Category Archives: Wildlife

“Shoreline Leopard Frog”

“Seemingly out of place, on a wide gravel beach, the frog makes its way over the polished stones to the refreshing waters of the lake.” – Ed Lehming

On a recent trip to Ontario’s Prince Edward County, we spent some time on a quiet gravel beach. The beach was made of heavily polished limestone pieces deposited by the churning waters of Lake Ontario. These stones where all flat and smooth and extended inland some ten meters from the shore. The beach ended an an elevated shoreline of course limestone, sand, grasses, and scrubby trees.

It’s been an extremely hot and dry summer in this region, so I was surprised as a leopard frog emerged from the dry grass behind where I was sitting and began making its way to the water’s edge. It made sense that the frog would want the water, but it’s a fairly long and highly exposed route to take.

This particular frog did not seem to mind me blocking his way for a few minutes to get a photo while others on the same journey were pretty skittish. A few moments after making this image I started along the lakeshore and noticed many other frogs in the water and along the beach, also refreshing themselves. As I continued on my way, I saw a stick laying on the gravel. As I stepped towards it the ‘stick’ moved, as it turned out to be a rather large Garter Snake. This snake was not alone and there were many other snakes doing the same thing; hoping to intercept a frog on it’s way to or from the shore.

While I did not see any snakes who had successfully caught a frog, I’m sure it’s not an uncommon occurrence and there is absolutely no shelter for the frogs to escape from, they would have to rely completely on speed and stealth to survive the journey to and from the water.

“Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker”

“Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker”

“After years of honing my skills as a photographer, the phrase “Timing is Everything” still holds true.” – Ed Lehming

Over the years I have deliberately practiced preparedness. I’ve gotten familiar with my cameras and lenses. I know what each can and can’t do effectively and I have learned through many failures how to shoot in different lighting conditions, and in all sorts of weather. Why? Because unpreparedness is how once ina lifetime phots are lost.

While the photo I chose for today is not a once in a lifetime shot, it’s still very pleasing and I would not have been able to make it had I not been prepared and aware of my setup’s limitations.

I’m not generally a wildlife photographer and I don’t spend hours in wait for some of the fantastic shots made by my fellow photographers who specialize in this genre of photography have produced. I’m more of an opportunist; I like to capture the experiences that I have while out hiking or traveling. This also means I have to be ready for anything that presents itself, in this case, a beautiful woodpecker.

I had just about concluded my 6.5 km hike through Uxbridge Ontario’s, North Walker Woods, documenting the early spring blooms. I paused along the trail, satisfied with my collection of photos, took a drink of water from my water bottle, and slid my camera back into my pack, ready to hike out to the trailhead. The moment I took a step forward I heard the sound of a woodpecker calling close by. As I turned around, I saw this Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker in a tree mere meters from me and only a few meters up the trunk, a rare occurrence. I moved slowly to get my camera out of my bag. Since I was out to shoot wildflowers, the lens was my 90mm macro lens. The nice thing with this lens is that at 90mm it does offer me some level of zoom and has an extraordinarily quick focus. Not the ideal lens for this situation, but it made the shot possible. After a few quick setting changes, I was ready to shoot.

This all took about 15 seconds and serves as an example of understanding your gear and how to react when an opportunity presents itself. In the end, I was able to get about five good shots before the woodpecker noticed me and took off. Do I wish I had my 70-200mm with me? Sure, I could have had an even better shot, but you have to work with what you have and I’m pleased with the outcome.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“The One That Got Away”

“The One That Got Away”

“As I stepped over the slippery rock, making sure of my footing, the Heron launched itself into the sky from it’s shoreline perch, fading quickly across the lake.”
– Ed Lehming

This is why a chose landscape and botanical photography as my go-to. I have, on the rare occasion made a good wildlife photo. Those photos are more the result of being in the right place at the right time when an opportunity presents itself. Most often, the wildlife is fleeing or gone already.

I have a special respect for the work that goes into being a successful and consistent wildlife photographer. It involves days of preparation, scouting, and immeasurable patience and practice to get the shot that presents the wildlife correctly in its natural environment.

As my past few posts have indicated, I was actually on my way to photograph Burleigh Falls. On my way I encountered wonderful plants, a chipmunk, and almost two herons. Both herons surprised me, as I was not expecting them along the edge of this fast flowing waterfall. I’m used to herons along the calm shores of lakes and ponds. I actually startled them both, because the rush of the water masked the sound and movement of my approach. In fact, they started me as they launched themselves into the air to escape.

This is the better shot of the two, as I was able to quickly focus on the heron as it faded away. The other shot was out of focus. The other factor here was I has only carrying  my 90mm macro lens, which is great for flowers but a bit more challenging for wildlife o the move.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“My Safe Place”

“My Safe Place”

“Our eyes are drawn to things, often not knowing the specifics. Trust your instinct and study what they are trying to show you.”
– Ed Lehming

There have been countless times where I have been drawn to a composition; some seemingly random object or scene, not knowing at the time why I was moved to photograph it. Then, on reviewing the image during my editing process some marvelous detail reveals itself.

