with one being the Northern Pygmy Owl, and the other being River Otters. We had the opportunity to spend pretty much an entire day at the side of the river photographing up to 5 different River Otters. Not only was I lucky enough to get photos of River Otters, I was even more lucky to get several images of them bringing fish out of the water to feast on.

 

River Otters are opportunistic feeders, and their diets vary quite a bit. While River Otters primarily eat fish, they will really just eat whatever they can get, and have been known to eat amphibians, crustaceans, rodents, and even birds. In these images, the River Otter is enjoying an afternoon lunch of a Cutthroat Trout.

 

Unlike Sea Otters (like the one in Loving Life), River Otters are just as comfortable on land as they are in the water, and can live in rivers, lakes, or swamps. While photographing them swimming in the water can be fun, the real fun came in watching them play and even “dance” on the land.

Top 10 of 2016: #4b – Fish for Lunch

What makes River Otters one of the most fun animals to photograph is that the family group is very playful, rolling around on the snow with one another, and also chasing each other on land. Rolling around on the ground allows their dense fur keep its insulating properties (however to us humans, we take it as them performing for us).

 

River Otters can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes, which made photographing them quite tricky, because they would go under the ice, and disappear for a short while, and could pop up quite a distance away. They often use ice holes to come up for a quick breath before going back under water again, which can make tracking them even more difficult.

 

Stay tuned to my Recent Photos for more images of the River Otters, and stay tuned to my blog for a recap on my trip to Yellowstone National Park.

My Top 10 of 2016 continues with number 5 “Pygmy on Point” which shows a Northern Pygmy Owl perched at the very top of a tree in Yellowstone National Park. In 2016 I had several photography “firsts” a few of which you will see in this series of blog posts. Getting a good shot of a Pygmy Owl is one of those firsts. I have only even seen one of these little guys once, but wasn’t able to get a useable shot of it.

 

Top 10 of 2016: #5 – Pygmy on Point

It’s really no wonder that I haven’t seen many Norther Pygmy Owls in my travels, because they are tiny, measuring less than 18 cm tall, making it one of the tiniest owls in North America, and weighing less 2.5 oz. Several times I have heard them referred to as being the size of a pop can, now imaging trying to find it in amongst dense trees.

 

Despite being so small, their main foods consist of small to medium sized birds (such as waxwings and chickadees) and small mammals and rodents. For reference a Black-capped Chickadee measures up to 15cm in height and weighs up to 0.5 oz, so they are 20% the weight of the Northern Pygmy Owl. It’s funny that the diets of the smallest owls in North America is consistent with the diets of the largest owl in North America, the Great Gray Owl. However, unlike the Great Gray Owl, it will often hunt during the day.

 

This is the second image in my top 10 images that is taken with the Canon 500mm lens with a 2x III extended, making the focal length at 1000mm (required because this little guy was so high in the tree and so small). If you are interested in reading more about my experiences using the Canon extenders, read my blog post.

 

I try to visit Yellowstone National Park every winter because of its abundance and variety of wildlife that is present during the winter months, and this year I was fortunate to not just see some of the staples, such as the Bison and Elk, but also see a few rarer species like these Northern Pygmy Owls, and River Otters.

I’m still processing the images from my trip to Yellowstone National Park, so stay tuned to my Recent Photos gallery to keep up-to-date on my latest images.

My Top 10 of 2016 continues with number 5 “Pygmy on Point” which shows a Northern Pygmy Owl perched at the very top of a tree in Yellowstone National Park. In 2016 I had several photography “firsts” a few of which you will see in this series of blog posts. Getting a good shot of a Pygmy Owl is one of those firsts. I have only even seen one of these little guys once, but wasn’t able to get a useable shot of it.

 

Top 10 of 2016: #5 – Pygmy on Point

It’s really no wonder that I haven’t seen many Norther Pygmy Owls in my travels, because they are tiny, measuring less than 18 cm tall, making it one of the tiniest owls in North America, and weighing less 2.5 oz. Several times I have heard them referred to as being the size of a pop can, now imaging trying to find it in amongst dense trees.

