Monday, October 24, 2011

Birds of Prey

Sometimes the weather just won't cooperate.

I have been waiting for this past weekend to come for, well... a lunar cycle.  You see I have been dying to get out and shoot some time lapse movies with stars passing over some interesting landscape (I am not telling yet).  But, we have been covered in clouds for at least the past week.  Saturday afternoon was starting to show potential for the evening. So, I gave Ethan (, who lives closer to my photo location a call.  His weather observation was the same as what I was seeing, still partly cloudy.  Just not good enough.

While I am on the phone with Ethan, he says that he and Craig Blair are heading out on Sunday to shoot some captive birds of prey and asks if I wanted to come too.  So, I am thinking why not.  I am in.  

Not long after confirming, my cell phone starts buzzing.  It's a post on my facebook page from Craig.  Craig owns Lens Rentals Canada (  It says, "You want any glass tomorrow"?  "Yes please"! was my reply.  Bring me something BIG!!!

Instead of shooting stars, I went and played some hockey Saturday night and guess what???  The clouds cleared and the stars were awesome.

Birds of Prey.

I met Ethan and Craig in Arthur and the three of us drove down to the Mountsberg Conservation Area together.  We are to join the Brampton Photo Group ( for a club shoot.  Shooting in large groups has its perils, but I can say this was a pleasant group to shoot with.  There may have been 9 or 10 of us all together.

The agenda for the day was to meet at the Raptor Centre where one of their bird handlers will provide us access to their birds for a couple hours.  We may have pushed that time allotment a little ;-)

We got to shoot Screech, Barn and Great Horned owls, American Kestrels, a Merlin, a Peregrine falcon, a Red-Tailed hawk, a Turkey vulture and a juvenile Bald eagle.  All the time, I am enjoying using the biggest glass that I have ever used.

Everybody loves owls, myself included.  What shocked me on this day was the colours that the falcons possess.  I have never got a chance to study them at such close range before.  Not only are they impressive in flight, but they are also quite beautiful birds.  I have had the pleasure of being around Bald eagles at close range before and every time they startle me with their size.  Even as juveniles, these are truly powerful birds!

Here are some 'selects' from over 500 images taken on the day:

American Kestrel
Nikon D3, AF-S 500mm w/TC17eII, SB-900, ISO 200, f/6.7, 1/40th, Ambient -1/3stop, WB adjusted to 5200K.

Nikon D3, AF-S 500mm w/TC17eII, SB-900, ISO 200, f/6.7, 1/60th, Ambient -1 stop, WB adjusted to 5400K.

Great Horned Owl
Nikon D3, AF-S 500mm, SB-900, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/250th, Ambient -2/3stop, WB adjusted to 5600K.


I can't help myself.  Here are some more shots.

Red-tailed Hawk
Nikon D3, AF-S 500mm, SB-900, ISO 200, f/13, 1/250th, Ambient -2 stop, WB adjusted to 5700K.

Great Horned Owl
Nikon D3, AF-S 500mm, SB-900, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/250th, Ambient -2/3 stop, WB adjusted to 5600K.

Bald Eagle (juvenile)
Nikon D3, AF-S 500mm, SB-900, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/125th, Ambient -2/3 stop, WB adjusted to 5400K.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Unigirl Canada

In keeping with the theme that my photography interests are highly varied...

One of the photography websites that I am a frequent visitor at is designed to be a networking site for photographers, models, make-up artists, clothing designers, etc.  As well as having forum sections to discuss subjects relevant to the different groups, there is a casting call section.  To make a long story short, Unigirl Canada was in need of a photographer and I was selected from the respondents.

I know some of you are thinking, he shoots fish, birds, flowers, deer, rocks, trees, waterfalls, lightning, hockey, golf, baseball, kiteboarding and... young women in bikinis?

The thing that I like about working with models is that it is one of the rare times that I get to focus more on creating a scene, rather than capturing a moment (blah, blah, blah... young women in bikinis).  With just about everything else that I photograph, I do my best to record an interesting/pleasing account of what occurs naturally.  For once, I get to choose my background, control my lighting and actually describe to the subject how I want them to stand (blah, blah, blah... young women in bikinis).

I have a hard time buying that story myself.  What can I say, it is what I do.

--- --- ---

My assignment:

Unigirl Canada ( shoots regional calendars across Canada of university women, including alumni, in their swimwear to raise money for charity (  It's not extremely original, but it's a brilliant concept just the same.  I wish I was the idea guy and not just the photographer.

What I had waiting for me was a half dozen models in full make-up with their hair all professionally done.  And almost as many assistants to hold reflectors, help the girls with posing, to move hair and to adjust bikinis.  A limo to take us to our location, which just so happened to be a 54' Sea Ray. All I had to do was shoot.  The whole time a couple videographers were working in the background capturing Behind the Scene video.

I know, I still hear it too (blah, blah, blah... young women in bikinis).

© Unigirl Canada 

© Unigirl Canada - photo by Ian Brooks
© Unigirl Canada - photo by Ian Brooks
© Unigirl Canada - photo by Ian Brooks

© Unigirl Canada - photo by Ian Brooks