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Photo experience

Macro Photography: part 1

Macro and Close-up photography is a lot of fun and it can open a whole new world of opportunities for a photographer. You don’t necessarily need to buy a dedicated Macro lens, there is other options, we will look at that later.

Macro lenses

A true Macro lens can go to a reproduction ratio of 1:1 but some lenses (often older manual lenses) can be found that only goes to a 1:2 repro ratio and needs an extension tube to go to 1:1. Many zoom lenses have a Macro position but at best they will go down to a 1:3 ratio. Some wide angle lenses have a Macro position, i have an old Clubman 24mm/2.8 Macro that can go down to 1:4 repro ratio. Currently on the market you can find  many Macro lenses in different focal lengths ranging from 35mm up to 200mm, some are stabilized and some rely on the image stabilisation in the cameras (IBIS). If you really want to get close with excellent IQ Canon makes the MP-E 65mm 1-5X which can go from 1:1 to 5:1 repro ratio. Macro lenses are the best way to go because they are easier to use in the field, you just turn the focusing ring as you get closer and the IQ is excellent, but they are not cheap unless you can buy old ones are some newer models on the used market.

From left to right: Pentax DA 35mm/2.8 Macro Limited, SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4 and Pentax DFA 100mm/2.8 Macro WR. As a side note you can see the big difference here between the lenses from the old manual focus Takumar to the modern Macro lenses when you look at the distance scale, the focus throw of AF lenses is so short that those scale are pretty much useless compared to the old time.

Here is my Clubman 24mm Macro, you can see the reproduction ratio on the front of the barrel.

A small Macro lens like the Pentax DA 35mm Macro is easy to carry around and can give effect that a longer Macro lens can’t. Here i was so close that the lens was touching the flower and the result is that we feel like we are in the flower with the insect. 

A longer Macro lens gives you more working distance which can be useful for insects or potentially dangerous animals like this snapping turtle. Here i was using my 100mm Macro lens handheld but a 200mm lens would have been even better to be safer.

Here is a comparison between 2 Macro lenses to show how the focal length affect the background. The photo above was taken with the Pentax DA 35mm Macro Ltd.

Now, this one i tried to kept the same subject’s size with a Vivitar 90-180mm Flat Field at 180mm at the same f-stop. Also notice the different color cast of the 2 lenses.

Reversing ring

Reversing rings are a cheap way to get into Macro photography, you just screw the reversing ring into the filter thread of the lens and then mount it to the camera (BTW they came in different sizes, like filters). You need a lens with an aperture ring to do that if you want to control the aperture ring of the lens even if you don’t gain much DOF by doing so. The wider the lens the closer you can go and gain more magnification but you will be very close and the rear of the lens is exposed to the elements. You can’t vary magnification much by focusing the lens, so if you want a different magnification you need to use another lens. Another advantage is that you can mount whatever brand of lens you want.

A reversing ring is a cheap way to get into Macro photography, you can use it on your kit lens or a small prime like a 28mm, 35mm or 50mm.

Here i used it with my SMC Takumar 35mm/3.5 to photograph this lady bug.

Close-up lenses

Close-up lenses are like filters and when used on any lens they make it focus closer. They come in different strengths, size and quality. I have a Nikon close-up 6T, but Canon makes very good ones also, you will pay more for those 2 brands but the IQ is worth it. The advantage is that you don’t loose light when you use them but depending on the lens the IQ can suffer. You can still use them on a Macro lens for more magnification.

Extension tubes

Even if you have a Macro lens extension tubes are worth having in your camera bag, i use them with my Macro lens and also with my longer lenses to make them focus closer.  There are many choices on the internet, you don’t need to pay for the ones from your camera brand since this is only tubes without any glass elements in them. They come in a set of tree but you can also buy them separately (Canon does that).  I use Aputure extension tube set (13mm, 21mm and 31mm) for my Canon gear and they work very well with my lenses and AF works very well also even on my 400mm lens when needed.

Extension tubes uses the same mount as your camera brand (if you use Pentax you need to buy K mount tubes, Canon EF mount for Canon ….) and you mount them between the camera and the lens. So if you want to use your 50mm/1.8 lens with extension tubes you need to add 50mm of extension tubes to get to a reproduction ratio of 1:1. So here comes the biggest drawback of extension tubes,as you add extension tubes you loose more and more light and you quickly loose 1 or 2 stop of light which results in a longer exposure time. I like to use extension tubes with a zoom lens because the magnification varies as you zoom, so if you add about 50mm of extension tubes to a 70-200mm lens you will gain more magnification as you zoom from 200mm to 70mm.

Here is a photo taken with a 70-300mm lens with 64mm of extension tubes, not in the Macro range but we can call it Close-up.

Another photo taken with extension tubes added to a lens, this time it was to my Tele-Takumar 200mm/5.6.


Yes they can be useful, i use my TC 1.4X with my 100mm Macro lens when i need more magnification but want to keep the same working distance and don’t want to disturb my subject. You can add a Teleconverter between your camera and the extension tubes to gain more magnification or to your lens alone. A good teleconverter is not cheap but the older Tamron 1.4X AF for my Pentax was working very well with my DFA 100mm Macro WR. The TC also cost you light, 1 stop for the 1.4X and 2 stops for a TC 2X.

