Sunday, December 13, 2009

Photo Tip: Slow Shutter - Flowing Water

There's not much to write in this blog, the video says it all


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Coyotes 1, Brandon 0

Like I mentioned in the previous blog, I was going to attempt to get some shots of coyotes today. And attempt I did, however results were sub-par. I was given access to some property in Langley from a buddy of mine and had a lot of confidence about the area. As soon as I arrived I did a quick walk around the property to see what I was dealing with. A creek ran through the right side of the property and through the back as well so that was a good sign. The creek area was also pretty thick with trees so this spot had some real potential.

I brought my camouflage, blind, predator call, and long distance lure just to maximize my chances of seeing one of these animals. The long distance lure was placed, my blind was set up, I was fully camouflaged and just as I was about to sit down, I saw it. An animal coming from the left side of the property. I believe it was a Bichon Frise and it belonged to the neighbour. That pretty well ended my attempt at coyote photography for the day.

I couldn't just give up like that though. I had driven all the way to Langley from North Vancouver so I decided to make the most of it. I've heard coyotes had been spotted at a park close to where I already was so I decided to head there. Once again I put on my camouflage, grabbed all my gear and headed down a trail. The trail went through a forest and opened up into this field that looked really good. Just as I started to set up, 3 people walked by. Another place that wouldn't work.

If you're wondering why I gave up so quickly at these spots, it's because I need to call in the coyotes. This involves using a predator call which is made to sound like a rabbit in distress. This call is very loud and it needs to be if it's going to attract coyotes, however with it's high volume, it also attracts overly curious people and pets. Once people and dogs start showing up to my location, my location is blown.

The more I take photos, the more I realize that things don't always go as planned and you just have to move on and try to make the most of the day. I could look at this whole coyote thing as a negative, but I'm turning it into a positive because now I know where NOT to go to look for coyotes in the future. Speaking of which, if any of you reading this know somebody who has some land in the lower mainland of BC that has coyotes on it, please email me at and there may be a print or 2 in it for you.

Now to talk about how I made the most of the day. Since I was already in the Langley area, Ladner wasn't too far and it's always a great place to at least get a few shots of some waterfowl. Even there I didn't have much luck with photos, but I still managed a few. Here they are...

This photo isn't anything special, I just thought it illustrated the struggle between webbed feet and ice.
1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

A Mallard making an icy landing.
1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

Since I mainly try for flight shots, this is my favorite photo of the day. Enjoy.
1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 500, 400mm

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sunrise, Cranes, and very few Eagles

Early this past week the weatherman was calling for perfect weather this weekend. And I can't be the only one out there that is a little skeptical when I see the weather forecast 5 days in advance. However for some crazy reason, the weatherman was right and today it was beautiful out. It was freezing cold, but just blue skies and sun. With the weather being so rainy/overcast here all winter, I had to take advantage of such a nice day and decided to take pictures from sunrise to sundown.

I'm not sure why, but for sunrise photos I decided to head to a place an hour from North Van...Tsawwassen. This meant getting up extra early, but once I was finally awake, it wasn't so bad. I was originally planning on taking some photos of the sunrise itself, but with no clouds in the sky, it was pretty bland. However the scenes I did capture really illustrate the temperature and the beauty of the sunrise.

1/4 @ f/22, ISO 200, 17mm, -2.0ev

1/250 @ f/11, ISO 400, 60mm, -1.0ev

1/60 @ f/22, ISO 400, 60mm

After the sunrise photo session I headed to Ladner once again to try for some waterfowl shots. I did accomplish my goal and managed a few waterfowl photos, but some Sandhill Cranes caught my attention so I ended up focussing on them. I don't have many shots of the cranes so it was a hard opportunity to pass up.

Here are some of the waterfowl shots. This first one is a female Wigeon on thin ice.

1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 500, 400mm, -0.5ev

This one actually came out pretty cool. It's a mallard taking off from the ice.

1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 300mm, -0.5ev

This ended up being the only decent flight shot of the day. It's a female Pintail.
1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm, -0.5ev

I started off the waterfowl photos with a shot of a female Wigeon on thin ice, so I'll close it off with this shot of a drake Wigeon in the same situation.

1/1500 @ f/8, ISO 400, 400mm, -0.5ev

Alright so now for the Sandhill Crane shots. There's not much to say about them so enjoy.