 

Despite being so small, their main foods consist of small to medium sized birds (such as waxwings and chickadees) and small mammals and rodents. For reference a Black-capped Chickadee measures up to 15cm in height and weighs up to 0.5 oz, so they are 20% the weight of the Northern Pygmy Owl. It’s funny that the diets of the smallest owls in North America is consistent with the diets of the largest owl in North America, the Great Gray Owl. However, unlike the Great Gray Owl, it will often hunt during the day.

 

This is the second image in my top 10 images that is taken with the Canon 500mm lens with a 2x III extended, making the focal length at 1000mm (required because this little guy was so high in the tree and so small). If you are interested in reading more about my experiences using the Canon extenders, read my blog post.

 

I try to visit Yellowstone National Park every winter because of its abundance and variety of wildlife that is present during the winter months, and this year I was fortunate to not just see some of the staples, such as the Bison and Elk, but also see a few rarer species like these Northern Pygmy Owls, and River Otters.

I’m still processing the images from my trip to Yellowstone National Park, so stay tuned to my Recent Photos gallery to keep up-to-date on my latest images.

As I mentioned in my first blog post of the top images of 2016, I had the opportunity to go on two new trips during 2016, with one being the Fishing Grizzlies and the other being Eagles of Alaska. Anyone that knows me, knows that I will choose photographing a grizzly bear, or large carnivore, over a bird any day…however I was pleasantly surprised by the Eagles of Alaska trip, and even happier with some of the images that I walked away with.

 

In this area of Alaska the river remains open even in late November (and one section of the river will remain open for the entire winter). Because the rivers are open and the salmon are still running this area can attract anywhere from 1000-3000 Bald Eagles during this time of year.

Top 10 of 2016: #6 – Quite the Haul

The thing that surprised me about the “fishing” that we watched was that instead of stopping down out of the sky (or from a tree) and snatching a fish from the water, all the Bald Eagles we saw just walked into the water, and then just walked out with a fish. It was very interesting and a different behaviour than I was used to. However, in the past whenever I have seen an eagle fish it has been smaller fish (like in the Falling Fish image).

 

This image is a Bald Eagle hauling away what was left of a salmon away from the other Bald Eagle (that was standing off the frame to its left) and trying to make sure that it gets as much of the fish as it can for himself. I was impressed by how effortlessly the Bald Eagles were able to haul around these fish, considering they only weigh up to 6kg.

 

Another thing I was surprised by was how much of a pest the Crows and Ravens could be, and how they weren’t chased off by the Bald Eagles. I watched this Bald Eagle have it’s tail feathers pulled by the Raven in order to distract him away from the fish. I also saw Ravens and Crows fly in and snatch a large portion of the fish and then fly off. The Bald Eagles would fight each other, but for some reason the Ravens and Crows got a free pass.

 

I’m just starting to process the images from this Bald Eagles Adventure, so stay tuned to my Recent Photos gallery so you can see the new images as they are posted.

As I mentioned in my first blog post of the top images of 2016, I had the opportunity to go on two new trips during 2016, with one being the Fishing Grizzlies and the other being Eagles of Alaska. Anyone that knows me, knows that I will choose photographing a grizzly bear, or large carnivore, over a bird any day…however I was pleasantly surprised by the Eagles of Alaska trip, and even happier with some of the images that I walked away with.

 

In this area of Alaska the river remains open even in late November (and one section of the river will remain open for the entire winter). Because the rivers are open and the salmon are still running this area can attract anywhere from 1000-3000 Bald Eagles during this time of year.

Top 10 of 2016: #6 – Quite the Haul

The thing that surprised me about the “fishing” that we watched was that instead of stopping down out of the sky (or from a tree) and snatching a fish from the water, all the Bald Eagles we saw just walked into the water, and then just walked out with a fish. It was very interesting and a different behaviour than I was used to. However, in the past whenever I have seen an eagle fish it has been smaller fish (like in the Falling Fish image).

