I am back after enjoying nine peaceful and calm days among the Grizzly Bears of the Khutzeymateen, joined by two different groups of eager photographers.

 

This Blog Post is later than I had planned it to be, I’ve been home for over a week now, but I took so many photos, that I wanted the chance to actually edit some, and do an overall review of the images, before making a post about my experience.

 

Let Me See!

I would say the theme of the 2019 trip to the Khtuzeymateen during my nine days was “calm”.  After leaving the hustle and bustle of the city, you are presented by an overall calmness and tranquility of the Khutzeymateen Estuary.  This was combined with the fact that the bears that we were seeing over the nine days tended to be calm bears.   What do I mean by this?  Well there really was not any big large males roaming around the estuary or inlet (until the last day) therefore all the bears kind of had their place and stuck to it, with no one pushing anyone else around.

 

When photographing the bears, which included three different moms with cubs, we had a lot of opportunities to watch them calmly go about their day, which included eating, pooping, and if we were lucky, taking a nap on a pretty log, stump or rock close by.  Having three moms with cubs for much the nine days allowed us to capture various interactions between them, including the mom standing, with the cub standing behind her with his hand on her back which I titled “Let me See“.  We also had the chance to photograph one of the moms napping her cub, and the cub cuddling up next to his mom.

 

On the last day was when the dynamic started to change, and there was a bit of a buzz in the air in the Estuary.  It started off with one of the moms with cubs that we had been watching seeming like she was a little edgy.  She kept watching into the Estuary and seemed to be a bit more cautious than normal. It was not long before her and her cubs ran off into the forest.  Shortly afterwards, a male came roaming down the shoreline, focused on smelling around for the mom and her cubs.  The anxiety among the bears continued further in the estuary when there was another large male bear lurking in the tree-line while a mother and her cub fed, and he subsequently ended up chasing them away. If you had only attended the last day of the trip, you would not have believed how calm the other eight days were.  There were a few more males further down the inlet as well, but there were less smaller bears and no cubs down there (that we had seen), so their presences seemed to have less of an impact.

 

Back from the Dead

We capped the trip off by seeing a bear that was assumed to have been dead, “Brutus”.  He was first spotted further down the inlet earlier in the season, and then started hanging around in one of the creeks closer to the Estuary.  When we actually laid eyes on him ourselves, we were surprised that it was him, “Back from the Dead“.  For many, many years Brutus controlled the estuary, and now he is over 30 years old.  So when he disappeared a couple of years ago, everyone had just assumed that he had passed away, it was really surprise that he was still alive, and relatively healthy, given his age, although not nearly as big as he once was.

 

The calmness of the bears also provided me with the opportunity to try out various pieces of camera equipment that I brought along. I was able to try different body/lens combinations, try out my new EOS R, the new 400 f/2.8L IS III lens, including with various teleconverters, and even brought along my 70-200 f/2.8L IS III lens which got more use than I had expected.  Stay tuned to future blog posts on my thoughts on the performance of both the 400, and EOS R in the “real world” (or at least the real world where I do the majority of my photography).

 

There is now one spot available for 2020 Khutzeymateen instructional photo tour, and the 2021 priority booking list continues to grow, so if you are interested in having the opportunity to visit this pristine estuary yourself, please send me an email contact@wildelements.ca for more information.

After one year off, I’m excited to be heading back into the Khutzeymateen for my fourth time, and spending 9 wonderful days aboard the Ocean Light II with two great groups of guests.

 

Coastal

This year I have two new pieces of equipment that I’m very excited to try out in the Khutzeymateen.  The first being the EOS R.  I haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to shoot with the EOS R since I picked it up last winter, and this will be the first photo tour that I’m bring it on.  In addition, I also have my new 400mm f/2.8L IS III that I’m very excited to try out.  If there was ever a trip for the 400 f/2.8 lens, I think the Khutzeymateen might just be one of those trips.  I will admit, I have already noticed the weight advantage of the 400 f/2.8 when I didn’t pull a muscle trying to put my bags in the overhead bin of the airplane on the way here. It was hardly noticeable in the bag, especially compared to the previous version of the 400 f/2.8.

