I’m just arriving back from the Great Bear Rainforest trip of 2017, and it was another one to remember.

 

Carryout Dinner

We were treated to the opportunity to spend time photographing three different Spirit Bears, which is always a highlight of the trip. These bears are quite rare, and exist in only a few places along the Coast of British Columbia, so the fact that we were able to spend time (more than just a glance) with three of them is really lucky.

 

We go to the Great Bear Rainforest for more than just Spirit Bears, we also hope to see Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Humpbacks, and whatever else we come across along the way.  This is why the trip is named “Into the Great Bear Rainforest” instead of Spirit Bear Trip.

 

We had the opportunity to see a Grizzly Bear with two cubs, and quite a few Black Bears, all of which seemed to be taking advantage of the salmon (alive or dead) that were in the rivers, or that have washed up on the shore during high tide in some of the inlets.  We even saw a very unique looking Black Bear that seemed like it’s fur had a bit of white and black in it, it was a very interesting looking bear.

 

Some of the “whatever else” that we had the opportunity to photograph this year was some time spent photographing Humpback Whales (even seeing a few distant breaches), Transient Killer Whales, seeing an Elephant Seal in the distance, and a short time with Harbour Seals.   We also saw a few Bald Eagles perched in the trees,  a few Great Blue Herons, and several Pine Martens that were feeding on leftover salmon along the river.

 

This trip was like none other that I experienced in the past, and that’s why I keep going back. For the first time in the last four years I was tortured by sun, pretty much 7 full days of sunshine, with very little cloud. Which made photographing whales or bears along the water at certain times of the day very challenging. I guess all those years that I wished for a little sun while sitting in a downpour came all at once.

 

As always I was joined by an excellent group of people and welcomed by the terrific crew of the ship, these trips would never be the same without them.

 

To stay up-to-date with my latest images, including ones from this trip, visit my Recent Photos gallery.  If you would like to join us on a Great Bear Rainforest trip in the future contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

Nature’s Bridge

I’m getting excited for my fourth trip into the Great Bear Rainforest located on the coast of British Columbia.  While the Great Bear Rainforest is home to the rare, and unique, Spirit Bear, we don’t only focus on them. Instead we spend our time touring the Great Bear Rainforest for all the different species that call it home.  This includes Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Humpback Whales, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles and sometimes even Coastal Wolves if we are lucky, and of course the Spirit Bear.

 

Spirit Kermode Bear Great Bear Rainforest

Balancing on the Rocks

What I enjoy the most about this trip is the diversity of the species that we can photograph, and that we never really know what to expect.  One year can be very different from the next.

 

I am also looking forward to trying out the Canon 400 f/2.8 L IS II lens for the first time in the Great Bear Rainforest.  The f/2.8 aperture can really come in handy on some of the low light days, due to the rains and cloud cover that are common in the rainforest this time of year.

 

To see the images from past trips (which highlights the diversity of species) check out my Great Bear Rainforest Journeys Gallery.  If you would like to get your name on the list to experience this unique location for yourself, contact me, contact@wildelements.ca.

 

Stay tuned for a post trip update.

Nature’s Bridge

I’m getting excited for my fourth trip into the Great Bear Rainforest located on the coast of British Columbia.  While the Great Bear Rainforest is home to the rare, and unique, Spirit Bear, we don’t only focus on them. Instead we spend our time touring the Great Bear Rainforest for all the different species that call it home.  This includes Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Humpback Whales, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles and sometimes even Coastal Wolves if we are lucky, and of course the Spirit Bear.

 

Spirit Kermode Bear Great Bear Rainforest

Balancing on the Rocks

What I enjoy the most about this trip is the diversity of the species that we can photograph, and that we never really know what to expect.  One year can be very different from the next.

 

I am also looking forward to trying out the Canon 400 f/2.8 L IS II lens for the first time in the Great Bear Rainforest.  The f/2.8 aperture can really come in handy on some of the low light days, due to the rains and cloud cover that are common in the rainforest this time of year.

 

To see the images from past trips (which highlights the diversity of species) check out my Great Bear Rainforest Journeys Gallery.  If you would like to get your name on the list to experience this unique location for yourself, contact me, contact@wildelements.ca.

 

Stay tuned for a post trip update.

I’m just arriving back from the 2017 Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku where we spent five days along the river photographing just that (grizzlies fishing the Taku River and its tributaries).  The 2017 Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku sure stood up to its name, we had many grizzlies that were fishing (one we photographed for over an hour fishing in front of us).  This year the river was full of salmon, and unlike last year, we weren’t competing with a crazy good berry season, therefore it drove upwards of 20 different Grizzly Bears to the rivers in order to pack on the pounds with high-calorie fish.  Not only were the Grizzlies fishing, but the tended to grab the smaller Pink Salmon which they would then enjoy right in front of us (even if it took them 20 minutes, like one bear called Pablo). When they did catch a Chinook (or King) salmon they would often take it into the woods because it was like a three course meal the fish are so big, as these fish average up to 20 pounds and measure an average of 36 inches, so you can see why they would need to take it away to eat it all.