 

This image is a Bald Eagle hauling away what was left of a salmon away from the other Bald Eagle (that was standing off the frame to its left) and trying to make sure that it gets as much of the fish as it can for himself. I was impressed by how effortlessly the Bald Eagles were able to haul around these fish, considering they only weigh up to 6kg.

 

Another thing I was surprised by was how much of a pest the Crows and Ravens could be, and how they weren’t chased off by the Bald Eagles. I watched this Bald Eagle have it’s tail feathers pulled by the Raven in order to distract him away from the fish. I also saw Ravens and Crows fly in and snatch a large portion of the fish and then fly off. The Bald Eagles would fight each other, but for some reason the Ravens and Crows got a free pass.

 

I’m just starting to process the images from this Bald Eagles Adventure, so stay tuned to my Recent Photos gallery so you can see the new images as they are posted.

The next image In my Top 10 of 2016 series is the image of a Great Gray Owl that I titled “At An Angle”, because of the angle of the tree that the owl is perched on. Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a bird fanatic, I’ve always loved photographing owls. Photographing owls early on is one of the main reasons I started upgrading my camera equipment because I got tired of seeing owls at dusk and never getting any photos to turn out (because it was too dark for my equipment).

 

The lack of camera/lens limitations is really apparent when you look at the technical specs of this image, my camera equipment really pulled through and proved it’s worth it to have the higher end equipment. It was quite dark outside when we spotted this Great Grey Owl, so much so that I almost didn’t even turn around to

Top 10 of 2016: #7 – At An Angle

shoot it, because I thought there was no point. But I did turn around and grabbed a few shots that were at extremely low shutter speeds, and I took my time (like a month) actually putting the images on the computer and looking at it, and when I finally did my jaw dropped. This image was taken at ISO 3200 (the max that I shoot the 5D Mark III with), and at 1/125 shutter speed basically hand-held with my arm braced against the car, my camera gear really pulled through and produced a sharp image at less than ideal shooting conditions.

 

I love the greys/blues that dominate this image, along with all the strong lines of the angled tree trunk that the Great Gray Owl is perched on, and the tress in the background. Other than the vibrant eyes and a few spots of orange on the tree, this image is pretty much naturally gray scale, which I think is pretty neat. One of the most captivating part of photographs of owls are their eyes, there eyes are just so bright, even “eye-catching” (pun intended).

 

The Great Gray Owl is the largest owl that we have in Alberta, but despite its size (can measure around 30 inches long) they are surprisingly light, weighing less than 4 pounds. Despite being the largest owl by length, it actually feasts on relatively small prey compared to some other owls, with a diet consisting mostly of voles, but can also eat other small rodents. They hunt by sitting on a perch, like the one in this image, and listening and watching for prey before swooping down to catch the prey. They are also very effective in hunting in the snow, and can hear rodents that are more than one foot below the surface of the snow.

 

This image is part of my Birds portfolio which showcases bird images that were taken on some of my random trips that are not part of my journeys gallery.

The next image In my Top 10 of 2016 series is the image of a Great Gray Owl that I titled “At An Angle”, because of the angle of the tree that the owl is perched on. Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a bird fanatic, I’ve always loved photographing owls. Photographing owls early on is one of the main reasons I started upgrading my camera equipment because I got tired of seeing owls at dusk and never getting any photos to turn out (because it was too dark for my equipment).

 

The lack of camera/lens limitations is really apparent when you look at the technical specs of this image, my camera equipment really pulled through and proved it’s worth it to have the higher end equipment. It was quite dark outside when we spotted this Great Grey Owl, so much so that I almost didn’t even turn around to

Top 10 of 2016: #7 – At An Angle

shoot it, because I thought there was no point. But I did turn around and grabbed a few shots that were at extremely low shutter speeds, and I took my time (like a month) actually putting the images on the computer and looking at it, and when I finally did my jaw dropped. This image was taken at ISO 3200 (the max that I shoot the 5D Mark III with), and at 1/125 shutter speed basically hand-held with my arm braced against the car, my camera gear really pulled through and produced a sharp image at less than ideal shooting conditions.