Sometimes a TC 1.4X is needed even with a 100mm Macro lens.

Other options

There is also bellows that acts like a variable extension tube but they are not very practical to use in the field, too big and easy to damage. You can also reverse a 50mm on a 200mm lens but i’ve never tried it myself. I will post another article soon that will talk more on the use of the options above and techniques for using them.


Common Goldeneye Ducks in a birdscape photography.

This morning it was cold for the month of March (-20C ), also the wind was blowing and with the windchill factor it was around -30C. I was seeing the shake  caused by the wind in my viewfinder, so a high shutter speed combined with good long lens technique was required to get a sharp shot.

I spotted some Ducks on the river and the rising sun added some life to the scene. I took some with them in flight but they were not beautifully placed or their surrounding was not as photogenic as the one below.

Here they are swimming on the fog covered river, they are small in the photo but i wanted to show them in their habitat, it’s what i liked when i saw the scene. I cropped the top and bottom of the photo for composition purposes.

Canon T3i with 70-200mm/4 L at 200mm, tripod.

Quality of light is important in a photo .

Quality of light is an important thing in photography, it can make a big difference in the rendering and impact of a photo. I always try to have the best light for my subjects and that means going out early. Sure you can take great photos in beautiful light at other times of the day but i prefer the mornings because there is often fog, frost or dew and those also adds impact in combination with the beautiful light !

Here is the same subject but in different light, see how the look and feeling is affected by the quality of the light:

I took this photo before sunrise with flat light, i think it doesn’t do the subject justice.

I took this photo later when the sun was up and hitting the wall sideways. I prefer this one because the sidelight show the texture better and is less flat.

Both photos taken with Canon T3i, 70-200mm/4 L on a tripod.

Some subjects demand flat even light and some needs directional light to have more impact.

This one have very subtle sidelight, just enough to accentuate the raindrop marks in the mud.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, tripod.

Backlight is a very effective light for transluscent subject.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR.

Fog help to tame high DR landscape,it’s easier to expose the shot.

Pentax K-01, DA 20-40mm Ltd WR, tripod.

Second outing for photographing Ducks in winter.

This time it was around -22C with winds from 40 to 60 Km/h, so the temperature with the windchill factor was around -32C. First thing, if you want to keep shooting and be comfortable enough to concentrate on your photography and not on your cold feet and fingers you need to dress for the conditions. So i was well dressed so i was able to stay out and shooting without any problems.

My goal was to show how hard it is for the Ducks to survive during winter, most of the Ducks were trying to keep their body heat by sleeping on the ice on the shore of the river. I’m always impressed that those Ducks stay here all winter in those conditions when they can flew south, peoples giving them food probably persuaded them to brave the long Canadian winter.

So, this time i finally concentrated my efforts on capturing the cold and foggy mood of that morning. The Ducks were covered with a thin layer of frost and some even had ice on their back.

A Male Mallard Duck on the ice, i wanted to show him in it’s habitat and included the frozen waterfall in the background.

Canon T3i with 70-200mm/4 L, tripod.

Bath time, a Black Duck covered with ice on it’s back, the sun hitting the fog added to the atmosphere. I let the Duck go darker in PP to keep the silouhette effect.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

Male and Female Mallard Duck in the river, in PP i kept some of the blue cast in the snow to convey the coldness of the morning.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

Stop it, your feathers are beautiful now !

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

Frosted Ducks.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, Tripod.

When i was walking down the trail to the river in the morning i found feathers on the ground and the remaining of 2 wings, i decided to wait and go for the Ducks first and get back to photograph the feathers later. So when i finished photographing the Ducks i walked back to my truck and was looking for interesting feathers to photograph when i felt that something was looking at me. Looked up and saw a Hawk on a branch, pretty sure that it was a Cooper’s Hawk, he found a very reliable source of food for the winter !

I probably interrupted it’s hunting session. I have to admit that it’s not a very good shot but  i managed to grab some quick photos between the branches before he flew away, missed the focus on the eye and cut the tip of it’s tail.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

After 2 hours the sun was too high in the sky and the contrast was too much to make interesting photos, so i decided to end my photo session there. I wanted to take photos with my WA lens but it didn’t happened that time, maybe next week-end. I didn’t got “The Photo” of a frosted Duck i was looking for but i got some usable shots anyway and you always learn something about your craft and especially about the birds. By going often i will learn the habit of those Ducks and will eventually get better photos from that place.

Mallard Ducks in winter.

Went to a river that don’t froze during winter and  where Mallard Ducks stay all winter because peoples give them foods. They are easier to get close to photograph and the setting can be beautiful when there is fresh snow on the ground. There was around 30 of them last week-end when i went with my family, my 2 young girls love to observe the Ducks.

It was quite warm for a winter day, around -4C, it was cloudy with some periods of falling snow.  Since Ducks are easy to get close i was shooting with 2 cameras (Canon 7D and T3i), with my 400mm/5.6L and 70-200mm/4 L (with and without my TC 1.4X II attached). It was a good combination, i was able to switch rapidly between my 2 kit depending on the situation and distance of my subject.

