Photography and commentary from John Fujimagari

Wildlife

It’s Raining Again

It's Raining

Well, it was raining, snowing and/or sleeting when I made this image, near Peyto Lake in Banff National Park. At 7000 feet the weather is a bit unpredictable and usually cool, even in the summer. The Gray Jays are very curious birds and followed me around as I was shooting landscape image. When I switched to trying to get their picture, they jumped around from branch to branch quite quickly, not cooperating. I managed to get a good frame with it’s head turned.

In the best light…


Wading Bird

Wading Bird

In this image, I thought that the structure of the components were quite simplistic and would lend themselves to a monochrome treatment. I did brighten the body of the Lesser Yellowlegs as it was in deep shadow. I used Photoshop CC and Nik Software Viveza 2 to selectively brighten and the black and white conversion was done in Silver Efex Pro 2. I finished the frame with an Ambrotype toning in honour of the yellowlegs.

In the best light…


Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

When shooting water birds, I often like to include a reflection in the image. I think that it helps to establish the creature’s habitat.

In the best light…


Alone In A Crowd

Alone In A Crowd

With the dwindling light at Slack Slough near Red Deer, Alberta, my 80-400mm @f/5.6 was down to 1/20th of a second. The fast moving Lesser Yellowlegs were hard to photograph but one held still long enough for me to capture this image. When I looked at this frame on my computer monitor, I was struck by the contrast between the blurred birds and the still one.

In the best light…


Deer Fields

Deer Fields

Driving around on the back roads is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, but also a great source of material. We were motoring down a gravel road when we saw this doe standing on the edge of a small valley. I stopped the truck, rolled down the window and snapped a few quick shots. This is the one I liked the most. I find opportunistic the most common for me. I shoot pictures of what I come across.

In the best light…


Franklin’s Gull

Franklin's Gull

Slack Slough is a large wetland area on the south end of Red Deer, Alberta. It’s an interesting spot to view birds. We were there one day, mostly to see some ducks and wading birds. I wasn’t able to get very close and I had only brought my 18-135mm lens with me that day. On looking up I spied a Franklin’s Gull circling over head. I managed to grab a few quick frames as it passed by. Luckily, at 135mm it was just the right focal length to catch all of the detail in the bird’s feathers. I’m told by my cousin Ken Richardson, that the pink hue on the gull’s underside is caused by winter feeding on crustaceans in Argentina. The same ones that have a strong effect on Flamingos causing their pinkness. A quick trip through Photoshop CS6 and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 has the image tuned up the way I wanted.

In the best light…


Musk Ox Horn

Musk Ox Horn

The Musk Ox has one of the most distinctive horns in the North American animals department. I reminds me somewhat, of the African Cape Buffalo, in that it starts in the middle of the skull and spreads across the entire head. The shape however, is different. On looking at them closely, you can see that there is almost a wood grain pattern on the outside of the horn. The Musk Ox at the zoo seem quite passive but the lore of the musk ox is that they are active in their defence of the herd. Photographing a large animal through a fence can introduce a large number of distracting items. Using a long lens at a wide aperture allows you to narrow the focal point and reduce the subject area, leaving the distractions behind.

In the best light…


Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Morning Stroll

The elephants at the Calgary Zoo have always been one of the most favorite exhibits at the Zoo for my wife and me.

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Ram Tough

Ram Tough

On our recent photo walk to the Calgary Zoo, we visited one of our favourite exhibits, the North American Wildlife. I happened to see this Big Horn Ram just walking into a shaft of sunlight. The back lighting highlighted the horns and spine of the animal. I liked the warm browns of the the animal contrasting with the blue tones of the rocks in the background.

In the best light…


Regal Walk

Regal Walk

A King Penguin takes a stroll on a Penguin Walk at the Calgary Zoo at a recent photo walk. The penguins are taken out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11:00 AM, weather permitting. The penguins only walk on days that are above –25c and below +10c. They are walking to raise money to help support penguins in the wild.

I pretty much stayed with my 70-200mm f/2.8 the whole day at the zoo, wanting to reduce background clutter. On the Penguin Walk, the tough thing is to try to get yourself situated where you have a good view and a background that you can deal with. You can get quite close to the birds, but no touching.

In the best light…


Preening Time

Preening Time

Finding a single Penguin among a large group can sometimes be difficult. At our last photo walk at the Calgary Zoo, the penguins were one of the specific items on our shot lists. This one stood apart from the crowd on a bit of a hill and quietly preened it’s feathers. The wall of the building was in shadow at the time creating a nice darker background to shoot against. Again, I used my 70-200mm f/2.8 for it’s narrow depth of field.

In the best light…


The Redpolls Are Here

Red Poll Light

The cold weather has brought all of the little bird to the feeders. Around our place the Redpolls come when the weather is the coldest.

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The Bears Need Your Help

Dark Grizz Cub
On Friday October 5, 2012 Parks Canada confirmed that 2 grizzly cubs yearlings were stuck and killed approximately 10km west of Banff on the CPR tracks. Trains are the single biggest killer of grizzly bears in Banff National Park. There have been 10 known grizzly bear mortalities on the tracks since 2001, including eight over the last six years. Ten fatalities in an estimated population of 60 individuals pushes the grizzlies toward unsustainability. It would be a crushing blow to the park to have them disappear completely.
I spotted the above cub at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise in Banff National Park last year. This one would be the same age as the two that were killed.
Many of the trains travelling through the park have hopper cars that leak grain and the grain attracts the bears looking for something to eat. The grain car fleet is aging and are wearing out. I’ve seen grain sprouting on the railbed west of Field, BC. That’s well over 100 miles to the nearest grain loading terminal and way too far to still be leaking grain.
It’s time that something needs to be done. As I see it, there are three that could be done.
  1. Fix up the grain cars, so that they don’t leak out grain while going down the road.
  2. Slow down the trains travelling through the park.
  3. Fence off the tracks like the highway to keep all animals off.