 

With the new 400 f/2.8 I’m excited to put the Image Stabilization (IS) to the test, because it has one more stop of image stabilization compared to the previous version of the lens.  That coupled with the lighter weight of the body overall, I’m curious how low I can push the shutter speed while shooting from the zodiac and still come away with sharp images.

 

Regardless of the new gear, I’m really looking forward to getting the opportunity to visit the Khutzeymateen once again.  Stay tuned to my website for my thoughts on my new equipment and a summary of the trip overall.

 

If you are interested in joining us on Khutzeymateen trip, contact me at seminars@wildelements.ca to get yourself on a cancellation or priority booking list for future trips.  To see images from previous Khutzeymateen trips, visit my Khutzeymateen gallery.

had the opportunity to use my mother’s dog to put the autofocus on the EOS R to the test. And it would not be an understatement to say that it was a real test of the AF system.

 

 

Super Dog

I have been extremely happy with the speed of autofocus acquisition on the EOS R.  I find that it locks on focus quite quickly, especially on more stationary or slow-moving subjects, and the number of photos in focus when shooting non-moving (or slow moving) subjects is quite high.

 

When testing the predicative abilities of the autofocus of the EOS R, using a dog running straight towards me, I noticed that the focus was not really up to the task.  It would get focus quite quickly, however it wasn’t fast enough to continuously re-focus as the puppy got closer.  While the first image was usually in focus, only sometimes was the second image, and very rarely was the third image.  The slow frame-rate of the camera was also noticeable in this scenario, because the number of shots taken while the dog was running at me was quite a bit lower than the 5D Mark IV.

 

If you are headed into a scenario where you are going to continuously have something running towards you, or driving directly towards you, such as any kind of race, then I do not think that the EOS R would be my top choice of a camera to take.

 

I also tested the autofocus while panning with the dog running right to left (or left to right), and I found that the autofocus was quite a bit more stable and held focus significantly better than when the dog was running straight towards me.  I would not hesitate to use the camera when in a scenario that I am planning to do a lot of panning.

 

I will admit, the dog was moving quite a bit faster than most wildlife subjects that I have photographed in the past, so while the EOS R has room for improvement, it is one of those situations that you probably would only notice one percent of the time, not in every day use, or at least not in the situations that I typically photograph.

 

I also did some testing on the AF Methods (area mode options) during the testing, so stay tuned to my future blog post on my thoughts on the various options.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at contact@widlelements.ca.

Spirit Bear Gear Bear Rainforest British Columbia

Spirit of the Great Bear Rainforest

We have just added a Brand New trip in 2019, August in the Great Bear Rainforest. This trip will start in Bella Bella, British Columbia, and travel north up the coast of British Columbia and ending in Kitimat. This trip includes 7 full days aboard the sailboat Ocean Light II. 

 

Typically these trips sell out a year in advance, so this is your opportunity to book and travel in the same year.

 

More information on this trip can be found on my photo tours page, or send me an email at Contact@wildelements.ca for more details on this exciting new trip.

EOS RP

  • 26.2 megapixel
  • Full frame CMOS sensor
  • Adapter allows for using EF lenses
  • Phase detect AF
  • 4,799 selectable AF Points
  • 4 fps with continuous AF (AI Servo)
  • ISO Sensitivity of 100-40000
  • No in body stabilization
  • Different battery
  • One SD Slot
  • 4k video capabilities
  • Battery life of 270 shots (EVF)
  • $1,699 CAD

Canon just announced another camera in their full-frame mirrorless line-up, the EOS RP. This is a lower priced mirrorless camera, aimed towards those photographers that are looking to step up to a full frame camera, without the price tag of the EOS R, or 5D Mark IV.  The camera comes with a full frame 26.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with phase detect autofocus and 4k video, at a very reasonable price tag of $1,699 CAD.

