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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 6:55 pm 
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Warning... Lots of Pics!!!

Thought I would put this in a seperate thread and then take a few weeks to add pics to it as I process them.

This was a 5 day trial outing put on by Moresby Explorers along with Isabelle Groc a Vancouver based wildlife photographer who's passion is marine mammals. It was focused primarily on whales with about 3 hours spent on intertidal life as well as another 4 or 5 hours spent on Sea Lions. Birds we shot if an opportunity arrose as well as anything else but the main focus was whales and we spent between 10 to 12 hours a day on the water watching them from a zodiac. It' a very unique setting as you spend your nights in a floating camp (house on floats just built 2 years ago and extremely comfy) which is anchored about a 3 hour zodiac ride away from the nearest road ending with the road ending being 1 to 1.5 hours away from the nearest town which has a population of 250 so you really are in the middle of nowhere. During the entire 5 day trip we had 2 sightings of a prawn boat, one sighting of a sailing boat, and 2 or 3 other sightings of small zodiacs... One of the zodiacs stopped for 5 minutes behind us as we were photographing Sea Lions and the sail boat was also watching whales but we only seen them in our area for a few hours on the horizon.... that was it for people encounters for 5 days on the water.

There were 4 of us on this trip... myself, Isabelle, Heron (owner of Moresby Explorers as well as our guide and avid photographer) and Keiko, a portrait photographer out of Vancouver. Odd thing was 3 of us were all shooting the Canon 7D and the 100-400 and Isabelle was shooting Nikon... a wonderful woman but I have to question her taste in gear :P What are the odds of 3 out of 4 people shooting the same setup? :shock:

Anyways... they are going to do the trip again next year and I'll be going on it again. It's a thing that a few more pros seem to be doing... Wildlife photography tours with a pro setting it up and offering tutoring, evening suggestions and basic guidelines to help people understand wildlife photography and how best to get the shots. I tell ya.. I did a lot more manual shooting this trip than I ever did in the past or ever thought I would. A lot of Aperature priority but a lot of manual as well and a bit of shutter priority. Isabelle was awesome in taking the time to answer all questions which gave me the confidence in applying her advise right away.

I think that when this trip was over we found that 5 days was an ideal length for this type of trip and that you needed some time away from the whales to regain your focus. That time away worked out perfectly with time spent on intertidal as well as Sea Lions. There is also an option of a 1/2 day on a remote island with natural hotsprings to relax those battered bones if you get a day of really bad weather. We had great weather so never went... only had 1 morning with about 1 hour of rain and another morning with a few hours of drizzle. Lots of sun and overcast though to create different feels for photos...

Next year it sounds like the trip will be limited to 4 or 7 people depending on demand. If only 4 people go it will be in the same zodiac we took this year... if they get more interest they will go with the larger zodiac which holds 13 people comfortably but they decided to limit it to 7 people plus the guide and Isabelle leaving lots of room for the photographers to move around. They are also going to take out one row of seats in which ever zodiac they take to create more room to move.

Anyways.. that was the trip... I'll start posting the pics I can as I get to them.

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Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
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Last edited by Wolfsong on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:02 am, edited 10 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 4:08 am 
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K... day one... got there at 3:30pm and on the drive to the B&B I noticed some shore birds so as soon as I got settled in I took a walk along the beach...

First sighting was a duck :D

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Then this bird.... really cool looking little guy with huge eyes..

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these little guys almost disappeared in the rocks when they landed...

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Oyster Catchers really caught my eye the last time I was out there so coming across these 2 on my first day was a pleasent surprise... more to come later as well.

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a flock of Brants...

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Some inter-tidal life...

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and an Eagle..

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just after I arrived I stopped by the trip supplier and noticed one of the guides cleaning some Lingcod beside the building for supper... 1 was around 15kg and there were 2 smaller fish.... later that night I was getting ready for bed and heard another eagle... when I looked out there were 3 in one tree so I grabbed my camera even though it was 9:30pm and getting dark.. as I was walking across the road to the beach someone pointed out 6 more eagles in the next tree... The guide had left the remains of the fish on the beach which in turn attracted the eagles in force...

first is not a great shot but it is 3 in one tree...

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even though it was dusk and light was poor I still like this one...

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another one in really poor light and still debating if I like or hate this one... I do like the ragged tail feathers of the one landing.

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Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 11:22 pm 
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A few random shots of day 2 on the northern island.. this was the day before the whale trip officially started...

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a sitka deer.. these guys only grow to be about 30kg or so on the islands... they are introduced and considered a pest... ppl are allowed to shoot 15 a year. To give you an idea of lighting for this.. at F10 and ISO 1600 I only managed a shutter speed of 1/60

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this guy had potential if only the branch wasn't in the way... took several before trying to get out of the van to find a better angle but as usual... when you leave a vehicle chances are you spook the animal... this was no exception...

