2018 Year in Review ...

The Year in Review blog posts are one of my favorite posts to write since it gives me a chance to sit back and look at all the wonderful encounters Mother Nature has provided me. It gives me a chance to see areas I might have improved on and also what plans I should be making for the year to come. It is always a difficult task to narrow down 10 favorite images from the year so typically I base them not only on image quality but also the experience, since our main goal should be the experience and not about capturing a great image.

What a year 2018 has been and to be honest it didn’t start off all that great. Only 3 months into the New Year my Fiancees Nikon D610 died and a few weeks later so did mine. Actually one of them died right before my daughters 6th Birthday. We made a bold decision and decided to dive into the Nikon D850 instead of trying to invest in two new camera bodies. We had no doubts the camera would do wonders for both of us but we also knew the damage it was going to do to our finances..but hey you only live once right.

While looking back over my images there is one thing that stood out to me is that I actually got out much more this year then in past years.Having a full time government job I am restricted to mainly weekend shooting and often times usually just a morning outing on either Saturday or Sunday. This past year I was able to get out 68 times where is 2017 I only got out 36 times. So all in all I really should be grateful for the images I have captured in so few outings. My goal this coming year is to get out ever more if possible.

Anyways, enough chatting, lets dive into my Top 10 with a couple images taken at Virginia Lake which is a location I hadn’t spent much time at until this year. During one morning session I quickly learned the massive potential this location had to offer in terms of lighting and species. So coming in at number 10

10 - Wilson Snipe

On this particular morning I was photographing some interactions with a Greater Yellowlegs and two Lesser Yellowlegs when out of the corner of my eye I spotted not one or two but 5 Wilson Snipe making their way out of a cattail patch and into the open. Wilson Snipe are known to be very skittish and secretive birds so to see one in the open is exciting but to see 5 was mind blowing to me. To my surprise they were unfazed by my presence and actually allowed me to approach them and capture a few images as they foraged for food and bathed in the water. Here is one of my favorite images from that morning.

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9 - Greater Yellowlegs

During the month of August I spent a number of mornings at Virginia Lake photography Greater Yellowlegs that were feeding on sticklebacks. My goal during these sessions were to try and photography them in various lighting situations in an attempt to better understand the effects of light at different angles. It was an amazing learning process and I came away with a lot of great images but this one spoke to me the most. There is something about the stance, the closed eyes and the beautiful black lighting that creates a peaceful feeling for me.

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7 - Merlin on Prey

Even though this image was taken on the road in front of my home it was the first time I had photographed a raptor on prey. Having both subject and prey cleanly isolated and looking into the camera made this image special for me. It was also a great reminder that Wildlife Encounters can happen anywhere, at anytime, so you always need to be prepared. Even if it means running out your front door with no shoes on and laying in the middle of the road as your neighbors stare oddly at you..lol

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Until owning the NIkon D850 I hated the thought of even trying Song Bird Photography. I was never happy with my results in the past and always found my previous cameras were pushed to their limits in ISO capabilities so I always turned away from Song Birds. Not this year..This year I went full board into Song Bird Photography and enjoyed every minute of it. So coming in at number 7 is:

7 - Black-Throated Green Warbler

This species was high on my list this spring because I had never photographed one before. What made this image so special for me was that I captured it on Father’s Day while out hiking on a new trail with my 6 year old daughter and Father. I had picked this trail based on its habitat and I had a good feeling it would be home to at least one Black-throated Green Warbler. Not 5 mins into the hike I spotted and photographed this individual.

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6 - Black and White Warbler

With my new found passion for Song Bird Photography I was able to capture a number of great images and see/photograph many new species but one image stood out among the rest for me; which was this Black and White Warbler. Even though I had seen many of them in the past I had not captured a decent image of one until this spring. It was nearing the end of one of my morning sessions when I spotted this B&W Warbler singing along the tree line at the edge of a park near my home. When I composed my shot originally I didn’t like the foreground twigs so I lowered my shooting position just enough to use the green foliage of one of the branches to create this beautiful dreamy blur in the foreground.

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5 - Wet Fox Encounter

During my annual family trip to Bonavista I was lucky to come across three different Red Fox kits that had now grown up to hunt on their own. This one individual was very curious and often too curious for its own good. On the last day of our trip the winds were blowing at about 50 km and a heavy rain soaked the land. Not wanting to let the weather ruin the final day I made a last minute decision to head out to see if I could spot the fox one last time. Sure enough I did and for about 10 mins we sat in the pouring rain together. Though I have many images of foxes I really loved the ones from this encounter since they often included the rugged coastline and ocean as the backdrop.

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4 - In the Land of Giants

I have photographed Woodland Caribou everything spring and into the summer for the past 8 years. I have photographed them in many weather conditions but this past August was truly a magical experience. On this morning the warm glow of the early morning sun seemed to last forever and it provided me with the perfect photography conditions. Seen here is one of the large male Caribou standing on a small ridge enjoying a mouth full of lichen as the sun lit it from behind.

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3 - Red Fox Sunrise

When I found out that a Red Fox Vixen had decided to den under the Interpretation Center at the Ecological Reserve in Cape St.Mary’s I was over the moon excited. My mind raced of the possibilities of what images I might capture. The day after finding out about the sighting I was on the road before sunrise. With this location being a sub-arctic tundra I envisioned capturing images of the mother or even possible the kits right at first light; lit up by the red hues of the rising sun. Arriving before sunrise I watched the mother bring her kits a successful kill for breakfast..then moments later she headed in my general direction, curled up and we watched the sunrise together. It was a surreal moment for me and to have captured what I had envisioned made it all the more special.

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2 - In the Land of Giants - Foggy Sunrise

Sometimes in photography there are moments when all the elements line up perfectly and you are given the privilege to witness something magical. On this particular morning I feel I was given this privilege. Heading down the road along the open barrens just outside of Terrenceville, NL the sun was burning fiery red as it tried to force it way through the thick fog. Heading back to the location where I had spotted two Caribou the night before, I could only dream of spotting one in these foggy conditions. To my surprise, there standing only a few feet from the road was a large Stag. My heart raced, my mind raced..I made a quick decision to switch my lens from my 500mm F4 telephoto lens to my 70-200mm as I wanted to include the burning sun and fog in the shot. I only captured a few frames before this large bull headed off over the barrens. Like many of my photos there are always things I wish I could change about them but overall this is by far one of my most memorable and favorite photos this past year.

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1 - The Bond

The ultimate goal with my photography is to create/capture emotion in my images. To have the viewer not just look at a pretty image but to feel something from it. To hopefully create a desire in the viewer to be out in nature themselves to hopefully see and witness the beauty that it has to offer.

For my number 1 image of 2018 I have to pick this interaction between a Mother Red Fox and one of her 7 kits. It took sometime for the kits to feel comfortable enough to come out in the open with mom where I could capture images of them. Keeping a low profile and staying still allowed them to feel comfortable with me. In this image mom approached one of the kits and appeared to receive a kiss on her forehead. It was a quick interaction but such a tender moment as it seemed the kit was showing its gratitude for all the hard work mom was doing in raising them.

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Well that wraps up my Top 10 of 2018. Its been an eventful year with some amazing encounters and beautiful memories which I am so grateful to have photographed. I am sooo excited about what 2019 has to bring and I promise to keep the blog going so that all of you can share in my experiences. I wish you all a Happy New Years and thank you for all your support.