 

This year the trip was action packed, and more than just photographing the bears fishing, we started the trip off with a beautiful, almost 45 minute, ride over the mountains and large lakes to get us from Atlin, British Columbia, to the Bear Camp.  It is one of the most stunning ways to see this unique landscape. Once we arrived at camp, we started seeing bears almost right away, and the action continued for the next five days. Watching, and more importantly photographing, bears fishing adds a new dynamic to the photos of a single bear when compared to a place like the Khutzeymateen where they are feeding on Sedge Grasses and doing the occasional clam digging.  You get to watch the bears splash around in the water, or dive in from the shore, and we even watched one bear completely disappear under the water (ears and all) and snorkel to find the fish – I would show a picture but all it looks like is a splash in the water.  You also get to see the bears battling the fish, either by trying to trap them in their paws, or keep a hold of them in their mouth while the fish try like crazy to get away, and the odd bear almost seemed to like to show his conquest to the crowd before enjoying it.

 

 

In addition to bears fishing, we were fortunate enough to have several bears rub on a rub tree that was right at the Bear Camp, and so close, that it was hard to get the entire bear in the frame even shooting at 100mm (the shortest lens I could put my hands on).

There were also a couple “battles” that happened among sub-adult males trying to establish dominance, unfortunately I was at a different viewing site when this occurred so I didn’t get any photographs, but the clients that were there were extremely happy. I did watch another once at a distance of two bears sussing each other out.

 

There were also a few different moms with cubs from cubs of the year two second year cubs.  The mom with the cubs of the year was still a little bit apprehensive about bringing her cubs close-by, so we had to enjoy them at a distance, but the moms with the older cubs had no problem walking right by us with them, and fishing in front of us.  It was interesting to watch how the different moms behaved with their cubs, with one mom being very greedy with her fish and smacking her cub around when it tried to steal her fish.  Whereas another mom would catch fish and bring it back to her cub to share, and let the cub steal it away.  I am curious to know whether one upbringing will lead to more successful adult than the other.

 

We had the opportunity to also photograph animals other than bears, there were Bald Eagles, although in fewer numbers than in the previous year, but more were coming in each day.  There were other bird life such as Spotted Sandpipers, Common Mergansers, Crows, and Dippers (again in fewer numbers than previous year), and squirrels and hares hanging around the camp.  A few of us were even lucky enough to see and photograph a Pine Marten as we walked back from one of the viewing sites.  And for anyone interested in testing out their cameras AF settings, lots of Salmon jumping out of the water.  There was certainly lots to see and photograph.

 

In addition to the many photographs that we walked away with, it is a unique experience just to sit alongside the river and listen to the river flowing, and the crunching of bones when the bear started eating a fish close-by.  Unlike some other places where you can watch Grizzlies fishing, this trip is limited to 8 guests, so there are very few people that are witnessing some of the unique things that you are.  It is just so calm and peaceful.

 

To stay up-to-date as I post more images, and to view images from previous trip visit my Recent Photos gallery.

I’m just arriving back from the 2017 Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku where we spent five days along the river photographing just that (grizzlies fishing the Taku River and its tributaries).  The 2017 Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku sure stood up to its name, we had many grizzlies that were fishing (one we photographed for over an hour fishing in front of us).  This year the river was full of salmon, and unlike last year, we weren’t competing with a crazy good berry season, therefore it drove upwards of 20 different Grizzly Bears to the rivers in order to pack on the pounds with high-calorie fish.  Not only were the Grizzlies fishing, but the tended to grab the smaller Pink Salmon which they would then enjoy right in front of us (even if it took them 20 minutes, like one bear called Pablo). When they did catch a Chinook (or King) salmon they would often take it into the woods because it was like a three course meal the fish are so big, as these fish average up to 20 pounds and measure an average of 36 inches, so you can see why they would need to take it away to eat it all.

 

This year the trip was action packed, and more than just photographing the bears fishing, we started the trip off with a beautiful, almost 45 minute, ride over the mountains and large lakes to get us from Atlin, British Columbia, to the Bear Camp.  It is one of the most stunning ways to see this unique landscape. Once we arrived at camp, we started seeing bears almost right away, and the action continued for the next five days. Watching, and more importantly photographing, bears fishing adds a new dynamic to the photos of a single bear when compared to a place like the Khutzeymateen where they are feeding on Sedge Grasses and doing the occasional clam digging.  You get to watch the bears splash around in the water, or dive in from the shore, and we even watched one bear completely disappear under the water (ears and all) and snorkel to find the fish – I would show a picture but all it looks like is a splash in the water.  You also get to see the bears battling the fish, either by trying to trap them in their paws, or keep a hold of them in their mouth while the fish try like crazy to get away, and the odd bear almost seemed to like to show his conquest to the crowd before enjoying it.

 

 

In addition to bears fishing, we were fortunate enough to have several bears rub on a rub tree that was right at the Bear Camp, and so close, that it was hard to get the entire bear in the frame even shooting at 100mm (the shortest lens I could put my hands on).

There were also a couple “battles” that happened among sub-adult males trying to establish dominance, unfortunately I was at a different viewing site when this occurred so I didn’t get any photographs, but the clients that were there were extremely happy. I did watch another once at a distance of two bears sussing each other out.