1/4000 @ f/5.6, ISO 500, 400mm, -0.5ev

1/4000 @ f/5.6, ISO 500, 400mm, -0.5ev

1/4000 @ f/5.6, ISO 500, 400mm, -0.5ev

1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 500, 400mm

From Ladner I made the long trip out to Harrison to hopefully find some eagles. Eagles were found, just nowhere near the shoreline. There were some really strong winds and most of the eagles took advantage of them and just soared high above the valley. The ones that weren't in the air were sitting on some sand flats out in the middle of the river, far beyond the reach of my lens.

The photo below is the only decent shot I got in Harrison. It's 2 eagles attempting to lock talons. They didn't end up locking up but if you look closely you can see the one eagle is actually grabbing onto the tail feathers of the other.

1/4000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

Well that does it for my December 5th photo blog. Tomorrow I'm in search of some coyotes to photograph so keep an eye out for that blog...maybe a video too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rainy Day Eagles

Rain, rain, rain. Lately, that's all it's been doing here in Vancouver. And on the days that it's not raining, I'm at work, so I haven't done much shooting this month. Today I gave in and decided to brave the elements to hopefully get some photos of Bald Eagles.

A co-worker/photographer/writer, Ryan Frawley ( has been talking lately of a place near Harrison where there are tons of eagles and today we headed out there to try and find some to photograph.

Neither of us knew if the eagles would be very active due to the constant downpour but with optimism leading the way, we headed to Harrison.

As soon as we pulled up to the spot we knew immediately that we would get a few photos. This photo below is unedited and merely to show the amount of eagles we came across. Anybody care to count 'em up??

1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 800, 105 mm

So once the "evidence" photo was out of the way, it was time to get serious and photograph some eagles. The first eagle we spotted was hanging out atop a post in the river.

1/750 @ f/5.6, ISO 800, 400mm

Shortly after that, there were a few eagles flying around and we were able to snap a few quick shots of them. They were out further than I normally like to shoot, but distant shots are good too because they place the eagle in its natural setting.

1/750 @ f/5.6, ISO 800, 400mm

1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 1250, 400mm

After those 2 flight shots, the action died down a bit so I took one more shot of a few on posts and it was time to hit the road.

1/125 @ f/11, ISO 800, 300mm, +1.0ev

With photo gear and rain gear packed up, it was time to head home... or was it? As we rounded a turn in the road, we saw one last photo opportunity, and it ended up being one of my favorite eagle photos I've taken. The rain may complicate many things when it comes to photography. It can damage your gear, it can make for an uncomfortable time, and it also means that it's cloudy out, and therefore lighting isn't the greatest. And since lighting isn't the greatest, settings need to be set in a way that is normally not ideal such as high ISO and a slower shutter speed. The rain also cuts down on visibility and the further away the subject is, the more rain between it and your camera, and the photo loses detail. But in this photo below the rain actually ends up having a positive effect on the photo by giving it a certain mood and despite all the negative things I've just mentioned about shooting in the rain, I'm definitely going to do it more often.

1/180 @ f/5.6, ISO 800, 400mm

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Snow Geese

Sunday morning I once again headed to Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Ladner, BC. My goal was to take some waterfowl photos in the sanctuary, however that plan changed on the way there. Just before I reached the sanctuary I came upon a very large flock of snow geese and they were a lot of fun to photograph last time so I had to do it some more.

1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

The only problem I found during this snow goose photo session, was that they were hanging out in an area that had a few houses in the distance and the odd telephone pole. When it comes to photography, I personally feel that the background is just as important as the foreground or subject. However it wasn't only man-made objects that needed to be edited out of the photos,. When photographing specific birds in flocks, you tend to get a wing or a head coming in from the top or side of the photo. This isn't a huge issue but I'm picky when it comes to that stuff so even some goose parts were edited out of a few photos. In these next photos I'll first post the completely unedited original, followed by the edited version to give you an idea of what sort of work goes into editing them.

Photo #1


1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm


1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

Photo #2


1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm


1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

Photo #3


1/3000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm


1/3000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

Photo #4


1/3000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm


1/3000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, 400mm

All photos were shot in RAW format and processed/edited with Aperture. The text was added with photoshop.

If you have any questions about how some of this stuff is done, don't hesitate to ask.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, October 26, 2009

Kite Surfers

I was driving over the Lions Gate Bridge on the way home from work today and noticed a bunch of kite surfers at Ambleside Park. So I quickly grabbed my camera and hit the beach before the sun set.

1/250 @ f/5.6, ISO 640, 78mm

The kite surfers were pretty cool. It was the first time I've ever seen them up close doing their thing. One of them really stood out from the rest because he was getting some ridiculous air. He was easily 20-30' off the water at times so naturally my camera was pointed at him most of the time.