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locals say this is the largest spruce tree in the world.. not sure if they are right but you cannot argue the fact that it is massive... last pic gives a bit of perspective...

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I've always loved the shapes of driftwood... someone could make a hobby just of photographing it...

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This is the flower of a salmon berry..

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and an unfinished totem pole... rumor has it it will sell for about $300,000 .. the artist has been working at ti for 2 years so far...

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Last edited by Wolfsong on Sun May 30, 2010 8:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 2:40 am 
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Posts: 1458
Location: Gold Coast Australia
Wolf, I enjoyed the commentary of your trip and the photos are good, that driftwood looks like a sculpture. If you use manual on that sort of shoot, are you likely to miss opportunities while you are twiddling the knobs?

Cheers

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 3:15 am 
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thanks 4xxxx... Its not that bad going manual on whales.. I'll start posting pics of them tomorrow or the next day... they are slow and if you have a good guide and its a photography tour you can tell him what light you want and he will keep the boat positioned that way til you ask to change... with that being the case you shouldn't have to change too much until you change angles...

Some of my whale pics have sold already so I am waiting to hear back from a few others before I post any.. so far I have just posted pics I know wont go anywhere and are not whale related just to be safe but I have over 500 keepers of whales so I'm going to post a few series that I'm going to keep for personal use and that I wont be selling even though they may be good enough...

Funny thing about whales... we came to the conclusion that you want to be shooting at a shutter speed of around 1600 or so whenever possible.... the whales dont move fast but add waves, wind, ocean spray and bouncing around in a zodiac which is moving at times and its a speed you should be going for to freeze the action.

All of us found that shooting at F8 or F9, ISO between 400 - 800 and some times 200 gave us a shutter speed of 1250 to 2000. When I hit 1250 I would adjust ISO to get back up to 1600 shutter speed. We had one day where the sky blended into the ocean and it was glass calm... worst shooting experience I have ever had but learned a lot and in the end got a few cool shots. I'd love to come across those conditions again... the pics end up being very minimalistic which I find very cool.

One last point.. as mentioned above 3 out of 4 of us were shooting the canon 100-400 lens and it worked good as sooner or later you are going to get close enough... the nikon shooter was also shooting the nikon zoom equivalent that maxed out at 400 as well.

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Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

Reflections On Canadian Wildlife
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Last edited by Wolfsong on Sun May 23, 2010 6:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 3:39 am 
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Location: Gold Coast Australia
Thanks for the updated info, look forward to the whale shots, good work selling them.

Cheers

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 4:12 am 
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First thing we stopped at on the way to the whales was a sealion colony... they seemed pretty nervous about us so we never got too close and only spent about 1 hour with them.. we found another colony a few days later and got some amazing shots there.. more on that later...

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one of my favorites...

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jump!

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JUMP!!! got a 13 shot series of this jump/dive...

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stopped for lunch and came across an oyster catcher nesting site... didnt want to disturb them but got a few shots...

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 7:14 pm 
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First whales... these would have been taken on the rest of day one and day 2.

A little on the humpbacks here...

These guys have a yearly migration from their feeding grounds in Alaska to their breeding grounds in Hawaii. While breeeding they do not feed at all so on their way back to Alaska its along the Canadian west coast that they first start feeding again to replenish a bit before continuing on to Alaska.

In the Haida Gwaii region they feed on crill mostly and some small fish. The feeding style they use here is called flick feeding and it differs from how they feed mostly in Alaska and also on the east coast.

On the east coast as well as in Alaska they feed by bubble netting which basically means one whale blows a circle of bubbles deep under water to coral the feed while others lung up through the middle and to the surface with mouths wide open taking in the feed.

In Haida Gwaii they do what is referred to as flick feeding and here they cruise the surface looking for concentrations of feed. When they find one they start flicking their tails violently on the surface to disorient the feed and then they lung to take it all in... there are 2 types of lunges.. one straight up like in bubble netting and one sidewyas were they skim the surface with mouths open.

They do all the regular things that whales do as well including breaching but breaches here, compared to Hawaii , are relatively rare. The trick with breaching is that they usually do it 2 times in a row and then stop for a while and move on so unless you happen to be relatively close its pretty hard to capture.. We seen about 12 or so breaches and I was the only one lucky enough to get a decent series... I wont mention the time when we were all set and lined up for a breach when someone in the boat got really excited cause a whale hit by a prop surfaced right beside the boat within 5 meters and we all turned to see what was up.. just as we did we had a breach exactly where we all thought we would see one and really close.. no one got a shot :shock: I for one was LMAO!

It is almost eclusively humpbacks here but while we were out there was a pair of grey whales in the Sandspit harbour feeding on clams. They also get transient pods of killer whales and porpoises but our focus was on the humpbacks.

When you look at how much water they displace its amazing, looking back at the trip, that we never got soaked once. Only splashing we got hit with was by a sealion which tail flicked right beside the boat and the splash ended up flooding my lens hood to the point of having to turn my camera upside down to "pour" out the water. Happy to say no damage to the lens.