Here is one of a female in the river.

T3i, 70-200mm/4L at 200mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Male taking a break in the river.

T3i, 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/320 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

The Vacuum Duck.

T3i, 70-200mm/4L, at 163mm, ISO 800, 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Another female Mallard Duck.

T3i, 70-200mm/4L, at 159mm, ISO 800, 1/800 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

7D, 400mm/5.6L, ISO 640, 1/400 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

I was there only 1 hour, my kids wanted to go back home, but this week-end i will go again on Sunday. The temperature will be around -20C in the morning so it will be good for photography, the Ducks will have frost on their feathers ! The 400mm was often too strong and the Ducks looked too tightly squeezed in the frame, will probably use more my 70-200mm this time, might even try to get a shot with my WA lens.

Easy to be a nature photographer …. not so sure !

I want to talk about a topic that is not often talked about in Photography forums. Peoples that or not photographers thinks that it’s easy to be a good Nature photographer, you just have to buy a good camera and then you go in the wild and you will take great Wildlife shots for sure since you have a very good camera !

I will not talk about learning the skills here like exposure, composition and knowing your gear, i will talk about how it can be tough on your body to be out in the field with a camera bag full of cameras and lenses in difficult environments and weather. If you want to be serious with your photography and come home with good shots and push yourself to get the best out of your subjects you will have to be out early and in sometimes in very bad conditions.

Eventually if your interested in photographing wildlife and especially birds you will need at least a 400mm lens, sooner or later your camera bag will get heavier and it’s your shoulders and back that will take that load. Add to this that you will be walking in rough terrain and often off beaten trails, your body will take some abuse over the years and as you get older all those years will get into you. Now we are lucky to have great camera bags and backpacks that help a lot carrying those heavy camera bags in the wild, when i started photography about 26 years ago i was using a camera bag like the journalist (a big square bag that you carry with the strap on your shoulder), not good for the shoulders and neck.

Blood sucking Mosquitoes are another thing that you have to deal with here in Canada and many other places in the world. They can drive you crazy while you’re trying to compose your shots, especially when i’m photographing frogs on the shore of a pond.

Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS + Extension tubes, tripod.

That Green Frog photo was taken on the shore of a little pond infested with black flies !

You will have to get wet and often shoot while getting flat on the ground on muddy terrain like when shooting along a pond. So you will get wet and cold even on not so cold days, as you get older your articulations will not like this too much.

Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR handheld while laying on the ground.

Cold temperatures are inevitable around here, so if you want to take great shots in winter you will have to go out in bad weather. I really like to get out early in the morning when it’s -15C or lower because you can take photographs of fog over the rivers.  When shooting in winter you have to be well dressed, but your hands will get cold when handling metal tripods and lenses, i prefer to use thin gloves but there are times when manipulating the gear is easier with your bare hands. I once frozed my little fingers and they felt like i had a 100 needles planted in them for about 1 week.

When i saw that a Fox had walked on the Lake and the sun was just about to rise above the horizon, i stopped and didn’t had time to put my gloves on. It was -20C, my fingers got frozen quickly at handling the Graduated Split neutral density filter in front of the lens.

Canon T3i with EFs 15-85mm, tripod.

I may sound not too positive but it’s really like that, it’s hard sometimes, long hours waiting for wildlife on a cold day sitting in the snow but that’s what makes it so much fun. If it would be easy everyone would get great shots and there would not be so much interest in trying to get beautiful shots. Not everyone knows how much work it takes to get beautiful photos of Nature’s wonderful world, but YOU know what it takes to get them.

Photographing “Wild animals” at Omega Park

Well, this is not really Wild Animals since it’s a Zoo that animals are in liberty and you drive in the enclosure , excepts for the predators that are in “smaller enclosure” but not as small as a regular Zoo. I like to go there with my kids but also for taking photos of animals that would be difficult to find in the wild around here. Sure it’s not as fun as photographing a truly wild animal but it’s good to get close-up of them or to keep your skills sharp and try new equipments.

I’ve always shoot with my Pentax equipment before but this time it was the first time with my Canon gear (i only have my Canon since last March). By experience i knew what i needed to cover all the possibilities and weight was not an issue since you have to stay in your car for most of the viewing.

So here is what i had with me:

– Canon T3i and 7D

– Canon 70-300mm IS (non-L )

– Canon 400mm/5.6 L

– NEX-3 with my 18-55mm Kit lens for the animals close to me while driving.

– Tripod for the walking part (Wolves).

The 70-300mm was the lens i used the most, it covers most of my needs there and makes switching composition very effective. When i use Pentax my DA*50-135mm with a prime 300mm lens are my choices. If you plan do go at that “Zoo” or other Zoo like this in the world, a 70-300mm, 80-400mm or 100-400mm is a must have lens that will cover the majority of the situations. I also brought my NEX-3 with a 18-55mm lens for animals that came very close to the cars, i always came back with interesting close-ups of animals taken with that kit.

Beautiful eye of the Alpine Ibex, i was able to quickly took that shot because i didn’t had to change lenses on my cameras since i was using 3 cameras and 3 lenses.