1/2000 @ f/4.5, ISO 640, 100mm

There were also kite-less surfers at ambleside enjoying the wind and waves.

1/1000 @ f/4.5, ISO 640, 100mm

The lighting was pretty poor so I ended up making the photos black and white. With the large waves, the black and white seemed to fit the mood so the lighting didn't end up really being an issue.

1/750 @ f/5.6, ISO 640, 59mm

I wish I had more to write in this blog entry but with the shoot being only 15 minutes or so, the photos will say more than I can. Enjoy

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another Trip to Reifel, and then some.

I headed to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Ladner, BC again this morning to hopefully get some waterfowl flight shots. However just like the last few visits, not too many birds were flying so I had to think of shots to get. After about 15 minutes of just sitting and watching the ducks, I knew what I wanted photos of. The American Coot. Probably one of the least photogenic birds I've ever come across. They're all black, have a white beak, and beady red eyes. They also have these gigantic, almost dinosaur like feet.

1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 640, 360mm

With some amazing light today, I decided to take the time and try to show the photo-friendly side of the Coot. This basically meant just trying to take photos of them as they dove for food...

1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 640, 400mm

While watching and photographing the Coots, I noticed another specie of duck was capitalizing on the Coot's feeding habits. The American Wigeon would follow the Coots around and wait for them to come out of the water after a dive, then steal their food.

1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 640, 400mm

After shooting the Coots for a while, I decided to give some of the other birds some attention and took a few shots of them.

1/3000 @ f/5.6, ISO 640, 220mm

On my way out of Reifel, a Red-tailed Hawk landed in a tree above me. I took a shot of it as it took off.

1/3000 @f/8, ISO 640, 400mm

From Ladner, I drove to Buntzen Lake, just north of Port Moody to see what sort of photos I could get there. It was quite cloudy there so I settled on taking a stream photo.

4.0s @ f/22, ISO 200, 17mm

I find I'm always being asked how I make the water look like it does in the above photo so in the near future I'll be doing a bit of a video lesson on how it's done.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Snow Geese, Lots and Lots of Snow Geese

It was quite cloudy here in North Vancouver when I woke up this morning. And the clouds didn't clear as the afternoon approached. Yesterday it absolutely poured all day so I didn't get out to shoot but I had to take at least one photo this weekend. It was at this point a thought occurred to me.... most of the time, the clouds stick close to the mountains. This left me Ladner and Tsawwassen as places to go take photos that are far from the mountains.

I decided once again to go to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Ladner and try for some duck photos. However just before I reached the entrance, a photo opportunity presented itself, or themselves I should say. Snow Geese. LOTS of Snow Geese. I really don't have any photos of Snow Geese other than a shot of a flock of them from quite far away so I couldn't pass this up.

And above I mentioned there were LOTS of's what I mean.

1/1500 @ f/6.7, ISO 400, 170mm
I took a bunch of photos of them and had to stop when a passing car stopped and decided to feed the birds. The reason I stopped was because the entire flock flew away. I personally said my "thank you" in a very sarcastic tone to the car full of life's D students and decided it was a good time to head into the sanctuary.

For whatever reason there weren't too many birds in the sanctuary today so after about 30 minutes I decided to take off.... just like all those Snow Geese. Thanks Again people.

However it turns out 30 minutes is enough time to allow Snow Geese to return to their field. I pulled the truck over and continued taking photos of the Snow Geese.

1/1500 @ f/8, ISO 640, 400mm
After taking a good amount of photos and feeling like I had some keepers, it was time to head home. But I started thinking, I'm already in Ladner, why not head down to Tsawwassen and see what Boundary Bay has to offer in terms of photo opportunities. So I did and I'm glad I made that choice because I came across a pretty interesting Great Blue Heron.

I was able to get fairly close to the GBH which is always good. But I could tell it had some trust issues, if that makes any sense. For the first 10 minutes it just stared at me. It completely forgot about trying to catch dinner and just watched me. But once that 10 minutes passed, it realized I wasn't a threat to it and continued looking for food. Another 10 minutes pass and it finally found something to try and eat...key word, try.

1/1000 @ f/8, ISO 640, 400mm
The above photo is of the GBH not catching a fish.
And the below photo is of it looking quite embarrassed after.

1/1000 @ f/8, ISO 640, 400mm
It stared at the water waiting for fish for another 10 or so minutes and finally took off. I did the same and overall it turned into a pretty decent weekend, photo wise.

