Peafowl silhouette
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Bird Photography in Ottawa: Challenge or Alternative?

Ottawa, Canada will not be the best place to see birds, or the very best place to be a photographer, or even the warmest place… wait, why am I writing about Ottawa? As a result of I reside right here, and I’ve photographed birds and wildlife right here for extra hours than anyplace else. Ottawa has taught me that probably the most essential factor of wildlife pictures is persistence – which typically means spending infinite hours ready for the correct second.


I’ve photographed birds in fairly a number of locations, together with a number of cities in Australia, Canada, and the USA. From this, I’ve realized that Ottawa is a little more difficult than another areas. The most important problem might be the chilly, snowy climate that graces us virtually half the year. I keep in mind as soon as making an attempt to {photograph} Goldeneye Geese downtown. As a result of I used to be so excited whereas wanting by way of the viewfinder, I misplaced monitor of time and received frostbite on my proper hand! (It recovered after every week.)

Widespread Goldeneye. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ 500mm, ISO 800, 1/3200, f/5.6

Ottawa can also be surrounded by giant forests, and in common has a reasonably homogeneous ecology with many tall timber. In contrast to in Australia – the place I might go to the one physique of water in a dry surroundings and discover infinite birds and mammals ingesting – the animals in Ottawa are extensively dispersed. There’s merely much less low-hanging fruit for pictures.

Nonetheless, the variations between places round Ottawa might be charming, too. As a result of large number of animal habits and habitats, it’s virtually unattainable to seek out two areas that may generate precisely the identical sorts of images. Thus, what looks like a problem at first look might in reality grow to be a possibility!


How are you going to make a possibility out of a troublesome surroundings in hen pictures? With time and persistence! Even in hotspots with birds virtually flying into your face, skilled wildlife photographers know that it takes time and persistence to seek out the very best second and situations.

A part of the method is solely placing in a while and going out as typically as doable. The extra time I spend looking for photograph alternatives, the extra I’ve discovered, even when the birds are enjoying hard-to-get. Merely spending sufficient time outdoor will ultimately yield outcomes.

Mallard. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ 500mm, ISO 800, 1/640, f/5.6

As an example, one very chilly winter morning, I had gone for a stroll to take macro pictures of useless crops with my Panasonic G9 and Laowa 50mm f/2.8 Macro. Maybe the struggling sumac plant in opposition to the desolate snow would give me a shot value holding? Sure, I used to be certainly determined.

However for some unusual motive, I introduced alongside my Nikon D500 and 500mm PF lens anyway. There have been only a few alternatives for animal pictures of any type, however maybe I used to be in was denial. But, as I used to be making an attempt to seize some sad-looking crops with my chilly fingers, two girls walked by and requested me if I had seen the owl. (Folks invariably speak to me once I carry a giant lens.)

What owl?! They didn’t know what species it was, however I suspected it was a rarity. They gave me imprecise instructions akin to a crayon on a serviette, prompting me to stroll off into the correct (?) route.

After some aimless wandering and questioning if I might be misplaced to the snow without end, I glimpsed a number of intrepid souls carrying lengthy lenses. And certainly, not lengthy after, I noticed the Northern Hawk Owl – usually a really troublesome owl to see. I even managed a number of pictures that I like, displaying the Hawk Owl posed atop a tree.

Northern Hawk Owl. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ 500mm, ISO 180, 1/640, f/5.6

Photographing birds in Ottawa has proven me two issues. First, you may actually do fascinating pictures anyplace, even when it’s not a identified world-class space for any explicit kind of pictures. And second, infinite persistence will often reward you with one thing. Even when there’s only a small probability, hold at it, and the small probabilities will add up.

Dwelling Discipline Benefit

Regardless of the place I’m, I’ve discovered that visiting a spot no less than 6-7 occasions is once I begin to have sufficient data to maximise my photographic alternatives. That’s a part of what I think about the “residence discipline benefit” in pictures – you may simply go to places which can be near residence and be taught their traits very properly over time.

Ring-billed Gull. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ 500mm, ISO 450, 1/800, f/5.6

For instance, I used to go to the close by Carleton College for hen pictures. I think I’ve been there over fifty occasions in each season. Doing so has given me an excellent concept of which species arrive at which occasions, what spots they like, and what their habits is like.

Throughout one in all my visits to this college, I noticed a distant tree with some birds flying round it. I hadn’t seen it on my first a number of visits, however I began to stroll in that route to discover the state of affairs. I spotted that the tree was subsequent to a small stream, and the birds flying round have been colourful songbirds.

Small birds typically love small streams as a result of bigger our bodies of water are too tough for them to wash in and drink from. This explicit stream had an ideal department above the river the place birds would perch – excellent for pictures.

Little spots like this are gems, they usually take time and persistence to seek out. However when you do, they are often very rewarding. Slightly below an hour sitting right here was sufficient for me to get a number of images I favored, together with this shot of a Home Finch.

Nikon D500 + Tamron 150-600 G2 @ 400mm, ISO 3600, 1/250, f/7.1

Usually, pictures in your house city might be very peaceable and fruitful. Round Ottawa, I’ve discovered which spots draw giant crowds – I can keep away from these – and which spots are quieter and simply as stunning.

Personally, being in a peaceable second and simply observing animals is probably the most important inspiration for my pictures. It’s definitely simpler to seek out these spots proper at residence than anyplace else.


I really like hen pictures as a result of it’s one thing I can do anyplace, and I’ve been very fortunate to shoot all over the world. However I might be remiss to not credit score Ottawa – not just for the numerous photographic alternatives but in addition for the peaceable moments that I can spend observing and studying about nature.

Have you ever explored the encompassing areas the place you reside? In that case, I’d love to listen to about your experiences in the feedback!

#Bird #Photography #Ottawa #Challenge #Alternative

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