Sony NEX-3 with 18-55mm kit lens, at 55mm, ISO 200, 1/320 sec. at f/8.

Having a camera with IBIS or lenses with IS or VR is very useful but you can also use a bean bag, but many years ago i went there and i didn’t had any lens or camera with stabilisation and was able to get sharp shots by using good technic. Light level can be low in the forested area when animals are hiding in the shadows.

Elk are everywhere along the road and they like carrots a lot, as soon as you slightly open your window they put their big nose in the opening, so at the end your car windows are quite dirty 🙂

Elk with leaves certainly is a view from the rut season.

Canon 7D with 70-300mm IS, at 115mm, ISO 800, 1/640 sec. at f/5.6.

Same Elk but from a different angle, maybe not the best composition but i like the Canada Geese and Beaver house in the background that shows the habitat of that magnificent animal.

Canon 7D with 70-300mm IS, at 95mm, ISO 800, 1/400 sec. at f/5.6.

This one is a big Male taking a break, looks like is eye is damage, rut season is tough, even in that Park they battle for females.

Canon 7D with 70-300mm IS, at 100mm, ISO 800, 1/200 sec. at f/8.

We were lucky to experience a pack of Coyote howling, this was a lot of fun ! The friend of my older girl took a video with her iPod:


My wife and i were able to take some shots of those Coyotes, my wife was on the good side of the truck for taking photos and i tried to get some shots, as well as i could from my position.

Coyote howling

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6 L, ISO 800, 1/400 sec. at f/6.3

Coyotes howling

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, at 115mm, ISO 800, 1/160 sec. at f/8

Like i said above, this is a good place to obtain photos of animals but there is a negative point. Since you shoot from your car you can’t get lower and you have to shoot from the road which limits your mobility as a photographer, like this shot below of Wildboars.

Family of Wildboars, this is a situation that i was limited by my truck, they were walking and would have liked to be lower near ground level.

Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 110mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3

Bison on muddy terrain, in the background you can see a female with it’s young.

Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 110mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3

Close-up of the head of a Bison, this was a big male.

Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 85mm, ISO 800, 1/400 sec. at f/6.3

At one point during your visit there is picnic tables and a small farm where you can stop get out of your car and lunch. There is only White-tailed Deer in liberty, so there is no danger to walk down the trails.

This White-tailed Deer was photographed just beside the parking lot, i wanted to show how well they are camouflaged in their habitat.

Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 200mm, ISO 800, 1/640 sec. at f/6.3

This young White-tailed Deer was very tolerant, my kids were able to pet it like a dog.

Canon 7D with 70-300m IS, at 200mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3

Then we went to the trail to see Grey Wolf and Black bears as well as a show with different species, we even have the opportunity to pet a Turkey Vulture.

Close-up of a Turkey Vulture that was giving a show.

Canon T3i with 70-300m IS, at 190mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3

The sun was out for this shot of a Grey Wolf, not the best light in a forested area but i had to do with it, i stopped the lens to f/11 to show how the Wolf blend in it’s habitat.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/1250 sec. at f/8, tripod (BTW the only shot posted here taken with a tripod).

So if you want to visit the Omega Park situated in Montebello, Province of Quebec, Canada, you will not regret it.

My yearly photo day at “La Rouge” river.

For some years now i like to go shooting photos along the ” La Rouge” river in Grenville sur-La-Rouge, there is a dirt road that runs along the river that offers beautiful point of views. My favorite time of the year to go is autumn not just because of the beautiful colors of the trees but also because there is often fog early in the morning. So this year is a great year for formation of fog, we have sunny warm days and colder nights without clouds, so i was able to easily plan my visit there.

I was up early so i could be there just before sunrise, it’s about 1h15 minutes drive from my home, it paid off, there was fog in the lower valleys and on the river !

Here is the sunrise i was granted from my early drive, i did use a Graduated ND filter, wish i had a stronger one.

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135mm, tripod.

I finally got on the dirt road and was happy to see lots of thick fog over the river which gave me more time to shoot before the sun was able to evaporate all that fog.

I zoomed to about 250mm to get that perspective of the fog over the river.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

Island on the river in the morning sun.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

The opposite banks of the river also getting some warm morning light.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

I used a long enough shutter speed to show movement of the fog.

Canon T3i with 15-85mm IS, 1/2 sec. at f/11, Tripod.

I was near the end of the dirt road and the sun was getting higher in the sky and the fog was nearly all gone by now. I suddenly saw this field on my right with steam coming out of those hay bales, i stopped immediately and ran with my gear in the field!

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135, Tripod.

I tried different lenses and point of view, here i used my 15-85mm at the 20mm setting and used the built-in flash to get some fill-in light in the shadow part of the bale.

Canon T3i with 15-85mm IS, Tripod.

I like the B&W conversion of that shot better than the color one.

 Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

It’s always a joy to shoot photos along that river and i get different opportunities each time i go there, it’s also a good place to see Deer and Turkey Vultures but this i didn’t saw any close enough for my lens. Well maybe next year !

Don’t forget to walk around your subject.