The rest of the Snow Geese photos can be found here

And the rest of the GBH photos can be found here

Thanks for reading,

Brandon Broderick

Monday, October 12, 2009

Waterfowl Training Session

With winter being the optimal time to photograph waterfowl, I need to be ready for it when it arrives. Back in my last post I mentioned I was at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Ladner, BC doing a bit of a scouting run. I did take a few photos while there but I was more or less just testing the waters...bad joke, I know. Anyways yesterday and today I went back for the purpose of actually taking some pictures.

Yesterday I went from 2-4p.m. and was presented with some fairly decent light, but some pretty boring/lazy ducks. They were still doing their typical water based events, however flight was limited. And with no flying taking place, I had to photograph them doing something else. So yesterday was mostly behavioral photos.

1/1500 @ f/8, ISO 640, 400mm

Today I decided to head to Reifel for morning light. However there wasn't much. There was this layer of clouds that seemed to follow the sun across the sky, which is sub-par for photography. But, with it still being early in the waterfowl photography season, and this being a test run (making sure I know what I'm doing before the shots that count present themselves), I still decided to stay and take a few photos...642 to be exact. Now you may be asking yourself, "642 photos!?!? That's going to be a lot of editing!" And if in fact you did just ask yourself that, my answer to you is, No. 642 photos in poor lighting of some pretty lazy birds equals 3 keeper photos. And I'm still not entirely happy with those photos. If you follow my blog, you'll eventually learn that I'm really really picky about photos I decide to keep and not trash. As mentioned above, the birds were lazy again. Not much flying going on so again, I just shot random behavior stuff, such as this one of a pair of American Wigeon.

1/750 @ f/6.7, ISO 640, 350mm

Well that's about it for this post. The rest of the photos can be found here

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My First Blog...

Well here it is. My first blog. I'll get to the actual blog in a minute but I'll just take this time to give a bit of an introduction for those who don't know me. I'm a photographer from North Vancouver, BC. My passion lies with wildlife photography but I'm also big on landscape type stuff. My portfolio can be seen here... I'm self taught and have been shooting for just over 2 years now. These blogs will be my way of sharing the details of each shoot with anybody who reads them. I'll try and toss out the odd tip or trick and I'll keep things simple because that's how I learned and hopefully you will learn something too.

Now for today's shoot...

I left my place in North Van around 6am and was off to Tsawwassen to meet Raf, a friend, at McDonalds before the photo session. After the quick meal we headed off to Boundary Bay Park. I often head to Boundary Bay to try and photograph Hawks and Owls but this time the goal was a sunrise shot. I've personally never been a huge fan of yellow sunrises or sunsets but today was a bit different. Rays of sun penetrated the clouds and basically lit up Mt. Baker (located in Washington State). It was a really cool sight and I'm glad I had my camera there to capture it.

1/350 @ f/3.5, ISO 400, 160mm
We had each taken a few photos of the sunrise and headed back to our vehicles. Raf got called into work so I was on my own for the next location, which was The Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Ladner, BC.

If you've never been to Reifel, there's this creek that is on the right hand side of the road and runs from the entrance gate to the parking lot. Today this creek was PACKED with ducks. I mean absolutely PACKED. I've never seen it like that before and I realized it was because I've never been to Reifel at this time of year. As soon as I got out of the truck, a familiar sound rang out and right away I knew what all those ducks were there. BOOM BOOM BOOM...shotgun blast after shotgun blast. Hunting season is open and those ducks in that creek, are smart ducks...Reifel is pretty well the only piece of protected land in that area.

With the ridiculous amount of ducks riddle figured out, I grabbed my camera and headed into the sanctuary. It was a pretty slow start. Not many ducks were flying and for the most part they were all just resting in the water. I didn't mind though because the light was still pretty dim. I took a few test shots at f/5.6 ISO 800 and was only getting 1/30 shutter speed... not even close to fast enough for waterfowl photography. I could have bumped my ISO higher but that just means more noise in the photos and there's no need for that.

After some patience, the light finally improved and the birds started to get active. There still weren't many flying so I ended up just taking a few "duck in the water" type shots. I'd prefer to get action shots, such as flight and behavioral type stuff but sometimes it just isn't meant to be. Although today I did get one preening photo...

1/1500 @ f/5.6, ISO 640, 400mm
Anyways that's about it for this morning. The rest of the photos can be found here .

Thanks for reading,