I respectfully acknowledge that the areas I took these photos are located within the Treaty 6 Territory, the ancestral and traditional territories of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐤ ᐊᐢᑭᕀ Nêhiyaw-Askiy (Plains Cree), Tsuu T’ina, Michif Piyii (Métis), Cree people, and within the Treaty 8 region, the ancestral and traditional territories of the Beaver Lake Cree, Michif Piyii (Métis), Cree people. Source: native-land.ca
As another year has come to a close, I can’t help but take a look back at the photos I was able to capture over the past twelve months. While 2022 was a challenging year for many of us (myself included), I found solace in getting out into nature and capturing the beauty that surrounded me.
From the piercing gaze of a predatory bird, to the majestic elk, the world never ceases to amaze me with its beauty and diversity. In this blog post, I will be sharing my top ten favourite photographs from the past year and sharing the stories behind each shot. From the challenges I faced while trying to get the perfect shot, to the moments of pure magic that occurred in front of my lens, these photos are a testament to the power of nature and the beauty it holds. I hope that these photos inspire you to get out and explore the world around you (and maybe even capture a few of your own beautiful nature photos!)
So without further ado, let’s take a look at my favourite photos of the last year! And to make it easier, I will be presenting these photos in chronological order according to when they were taken, rather than ranking them from favourite to least favourite.
To kick off the list, a photo of an American Red Squirrel. This was one of my first photography excursions after a long break due to the pandemic, so I wasn’t sure how rusty my skills had become. Despite my uncertainty, I was able to successfully capture this charming little squirrel. As soon as I arrived at the nature sanctuary, I was greeted by a multitude of birds and wildlife. Arriving early in the morning definitely has its benefits! I had numerous opportunities to hone my photography skills, and this squirrel in particular was very unafraid of humans. It even ran around and posed for me alongside the path, seeking out attention when I was able to capture this shot.
The day before taking this shot, I purchased a new lens for my camera (the Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6) and couldn’t wait to test it out. As I walked towards the shoreline at a nearby pond, I was filled with excitement when I spotted a beautiful bird that I had never seen before – a Black-Crowned Night Heron. I eagerly brought my camera to my eye and snapped a photo. I was stoked with the results. Not only had I captured a decent shot of the heron, but I was also impressed with the capabilities of my new lens. Without it, I would not have been able to capture the same level of detail and clarity that I was able to achieve from my 70-200mm lens. Overall, my first impressions with this lens were great.
As I was photographing a barn swallow, I was suddenly distracted by a commotion in the water over to my right. Two Canada Geese had landed and were engaging in a mating ritual (apparently a rare sight). I quietly moved closer along the boardwalk to get a better view and after a minute or so realized what exactly was happening. After the ritual was over the female began cleaning herself then shaking her wings to dry off. This was one of the better shots of the series and I love how crisp the detail is in the goose, and the water. This was truly an unexpected an exciting encounter that was neat to have captured.
After work I rushed out to the wetlands for some golden hour photography and to see if the Sora and Virginia Rail were still around after noticing sightings of them had popped up on social media and eBird. When we arrived, it was peaceful and quiet – we were almost the only ones there. As the sun began to set, the sky and water took on a beautiful golden hue. I noticed a few ducks splashing around in front of me, so I got down low on the boardwalk and tried to capture their silhouettes. Unfortunately, the bright sunlight made it hard for me to see what I was photographing, and the dark shadows in the water prevented me from getting the silhouette shots that I wanted. I quickly adjusted my settings and was able to capture this gorgeous mallard in motion, glistening in the sun.
Over the course of the weekend, I returned to the pond where I had taken a photo of the Black-Crowned Night Heron. I spent a while observing a flock of Canada geese and even began to be able to identify some of them individually. The following morning I went back to enjoy the peacefulness of a holiday Monday morning and try to get some more photos. As I arrived at the shoreline, I saw the “bully” of the flock and followed him with my camera to capture his shenanigans that were about to unfold. He started chasing another goose across the pond. This was the first good chase photo I had taken (and one of the only two decent photos that I took that morning).
This is the second photo that I had mentioned in the above photo. Initially this photo did not look good at all, but I really liked the pose of the goose and its massive size so I decided to experiment with editing styles to improve it and decided to go with a High Key style. I’m glad that I gave it a second chance, because I am pleased with the final result. You can view a quick TikTok of the transformation from the RAW photo to the final edit here.
In the week leading up to this photo, I had been unlucky in my attempts to photograph (or even see any birds or wildlife for that matter). On my way home through the national park, I still hadn’t spotted anything. However, just as we were about to leave the park my husband pointed out a Red-Tailed Hawk perched on the fence post. I could not believe it! I grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos of the hawk, then turned my attention to a deer that had appeared on the passenger side of our Jeep. The whole experience was absolutely unbelievable!
The leaves were turning colours and it was such a beautiful evening that I felt like I had to get out to the nearby national park even though I wasn’t feeling great that day. I hoped to capture some waterfowl during golden hour, but it was a race against the setting sun to get there on time. (I always forget how slow driving through the park can be). I didn’t end up catching golden hour at the lake, but I did spot this magnificent elk walking through a grassy area. I quickly pulled off to the side of the road, got out of my Jeep to stand in the door frame to get a higher vantage point, and propped my camera on the roof to steady my hands, which were shaking with excitement. Although we have often heard elk in the area, this was the second time that I saw one (and the first time while having my camera with me).
I returned home to my parents house for Thanksgiving weekend. They live near a provincial park that serves as a bird sanctuary for over 200 species of birds and a variety of species often visit their yard as well. As migration season was underway, I was stoked to have the opportunity to do some bird photography while I was there. However, there were fewer birds passing through than I had hoped. I did hear some birds in the trees, so I sat quietly under a tree near the birdbath, hoping to get a chance to photograph one. Eventually a chickadee landed on a nearby brand, and I was able to take a few photos of it. I absolutely love the level of detail in this photo of the chickadee with the contrast of the beautifully creamy and soft background. I hope to be able to create more photos of this quality in the coming year.
For something a little different, I wanted to share a landscape photo that I took on a foggy morning. I decided to go on a solo adventure to photograph the autumn colours in the countryside after dropping my husband off at work. This day turned out a lot different than planned and I ended up driving through some of the thickest fog I’ve ever experienced (in hindsight, I should have turned around as driving through fog this thick is very dangerous). When I arrived at my destination, the fog wasn’t as thick as it was on the highway and I was able to see some of the beautiful autumn landscape. I spent as much time as I could enjoying this moment before the park started to get busy, at which point I knew it was time for me to head back home. More photos from this morning can be found here.
It was a great pleasure selecting my top 10 favourite photos from the past year. It was difficult to narrow it down, but these photos stood out to me for various reasons, whether it was the composition of the shot or the memories evoked. I’ve enjoyed revisiting the moments that inspired these photos and sharing them with you, as well as the stories behind each shot. I am excited to see what the new year brings, and to continue sharing my passion for nature photography with all of you. I wish you all the best in 2023!
Until next time, chase the stoke!
- All photos are taken with a telephoto lens.
- When photographing wildlife, please keep your distance. Parks Canada recommends 30 meters from large animals and 100 meters from bears. Never bait, call, crowd, chase, or capture an animal to take a photo.