Often we take a shot and we walk away because we think we captured it the only way possible, but in fact we didn’t take full advantage of the situation and didn’t produced the best photo we could. This morning i finally had the occasion to photograph a scene that i was waiting to shoot, i wanted the Sumac Vinegar trees to change to their autumn colors.

I already knew i wanted to photograph them from to different point of view, i started with one of them and took some shots before the sun would hit the scene.

After that i walked to my other point of view and the sun broked through the clouds.

This last shot was taken from another point of view that i found while walking along the field. So even when you think you knew how you wanted to photograph a subject sometimes just a change of position or quality of the light and it can make a difference.

Just for comparison, here is a photo i took with a similar composition to the one just taken above but without the same light.

All the photos were taken with my Canon T3i and 15-85mm with a polarizing filter on a tripod, i took them before going to work within 15 to 20 minutes of each others. So keep your eyes and mind open when shooting in the field.

UPDATE, 7D and 400mm/5.6L survived to water damage!

Yesterday my 7D was not working, so i left it on my kitchen table (i have air conditioning in my house)and tonight when i came from work i looked at it and the VF has virtually no more fog, so i put a battery in it and it worked !!! I put a CF card and took some shots … WOW!

I don’t know how long it will work but i have more hope now.

So i put the battery and CF card that were in the camera when they fell in the water to test them, here are the test shots and a short video:


Crops of test shots with my 7D and 400mm/5.6L:

Saving a Camera and lens damaged by water

I’m the kind of photographer who tend to broke is photo equipment, call it bad luck or i’m goofy but it happened to me on some occasion over the last 25 years. But i outdone myself this time, i dropped my 3 months old Canon 7D and 400mm/5.6L in the water 😦

I was photographing frogs and just put my 7D with 400mm/5.6 L and with an Extension tube on my tripod, i put my camera bag on the ground and saw my kit falling in the pond , i quickly grabbed my lens by the hood but the ext. tube unlocked from the lens and my 7D did fall back in the water and was now fully vulnerable and making bubbles 😦

The first thing i did was to turn the camera OFF, remove the battery and CF card. I was about at a 10 minutes drive from my home, so i was able to put my camera and lens quickly in plastic bags with silical gel. I went to my local camera store and they said that Canon wouldn’t repair them because of the water. After that i got help from forum members (DPReview and Nature Photographer Network) that suggested rice, so i put rice also and transferred the lens and camera in separate plastic containers. I also removed the back cover on my 7D and unscrewed the lens mount on my 400mm lens to help air circulation.

I changed the rice everyday, and after over 48 hours i decided to try my 400mm lens which looked dry (no more water in the scale distance window), it didn’t get deeper than the scale distance window in the waterTo my surprise the AF worked like a new lens, i tested it on a Canon XS, here is one of my first test shots:

This is a 100% crop from a shot taken in JPEG on a Canon XS.

After testing it i put it back in the container with rice to be sure that any remaining humidity would be eliminated. I didn’t touched my 7D for a full week, the top LCD was half filled with water, it took 3 days to completely dry out, even after 5 days there was still water droplets in the VF.

Well tonight i looked at my camera and the VF is now fogged, so i decided to try a battery in the camera (in fact 3) ….. well nothing happened. I declare my 7D officially dead 😦

I’m now waiting news from my insurance tomorrow, after that even if they don’t pay i will have to buy another 7D. At least i saved my lens, the camera took too much water to survive.

Hope that my post will help others save their equipment if it ever happens.

I found some tips here a couple of days later:


The little pond.

My favorite pond for photographing Green Frogs is in fact an old part of an ATV trail that is now filled with water. The pond is not wide so it’s easy to take photos of any Frog in the water or on the shore . When i can i stop at the pond before going to work, i don’t always take photos or came home with a good shot but the more i go the more i have chances to get a good shot. This is a big advantage to have a place like this that you can go often and try new technic are POF, if it doesn’t work the first time you can easily try again and again until you get what you want.

During the last years i got different perspective of Frogs at that pond by using different lenses. I will start by a short video i made this morning of the pond and the set-up i used to get the following photo.

This is the photo of the Male Green Frog that i’m showing in the following Video. unfortunately i couldn’t get the reflection of the Frog’s eye on the water because of the reflections of the plants surrounding the frog.

Canon 7D, 400mm/5.6L, 52mm of Ext. tubes, ISO 400 at f/9, tripod, LV was used to focus precisely on the eye.

Here is the video, you will see the whole pond and the Frog that is in the photo just above:


Some more shots from that pond and i always keep an eye for insects on plants along the shore.

Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS at 300mm with Ext. tube, at f/11, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 800 at f/7.1, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Mcro WR, ISO 500, 1/500 sec.at f/5.0, handheld with SR.

Green Heron hunting tadpoles .

It’s 5:00 AM, it’s windy, rainy and cold  (around 8 degree Celcius), but i decided to go anyway and visit a pond close to my home to photograph Frogs. You can see how the pond looks like, it’s a Beaver’s pond with lots of trees fallen in the water are still up.

Pentax K-01 with DA35mm Macro Limited, tripod.

