If you are noticing the lack of action and new photos being posted on my website, and social media, it is because I’m currently on a trip exploring Gwaii Haanas in British Columbia.

 

Huh! What’s Gwaii Haanas? It’s a National Park Reserve and Marine Conservation Area off the coast of British Columbia and protects an archipelago of 138 islands. We are there searching for marine mammals, landscapes, and intertidal photography, in addition to some of the rich cultural history of this area.  This is our first time offering photo tours in the area, so I’m excited to see this new part of the coast.

 

More about Gwaii Haanas can be found on Wikipedia.

 

We have a few spaces available to join us in 2020 when we explore the west side of  Haida Gwaii, more information can be found on my photo tours page, or contact me for more details.

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.

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.

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.

I got back from the Great Bear Rainforest just under a week ago and I am still fully digesting the trip, and going through the many, many, photos.  Receiving my Canon EOS R as soon as I got back has somewhat thrown a wrench into my time behind the computer…but more about that later.

 

One of the reasons that I continue to love going back to the Great Bear Rainforest, is that you never know what to expect, and honestly each year is really different.

This year some of the salmon streams in the Great Bear Rainforest were impacted by lower than usual number of salmon.  This was not just caused by a lower number of fish in the salmon run, but also due to the fact that they have had very little rain to fill the streams so that the salmon can get up them.  I think it had almost been one month without any rainfall on one particular place that we visited, according to the First Nation Guide.  Therefore it seemed like this year we had to work a little harder to see the wildlife and to photograph it.

 

We were treated to a wide variety of wildlife, from Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, a Spirit Bear, Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles, Mink, River Otters, Harbor Seals and even saw TWO Sea Otters.  Some of the highlights of the trip were when we waited along a river for quite some time without really seeing anything, and then just before we were about to leave a Spirit Bear appeared…this is a good reminder of why you should “tough it out”.

 

We also had the opportunity to spend over 45 minutes watching two young grizzlies, which we assumed were siblings, wrestling in the water.  We actually left them and they were still going at it.  We went to “check out” a bay to see if there was any activity, and there were over 18 Bald Eagles in the water itself, with a bunch more white heads dotting the trees next to the bay.  And then when we went in the zodiac to check it out, we spotted a Grizzly along the shore.

 

Finally, we topped the trip off by seeing two sea otters.  It was awesome because one was really quite far north, and further north than the skipper had ever seen.  The second one was super accommodating and provided us ample opportunity to get some really great images while she cleaned her fur.

 

We came away with some really unique experiences and I am already looking forward to going back again next year.

 

Stay tuned to my Recent Photos for new photos as I have time to edit them.  And also stay tuned to my blog for my thoughts on my new EOS R.

 

Our 2020 trip dates will be released a the beginning of next year, if you would like to get your name on the priority booking list, contact me at contact@wildelements.ca for more information.

I have escaped the snow of Calgary and I am just getting ready to head back into the Great Bear Rainforest for my 5th year in a row, and to say I am excited is an understatement.

 

Under Cover

For this version of the instructional photo tour we will be taking a different route than usual, and starting in Kitimat and ending in Bella Bella.  This is a route that I have not done since 2014 (my first trip).  I am looking forward to the opportunity to seeing some areas that I have not been to in a several years, and also looking forward to checking out some of the “usual” spots.

 

And there is a reason that we do not call this trip the Spirit Bear trip, because the trip is about so much more, and encompasses all the wildlife and scenery that the Great Bear Rainforest has to offer.  Under Cover was photographed during my trip in 2017, and was taken as a Spirit Bear woke up from a nap in the woods and came back out to the water to eat some fish.  For more of the images that I have captured on my Great Bear Rainforest trips, visit the Great Bear Rainforest Gallery.

 

If you are interested in signing up for one of our future Great Bear Rainforest trips, visit my Photo Tours page for more information.  Or feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca for more information.

 

I am looking forward to coming back and sharing the details of the experience and some images!

I have escaped the snow of Calgary and I am just getting ready to head back into the Great Bear Rainforest for my 5th year in a row, and to say I am excited is an understatement.

 

Under Cover

For this version of the instructional photo tour we will be taking a different route than usual, and starting in Kitimat and ending in Bella Bella.  This is a route that I have not done since 2014 (my first trip).  I am looking forward to the opportunity to seeing some areas that I have not been to in a several years, and also looking forward to checking out some of the “usual” spots.

 

And there is a reason that we do not call this trip the Spirit Bear trip, because the trip is about so much more, and encompasses all the wildlife and scenery that the Great Bear Rainforest has to offer.  Under Cover was photographed during my trip in 2017, and was taken as a Spirit Bear woke up from a nap in the woods and came back out to the water to eat some fish.  For more of the images that I have captured on my Great Bear Rainforest trips, visit the Great Bear Rainforest Gallery.