 

I love the greys/blues that dominate this image, along with all the strong lines of the angled tree trunk that the Great Gray Owl is perched on, and the tress in the background. Other than the vibrant eyes and a few spots of orange on the tree, this image is pretty much naturally gray scale, which I think is pretty neat. One of the most captivating part of photographs of owls are their eyes, there eyes are just so bright, even “eye-catching” (pun intended).

 

The Great Gray Owl is the largest owl that we have in Alberta, but despite its size (can measure around 30 inches long) they are surprisingly light, weighing less than 4 pounds. Despite being the largest owl by length, it actually feasts on relatively small prey compared to some other owls, with a diet consisting mostly of voles, but can also eat other small rodents. They hunt by sitting on a perch, like the one in this image, and listening and watching for prey before swooping down to catch the prey. They are also very effective in hunting in the snow, and can hear rodents that are more than one foot below the surface of the snow.

 

This image is part of my Birds portfolio which showcases bird images that were taken on some of my random trips that are not part of my journeys gallery.

I think of all the trips I went on in 2016 the Marine Mammals trip might have been my favourite. We spent 7 days aboard a sailboat cruising along the coast of British Columbia from the Johnstone Strait to the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The main species that we focus on are the Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, and the other marine life that call the coastal waters home. But to me, in the last two years, the Sea Otters have stolen the show.

 

Even though this is an adult Sea Otter, it evokes the “awww” reaction that baby animals normally create, they are just so darn cute. This one in particular looks like

Top 10 of 2016: #8 – Loving Life

he is Loving Life, with his arms behind his head, wrapped in kelp and a smile on his face, life just couldn’t be much better.

 

What’s even more spectacular about getting images of Sea Otters on the British Columbia coast, is that at one time they were extinct from this area. Between 1969 and 1972, there were 89 otters released on BC Coast with the hope of getting the species back in the waters in these areas. Estimates of the current population are around 5,000 Sea Otters on the BC Coast, which seems to be a stabilized number, as in recent years the numbers have not been growing as rapidly. Given that this animal was once extinct, it makes getting a great photo of one even more remarkable.

 

Another highlight of this image is that it was taken using the Canon 1dx Mark II and the 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens with the 2x extender, which was one of the first times that I shot with this combination. Although this is not a lens combination that I would use all the time, as it does have a limited use, I am impressed with the sharpness and quality of this image. It just goes to show how far the equipment has come, especially now with the camera bodies having autofocus on all AF points as opposed to just centre point (or manual focus).

 

If you want to see more images from my Marine Mammals trip visit my journeys gallery here.

I think of all the trips I went on in 2016 the Marine Mammals trip might have been my favourite. We spent 7 days aboard a sailboat cruising along the coast of British Columbia from the Johnstone Strait to the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The main species that we focus on are the Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, and the other marine life that call the coastal waters home. But to me, in the last two years, the Sea Otters have stolen the show.

 

Even though this is an adult Sea Otter, it evokes the “awww” reaction that baby animals normally create, they are just so darn cute. This one in particular looks like

Top 10 of 2016: #8 – Loving Life

he is Loving Life, with his arms behind his head, wrapped in kelp and a smile on his face, life just couldn’t be much better.

 

What’s even more spectacular about getting images of Sea Otters on the British Columbia coast, is that at one time they were extinct from this area. Between 1969 and 1972, there were 89 otters released on BC Coast with the hope of getting the species back in the waters in these areas. Estimates of the current population are around 5,000 Sea Otters on the BC Coast, which seems to be a stabilized number, as in recent years the numbers have not been growing as rapidly. Given that this animal was once extinct, it makes getting a great photo of one even more remarkable.