 

So what’s the biggest difference between the EOS RP and EOS R, or why not go with one of the traditional full-frame entry level Canon DSLR’s, like the 6D Mark II.  See below for what I think are some of the biggest differences:

 

The biggest difference between the two are the price tag. The EOS RP comes in at $1,699 CAD, compared to $2,999 CAD for the EOS R.

 

With the lower price tag, comes a little less in terms of performance of the EOR RP compared to the EOS R. The camera comes with a 26.2 megapixle, slightly less than the 30.3 megapixels of the EOS R.  It comes with the robust autofocus phase-detection system that was introduced with the EOS R, and 4,799 selectable autofocus points.   The camera also comes wth a lower frames per second, it’s 4 when using AI Servo autofocus, compared to the 5 with the EOS R.

 

A few other things that I noticed when reviewing the camera specs is that the battery life is less than half of that of the EOS R, and only advertised to be 270 shots.  So while the camera is lighter, the lightest full-frame Canon camera, weighing just over one pound, but this weight savings might be offset by all the extra weight of carrying batteries around with you. Another thing that I saw that would be slightly annoying for people with other Canon cameras (7d mark II, 5D mark III, etc) is that it uses a different battery, whereas the EOS R uses the same battery as those other cameras, so eliminates the need for an extra charger, and different kind of batteries.

 

In comparison to the 6D Mark II, the DSLR entry level full-frame camera, the EOS RP comes in at the same number of megapixels and less frames per second.  The EPS RP weighs less than the 6D Mark II, with the 6D Mark II weighing 1.51 lbs versus 1.07 lbs, and it is smaller overall.  Best of all the the EOS RP is less expensive, with the 6D Mark II coming in at $1,999 CAD.  So it really makes me wondering why you would pay more for the 6D Mark II.

 

The following tables shows a comparison of the three camera bodies:

    Specification                          EOS RP                     EOS R                     6D Mark II

Megapixels                               26.2                              30.3                               26.2

AF Points                                  4,799                            5,655                               45

Frames per second*                      4                                  5                                   5

ISO Range                         100-40000                 100-40000                 100-40000

Battery Life (shots)**                 270                              560                           1,200

Price (CAD)                             $1,699                         $2,999                        $1,999

 

*Frames per second for the mirrorless is bases on being in AI Servo AF.

**Battery life on mirrorless is based on room temperature and eco/power savings modes enabled

 

If you are in the market for a new full frame entry level camera, the EOS RP seems like it will be a nice place to start.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me at contact@wildelements.ca.

Canon EOS 1DX

I am selling my used Canon EOS 1D X.   I am the original owner of this Camera and I am selling it because I have been keeping it as a backup for my 1DX Mark II, but I haven’t been using it.

 

Price: SOLD

 

Includes the following:
Canon EOS 1D X

Original box

Front Cap

Battery Charger and one Battery

 

This camera is in good working order, I just sent it into Canon to have it cleaned and tested.

 

If you are interested in purchasing, please send me an email contact@wildelements.ca.

Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM

I am selling my used Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM.   I am the original owner of this lens and I am selling it because I have upgraded to the 70-200 f/2.8L IS III USM lens.

 

Price: SOLD

 

Includes the following:
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Original box and packaging

Soft case

Hood, lens cap, and end cap

 

This lens is in great working condition.  There are some signs of wear and tear with some paint scuffs around the mount, and on the lens hood.  These are cosmetic only.

 

If you are interested in purchasing, please send me an email contact@wildelements.ca

Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L II

I am selling my very gently used Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM that I have owned since October 2017.   I am selling this lens because I have not been using it much, and recently got the EOS R with a 24-105 lens, so I think I will be using it even less.

 

Price: SOLD

 

Includes the following:
Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II USM Lens

Original box and packaging

Soft case

Hood, lens cap, and end cap

 

This lens is like new.  There are no damage to this lens, it is clean and in good working order.

 

If you are interested in purchasing, please send me an email contact@wildelements.ca.

I’ve had a random finding a couple times now while shooting with the EOS R while it’s snowing.  It seems to want to focus on the snow, or more really the snow pulls the focus away from the subject, and it has to work harder to keep focused on what I want focus on.