There was not much Frogs because of the cold, they were mostly all hiding with just the head out of the water. After walking along the shore i finally found a Bullfrog and was able to take it’s portrait.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L with Extension tubes, tripod and remote release.

ISO 500, 1/6 sec. at f/9.0

After that shot i decided to do another walk along the shore of the pond to see if i could found more frogs. To my surprise there was a Green Heron that was now hunting for it’s lunch on the fallen logs ! My experience with Herons (Great Blue Heron, Green Heron and Black-Crowned Heron) around my home, is that they are difficult to get close enough to take good photos. So i stopped and waited to see if it would fly away, it stayed there and continued to hunt, it was catching frogs and tadpoles with ease.

Since he seemed to accept me i made a move and walked right to the shore where i would get the best view to take photos, he didn’t even mind and was walking on the logs and catching more tadpoles.

Walking to another hunting spot.

Windy up there !

Another Yummi tadpole !

Taking a break to digest all those Tadpoles !

Last one for the road .

I was really happy to take photos of that Green Heron for more than an hour even if it was cold and humid, it was worth it. All photos were taken with my Canon 7D and 400mm/5.6L on a tripod, ISO 800, 1/125 sec. to 1/160 sec. at f/5.6. The shutter speed was low because of the low light level, so getting sharp photos of action shots was not easy, but i managed to get some sharp ones.

Visit of a new Frog pond.

This morning i visited a  pond where i’ve never been for photographing frogs, i hoped to find at least 2 or 3 species. After that first outing i can say that there is at least the following species: Leopard frog, Green frog, Spring peeper frog and Bullfrog. 

Here is a video of the pond (sorry for the bad quality, i’m a photographer not a videast !)


I took some shots but the light was becoming harsh, i will go again earlier in the morning or on a cloudy day. I think i will like that pond, with old tree trunks in the water with vegetation growing on them will make great shots if i can find frogs resting there.

Bullfrog .

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and 65mm of Extension tubes, tripod and remote release.

I think this one is a Green frog.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and 65mm of Extension tubes, tripod and remote release.

Leopard frog, not the best shot but i wanted to show that there is also Leopard frog in that pond.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and 65mm of Extension tubes, tripod and remote release.

Canada Goose, there is also many bird species that live there. 

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.

I can’t wait to go back at that beautiful pond !

Beavers are back at the pond, good for Frogs !

My favorite pond for photographing Gray Tree Frogs and Spring Peeper Frogs is a Beaver’s pond, but sadly 2 years ago the beavers were killed by humans. Since there was no more beavers for the last 2 years the water level of the pond was very low and last year it was completely dried out by mid summer and a lot of tadpoles died before having time to complete their metamorphosis. So last year was not a good year for the frogs and for my frog photography sessions, it didn’t last long.

One of the 3 beavers that i’ve seen this spring, a blurred vision in low light.  I panned with my camera as the beaver was swimming close to me.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/25 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

I had a surprise last week-end when i went to see if i could find some frogs and saw 3 beavers and a big pond full of water, and to top this i heard some frogs singing even in the cold morning (it even snowed later in the day). I was more than happy for the little frogs, hope that the beavers will not get kill this year.

Here is a video i made last summer (2012) of that pond, where i walk to take that video this year with the water level i would be walking in waist level water . You can see the result of a very dry year and no beavers present to maintain the water level.


Beaver’s pond are important for frogs and insects, it’s a great place for reproduction and make that place home. If everything goes well it should be a great year for frog reproduction, especially for the Spring peeper and Gray tree frog because at the edge of the pond there is a lot of vegetation and small trees to hide in. At that pond in past years i also saw Leopard frogs, Green frogs and American Toads.

Leopard Frog on moss on the shore of the pond.

Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR, handheld.

Young Gray Tree frog in a tree along the shore of the pond.

Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1.4X, tripod.

Damselfly are another resident of beaver’s pond.

Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1.4X, tripod. 

I’m looking forward to see how the season will go, hope to make some good frog shots and now of beavers also !

Canada Geese out of the water.

Canada Geese during spring migration can be found eating grass and can be photograph even if it’s not the best looking environment. Try to make the most out of the situation by doing close-ups or getting interesting interactions.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod, RAW.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6 L and TC-1.4X II, tripod, RAW.

At the end of my photo session the 2 Geese were quite close.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and TC-1.4X II, tripod, RAW.

Not my sharpest shot but i like it.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L and TC-1.4X II, tripod, RAW.

Canada Geese in flight.

Canada Geese are coming back to Canada and they are flying everywhere this week, i even saw Snow Geese. So i went to the shore of the St-Lawrence river near my home where i knew i would find Geese, each autumn and spring there is a lot of them there. I positioned myself on a hill and the Geese were taking off and flying at different distances, some too close to fit in my viewfinder with my 400mm lens.

I was able to test and feel the 7D and 400mm/5.6L combo and see how the AF would perform handheld for BIF.

