It’s that time of year again, and what a great one it was! So difficult to choose only ten images. Just to be clear here, the term “best” is quite subjective, and what it really should mean for this list is “personal favorites”.
So, before rambling on too much, let’s begin delving into my personal favorite images of 2018! (as usual, clicking on an image brings up a larger, more detailed version):
10. Blackburnian Warbler.
Warblers are some of the most challenging birds to successfully photgraph in an artistically pleasing way. Of those, the male Blackburnian Warbler is one of the most striking, and certainly my favorite. These guys love the canopy too, adding to the level of difficulty! This individual, photographed at my folks’ cottage about 25 minutes north of Ottawa, certainly did not disappoint!
9. Snapping Turtle Wearing Blue Bling.
Every year in June we get a few days when the female Snapping Turtles in a local conservation area come out of the water and start lay eggs in many spots around the area. As many as a few dozen of them can be found within minutes of walking the grounds of the park. I was photographing this individual from farther away when a couple of damselflies landed on her face. I took a few images, than began crawling up closer in the hopes they would stay there for full-frame head portraits. They did, and offered me a unique opportunity with this beautiful turtle. Stopping down the aperture provided a bit more depth-of-field for this type of close-up
8. Post-tornado Sunset.
On the afternoon of September 21st our region was hit with not one, but six tornadoes (three close to the city, and an additional 3 a little further out, but all from the same wicked storm system). Some homes were destroyed, and others (and businesses) were badly damaged. Later on in the early evening while at home I could see another related system moving through, and in the hopes of getting some amazing storm cloud formations I raced over to my favorite sunrise/sunset location which has vast natural unobstructed views of the sky across the river. That turned out to be a bust as far as storm photography went, but the sunset that developed as the system weakened was one of the better ones I’d seen in a long time! The image below is not the sunset at its most intense, but artistically it is my favorite of the session with the diagonal split between warm and cool colours.
7. Ruby-throated Hummingbird Nest
Many local photographers/birders will recognize this nest, as it was particularly popular being located right by a busy local nature trail. So popular, in fact, that on sunny days it was almost impossible to manoeuvre due to large crowds. Nothing wrong with that per say, except I’m not as comfortable with larger crowds…so I went during cloudy or light rain mornings….most of those which I was either fully alone, or with a couple other keen photographer friends 🙂 Besides, as I’ve written before “here“, cloudy conditions are my favorite for nature photography. Too boot, I also found a spot on the alternate side of the nest, which at first glance looked inaccessible, to photograph it from and give different views than what was otherwise offered. Here some rain weighed down the leaves to provide neat framing of the nest, which was now obstructed on the “popular” side. A small keyhole between leaves permitted a nice vantage point with the narrow field-of-view had by 700mm worth of focal lenght.
6. Pileated Woodpecker Intimate Preen
As many of you know, I am a fan of tight portraits, so when this female Pileated Woodpecker landed close I was a rather happy camper. Too close though, and rather than trying to remove the TC and potentially lose the opportunity I decided to back up slowly instead. While I was backing up she unexpectedly started to preen, and with a good head angle too! I knew that from so close any movement by the woodpecker would likely show more than usual in the images therefore I took many “bursts” in hopes some of them would be sharp. Some were, with this one being the best of the bunch.
5. Great Egret Graceful Landing.
Is there a bird in the Ottawa area more graceful than the Great Egret? Not sure. These guys are so delicate in their movements, and especially more apparent when they land silently and delicately in the shallow water like avian ballerinas. I had a nice morning with a few individuals that seemed more agitated than usual, which created many flight shot opportunities. The image I liked best had a few small touches that made it better than the others: fully flared feathers, a toe skimming the water surface, a line in the water from that skimming, and the small aquatic plant at right.
4. Angelic Semipalmated Sandpiper Pose.
What list of mine would be complete without representation from my favorite family of birds to photograph – the shorebirds. I had lots of luck in being at the right place at the right time for bathing and post-bathing wing-flap situations this summer. More tips and tricks and images about this here. Anyhow, this Semipalmated Sandpiper was one of a few bathing simultaneously in front of me – I chose this one as it had no distractions behind or around it. Good call, as when it did its predicted after-bath wing-flap the coast was clear for a resulting clean frame, just the way I like it.
3. Common Goldeneye Courtship Behaviour.
For the longest time I have wanted to photograph the various Common Goldeneye courtship behaviours. In the span of a couple of days in February I had the pleasure of witnessing and photographing exactly this, and from up close too. The sights and sounds felt as I looked through my viewfinder added tot he drama, and cannot be translated into photographs. Quite a few fun images were captured, and documented here, but his one in particular stood out for the intensity in of this eager male eyeing a nearby female.
2. Algonquin Park Moose in Snowfall.
An October day-trip with a friend to Algonquin Park in search of Fall wildlife proved fruitful yet again. I had never properly photographed a mature bull Moose at this time of year, so when we first spotted this big boy at the edge of a lake quenching its thirst as snow fell, it was almost too good to be true. The camera’s autofocus had a hard time locking on to the Moose due to the system being fooled into locking on to the falling snow instead, so careful manual focus fine-tuning was required here. A memorable sighting for sure!
1.American Robin Framed By Hoar Frost.
2018 started off rather harshly as far as temperatures went, plunging to numbers colder than we had seen in years. Then factor in the wind chill to added (or substract) to the falling thermometer readings. I still went out on some of those days (with a family and full-time job you take all the free days, rain or shine!). needless to say I was pretty much the only one out there, save for another brave soul or two. On one particular morning things were rather pretty and covered by hoar frost. I saw what I thought was a bird flying real low and then landing behind a snowbank. When I investigated the spot, there was no sign of it at all. There was nowhere else it could have gone to, so it was a real head-scratcher. Then as if out of nowhere it popped up from inside this cavity adorned with growing hoar frost “icicles”. Smart robin, as it was obviously taking shelter from the wind and taking advantage of the few degrees warmer temps inside that cavity…and it gave me the chance to create unique images of this common species 🙂
I hope you can agree that 2018 was a great year for wildlife photography for me. Which one is your favorite, or do you agree with the list? Looking forward to what 2019 will bring, and in the meantime here are a few “honourable mentions” that almost made the cut!
Common Grackle Threat Display
Mallard Losing A Feather
Greater Yellowlegs After-Bath Wing Flap.
Least Sandpiper Silhouette