 

There were also a few different moms with cubs from cubs of the year two second year cubs.  The mom with the cubs of the year was still a little bit apprehensive about bringing her cubs close-by, so we had to enjoy them at a distance, but the moms with the older cubs had no problem walking right by us with them, and fishing in front of us.  It was interesting to watch how the different moms behaved with their cubs, with one mom being very greedy with her fish and smacking her cub around when it tried to steal her fish.  Whereas another mom would catch fish and bring it back to her cub to share, and let the cub steal it away.  I am curious to know whether one upbringing will lead to more successful adult than the other.

 

We had the opportunity to also photograph animals other than bears, there were Bald Eagles, although in fewer numbers than in the previous year, but more were coming in each day.  There were other bird life such as Spotted Sandpipers, Common Mergansers, Crows, and Dippers (again in fewer numbers than previous year), and squirrels and hares hanging around the camp.  A few of us were even lucky enough to see and photograph a Pine Marten as we walked back from one of the viewing sites.  And for anyone interested in testing out their cameras AF settings, lots of Salmon jumping out of the water.  There was certainly lots to see and photograph.

 

In addition to the many photographs that we walked away with, it is a unique experience just to sit alongside the river and listen to the river flowing, and the crunching of bones when the bear started eating a fish close-by.  Unlike some other places where you can watch Grizzlies fishing, this trip is limited to 8 guests, so there are very few people that are witnessing some of the unique things that you are.  It is just so calm and peaceful.

 

To stay up-to-date as I post more images, and to view images from previous trip visit my Recent Photos gallery.

Kashmir UL

What I like:

  • Fits more like a backpack
  • Fits small body structure
  • Sleek and light
  • ICUs provide options
  • Carry everything you need
  • Comfortable for hours, even when loaded

What Can it Hold?

  • Either 400mm f/2.8 or 500mm f/4
  • 100-400mm (attached to body or not)
  • Two Pro camera bodies
  • 1.4x & 2.0x Extenders
  • Tripod plus Jobu Gimbal Head

Being a smaller female, I have always had trouble finding a camera bag that fit all my gear, plus fit my body, and didn’t make me feel like I suddenly became a turtle and acquired a shell.  When F-Stop announced that they were releasing a bag that was specifically designed for females, I was rather intrigued, and put my name on the list to get one right away.  The pack they released is called the Kashmir UL, and can hold up to a Large ICU.

 

I’ve had the bag for over a year now, and I can say that it has met, and probably even exceeded all my expectations.  To begin with it is light when it’s empty, so unlike other bags that I have tried in the past which already felt heavy, and bulky, before you added any camera gear, this isn’t the case with this Kashmir UL bag.

 

To understand one of the benefits of this bag, you have to understand how the F-Stop Gear system works.  Basically the offer a selection of bags, and then all you to buy different Internal Camera Units (ICU’s) that you can fit within the bag.  The benefit of this system is that if you are trying to lug around all your gear, as I often do, then you would go with the largest ICU for the bag, which in my case is the Large Pro ICU.  If you are going for a day of macro shooting, and packing a lunch, then you can go with a smaller ICU, and then have extra room in your bag for the extras that you will need throughout the day, and use it as more of a traditional backpack instead of a camera bag.

 

Another benefit of this ICU system, is that when you are travelling, you can remove the ICU and pack it in a carry-on roller (why f-stop doesn’t make their own is beyond me), and then your backpack folds up nicely and fits in your checked bag.  This allows you to not have to carry around your overstuffed backpack if you have multiple stops or layovers, but then when you get to the field you just have to switch it over to your backpack and it’s all ready to go.  However, if you do want to, you can carry the Kashmir onto the plane and it easily fits either under the seat in front of you, or in even the smallest of the overhead bin.

Kashmir Bag Loaded

What is always hard to tell by looking online and reading spec sheets, is what can I actually fit in this bag.  The one downside to this pack is that if I take my 500mm, or 400mm f/2.8 then I can’t have it attached to the body, so it’s not in the “ready to shoot” condition.  But otherwise I am able to fit either my 100-400 or Sigma 150-600mm attached to a body in the bag.  I can (not always easily) fit the following in the bag together:
-either the Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II or the Canon 500mm f/4L IS II not attached to a body;
-100-400mm attached to a body;
-second body;
-1.4x and 2.0x canon extenders.
-Tripod and Jobu Gimbal head
-Note, I have carried both a 1dx and 1dx mark II at the same time.

 

The other great thing about this bag is the fit.  Now I haven’t tried (other than for a few seconds) any of the other f-stop ultra light series bags (i.e. those that aren’t specifically marketed towards females), but even when this bag is loaded so full that you wonder if it’s going to burst at the seams I am still able to comfortably walk around with it for a few hours.  The waist belt, which in my opinion is one of the most important aspects of the bag, is able to tighten for my waist size (which is on the smaller size), and keeps the strain off my shoulders. So carrying everything I mentioned above and walking around for several hours, I am still able to function afterwards.

 

So in summary, here’s what I like best about the bag:
1 – fit – sleek, and doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a turtle shell
2 – ICUs – allows me to re-arrange based on the days activities, or remove for travel.
3 – Weight – UL stands for Ultra Light, and I 100% agree with that.  It is one of the lightest bags (empty) that i have tried.