ISO 500, 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

For all the photos i did use the AF point expansion (manual selection) and AI servo, i uses the AV mode for exposure. For a first try it was good, will need more practice as i need to be smoother while panning to follow the birds. The AF worked well but at the beginning the light level was lower and my shutter speed was not fast enough, it was below 1/800 sec. When the sun came out my shutter speed was higher and my keepers were better. I really like the Joystick to select the AF points, it`s fast and easy to find with your thumb while keeping your eye glued to the viewfinder.

The biggest challenge was to expose the Geese correctly, they have black, white and brown feathers and the sky was partly cloudy so the backgroung was always different , ranging from darker blue to white. The bird were also flying at different distances and occupied more or less space in my viewfinder which affected the exposure, so i had to costantly correct the exposure compensation.

All photos were taken in RAW and cropped for composition purposes.

ISO 500, 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

I waited until some Geese were flying in front of the moon, i would have liked the moon to be more evident.

ISO 500, 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

Not their best profie !

ISO 640, 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

Taking off over the ice.

ISO 640, 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

Animals at Omega Park.

Omega Park is like a zoo but the difference is that most animals are free and you drive your car on a dirt road to see Elk, Deers and other wildlife. Bears, Wolf and Coyote are in big enclosures which is normal with all those Deers and Elk !

You don’t always have a great angle to shoot since you can’t get out of your car, so you have to hanhold your camera and shoot from the inside of your car. I like to go in different seasons since there is something new to shoot everytime. The following photos were shot this winter in March. I used my DA*50-135 and Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 for most of the shots but i also used my NEX-3 with the 18-55 kit lens for those close encounters.

Here is a snapshot of how it looks while you drive in the Park, they are all waiting for you to have Carrots.

Sony NEX-3 with 18-55 kit lens.

Arctic Wolf in it’s enclosure.

Pentax K20D with Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

Red Deer.

Pentax K20D with Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

Red Deer close-up.

Pentax K20D with Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

White-Tail Deer waiting for carrots !

Sony NEX-3 with 18-55 kit lens.

Wild Boar along the road, they are frequent and funny to observe.

Sony NEX-3 with 18-55 kit lens.


Pentax K20D with DA*50-135.


Pentax K20D with DA*50-135.

K-01 and Macro-Takumar 50mm/4 (just a photo).

I just wanted to share a photo i took on my way to work with my K-01 and  SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4. It’s a good combination, focus peaking help getting critical focus. It’s always a pleasure to use those old Screwmount Takumar lenses !

So i found a leaf laying on the ice and liked the contrast and details on the leaf.

Pentax K-01, SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4, ISO 100 at f/16, tripod.

Don’t be afraid to use different lenses.

Often we tend to take a photo with a lens and walk away thinking we got “the shot” , i do it myself also. On a frosty morning i took photos of the same scene but varying my choice of lens. I did change the angle by walking around my subject to get the perspective i wanted.

Here is the lenses i used to take the following photos on my K-01:

– DA14

– DA*50-135

– Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

 With those 3 lenses i was able to vary my compositions to get different effects.

Pentax DA14

Pentax DA*50-135 at 55mm

Pentax DA*50-135 at 135mm

Pentax DA*50-135mm at 108mm

Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

They may not be all keepers but it’s always good for training your “Eye“. So give it a try next time you’re out shooting in the wild!

3 of my photos published in Canadian Geographic’s “Best Wildlife pictures 2013”.

I’m very happy to have 3 of my photos published in Canadian Geographic’s “Best Wildlife pictures 2013” edition. Last year i had 2 of my photos in that special edition, good to have photos published in a magazine with such a good reputation!

So here is my 3 photos that they selected:

My yearly day off dedicated to photography .

Every year i took a day off at my job so that i can go alone taking photos during a complete day, habitually during the year i only go for 2 to 3 hours sessions on the week-ends or i bring my camera with me when i’m going to work, that’s all the time i have. My favorite place is to drive the dirt road along the Rouge river in the town of  Grenville-sur-la-rouge here in the Province of  Quebec, Canada.

I visited that river in every seasons and the fall season is my favorite, plenty of possibilities and often there is fog in the morning. So this time it’s in autumn that i went there, i was hoping to get good shots. The Meteo was on my side, it rained the night before and there was some fog in the morning with practically no wind !

Since i was not walking much, i packed my camera bag with more equipment than if  i would have needed to walk long distances in the forest. I didn’t packed my 400mm since wildlife was not my main interest even if i always see deers along the road. I wanted to concentrated on the colorful trees and the river. An important piece of equipment for fall photography, especially when everything is wet, is a polarizer filter since it helps remove reflections off  the leaves and give punch to the colors.

It started quite well, at my first stop i managed to get a good shot of the river.

I liked the small tree and the trunk on the shore of the river they made for an interesting foreground.

Pentax K-01, DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 100, 0.4 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.

Here is another one taken from the same place, i just walked to the right of the tree trunk that you can see on the photo above.

Pentax K-01, DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 100, 1 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.

Along the road there is a smaller river that crosses the road under a bridge, i always stop and walk along it to find subjects to shoot. As usual i did get some interesting shots, even found a Green frog that was cooperative!

I did a short video to show you my set-up of how i took the next photo:

river shooting

Here is the shot i got from the video, i cropped the upper part to remove distracting branches.

Pentax K-01, FA20, ISO 100, 2.5 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.

