What Ottawa has to offer for photographers is much more than a few landmarks. Having been living in Ottawa since 1999, I aways feel we are blessed that we are surrounded by beautiful nature. I will update this page regularly to show what I have stumbled upon.
2017 06 25, Shirleys Bay: I was expecting unusual lighting after a storm. Headed to South March Highlands by the 2nd Line Road as interesting bird sightings were reported on ebird. I was greeted by countless black flies, not surprising considering how much rain we have had this year. My head was protected by a head net , arms and legs were covered by long sleeves and pants, black flies didn’t bother me. My patience quickly ran thin, there was nothing unusual. The sun was getting lower, it is time to go to another place, Shirleys Bay came to mind.
2017 04 09, Mud Lake:
My first visit to Mud Lake this year. With spring arriving slowly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As soon as I saw the wood ducks, I knew what I want: flying wood duck.
Lighting was fairly good, I could use 1/1000 second shutter speed at ISO400 to get the shot below.
2017 04 03, Shirley’s Bay:
I was looking for birds but spotted a snowshoe hare. The snowshoe hare was seeking for food, which apparently was not a problem at this bird feeder. My car was an excellent blind that allowed me to keep shooting with being noticed.
The hare was hiding behind a rock with its head sticking out. It was so close but fortunately beyond the minimum focusing distance of the lens.
2017 03 04 – 05, Eagleson storm water ponds, Kanata:
It was a surprise to know that hooded mergansers were reported at the entrance of the neighbourhood where I live. Both Saturday and Sunday were very windy and cold. I set up myself on the south-west side of the pond so the sun was coming from behind. Sitting on the snow camouflaged from head to toe didn’t help getting me unnoticed. Hooded mergansers were very shy and skittish, they kept themselves on the far end of the pond.
The windy weather made it challenging to get sharp photos with a super telephoto lens. I experimented many configurations, fast shutter speed, IS on/off, IS mode 1 and mode 2. It is apparent that the Sony A7RII has better odds of getting sharp photos than with an EOS7D Mark II using the same lens. The steadycam feature on the Sony A7RII does better job than the optical image stabilization on the EF500mm f4L IS lens.
2017 02 26, Stittsville, Owl Prowl (VI):
The same old place, south of Rushmore Rd, the same old time, morning before sunrise. The guided tour was slightly ahead of me.
2017 02 20, March Vally Rd, Kanata, Owl Prowl (V):
Sightings of great gray owl at March Valley Road have been reported for 5 days in a row. I would be a pity to miss the opportunity. March Valley road is blocked for construction, which means no traffic. Timing couldn’t be better.
I spent two hours in the morning at March Valley Road, scouted every single tree with other photographers and birders. No luck.
A couple from the States showed me a bald eagle by its nest through their scope. The lady also spotted an European Starling and explained to me that its bill will turn yellow when spring arrives.
I returned to March Valley Rd in the afternoon near 4:00PM. There were more photographers and birders. Still no show for the great gray owl.
People were ready to accept the fact that there will be no great gray owl show today, suddenly a guy with big lens arrived telling everyone the owl is perching on a tree by the March Valley road on the south side of Klondike Rd, about 500 meters from where we are.
10 minutes later, I got the photo below:
While I was documenting the exciting moment, the owl flew off the tree. Luckily the owl was captured in the only documentary photo I took (below).
2017 02 20, Stittsville, Owl Prowl (IV):
The snowy owl in flight photo from yesterday can be improved in the following areas:
Today is the last day of Family Day long weekend, another gorgeous day. A group of photographers were slightly ahead of me, but I was able to catch up. On the way to the field, I asked a person who seems to be the leader of the group if he minds if I stay together with them. He told me he is leading a paid tour, but I am free to take photos.
I decided to stop between the owl (perching on a hydro pole) and the group thinking I will be able to capture good in-flight shots when the owl goes to catch the bait. I got my gear ready after two minutes but to my total surprise the owl was longer on the hydro pole. During that two minutes when I set up my gear, the owl flew to a fence post right beside the group. I had no choice but to move closer to the group.