It’s those times that I am so grateful for this ability to ‘see’ unseen things in my photography and somewhat saddened that I have ignored it for many years. It seems to be an intuitive thing and I wonder if only some of us have it? People tell me I have an ‘eye’ for composition and I know it’s not something I have learned, it’s always been there. I suppose I have refined it through repetition and experience but it still surprises me. I also wonder what life would be like if I could not filter it. Would I spend my days staring in amazement at everything I behold?

Then, there are times like this. While making photos of a waterfall recently,  I noticed a chipmunk sitting on a rock. I don’t normally make images of chipmunks, as I’m not big on ‘cute’ images. However, I stopped to make a few images of this fellow as he cleaned himself atop the rock. He did not even seem to mind me as I approached him for a closer shot.

As a processed the photos I had to laugh. The chipmunk is perfectly safe where he is and knew I would not approach much closer, as he is completely surrounded by a healthy patch of poison ivy. I would have noticed if I had gotten closer, but from my vantage point and focusing on the chipmunk, I had not noticed it.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“Above It All”

“Above It All”

“High above, the raven skims the treetops, gliding silently on wings of dark silk”
– Ed Lehming

After some time in the woods of Secord Forest, a local conservation area, I emerged into the brightness of an overcast sky and watched two ravens circling above me. After awhile they both perched at the top of trees near the forest edge and began ‘talking’ to each other.

Those familiar with ravens will know the broad variety of sounds these interesting birds can make. That is to say, they were not simply ‘cawing’ but were involved in a complex exchange of sounds high above. It almost seemed they were having a conversation about what lay beneath them. I’m not sure if they saw me, as I stood at the forest edge, obscured by low branches.

I watched them and listened for some time, simply enjoying the experience and decided that the raven on the closest treetop would make an interesting photo. The light made the shot feel a bit lackluster, since it was so flat and dull but I proceeded to compose the image anyways.

The first few shots I made were “OK” but not quite what I had envisioned. This soon changed as the one raven took off and the other stirred as well, about to follow the first one. It took this opportunity to compose a shot, anticipating the take-off and managed to snap the shutter at just the right moment in flight to show it with wings fully extended.

This image may appear to be black and white, but it’s full colour, simply the result of the lighting conditions and the stark contrast between the black bird and the bright sky.

What made this even more challenging was the fact that I had gone to the forest to get some close ups of the spring flowers, so only had my 90mm macro lense with me to make this image and my camera was still set at a fairly high ISO for lower light. It all worked out alright, I think.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/2000 sec, f/10.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“Rusty Shores”


“Beneath the rust and grime which dulls the shine of our weathered hearts, joy patiently waits to be rediscovered” 
― John Mark Green

For my photography, image titles often come quite easily. As I venture into the world of acrylic painting, I’m finding that that’s not the case. Perhaps it’s the extended creation process, where I am spending a longer period of time creating the art itself?

Photos come naturally to me. I see a scene before me that is interesting, compose the image, set lighting, exposure and depth of field, and voila! I have a photo that I am generally pleased with.

The same holds true with painting. There is a lot of thought that goes into the process that I had not considered until I started painting a few short years ago and I have not been doing much lately. But now, I have taken a course and understand that the creative process is very similar and all the elements that make a good photo also hold true for painting.

I’ve always enjoyed impressionist paintings and have striven for that same feel with my photos. Now, I’m trying to merge the two, simply to stay creative, especially in winter months where outdoor activity can be quite limited. So, I’ve pushed myself a bit, trying to add some texture to my work by doing an entire painting with a palette knife, way out of my comfort zone, but so very satisfying.

Once again, I remind myself this is my photo blog, but I think that painting is helping me in my creative process for photography and this is, after all, a photo of a painting.

Iceland Journal – “Clear the Way!” – West Iceland

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
― Erol Ozan

This, our sixth day of travel, did not leave us lost, as the quote may imply, but it did send us down some ‘interesting’ paths.

As I noted in previous posts, there are roads which enter Iceland’s mountainous and rugged interior known as “F” roads, which we were prohibited from driving on with our rental vehicle, despite studded tires and four-wheel drive. As Iceland approaches late autumn, these roads can quickly turn treacherous and they are very remote, so emergency assistance would be very expensive, if even available.