I think that a combination of the first two are a viable option while all of the cars are being retrofitted. The third would be the long term best option, protecting not only bears but moose and elk as well.

I wonder why the grain producers are not concerned by the way the grain that they produce is being wasted. The kernels of wheat dribbling out the bottom of the car all of the way to Vancouver.

If you’d like to help out please sign the petition at the bottom of the page.

In the best light

Canadian Pacific/Parks Canada Petition


The Bear Essentials

Look Back

It’s been almost exactly three years since I was last at Waterton Lakes National Park.

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Mammatus Clouds

Banff Mammatus by John Fujimagari (JohnFujimagari) on 500px.com
Banff Mammatus by John Fujimagari

Mammatus clouds are an interesting phenomenon, occurring rarely in this area, most often in conjunction with anvil clouds. This one was no exception that way. A few miles after taking this image, in Banff National Park, I encountered a huge downpour. This was only the third occurrence that I recall seeing mammatus clouds, and those of you who follow my work know that I am an avid sky watcher. I am a firm believer, that bad weather makes good photography. Just remember to protect yourself and your equipment when shooting in inclement weather. When out in a little light rain, I recommend Rain Sleeves by Op/Tech. They are light weight, easy to pack with you, and are quite inexpensive. In the case of downpours; there are heavier duty rain protection products like Think Tank’s Hydrophobia line or Aqua Tech’s Sports Shield. When thunder and lightning are present, I would not recommend going out in the open.

In the best light…


Enter The Rain Forest

Mossy Walkway

As much as I liked seeing the big trucks in Port Alberni, our quick stop at Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park was one of the highlights of our trip. The sounds of nature overwhelm man made sounds the further you walk into the greenery. The gigantic hemlocks tower above you and filter the light coming down to the ground.

Floor Of Ferns

I was drawn to the brilliant green colors like a moth to the flame. I could easily have spent days here photographing everything here. The ferns covering the forest floor were too good to pass up. I loved the lush foliage and there were great images everywhere.

In the best light…


Deconstructing The White Wolf

White Wolf

Well, not deconstructing an actual wolf but rather how I came to finish off this image.

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Whooping It Up

Whooping Crane

I was very glad to see the Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) at the Calgary Zoo. There are only two North American crane species, the other being the Sandhill Cranes.

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Single Swan Swimming

Single Swan Swimming

The Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) is the largest species of water fowl. This specimen at the Calgary Zoo is a fine example. Of course there is very little color in the swan itself other than black and white. The Trumpeter has a black bill and lores and the back ground colors seemed distracting to me. I converted the image to monochrome with Color Efex Pro 3.0 in Nikon Capture NX2.

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 70-200mm @80mm, f/3.5, 1/250 sec, ISO 500

In the best light…


Mallard Drake

Mallard Drake

At the Calgary Zoo, the ducks come and go as they please. The zookeepers keep the water flowing and there is often open water there. So, the wild ducks just fly in and enjoy them selves in the zoo.

The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is fairly common in the Calgary area and can be photographed in many areas along the Bow River. I liked the shadow the trees in the back ground were casting on the water. The lighter area that showed some of the reflection of the sky and matched the lighter area of the rear of the duck. The ripples on the water retained a silky smooth look while the waterfowl itself remained in sharp focus. The drake’s reflection is slightly distorted, yet is still pleasing.

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 70-200mm @200mm, f/2.8, 1/400 sec, ISO 400

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Hitching A Ride

Big Horn & Friend

The Big Horn Sheep exhibit in the Canadian Wilds area of the Calgary Zoo had an extra visitor inside the enclosure. A magpie had landed on the head of the sheep and seemed to be cleaning at the base of it’s horn.

This was just a fun kind of image that I thought I’d include for your enjoyment.

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 70-200mm @200mm, f/2.8, 1/250 sec, ISO 500, hand held

In the best light…


Red Panda

Red Panda

We were lucky enough to see the Red Panda while it was active. The staff had placed fresh bamboo in various locations in the red panda enclosure and this fellow was actively seeking it out. The other red panda was relaxing on a wooden platform. I thought this one looked like it was in a slightly more natural looking setting.

The Dustin Hoffman character Shifu from Kung Fu Panda was supposedly a Red Panda.

The Panda’s coat was in marvellous condition and shone in the bright light. I used some tonal contrast to increase the detail in the foreground snow and some sharpening on the fur and I was done.

In the best light…


Bison

Bison

Often when you are at a zoo, the backgrounds are not the best, and cages can get in the way. The American Bison (bison bison) enclosure at the Calgary Zoo has a heavy gauge wire fencing and metal bars surrounding it.

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Tiger, Tiger

Tiger In The Snow

Tigers (panthera tigris) are the largest of the big cats. They are the things of our dreams and of our nightmares. They command our attention and our respect. For me, they are a thrill to watch, even in the zoo. Wild populations have declined by 50% since the 1990’s according the IUCN’s Redlist. If you’d like to see the amazing detail in this image, you can view the original size on Flickr.

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