2017 02 19, Stittsville, Owl Prowl (III):
I know what I want to achieve today: snowy owl in flight. Left the house well before sunrise, checked from binocular by Rushmore Rd, the same snowy owl same spot. Parked my car beside Rushmore Rd, snowshoed 10 minutes in soft snow to get to the spot. Man that is quite a workout.
Soon after I set up tripod and camera, came two men asking me if I plan to bait. “No, I have nothing to bait”, I replied. They told me that they will bait the owl with mice they caught in the garage and I am welcome to join them.
Sure, I followed them to a spot which was about 100 meters from my “settlement”. We set up our gear and ready for snowy owl in flight shots. Unfortunately, the owl didn’t budge even after seeing the mice thrown to the ground. “Too bad, she will not come down and eat it”, they declared and off they went.
It was still early. It would be foolish to go home empty handed. I picked another location to take some test shots with IS on and off. I found photos from the Sony A7rII in APS-C mode are sharper than photo taken by the Canon EOS7D Mark II. Focus and vibration are ruled out. My only theory is IS. I will write a post on this topic.
While doing the test shots, the snowy owl flew off the pole and went somewhere far. I was able to take a few shots right after it took off.
2017 02 18, Stittsville, Owl Prowl (II):
Headed out before sunrise, pink morning mist was still lingering around. I never thought the rural area 10 minutes from where I live could be so beautiful. Pulled over beside Shea Rd and took the photo below.
Made a left turn to Akins from Shea, while scouting the open field for snowy owl guess what I spotted? Coyote!
My goal for today is to take a shot of the snowy owl with both eyes visible. Hopefully the soft morning light won’t make the owl squint. Lately the female snowy owl I have been photography spent most of her time sitting on the hydro poles near Roshmore Rd.
To my surprise, the bird flew off the poles a few times before sitting on the pole forever. I managed to capture one photo of the snowy owl in flight.
2017 01 15, Stittsville, Owl Prowl (I):
Woke up to a cold morning before sunrise and headed to Akins Road by Eagleson Road, Stittsville where sighting of a snowy owl was reported the previous day. I scouted every single hydro poles and wire fence posts, no sign of the bird. Driving slowly along Akins westward, I noticed a handful of vehicles further down Akins pulled over to the snow covered shoulder. That must be it. A minute later, I joined a group of photographers who were also looking for the snowy owl.
Sightings of snowy owls in winter in this particular area have been reported for many years, it makes me wonder what attracts them to come to this place in winter months? Snowy Owls like treeless places and wide-open field. On their wintering grounds they’ll also perch atop a fence post, hydro pole, building, telephone pole — anywhere with a good view. Farmland such as the one below provides abundant source of food such as rodents, rabbits and birds.
2017 01 01, Shirley’s Bay:
Three deers enter Department of National Defence shooting range in west Ottawa.
Didn’t find any rarities on the New Year’s Day, despite a birder/photographer I met today told me that owl sighting in this area is not uncommon. Ravens were making loud noise, a sign of possible owl presence. However, deers were the only thing interesting. I was in my car which was 100 meter behind the deers.
Read the blog I wrote on that day.
Wood duck is very evasive. I was hiding behind a tree waiting for this baby to get closer. Sony A7R II leaves 5 seconds for you to review the image after taking a shot. When the cameras switched back to live view the bird was no longer in the frame. It took me a while to figure out how to disable image review.
The bird was accustomed to people stand close-by. I had the luxury to set up tripod and fine-tune composition. Colourful leaves back lit by the sun look nice.
2015 10 18, Kanata:
Driving along Huntmar road looking for pretty autumn scenery, I was excited to discovery this beautiful maple tree at sunrise. The right time at the right place! Love the early morning frost on the ground.
Reflections kept me shooting. A wonderful day like this one is not all that common.
This place has been on my to-shoot list for many years. At 10:00AM light is perfectly fine.
This photo was taken from the Heron Lookout early in the morning.