2009 – My photo year in review plus a new contest

Posted on 11. Jan, 2010 by in Equipment, Everything, Instructional, Locations, Monthly Updates, News, Photography, Snowflake, Techniques, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, Workshops, Tours and Courses

Read through to the end of the post for details on how to enter our new contest…

I was sitting back the other day contemplating what a great year 2009 had been.  2010 is going to have to be pretty spectacular to unseat it, but I’m optimistic.  My year, like my life, largely revolves around photography and I thought it might be useful to run through the time line and review a few of the highlights.

The year started off wonderfully with some snowflake photography and a Winter Wildlife Photography Workshop at the Triple “D” Game Farm in Kalispell, Montana.  I had six people join my workshop, we had a great time and I think they came away with some wonderful photographs.  You can see the results of their efforts in the book I produced for them over a Blurb by clicking on the link below.

Instructional WIldl…
By Wildlife Photo Aca…

This year’s workshop is completely sold out, but I still have room in other workshops and tours this year.

I kept busy the rest of the winter anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring, making the occasional snowflake photograph when the conditions were right and teaching my photography courses at Metro Continuing Education.

(Remember you can view larger versions of these images by clicking on them)

Sectored Plate

In March I got the chance to make a trip to Triple “D” for myself, to get some images for just me.  Unlike a lot of people who put on workshops, I don’t photograph during my workshops.  And while that’s great for the students, I sure get jealous a lot of time at the opportunities I’m missing out on.  Well in March, I had some great snow conditions and came away with a lot of images I’m really fond of.  Here are just a couple.

Grey Wolf watching intently from behind a tree - CA

Grey Wolf watching intently from behind a tree - CA

Snow Leopard watching intently from the down-side of a snowy hill - CA

You know that spring is finally on its way in the Edmonton region when the Snow Geese show up.  This year I had some pretty good luck catching some blastoffs that I think pretty effectively convey the furious action that occurs during these en-masse departures.  I was interested to observe how the departure seems to travel through a flock of birds, otherwise peacefully resting on the water.

Snow Geese cleared for departure

By the end of winter (April’ish in these parts), I was really anxious to get out and do some different photography.  I decided to purchase a kayak to help facilitate my photography of water fowl.  I did a lot of research and ended up choosing Native Watercraft’s Ultimate 12 as my kayak of choice.  These boats are extremely stable, and that’s really important to me when I’m in the boat with my camera and telephoto lenses.  Having that stuff sink to the bottom of a muddy slough would be a really, really bad day.  Here’s a look at what the Ultimate 12 looks like…

Native Watercraft's Ultimate 12

Having the kayak made it a lot easier to get close to some of my subjects and being that close to the water’s surface really provides a wonderful effect in the images.  You’ll also notice that I’m able to get nice sharp shots even though I’m in a kayak on the water.  I mount my lens and camera on my tripod with the gimbal head.  I have the tripod shorted to its minimum size with two of the legs spread over the sides of the kayak with the third in the middle of the floor.  I was very pleased with how the kayak allowed me to get close to the subject while keeping my shooting position very low to the water.

Lesser Yellowlegs wading in a marsh

Red-necked Grebe swimming on a pond

In May I was off to another of my workshops; this time to Riding Mountain National Park for a Black Bear photography workshop.  The attendees from various points in the US and Canada all had the chance to make some images of some wonderful Black Bear Cubs playing and cavorting.  The weather was quite cool while we were there which meant there were a bunch of migrating warblers desperate for any sort of nutrition.  During the down times, I took advantage of the opportunity and got some nice images for my collection.

Cape May Warbler perched on a branch

Cape May Warbler perched on a branch

June was a very special month for me personally.  During this month, I met the love of my life, Kathryn.  We’ve been together ever since and things are going tremendously.

Kathryn and I - 2009

Near the end of June, I was off to another sold out workshop at the Triple “D” Game Farm for the annual Spring Wildlife Photography Workshop (Still a couple of spots for this year’s workshop).  Along the way, I came across a young Black Bear working his way alongside the highway.  I stopped and managed to get a few keepers through the rain.