 

EOS R + 400 f/2.8L II @ ISO 3200

It is crazy how drastically it impacted my “hit ratio” of sharp shots when it’s snowing versus not snowing, it’s like I went from not missing a shot, to having a ratio of 50% if it started snowing.  In Yellowstone, I started making the decision to switch to the 5D Mark IV if it was snowing out.

 

I tried to switch to different AF Area modes to see whether there was a difference between single point, expanded point, etc., but I did not see an improvement, and as the point got bigger it seemed like it was jumping off the subject more, which makes sense.   Next time we get a good snowfall around here, I am going to go out with a stationary subject and see what they hit ratio is.

 

I saw that Canon is intending to put out a new firmware for the EOS R, and while the details of the update have not been disclosed I’m curious whether or not this will be addressed.

 

I’m curious how this finding will be impacted by heavy rain that sometimes occur on our coastal trips, and whether this camera will essentially be unusable in these situations. I will keep testing and playing around with it, and keep you updated on what I find.  Feel free to contact me with any questions contact@wildelements.ca.

It’s getting close to that time of year, when everyone is getting excited to book their trips for next year, so when will the 2020 trips be available, here is the latest information on what to expect:

 

Grizzly Bear Great Bear Rainforest

Grizzly in the Great Bear

1. When 2020 Photo Tours Will Be Publicly Posted.

 

Detailed descriptions of our 2020 Photo Tours will be posted on the Photo Tours page of this website in early-to-mid February (we are still working on finalizing some details on the 2020 photo tours). The minute those trips are listed on the photo tours page we will begin taking registrations for them.

 

2. Can I Reserve a Spot Ahead of Time?

Sort of. We have a Priority Booking List for EACH photo tour we offer. Think of it as a “first right of refusal” list. If you go on this list you will receive FIRST crack at getting a spot on the trip (based, of course, solely on when you went on the list). So if we have a photo tour where we can take 6 participants, the first 6 on the Priority Booking List are guaranteed of a spot if they still want it when registration opens. We do hold off on taking registrations until we know the final dates and pricing of each trip. You can find out more about the Priority Booking List for 2020 Photo Tours on our Photo Tours Page. Please note that there is NO commitment on your part in going on any Priority Booking List.

 

To help you out a little, you should know that some of our 2020 photo tours (mostly those that have been around the longest) already have very long Priority Booking Lists and the chances of getting a spot on these trips now (by going onto the Priority Booking List NOW) are low. However, a number of our newer trips have pretty short lists and if you act fast (i.e., going on the Priority Booking List for those trips now) you have a really good chance of getting a spot. So here’s a quick and dirty guideline (and just go to our Photo Tours Page if you need more info about these trips):

 

A. Photo Tours With VERY SHORT Priority Booking Lists (trips you WILL get on):

• Pacific Rim Explorer Instructional Photo Tour: Send Priority Booking List Request
• Spring in the Southern Great Bear Instructional Photo Tour: Send Priority Booking List Request

 

B. Photo Tours With MODERATE LENGTH Priority Booking Lists (trips you have a GOOD chance to get on):

• Haida Gwaii Explorer Instructional Photo Tour: Send Priority Booking List Request
• Marine Mammals of the Central Pacific Coast: Send Priority Booking List Request
• Summer in the Southern Great Bear Instructional Photo Tour: 2020 Priority Booking List Request

 

C. Photo Tours With LONG Priority Booking Lists (so in the “What the heck…you never know” category):

• Khutzeymateen 5-day Instructional Photo Tour: Send Priority Booking List Request
• Khutzeymateen 4-day Photo Op Photo Tour: Send Priority Booking List Request
• Into the Great Bear Rainforest Instructional Photo Tour: Send Priority Booking List Request
• Into the Great Bear Rainforest Photo Op Photo Tour: Send Priority Booking List Request

 

Note that we will be accepting names on any of the 2020 Priority Booking Lists up to the end of day on January 23, 2019.