Year end always creates some retrospection…. the result of which is this article which showcases some of my favourite images in 2023. The photographs we capture are indelible moments in time that will never be perfectly repeated in the future. A number of the bird photographs featured in this article stem from simply being in the right place at the right time.
Each of us has our own criteria regarding what constitutes a memorable photograph. Many of my favourite images in 2023 that are featured in this article are associated with a specific photographic challenge that presented itself to me.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The photograph above was captured during a visit to the frog display at the Royal Botanical Gardens. This frog was positioned perfectly in its glass enclosure so I could get a full frame capture and avoid having to crop it. The detail on the frog’s skin, and the fine details on its eye lid, prompted me to use Handheld Hi Res technology for this image.
I used the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/.2.8 zoom in tandem with the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter to create this image… shooting through a glass enclosure using a shutter speed of 1/60. After four years, I’m still amazed with how easy Handheld Hi Res technology is to use… and the quality images it creates.
Sometimes I can get fixated on photographing birds-in-flight at the expense of other opportunities. All I have to do is watch some birds moving in and around branches and twigs for a while to appreciate the wonderful image opportunities their movements create. This image of a chickadee jumping from branch to branch was captured at Hendrie Valley.
The photograph above is the result of hearing some wing beats over my shoulder, then turning around quickly to see this mallard duck flying less than 10 metres away from me. All I had time to do was instinctively raise my camera to my eye and fire a short burst of images.
While exploring the Port Rowan Wetlands with a friend, I noticed some movement in some bushes and spotted a small bird moving quickly from branch to branch. I used Pro Capture H at 60 frames-per-second with a single, small auto focusing point to capture this bird taking flight over 17 metres (~57 feet) away from me. My best guess is that it may be a kinglet (species identification is not my forte).
While at Hendrie Valley I noticed an osprey in the distance flying with a fish it had caught. I knew from experience that these birds often fly in a circular path before heading off towards a nesting box located on Plains Road. As I kept watch, the osprey suddenly appeared flying straight at me. I was able to capture this image with the osprey about 13 metres (~43 feet) away from my shooting position.
I spent a few afternoons trying to photograph swallows plunging into a small pond at Biggar Lagoon Wetlands. It took some time to get my technique even remotely on track, but I was able to capture some interesting images.
My wife and I visited a museum in Bonavista during our mini tour of Newfoundland earlier this year. The realism of this display piece was stunning. We both did a double take initially wondering if it was a living human being.
Many people specifically visit the Bonavista area in order to capture images of puffins flying at the Puffin Viewing Site in nearby Elliston. We made four different trips to the site and faced thick fog during each of our visits. A few days had some high winds and rain thrown in for good measure. Until the puffins got to within about 50 metres (~165 feet) they were basically hidden by the fog. I was able to capture a number of useable photographs, with the one above being one of my favourites.
Being on a photography tour when most days are overcast, rainy and often foggy can be less than motivating. I spotted the landscape image opportunity above and pulled off onto the side of the road. I didn’t even bother to get out the car, rolling down the window and shooting from the driver’s seat. I quite like the mood in this image.
While in Twillingate Newfoundland my wife and I were able to see some icebergs while on a boat tour. We also looked for opportunities to incorporate icebergs in some of our landscape images. I had to hike down towards the beach and use a longer focal length in order to create some compression in the composition above.
Being in the right place at the right time while using a fast frame rate can sometimes yield some interesting images. I was at Biggar Lagoon Wetlands photographing some swallows and purple martins when I was able to capture two birds simultaneously arriving and leaving a nesting box.
While doing some insect photography experimentation with a particular gear set-up, I was able to capture this interesting little critter. Some of these insects were extremely skittish so being able to get reasonable magnification without getting too close to the subjects proved beneficial.
As regular readers know, I built a small pond in my backyard many years ago. I often stand at my kitchen window and wait for birds to come to bathe or take a drink. I typically use Pro Capture H at 60 frames per second to capture images of birds taking flight from the pond. Even though the bird in the image above is ‘just a sparrow’ I love its body position and the water trails coming off its feet.
During hot summer weather it can often be a challenge to find birds to photograph. This past summer I made a number of visits to various ponds at the Royal Botanical Gardens as dragonflies can often be found at this location. I find it very rewarding to capture images of dragonflies in flight.
Although I didn’t got out to photograph birds-in-flight as often as I would have ideally liked in 2023… I did manage to capture some interesting images like this tern trying to retrieve a fish it had dropped in mid-air.
Sometimes I’ll grab one of my cameras to photograph a particular subject just to see what will happen. This is exactly what happened one evening when I decided to photograph the moon handheld using my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS fully extended, along with the MC-14 teleconverter… and using my E-M1X’s digital teleconverter…. for a total efov of 2240 mm. While the resulting images were far from being award winners… it was a very interesting and instructive experience.
One of my passions is to photograph just about anything that flies. This includes insects like butterflies, bees and wasps. The wasp in flight in the image above was captured near one of the flower plantings at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario using Pro Capture H technology.
In the almost four decades that my wife and I have lived in our current home we’ve never had a praying mantis land and perch on the glass of our kitchen patio door. This praying mantis decided to visit one night which made capturing images of it a challenge as the only illumination came from a light over our kitchen table.
I was able to capture the image above using my M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with in-camera focusing stacking. Since the praying mantis was poorly lit I shot handheld at 1/15th of a second, at ISO-3200, using an aperture of f/4. I had to shoot through a double pane patio door so getting the right shooting angle to avoid reflections was a challenge.
Over the years I haven’t had too many opportunities to photograph vultures flying at lower altitudes, let alone any of them coming in to land. This fall I learned that vultures often frequent Forty Mile Creek in Grimsby to feed on the salmon carcasses left after spawning in the autumn season.
When waiting for a dragonfly to take flight, or land, I’ve occasionally had some luck when a second dragonfly will momentarily enter my composition. These situations almost always yield interesting images.
I recently did some experimentation using Live ND to produce some creative motion in photographs at the miniature train display at the Royal Botanical Gardens. I love trying out new approaches to see what will happen… even if some of them don’t produce any useable images.
As I’ve been using in-camera focus stacking more and more. It has become one of my favourite technologies resident in my E-M1X bodies. The image above was captured handheld along the Niagara River.
The photograph of a kingfisher coming in to land in a tree at Forty Mile Creek is one of those ‘right place at the right time’ images mentioned earlier. When it comes to bird photography almost all of the images that I create use some kind of computational photography technology in my E-M1X.
The image above was captured part way through the Western Brook Pond Tour in Newfoundland, when our tour boat had stopped at the end of the pond. This gave me an opportunity to adjust my composition and include the floating dock as a foreground element. This helped to provide context and a sense of scale to the photograph.
There’s an old saying that patience is a virtue. It certainly can come in handy with bird photography. I was visiting Biggar Lagoon Wetlands and happened to notice a swallow perched on a bull rush. I thought this may produce an interesting image when the bird decided to take flight. After waiting for about five minutes this little pocket rocket finally took flight which yielded some good photographs.
I hope you enjoyed viewing some of my favourite images in 2023, along with reading about some of the background on the individual photographs.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files or out-of-camera jpegs depending on the technology utilized. This is the 1,343 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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