Black Bear Yearling peaking out of the woods

Black Bear Yearling walking out of the forest

At the end of June, I went to a location near Kamloops, British Columbian, Canada to check out a location for a new workshop for photographing Common Loons.  The location and setting totally met and exceeded my expectations.  The Loons are extremely tame and easy to get close to for photographs and the variety of wildlife in the region is simply spectacular.  In June of 2010 I’m presenting a workshop entitled Shuswap Loons and Other Wildlife.  If you’re interested, check out a couple of the images below and get signed up soon as the spaces are filling quickly.

Common Loon calling while swimming with chick on its back

Common Loon swimming on a golden lake

Northern Flicker preparing to feed a chick

July took me back to the Triple “D” Game Farm in Kalispell, Montana for another sold out workshop; the annual Summer Wildlife Photography Workshop.  This is another workshop likely to sell out this year so if you’re interested you’ll want to get signed up as soon as possible.

Canada Lynx Kitten peering out of a tree stump - CA

Things stayed pretty quiet until September when I headed out to Canada’s beautiful west coast and specifically Prince Rupert where my group and I boarded a 71 foot sailing ketch for my inaugural Spirit Bear photography tour.  If you don’t know, Spirit Bears (or Kermode Bears to be more technical) are a special distinct species of Black Bears that have a recessive gene that causes their fur to be white or cream coloured instead of black, brown or cinnamon.  They aren’t albino bears and about 10% of the bears located in just this one region of the plan have the special genes that cause this difference to express itself.

Wow!  This trip simply blew my mind.  We got to see a total of four different Spirit Bears, a number of Black Bears, lots of Grizzly Bears (some with cubs), a Pine Marten and a ton of Bald Eagles and Humpback Whales.  The food on the boat was fantastic and our guide (the boat’s captain) was amazing.  In addition to returning for another Spirit Bear tour this September, I’m using the same boat for a Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen tour this spring.  Both tours have a couple of space open but are expected to sell out.  Here’s some images from last September.

Spirit Bear eating crab apples along the shore of an island

Spirit Bear with caught Pink Salmon

Grizzly Sow and her Cub standing in the driving rain

October took me back to Triple “D” for the annual Fall Wildlife Photography Workshop.  This year’s workshop is already starting to fill up.  This is one of two workshops a year when you’ll have a chance to photography Snow Leopards.

Snow Leopard lying on a rocky point - CA

In November, I got the chance to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time now.  I got the chance to get up close and personal with some Polar Bears while photographing them.  I went to another new location to do some scouting for a new workshop.  This location (details of the workshop should be announced shortly, so keep watching this space for news) is extremely special because instead of being limited to photographing the bears from a Tundra Buggy, umpteen feet off the ground, you’re down on the ground along with the bears.  Your with a couple of extremely experienced guides to keep you safe and you get the chance to get images just not possible from a Tundra Buggy.  Additionally, the food at the lodge I stayed was spectacular and it was an experience I will never ever forget.  Here’s a couple of images to give you some idea of what the experience was like.

Polar Bear walking along a rocky shore

Polar Bear resting along the shores of the Hudson Bay

Polar Bear standing and watching through some bushes

Now, that would have made it a pretty fabulous year right there.  But, nature intervened and provided some perfect snowflake weather and I got to make some snowflake images right before the year came to an end.  Here’s just one of these brilliant wonders.

Stellar Plate

I can’t imagine having a better year, but I’m confident that 2010 will even be better.  I’ve got a sold out workshop at Triple “D” at end of January, a special workshop in California featuring the Triple “D” animals and trainers this April, Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen Tour in May, Spring Wildlife Workshop in June, Shushwap Loons and Other Wildlife in June/July, Summer Wildlife Workshop in July, Spirit Bear Tour in September, Fall Wildlife Workshop in October and hopefully a Polar Bear workshop this November.  All of these workshops and tours are likely to sell out this year so if you have an interest in attending, get registered early so you don’t miss out.