Now, some more photos i took on this small river:

Pentax K-01, DA35 Macro Ltd, ISO 100, 4 sec. at f/13, with polarizer, tripod.

I tried different ISO to get the effect i wanted with enough DOF to keep everything sharp.

Pentax K-01, DA35 Macro Ltd, ISO 640, 0.8 sec. at f/14, with polarizer, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DA14, ISO 160, 0.4 sec. at f/4, tripod.

Sony NEX-3 with Sigma 19mm, ISO 400, 0.5 sec. at f/11,  tripod.

Found a Green frog on the shore of the river, she was kind enough to let me get close with my DA14.

Pentax K-01 with DA14, ISO 1600, 1/30 sec. at f/8, handheld with SR activated.

When it started to rain i switched to my K20D with my DA*50-135mm.

Pentax K20D with DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 200, 3 sec. at f/14, polarizer, tripod.

Every photo outing have an end, it was time to go back home. Here is one of the last photo i took of the river.

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135 at 75mm, ISO 200,1/5 sec. at f/9, polarizer, tripod.

Fog is one of the best opportunity for photography.

Fog can add drama and/or mystery in a shot, you have to be out early because when the sun is up the fog will evaporate quite fast and the show will end.

I’m lucky to live in the Province of Quebec in Canada where we often have cold nights that are ideal for fog formation. Here it can happen most of the year, habitually you need a warm day followed by a cold night, even in winter when there is a big drop in temperature during the night, fog will form and also frost will hang on the trees adding another beautiful touch to the landscape.

Autumn is the best season for fog photography because the days or still warm and during the nights the temperature can drop very low and you can have fog and frost in the same shot!

This shot was taken in August on a cold morning on the shore of Lake Philippe in Gatineau Park, Province of Quebec, Canada. I waited until the sun was out to see how the scene would change, sometimes you’re lucky and get a good shot.

Pentax K20D, Pentax DA*50-135mm, Tripod.

Exposition can be tricky because your meter will try to make the fog grey, so you will have to compensate for that by dialing +1 or more depending on how much fog take place in your composition.

Another situation that is hard to expose is when the fog is lit by the sun, burning highlights can be easy. The “blinkie” on your LCD can help to see how much of the scene will be overexposed, some part might be overexposed but you don’t want to have all the fog to be too overexposed.

Here is an example of the sun rising behind the fog, the sensor can’t record the dynamic range of the entire scene, so you have to let the sun overexposed which is OK since we can’t see all that scene well exposed with our own eyes anyway.

Sony NEX-3, SMC Takumar 35mm/3.5, tripod.

An interesting thing about fog is that it will take the color temperature of the available light, at sunrise it can become orange and before sunrise it’s more gray or blue.

Here is a shot i took at sunrise, you can see that the fog took the color of the light at that time of the day.

Sony NEX-3, Sony Alpha 70-300mm G series, tripod.

Composition is important, if you fill the frame with fog you will not necessarily get a good shot, you will get a white frame, you need structure and if possible a strong foreground interest. Practice is the key for photography and particularly with fog, autumn is coming so it’s time to set your alarm clock, dress warm and get out with your camera. Back home after your photo session you will be able to look at your shots on your PC with a hot chocolate or coffee.

Some more shots.

Fog and frost in a field last autumn, not thick fog but enough to give a final touch to that shot.

Pentax K20D, Pentax DA* 50-135mm, tripod.

St-Lawrence river at sunrise with fog on the horizon.

Pentax K20D, Pentax DA* 50-135mm, tripod.

Fog can give a different look to your wildlife photos, those Canada geese looks more like a painting.

Pentax K20D, Pentax-67 M* 400mm/4, tripod.

My favorite frog pond is drying quickly.

I have a favorite pond where i like to go for photographing frogs because i can found 4 species of frogs (Grey tree frog, Spring peeper frog, Leopard frog and Green frog) and American toads can be found in the forested area around the pond. In fact it’s an old beaver’s pond, but last year the beavers were killed and the dam was destroyed.

During the 2012 winter we didn’t received much snow, so the water level during the spring was already lower than usual and it didn’t rain much in June and July. Now the level of the lakes, rivers and ponds are very low. With all those events combined together the result is that the pond is almost all dry out and many tadpoles died when the water evaporated. In the newspaper they said that the lakes around here are at their lowest since the last 40 years.

I made 2 videos in July:

This is how it looked like on July 03:

july 3

Now this is how it looked like on July 15:

July 15

Some of the tadpoles had time to made it to the frog state and i was able to take photos of them! I hope that most of them will make it for the next reproduction season.

Young Gray tree frog.

Pentax K-01, DA35mm Macro Ltd, ISO 1250, 1/200 sec. at f/5.6, handheld with SR.

Young Gray tree frog.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 1600, 1/13 sec. at f/8, tripod.

Green frog tadpole.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 2000, 1/30 sec. at f/5.6, handheld with SR.

Young Leopard frog.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 1600, 1/30 sec. at f/6.3, handheld with SR.

Adult Spring peeper frog.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1/4 X-S, ISO 2000, 1/60 sec. at f/8, tripod.