 

For more information about the Kashmir UL, you can visit the F-stop website here. If you have any questions about my experiences, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

 

I have more recently purchased the F-Stop Red Bull Photography Ajna bag in order to have the ability to carry my larger prime lenses with the body attached, so stay tuned to my review of that bag.

Key Features

  • 26.2 megapixle full frame sensor
  • 45 cross-type AF Points
  • 5 AF area selection modes
  • 6.5 frames per second
  • ISO range 100-40000
  • Weather and dust sealed
  • Vari-angle LCD
  • Wifi, bluetooth, and GPS
  • $2600 CAD body only

Canon has just announced the EOS 6D Mark II, and if you have been following any of the rumor websites, this doesn’t really come as much of a surprise.  For those less familiar with the Canon camera body line-up, the 6D’s are the entry into the full-frame Canon camera bodies.

 

The original 6D was announced in 2012, and was a way for photographers to get their hands on a full-frame body without paying the prices of the 5D Mark III or the flagship 1DX.  Five years later the camera comes with quite a few improvements.

 

26.2 Megapixels
The sensor of the EOS 6D Mark II has been increased from 20.2 megapixels to 26.2 megapixels. This is quite a large improvement in megapixels for the camera.  The one concern I have about the number of pixels is that it might be a little on the high-end of pixels for hand-holding the camera in low-light (and low shutter speeds).

 

45 AF Points
The EOS 6D Mark II comes with 45 AF points, all which are cross-type AF Points.  This is a significant improvement over its predecessor which only had 11 AF points, and only the center point was a cross-type AF point.  In addition to the increased number of AF Points, the EOS 6D Mark II also comes with five available AF Area Selection Modes, as opposed to just single point that was available on the 6D.

 

The increased number of AF points, and the addition of AF Area Selection Modes should lead to improved autofocus, and also allows for a more useable range of AF points from just the center point. I think this is a huge improvement for wildlife and action shooters, because I know the 11 points (which we pretty wide spread) was a real limitation for wildlife shooters that had the 6D, and now it looks like there is more of the sensor covered by AF points.

 

6.5 Frames per Second
Canon has improved the EOS 6D Mark II to now be 6.5 frames per second, which is two frames per second faster than the 4.5 frames per second of the EOD 6D.  This is still the slowest frame rate of the full frame cameras, but slightly faster than the 5D Mark III (by half a frame).

 

Weather Sealed
The EOS 6D Mark II now comes weather and dust sealed.  For anyone that comes on any of the trips I go on, this is a very good feature. Shooting in places like the Great Bear Rainforest, not having weather sealing could lead to moisture and internal fogging in the camera, hopefully this problem will now be reduced (or eliminated).  This will also be a benefit for those shooting in dusty environments, like Africa, because it will be less prone to getting dust in the camera.

 

Other Features
The EOS 6D Mark II is the only full frame camera that comes with a vari-angle LCD which makes it easier to shoot at high and low angles (although with the high-angles might be hard to hold the camera steady, especially if hand-holding with a large lens).

 

The 6D Mark II also comes with built-in wifi, bluetooth and GPS. The only of these features that I use personally is the GPS.  However the wifi and bluetooth does allow for easy transferring to other devices and also allows for the camera to be controlled remotely with a smartphone.

 

One of the biggest complaints that I’m seeing from people online is that it doesn’t come with 4k video, given that I don’t shoot video, it’s not really a downside from my perspective.  I guess Canon is trying to ensure some features are left to the mid-level full frame of the EOS 5D Mark IV, which does have 4K video capabilities.

 

Pricing
The EOS 6D Mark II is expected to be available in Canada in early August and will be priced around $2600 CAD for the body only and $4050 for the body plus 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM.  Just for comparison the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV currently sells for around $4500, the EOS 6D Mark II offers considerable savings for those entering the full-frame market, or those that do not require all the features of the 5D Mark IV.

 

It is hard to really give an opinion on the 6D Mark II without actually shooting with it, because it is hard to judge the features based on paper without actually using them.  I do think that it is a significant improvement over its predecessor, especially for wildlife photographers, and also comes in at a nice price-point for those that want to enter the full-frame market or that are on a budget.

 

I hope to get a chance to try this camera out for myself, and will post my thoughts on it when I actually get a chance to shoot with it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, contact@wildelements.ca.  Now here’s to hoping that Canon comes out with an updated cropped sensor camera that can compete with the Nikon D500.

I am just getting home from seven awesome days in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary located on the coast of British Columbia. This pristine estuary is located on the northern coast of British Columbia, and is the only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in Canada.  Visiting a location like this, really makes you appreciate all the hard work that went into setting this land aside as a sanctuary, because it is remote, pristine, and untouched.  Because the Grizzly Bears in this area cannot be hunted, most of them tend to not mind us photographing them from the zodiac (however there were certainly exceptions).

 

On Alert

This year, I was hopeful that we would get to see some Grizzly Bear Cubs given the amount of mating we watched in 2015.  Mother Grizzly Bears tend to not bring their cubs into the estuary until they are yearlings, because there can be some big males that make their way into the estuary, and therefore a big risk to the new (and very tiny) cubs of the year.  Well, I was not disappointed, and my expectations were exceeded.  We had the opportunity to see four different moms with cubs (while one we only saw briefly). In addition to just seeing them, we got to watch, and photograph, some really neat interactions between the moms and cubs, with one cub trying to learn how to dig clams while watching his mom, and seeing the cubs snuggle up with their mom to sleep, and even had the opportunity to have one of the mothers nurse her cubs right in front of us.