 

Another highlight of this image is that it was taken using the Canon 1dx Mark II and the 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens with the 2x extender, which was one of the first times that I shot with this combination. Although this is not a lens combination that I would use all the time, as it does have a limited use, I am impressed with the sharpness and quality of this image. It just goes to show how far the equipment has come, especially now with the camera bodies having autofocus on all AF points as opposed to just centre point (or manual focus).

 

If you want to see more images from my Marine Mammals trip visit my journeys gallery here.

In 2016 I visited the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary for the second year in a row, and this time I ended up staying for 9 days. I came away from the trip with a lot of different images, and couldn’t be happier with the result. So happy that you will notice that there will be other images in my top 10 from the Khutzeymateen.

 

The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary or the “Khutz” is located on the Coast of British Columbia and encompasses over 44,000 hectares of land and is home to many Grizzly Bears (I say many because there isn’t enough research to say for sure, but I have heard a number of around 300). In the spring in the Khutz the diets of the Grizzly Bears consists mainly of sedge grasses, but they will eat whatever they can find in order to make sure that they put back on the weight that they lost over the long hibernation.

 

Two of a Kind is an image of a mother Grizzly Bear and her yearling cub (the only cub that I saw during the nine days). You typically won’t see cubs of the year in the Khutzeymateen because there are so many bears, particularly large males, that it makes it risky for these new cubs and their mothers to survive.

Top 10 of 2016: #9 – Two of a Kind

 

This image cracks me up because the cub is already showing the baldness that is common among the Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen, even though that she is only a yearling. If I put Khutzeymateen Grizzlies in a bear lineup with bears from other locations, you will be able to tell which one is from the Khutzeymateen versus other locations because of the distinguishing baldness down the centre of the forehead, and it just seems to get more distinct as the bears age. I’m really curious to see this cub in 10 years if the baldness is already so defined.

 

Usually when you see a mom and cub the thing a photographer looks for is the interaction among the bears. Well the joke was on us with this mom and cub, they had very little interaction, and even less affection shown by the mom towards the cub. It seemed like every time that the cub got too close, the mom would wonder a little further away to avoid contact. In terms of interaction, having the two bears looking at us at the same time was about as much as we got. In this image the cub is an exact mini me of the mother.

 

If you are interested in seeing more of my images from the Khutzeymateen click here.

In 2016 I visited the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary for the second year in a row, and this time I ended up staying for 9 days. I came away from the trip with a lot of different images, and couldn’t be happier with the result. So happy that you will notice that there will be other images in my top 10 from the Khutzeymateen.

 

The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary or the “Khutz” is located on the Coast of British Columbia and encompasses over 44,000 hectares of land and is home to many Grizzly Bears (I say many because there isn’t enough research to say for sure, but I have heard a number of around 300). In the spring in the Khutz the diets of the Grizzly Bears consists mainly of sedge grasses, but they will eat whatever they can find in order to make sure that they put back on the weight that they lost over the long hibernation.

 

Two of a Kind is an image of a mother Grizzly Bear and her yearling cub (the only cub that I saw during the nine days). You typically won’t see cubs of the year in the Khutzeymateen because there are so many bears, particularly large males, that it makes it risky for these new cubs and their mothers to survive.

Top 10 of 2016: #9 – Two of a Kind

 

This image cracks me up because the cub is already showing the baldness that is common among the Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen, even though that she is only a yearling. If I put Khutzeymateen Grizzlies in a bear lineup with bears from other locations, you will be able to tell which one is from the Khutzeymateen versus other locations because of the distinguishing baldness down the centre of the forehead, and it just seems to get more distinct as the bears age. I’m really curious to see this cub in 10 years if the baldness is already so defined.

 

Usually when you see a mom and cub the thing a photographer looks for is the interaction among the bears. Well the joke was on us with this mom and cub, they had very little interaction, and even less affection shown by the mom towards the cub. It seemed like every time that the cub got too close, the mom would wonder a little further away to avoid contact. In terms of interaction, having the two bears looking at us at the same time was about as much as we got. In this image the cub is an exact mini me of the mother.

 

If you are interested in seeing more of my images from the Khutzeymateen click here.