 

If you are interested in signing up for one of our future Great Bear Rainforest trips, visit my Photo Tours page for more information.  Or feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca for more information.

 

I am looking forward to coming back and sharing the details of the experience and some images!

The first week of August we had the opportunity to spend a week on a sailboat exploring the coast of British Columbia from the Johnstone Strait to the Northern tip of Vancouver Island. What I enjoy about this trip is that each section of the ocean we explore seems to bring a different photographic opportunity, and we never knew what to expect.


This is the third time I have been on this trip, and this year it provided many different highlights than the previous two trips.

 

Of course a staple of visiting this area, is the opportunity to photograph the Orcas (both resident and transients) that travel these waters.  We had a few days where we were able to photograph them, with the highlight being when there was a triple breach of three different orcas in succession.  But besides the photographs it is always just amazing to be around such magnificent creatures (and ones that I don’t have the chance to see everyday living in Alberta).

 

 

Pigging Out

Another highlights of the trip were the Sea Otters.  Not only are Sea Otters adorable, but this year they provided us with a great deal of variety in the photographic opportunities.  We were able to capture them wrapped in kelp, moms with pups, gathering and eating sea urchins, and even a brief attempt at mating.  It doesn’t matter how many times I see Sea Otters, they still give me the “awww” factor, and I get bored.

 

We also had a great time attempting to photograph both Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, and Dall’s Porpoises as they rode the bow of the sailboat, it is incredible how fast they are able to move.

 

In addition to the above we also had many Sea Lions, Humpback Whales, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, and Black Oystercatchers.

 

There was certainly no shortage of wildlife variety on this trip, and there was hardly a dull moment.  This trip continues to rank up there with one of my favourite trips that we offer.

 

There are still two spots available next year, and a priority booking list for 2020. Feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca for more information about this trip.

The first week of August we had the opportunity to spend a week on a sailboat exploring the coast of British Columbia from the Johnstone Strait to the Northern tip of Vancouver Island. What I enjoy about this trip is that each section of the ocean we explore seems to bring a different photographic opportunity, and we never knew what to expect.


This is the third time I have been on this trip, and this year it provided many different highlights than the previous two trips.

 

Of course a staple of visiting this area, is the opportunity to photograph the Orcas (both resident and transients) that travel these waters.  We had a few days where we were able to photograph them, with the highlight being when there was a triple breach of three different orcas in succession.  But besides the photographs it is always just amazing to be around such magnificent creatures (and ones that I don’t have the chance to see everyday living in Alberta).

 

 

Pigging Out

Another highlights of the trip were the Sea Otters.  Not only are Sea Otters adorable, but this year they provided us with a great deal of variety in the photographic opportunities.  We were able to capture them wrapped in kelp, moms with pups, gathering and eating sea urchins, and even a brief attempt at mating.  It doesn’t matter how many times I see Sea Otters, they still give me the “awww” factor, and I get bored.

 

We also had a great time attempting to photograph both Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, and Dall’s Porpoises as they rode the bow of the sailboat, it is incredible how fast they are able to move.

 

In addition to the above we also had many Sea Lions, Humpback Whales, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, and Black Oystercatchers.

 

There was certainly no shortage of wildlife variety on this trip, and there was hardly a dull moment.  This trip continues to rank up there with one of my favourite trips that we offer.

 

There are still two spots available next year, and a priority booking list for 2020. Feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca for more information about this trip.

Death Grip

 

Due to a cancellation, there is now one spot available on the 2018 Into the Great Bear Rainforest trip.  More information is available on my photo tours page.

 

There are also two spots available on the 2019 trip as well, more information is available here.

 

As always, feel free to contact me for more information, contact@wildelements.ca.

 

PS – I promise we only serve fresh fish on the boat, unlike the one being carried by this Spirit Bear.

Loving Life

Our 2019 Photo Tours are now available for public consumption.  In 2019 we have some new and exciting trips focused on the coast of British Columbia.

 

All trips can be found on my Photo Tours page.

 

As you will notice a number of trips are already sold-out, this is the result of people who were on the “Priority Booking” list for these trips, and received the first right of refusal to sign-up for the trips.  If you would like to be added to the Priority Booking list for 2020, or if you would like to be placed on a cancellation list for an already sold-out trip, please contact me at seminars@wildelements.ca.

 

These spots probably won’t last long, so contact me at seminars@wildelements.ca if you are interested in getting more information or if you are interest in signing up.  Sign up now and you will be Loving Life like this Sea Otter.