 

We also got really lucky with both the number of Grizzly Bears that we saw, and also lucky with all the different aspects of the bears lives that we got to photograph.  We got them eating grass, courting and mating, interacting with cubs, swimming, digging clams, napping, jumping, and so much more.  It was like we had the opportunity to see everything that the bears do all compressed into seven days.

 

The “and more” in the title is because I expected to see Grizzly Bears, considering it is a “Grizzly Bear Sanctuary”, but I didn’t expect to see some of the other species that we saw.  Most notable of course was the wolves that we saw on both the 4 day trip and the 3 day trip, and was the longest I have ever got to spend with a wolf in the Khutzeymateen (way longer than the few seconds I saw one for last year). In addition to the wolves, over the seven days I also saw a few Black Bears, Mink, and even a Porcupine. And among some of the birds and ducks we got to see were Harlequin Ducks, Bald Eagles, and more (although the birds, especially the small ones, can be hard to photograph).

 

I walk away from the seven days with in a state of awe over how lucky we were to get some of the things that we did, and with thousands of photos to go through and edit and get to re-live the experiences through the photos.  I’m looking forward to getting the chance to visit again in the future.  I was also very lucky with the two groups of people that I got to spend the seven days with.

 

To stay up-to-date with my latest images, visit my Recent Photos gallery, and to see the images that I have taken in my previous trips to the Khutzeymateen, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery.

 

Now I have a couple months until I spend more time with Grizzly Bears on the Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku that I will visit in August.

 

Feel free to contact me, contact@wildelements.ca with any questions about this trip.

I am just getting home from seven awesome days in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary located on the coast of British Columbia. This pristine estuary is located on the northern coast of British Columbia, and is the only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in Canada.  Visiting a location like this, really makes you appreciate all the hard work that went into setting this land aside as a sanctuary, because it is remote, pristine, and untouched.  Because the Grizzly Bears in this area cannot be hunted, most of them tend to not mind us photographing them from the zodiac (however there were certainly exceptions).

 

On Alert

This year, I was hopeful that we would get to see some Grizzly Bear Cubs given the amount of mating we watched in 2015.  Mother Grizzly Bears tend to not bring their cubs into the estuary until they are yearlings, because there can be some big males that make their way into the estuary, and therefore a big risk to the new (and very tiny) cubs of the year.  Well, I was not disappointed, and my expectations were exceeded.  We had the opportunity to see four different moms with cubs (while one we only saw briefly). In addition to just seeing them, we got to watch, and photograph, some really neat interactions between the moms and cubs, with one cub trying to learn how to dig clams while watching his mom, and seeing the cubs snuggle up with their mom to sleep, and even had the opportunity to have one of the mothers nurse her cubs right in front of us.

 

We also got really lucky with both the number of Grizzly Bears that we saw, and also lucky with all the different aspects of the bears lives that we got to photograph.  We got them eating grass, courting and mating, interacting with cubs, swimming, digging clams, napping, jumping, and so much more.  It was like we had the opportunity to see everything that the bears do all compressed into seven days.

 

The “and more” in the title is because I expected to see Grizzly Bears, considering it is a “Grizzly Bear Sanctuary”, but I didn’t expect to see some of the other species that we saw.  Most notable of course was the wolves that we saw on both the 4 day trip and the 3 day trip, and was the longest I have ever got to spend with a wolf in the Khutzeymateen (way longer than the few seconds I saw one for last year). In addition to the wolves, over the seven days I also saw a few Black Bears, Mink, and even a Porcupine. And among some of the birds and ducks we got to see were Harlequin Ducks, Bald Eagles, and more (although the birds, especially the small ones, can be hard to photograph).

 

I walk away from the seven days with in a state of awe over how lucky we were to get some of the things that we did, and with thousands of photos to go through and edit and get to re-live the experiences through the photos.  I’m looking forward to getting the chance to visit again in the future.  I was also very lucky with the two groups of people that I got to spend the seven days with.

 

To stay up-to-date with my latest images, visit my Recent Photos gallery, and to see the images that I have taken in my previous trips to the Khutzeymateen, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery.

 

Now I have a couple months until I spend more time with Grizzly Bears on the Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku that I will visit in August.

 

Feel free to contact me, contact@wildelements.ca with any questions about this trip.

I’m on my way to one of the most wonderful places in Canada, the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, where I will be joining Brad Hill of Natural Art Images. This pristine estuary has provided me with some of the most memorable Grizzly Bear experiences (and photos).

 

Blowing Bubbles

Located off the Coast of British Columbia The Khutzeymateen is officially known by many different names including: Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, Khutzeymateen Inlet Conservancy, Khutzeymateen Inlet West Conservancy, or for those of us that like to use slang – the “Khutz”. The Khutzeymateen is a provincial park located off the coast of British Columbia established in 1994 and covers over 44,000 hectares of land. This park is only accessible by water, and only two operators hold permits to bring guests into the park. This makes it a very unique place to photograph Grizzly Bears, as you are one of under 200 people that get to visit the park that year. And when you are taking photographs you don’t have to worry about a dozen tour buses showing up and hundreds of people crowding in next to you.