Canadian regulations for whale watching are pretty specific. You cannot motor within 100 meters of a whale on the sides and you cannot motor within 400 meters of a whale from directly in front of or directly behind of the whales... a guide can however shut down the boat and allow the boat to drift closer or the whales to move closer to the boat.. at least that is how I read it. So with a good guide and taking your time you can get very close. For photography and shooting a 400mm lens we started shooting at about 150 meters distance but best shots be far came when the whales were within 40 meters or closer. We ended up having several within 10 meters several times.

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more whales and inter-tidal stuff to come...

_________________
Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 8:25 pm 
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Location: Southern California
Oh, my gosh, Wolfie...this was a special trip..I keep saying we all need to plan on a shooting excursion..something spectacular like this...wouldn't that be something..dream big, if you are gonna dream, I always say..I just am amazed at some of these shots..love the whales, and the seals. The "forrest" reminds me of just what a dang desert I live in..sheesh...have enjoyed this armchair laptop prop up view of your spectacular "vacation"..hope there is more more more to come.

love,
p

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 9:44 pm 
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the best shots are still to come patti :) hopefully I will get up some more tonight and tomorrow.... what is posted so far is about 1/3 or the trip.

This is the trip I talked about several months ago on this forum if anyone wanted to come along... good news is you're all welcome to come along next year same time.. I will be there again.

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Last edited by Wolfsong on Mon May 24, 2010 2:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 11:26 pm 
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We decided to take a short break from whales and focus on some inter-tidal life...

Clam being attacked by a starfish...

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some sea urchins.... errrr... one of these became the lunch appetizer :twisted:

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random stuff...

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Funny story developed as we got into photographing these 2 box crabs... Heron found them and pointed out that they are pretty rare at this size... that evening we read that this is as large as they get. Anyway... Heron found them like seen in the first pic... we slowly started pulling back the seaweed without disturbing them too too much to get better pics... As we proceeded I thought this was a perfect time for some macro shots so switched lenses....

That being said tides here vary pretty fast and there is a way to anchor your boat and still have access to it but one needs to be aware at all times... we got so into photographing these crabs that Heron forgot to check on the zodiac.... All I'll say is that this was only the second time in 12 years that he had to go for a swim :shock: that aside we all got some cool pics of these 2.

I have to say not once did we move the crabs to get a shot.

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some abstract macros of them... I could have spent hours with these 2 even with the bellying around in seaweed and other things to get the shots.

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This was Isabelle trying to get the right angle...

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and Heron trying to get a closeup video of the mouth... turned out really cool.

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When we were done there was a brief discussion about having crab for lunch but we desided to leave em be :D

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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 7:15 am 
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Ummm... lets start with the worst... whale poop... another good tip for those going whale watching... try not to be down wind from them too much... they seem to have a lot of gas and um... it smells really bad when they let go.. happened 5 or 6 times to us.. unfortunately it is very memorable...

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K.. more whales...

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not a whale but it was fishing right with them :)

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we started to name a few that we seen a few times.. this was Tuna... named for its yellow spots on the tail

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K... not sure what this was.. not really a breach ... more of a full dive... or maybe a breach and we were just at the worst angle to catch it...

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and a breach... only chance I had at one and even though I could have been zoomed in more I'm happy with it... a series of 3... This was the first time I had ever seen a breach close up... honestly.. words cant describe it at all what its like to see an animal this size launch itself right out of the water...

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Seen this guy after we got back to the floating lodge right beside it...

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and our home for 5 days.. the floating lodge... no way to get to shore from it unless you swim but there are kayaks for those wanting to go for a paddle..

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More pics tomorrow hopefully... should be 2 or 3 more sets of whale shots and one set of sealion shots... so hopefully in 3 or 4 days I will be done going through all the pics...

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Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 11:57 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Truly an amazing trip Wolf. Look forward to seeing more.


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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 3:02 pm 
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Great series so far, Wolf. Looks like you got some incredible shots. The breach set is amazing. Can't wait to see more!

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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 6:51 pm 
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thanks guys... not to be picky cause I couldnt have asked for more on this trip but I wish I could have had 2 more shots on the breach as it impacted the water again with the splash... but we came out from in between 2 swells and I lost focus and most of the whale in the viewfinder... Although I feel really comfortable in a zodiac this series was taken on the second day and I by no means had my sea legs yet... I also get really excited when things like this happen... I'm like a little kid... if I could learn to calm down a bit I could aviod a lot of little mistakes... in this case I had my 100-400 on and my focal length was only 260mm so I could have zooomed in more... but I'm good with loosing a shot or not quite getting the perfect shot in exchange for the moment

Now KPR would have nailed this breach, and probably a few others, I just know it.. he pretty well lives on these boats. :D

Hopefully get some more pics up later toady... back to work tomorrow though :evil:

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Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

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