And now for that contest I mentioned way back at the start of this blog entry.  I have a great book of wildlife photographer Andy Rouse’s work called Concepts of Nature – A Wildlife Photographer’s Art to give away.

Concepts of Nature by Andy Rouse

To enter the contest, you have a number of ways to enter.  Each way you choose to enter the contest gives you an additional entry in the contest.  Here are your contest entry options:

  1. Post a meaningful comment about this blog entry.  I’m the sole arbitrator of what’s meaningful but you’ll now that you’re entered if the comment appears on the blog within 24 hours of your comment.
  2. Follow me on twitter
  3. Retweet (once only please) this blog entry to your followers

I hope that all my readers have a great 2010!

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13 Responses to “2009 – My photo year in review plus a new contest”

  1. Michael James

    11. Jan, 2010

    Hey Paul,

    Great post. As I’ve said before, I hope to tag along on one of your workshops in the future. It sounds like you had a great year and wish you the best in 2010.

    Quick thought…do you have more about how you photograph the snowflakes? Very cool…

  2. Sean Phillips

    11. Jan, 2010

    Hey Paul, great update! I love shooting from a canoe but I’ve never tried it from a kayak. Would you happen to have a picture of yourself with the tripod setup in the boat? I’m curious how it all fits and wonder if you are actually able to see through the viewfinder. From the description it sounds like the camera would be much lower than your eye. I hadn’t really considered a kayak before (more interested in the flexibility to take my family along in a canoe), but getting something that is very stable is also very important, so I may have to reconsider.

    • Paul Burwell

      11. Jan, 2010


      I don’t have a picture of myself in the kayak with the camera. I’ll work on that this spring.

      When I have it all set up, my camera’s viewfinder is at the exact same height as my eye so it all works out really well.

      • Sean Phillips

        11. Jan, 2010

        That sounds pretty perfect then. A photo would still be useful, so thanks in advance!

  3. Ann Torrence

    11. Jan, 2010

    I second the call for a behind-the-scenes kayak shot. My Sea-Yak has a small cockpit, no way a tripod is fitting in that space, been thinking about a different set up.

    I love the loons image, just spectacular!


  4. Amy

    12. Jan, 2010

    I’ve tried shooting from a canoe and not really found the stability I’d like. I am pretty new though, so I know I have a lot to learn.
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and really enjoyed it, but I have to say it’s really neat to see what you yourself think of as the best of the year.

  5. Pat Ulrich

    13. Jan, 2010

    Really beautiful images, Paul! This is such a fun time of year, when we get to see someone’s work distilled down to their favorites. Love the shot of the spirit bear with a salmon — what a terrific moment with such a rare species. All the best in 2010!

  6. Dan Scott

    13. Jan, 2010

    Gday Paul, What a year gone by hey, Sounds like you had a great one. Ive just recently bought myself a 400mm and am just starting to get into a bit of wildlife photography. Here in Australia though there arent too many interesting species to photograph, mostly birds. Triple D looks like a great place, I wouldnt mind a trip out there one year. The pictures you have taken from there are awesome. Have you ever considered a trip out to shoot a wild snow leopard, although unlikely to actually find one i think that would be the most incredible experience. Hope this year is better then the last.

  7. Jason

    14. Jan, 2010

    2009 passed in a photographic blur, I look forward to 2010 as I continue to evolve as a photographer. Reading your post I realize how busy a year it was for you and for myself. I can only hope that when the time comes to post a 2010 post I can list similar success as you have.

    Look forward to the photos and thoughts.

    Keep your shutters clickin’!

  8. Rod

    15. Jan, 2010

    Just found your website. Great stuff. I’m looking forward to following your adventures throughout the year. Great images you have here, I especially love the bears.

    Rod in B.C.

  9. januari warner

    12. Mar, 2010

    hi paul,
    What a great read. you have alot of information on here i am hoping to get to a few different photo opps. with you up at triple d. love all the photos the one i like the most is the baby lynx in the tree stub. see you soon and have a great year.
    las vegas


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