 

Given the remoteness of the Khutzeymateen, it makes the photos that you get really unique. This year I’m hoping to focus on getting more shots of animals in their environment. The landscapes in this area are stunning, and I don’t think in the past two years I have really walked away with enough shots showing the Grizzly Bears in this pristine and beautiful area. However at the end of the day, we can only walk away with what the bears decide to give us. If they don’t want to swim, then we won’t get any swimming shots, and same goes for animalscapes.

 

Battle of the Beasts

Whatever the Grizzly Bears decide to give us, whether its swimming, walking, eating, fighting, or even mating, I’m sure that I will come away with some really great images. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to spend 7 days with two different groups of 6 other people and getting the opportunity to meet new people, and hopefully even meet some new bears. For images that I have taken over the past two years, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery . Trips for 2018 are already sold out, but if you would like to get your name on the priority booking list for 2019, please contact me contact@wildelements.ca for more information. Stay tuned to my Recent Photos and Khutzeymateen Gallery for the images and stories from my 2017 adventure.

I’m on my way to one of the most wonderful places in Canada, the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, where I will be joining Brad Hill of Natural Art Images. This pristine estuary has provided me with some of the most memorable Grizzly Bear experiences (and photos).

 

Blowing Bubbles

Located off the Coast of British Columbia The Khutzeymateen is officially known by many different names including: Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, Khutzeymateen Inlet Conservancy, Khutzeymateen Inlet West Conservancy, or for those of us that like to use slang – the “Khutz”. The Khutzeymateen is a provincial park located off the coast of British Columbia established in 1994 and covers over 44,000 hectares of land. This park is only accessible by water, and only two operators hold permits to bring guests into the park. This makes it a very unique place to photograph Grizzly Bears, as you are one of under 200 people that get to visit the park that year. And when you are taking photographs you don’t have to worry about a dozen tour buses showing up and hundreds of people crowding in next to you.

 

Given the remoteness of the Khutzeymateen, it makes the photos that you get really unique. This year I’m hoping to focus on getting more shots of animals in their environment. The landscapes in this area are stunning, and I don’t think in the past two years I have really walked away with enough shots showing the Grizzly Bears in this pristine and beautiful area. However at the end of the day, we can only walk away with what the bears decide to give us. If they don’t want to swim, then we won’t get any swimming shots, and same goes for animalscapes.

 

Battle of the Beasts

Whatever the Grizzly Bears decide to give us, whether its swimming, walking, eating, fighting, or even mating, I’m sure that I will come away with some really great images. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to spend 7 days with two different groups of 6 other people and getting the opportunity to meet new people, and hopefully even meet some new bears. For images that I have taken over the past two years, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery . Trips for 2018 are already sold out, but if you would like to get your name on the priority booking list for 2019, please contact me contact@wildelements.ca for more information. Stay tuned to my Recent Photos and Khutzeymateen Gallery for the images and stories from my 2017 adventure.

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In Part 2 I discussed the two “single points” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point as I call it). For this post I’m going to go into the “Expansion Points” AF Area Modes, which includes the “AF Point Expansion” and “AF Point Expansion Surrounding Points” (don’t those names just flow of the tongue, haha).
AF Point Expansion ( I call this the diamond or expanded point)

 

This is a diamond shaped AF Area Mode that moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and also the points on the top, bottom, right, and left. The focus will be prioritized to the centre point, with the surrounding points providing focus assistance. These points will move over the entire array as a group. Just one thing to note that focus being prioritized to the center point is different from some of the other AF Area Modes (and different from similar Nikon AF Area Modes), which will put priority on the closest object, instead of the object that is in the center point.

Focused

 

The diamond provides a larger area for focusing with and would be used in the following scenarios

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but not too sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

The downside to the diamond compared to the single point options is that because it is larger, it is less precise, and therefore focus may not always be exactly where you want it. For example if you have a very tiny subject in an animalscape the autofocus might be on the incorrect spot.

 

I tend to use this AF Area Mode as a starting point for some of my custom settings. Not only is it in the middle of the points that I would use (so easy to adjust up or down), but I find it provides enough precision, but is not too precise that it is a good default point. This is a safe starting point because it typically doesn’t go awry, and then I can adjust the AF Area mode depending on how the situation plays out.

 

I used the diamond AF Area mode when shooting this wolf because the wolf was moving around quite a bit, and therefore I wanted to make sure that I didn’t suddenly focus on the tip of his nose, or the back of his head/body. The reason I didn’t use a bigger point such as the square, or one of the automatic points, is that I still wanted to have enough control to make sure the correct parts of the head were in focus.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

AF point expansion Surrounding Points (I refer to this as the square)
This point is very similar to the AF point expansion (diamond) described above, with the only difference is that it’s a complete square instead of a diamond.

 

This is a square shaped AF Area Mode, moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and all the points surrounding it for 9 points in total. This point will prioritize focus to the center point, and then receive assistance from the surrounding points.

Breathtaking Breach

 

The square provides a larger area for you to focus than the single points, or the diamond, and I tend to use it in situations similar to described above for the diamond.