As we mapped out our path from Svínavatn to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we noticed that travelling the Ring Road would have taken us further south than we wanted, meaning extra distance and time lost driving. We were directed by locals to take a ‘shortcut’ cross-country from Staðarskáli to the town of Buðardalur, at the base of the West Fjords. It turned out that the ‘shortcut’ was an “F” road, so we sought other passages. It turns out that just north of the “F” road is an ‘official’ road, in the form of Highway 59, which parallels the “F” road. I’m really not sure how much better than the “F” road this highway was, since it was roughly thirty kilometers of black, icy, and potholed track through some of the most desolate landscape we had seen yet. I think we drove nearly twenty kilometers without seeing a single building. Barren grassland and low hills reaching to the horizon.

What we did see lots of was sheep. Despite the barren, windswept landscape, sheep were everywhere. That was true, not just here, but throughout Iceland. There are just over three hundred thousand people in Iceland, and at last count, there were over eight hundred thousand sheep. They are everywhere, in open fields, on high mountain sides, in the tortured and twisted lava fields, and often, on the road. Yes, there are fences aplenty, but the sheep seem to find their way over, around, and under the fences, often grazing right next to the road, or like here, on the road. So you have to be ever vigilant while driving.

This troupe was very cooperative, except for a few stragglers, who hurried to catch up with the rest of the flock, who were waiting patiently on the far side of the bridge. I just had to stop to take a picture, since this captured yet another aspect of our drive.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/125 sec, f/35.6 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Icelandic Horse” – Lagarfljót, East Iceland

“Icelandic Horse” - Lagarfjót, East Iceland

“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.” 
― Gerald Raftery

Today’s image is a bit of a break from mountains, waterfalls and fjords, though I saw plenty along the way to this location, near the town of Egilsstaðir in Eastern Iceland. Unlike my previous photos, which featured primarily the coastal region, this image was made inland on a long lake named Lagarfljót.

My son and I had spent the day travelling and photographing the East fjords and our evening stops was Egilsstaðir. We had made good time and got to this are a bit ahead of schedule, so decided to travel around the lake. The long valley which contains Lagarfljót surprised us, since it is filled with trees; something we had not expected in Iceland, especially not in abundance, as was the case here. The trees are an Icelandic Birch, which is quite stunted and dense, more of a tall bush really.

Further along the shore, we came across a small herd of Icelandic horses, close enough to the road that we could get some good photos. Like the birches, the Icelandic horses have adapted to their environment and are quite short and furry, making them better suited to the rough terrain and cool, wet weather. By short, I mean they are about the size of ponies, standing at only 13 to 14 hands or 132 to 142 centimeters high . They are also an old breed, having been imported to the island in the 9th and 10th century. They are also the only breed of horse in Iceland, since the import of horse is forbidden. They also have very few diseases.

They come in all colours but I chose this gray one to photograph, primarily because I liked the colours and texture of her mane. She posed for me quite calmly, allowing me to get a shot with the lake in the background.

We saw many of these horses, throughout the county but few were close enough to photograph well. So I am glad to have had this opportunity.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 165 mm
1/160 sec, f/4.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“Wood Nymph”

“Wood Nymph”

“Sometimes you just had to crawl through the dark before
you could see the light.” 
― E.L. Montes

Butterflies can be a challenge to photograph. They are quite shy and their irregular flight makes them tough to track. But, it’s that irregular movement that makes me notice them.

This wood nymph first appeared in my peripheral vision and floated around me for some time before finally landing, far away from me and in the darker recesses of forest along the trail.

Over time, I got closer, and it flew away, always staying out of range for me. After some time of pursuing it, the butterfly finally landed close enough for me to approach it, slowly, with my macro lens. I was more concerned with capturing an image than fiddling with aperture settings, so depth of field is a tad shallow for my liking. Nonetheless, I was able to get a decent image of it, as it sat near its dark retreat, staring at me. As soon as I snapped the shot, it was off again.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“That Icy Stare”

“That Icy Stare”

“I hate and fear snakes, because if you look into the eyes of any snake you will see that it knows all and more of the mystery of man’s fall, and that it feels all the contempt that the Devil felt when Adam was evicted from Eden. 
― Rudyard Kipling

Unlike Kipling, I have a strange yet respectful fascination with the snakes I encounter on my many hikes. None of the snakes in my area are poisonous, though they will bite when bothered. There is something about the eyes of a snake. They are so focussed, unblinking, and cold. Truly a predator

This particular snake, found on the trail at Secord Forest, where I hike quite frequently, is a common Garter Snake and was on the path sunning itself when I heard it move as I crested a ridge and the snake remained on the path as I approached, affording me a great opportunity to make a few photos.

For this particular image I had to lay down on the ground and get quite close. I expect the movement made the snake rear up for a look, which made for this lovely shot. It took a few attempts to get the tongue flitting out, but was worth the wait.

It’s hard to believe, but just last week I encountered two Garter Snakes basking in the sun right next to ice patches, which are now merely a memory, but they slipped off before I could get a good shot.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm

1/160 sec, f/8.0, ISO 500 

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)