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but nor sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-A bird in flight, especially one with a bit of an unpredictable flight pattern.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

One down side to this AF Area Mode is that it is a bit on the bigger side, for my liking, so I find it can be a bit hard to have precise control over.

 

I will tend to use the square over the diamond when there is a bit more unpredictability in the subject (moving around a lot, or birds in flight) because it has more supporting points that will take over the autofocus if I slip off the center AF point.

 

The image of the Humpback Whale breaching, I actually decided to use the square, because there was a lot of unpredictability on where the Humpback Whale was going to come out of the water, and how it would move once it did come out of the water. Therefore I wanted to give myself some more support with the surrounding points. If I had used the diamond I might have lost the focus a lot easier, or not acquired initial autofocus as quickly. I will discuss in the next set of blog posts why I didn’t use one of the zones.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca, if you have further questions on the expanded points AF Area modes, or with any other questions. Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the zones, and automatic area modes, and when they can work for wildlife (and why I don’t often use them).

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In Part 2 I discussed the two “single points” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point as I call it). For this post I’m going to go into the “Expansion Points” AF Area Modes, which includes the “AF Point Expansion” and “AF Point Expansion Surrounding Points” (don’t those names just flow of the tongue, haha).
AF Point Expansion ( I call this the diamond or expanded point)

 

This is a diamond shaped AF Area Mode that moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and also the points on the top, bottom, right, and left. The focus will be prioritized to the centre point, with the surrounding points providing focus assistance. These points will move over the entire array as a group. Just one thing to note that focus being prioritized to the center point is different from some of the other AF Area Modes (and different from similar Nikon AF Area Modes), which will put priority on the closest object, instead of the object that is in the center point.

Focused

 

The diamond provides a larger area for focusing with and would be used in the following scenarios

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but not too sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

The downside to the diamond compared to the single point options is that because it is larger, it is less precise, and therefore focus may not always be exactly where you want it. For example if you have a very tiny subject in an animalscape the autofocus might be on the incorrect spot.

 

I tend to use this AF Area Mode as a starting point for some of my custom settings. Not only is it in the middle of the points that I would use (so easy to adjust up or down), but I find it provides enough precision, but is not too precise that it is a good default point. This is a safe starting point because it typically doesn’t go awry, and then I can adjust the AF Area mode depending on how the situation plays out.

 

I used the diamond AF Area mode when shooting this wolf because the wolf was moving around quite a bit, and therefore I wanted to make sure that I didn’t suddenly focus on the tip of his nose, or the back of his head/body. The reason I didn’t use a bigger point such as the square, or one of the automatic points, is that I still wanted to have enough control to make sure the correct parts of the head were in focus.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

AF point expansion Surrounding Points (I refer to this as the square)
This point is very similar to the AF point expansion (diamond) described above, with the only difference is that it’s a complete square instead of a diamond.

 

This is a square shaped AF Area Mode, moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and all the points surrounding it for 9 points in total. This point will prioritize focus to the center point, and then receive assistance from the surrounding points.

Breathtaking Breach

 

The square provides a larger area for you to focus than the single points, or the diamond, and I tend to use it in situations similar to described above for the diamond.

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but nor sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-A bird in flight, especially one with a bit of an unpredictable flight pattern.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

One down side to this AF Area Mode is that it is a bit on the bigger side, for my liking, so I find it can be a bit hard to have precise control over.

 

I will tend to use the square over the diamond when there is a bit more unpredictability in the subject (moving around a lot, or birds in flight) because it has more supporting points that will take over the autofocus if I slip off the center AF point.

 

The image of the Humpback Whale breaching, I actually decided to use the square, because there was a lot of unpredictability on where the Humpback Whale was going to come out of the water, and how it would move once it did come out of the water. Therefore I wanted to give myself some more support with the surrounding points. If I had used the diamond I might have lost the focus a lot easier, or not acquired initial autofocus as quickly. I will discuss in the next set of blog posts why I didn’t use one of the zones.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca, if you have further questions on the expanded points AF Area modes, or with any other questions. Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the zones, and automatic area modes, and when they can work for wildlife (and why I don’t often use them).

Great Gray Owl looking Statuesque

Statuesque

I am selling my used Canon 7D Mark II with Grip. I have had this camera for 2 years, and I am selling it because I have two other camera bodies and this one isn’t being used as often. I am asking $1200 CAD, not including shipping.

 

This includes the following:
Camera EOS 7D Mark II Body in original box
Canon battery
Battery Grip Canon BG-E16

 

This camera body is in like new working order, and the body itself is in okay condition with some scratches on the LCD screen which are more noticeable when not using the LCD (pictures of the scratches are available).

 

This camera was used for a number of the images on my website including, Statuesque and Tell Me About It.

 

The shutter count of this camera is just under 25,000 shots.

 

For more information contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In this blog post I’m going to discuss the two “single point” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point).

 

Single-point Spot AF (I call this “spot” or “pinpoint”)

 

This is the smallest focusing point available. You would use this point when you want focusing to be very precise, as focusing will be done on the very small little square within the bigger square. I find myself using this point in the following situations:

 

–  When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
–  When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
–  If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
–  When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Tree Swallow on barbed wire

Balancing on Barbed Wire

One of the main downsides to using spot is that if you are hand-holding, like I often do, it can be quite easy to slip off the point, because the point is so fine and precise. It is often not the best AF point on a subject that is moving, especially moving fast, because you increase the changes of slipping off the subject and blowing the focus of the entire image. Therefore using this point is more effective when using a tripod on a subject that isn’t moving (or not moving quickly).

 

I used the spot AF to focus on the Tree Swallow in Balancing on Barbed Wire. I actually started with zone AF when shooting this guy, but then when he landed on the barbed wire and looked like it was going to stay still, I switched to the spot. The reason I did this is because the bird is so small I wanted focus to be on the head/eye and not on its shoulder/wing, especially because I was shooting this wide-open at f/5.6 (Canon 500 f/4 + 1.4x extender). Since the eye is drawn to the sharp part of an image, I wanted to make sure that was the eye of the bird. This image was a combination of using a small point because of the size of the subject, and therefore needed precision, and using a large aperture. In this particular image, if I had even switched and using Single-Point, it could have made a difference and picked up the shoulder of the Tree Swallow.

 

Single-point AF (referred to as “single-point” throughout the rest of this post):


This AF point is slightly larger than the pinpoint above (Single-Point Spot AF as it is called in the Canon manual), and focusing is done on the entire square as shown in the image above. Because this point is similar to the pinpoint, just larger, I would use this in similar scenarios to the pinpoint:

– When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
– When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
– If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
– When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Sleepy Head

Similar to pinpoint, a downside to using single-point is when you are hand-holding the camera, you have a higher risk of losing focus if you slip off the subject. Therefore, again, it is often a point that would be more effective when used with a tripod, and on a subject with either little, or predictable, movement.

 

For the image of the Grizzly Bear that I titled “Sleepy Head” I used the single-point AF point, because given how zoomed in the shot was it was critical that I got the focus point right so that you can see the dimples in the nose and still have the eye in focus, so therefore I used this point and had it about half-way up the snout of the Grizzly Bear.

 

With the two points being quite similar just varying slightly in size, the question is what one to choose and when. Well that’s simple, “it depends”. I find that I will often go with the pinpoint when the subject is really small, or when there are a number of things that grab focus (like grass in front of a bear). I will go with the single point when the subject is slightly larger, or if the point being slightly larger won’t really matter.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca if you have further questions on the single point options.  Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the expansion points.

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In this blog post I’m going to discuss the two “single point” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point).

 

Single-point Spot AF (I call this “spot” or “pinpoint”)

This is the smallest focusing point available. You would use this point when you want focusing to be very precise, as focusing will be done on the very small little square within the bigger square. I find myself using this point in the following situations:

 

–  When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
–  When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
–  If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
–  When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Tree Swallow on barbed wire

Balancing on Barbed Wire

One of the main downsides to using spot is that if you are hand-holding, like I often do, it can be quite easy to slip off the point, because the point is so fine and precise. It is often not the best AF point on a subject that is moving, especially moving fast, because you increase the changes of slipping off the subject and blowing the focus of the entire image. Therefore using this point is more effective when using a tripod on a subject that isn’t moving (or not moving quickly).

 

I used the spot AF to focus on the Tree Swallow in Balancing on Barbed Wire. I actually started with zone AF when shooting this guy, but then when he landed on the barbed wire and looked like it was going to stay still, I switched to the spot. The reason I did this is because the bird is so small I wanted focus to be on the head/eye and not on its shoulder/wing, especially because I was shooting this wide-open at f/5.6 (Canon 500 f/4 + 1.4x extender). Since the eye is drawn to the sharp part of an image, I wanted to make sure that was the eye of the bird. This image was a combination of using a small point because of the size of the subject, and therefore needed precision, and using a large aperture. In this particular image, if I had even switched and using Single-Point, it could have made a difference and picked up the shoulder of the Tree Swallow.

 

Single-point AF (referred to as “single-point” throughout the rest of this post):


This AF point is slightly larger than the pinpoint above (Single-Point Spot AF as it is called in the Canon manual), and focusing is done on the entire square as shown in the image above. Because this point is similar to the pinpoint, just larger, I would use this in similar scenarios to the pinpoint:

– When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
– When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
– If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
– When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Sleepy Head

Similar to pinpoint, a downside to using single-point is when you are hand-holding the camera, you have a higher risk of losing focus if you slip off the subject. Therefore, again, it is often a point that would be more effective when used with a tripod, and on a subject with either little, or predictable, movement.

 

For the image of the Grizzly Bear that I titled “Sleepy Head” I used the single-point AF point, because given how zoomed in the shot was it was critical that I got the focus point right so that you can see the dimples in the nose and still have the eye in focus, so therefore I used this point and had it about half-way up the snout of the Grizzly Bear.

 

With the two points being quite similar just varying slightly in size, the question is what one to choose and when. Well that’s simple, “it depends”. I find that I will often go with the pinpoint when the subject is really small, or when there are a number of things that grab focus (like grass in front of a bear). I will go with the single point when the subject is slightly larger, or if the point being slightly larger won’t really matter.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca if you have further questions on the single point options.  Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the expansion points.