PartnershipIn cooperation with Vega Expeditions
Canadian snowy owls have become quite popular amongst birdwatchers and photographers. In recent years, the public spots have become very crowded. Yves collaborates with a snowy owl expert who provides exclusive access to some of the best areas. There will be nobody but our group and the owls on stage.
We stay at a very cosy accommodation nearby, so we never lose time by traveling far. Getting up early each morning is key, so we can be ready before sunrise to photograph throughout the morning. We visit a warm place for lunch and go out again in the late afternoon, shooting until all the colors of twilight have faded in the evening sky.
Because we travel in a very small group, we remain very flexible and ready to find the best conditions for photography, at any given moment.
We photograph the owls in style. Dressed warmly in our down parkas, hats, gloves and big snow boots, we spend hours close to the owls, as they give us a show we will never forget.
The landscape and winter conditions are amazing. In one week we can expect all kinds of weather: sun, mist, blizzards. The snowy owls don’t mind, and all of these conditions are great for photography. White on white subjects are very appealing, and we use all our skills to bring out the beautiful cool tones in the pictures. Whatever the weather, we go out every day. It is the extremes of the landscape and climate that makes for the most impressive pictures.
MAGNIFICENT BIRDS, CREATIVE PERSPECTIVES
Our target species is, of course, the snowy owl. After a long journey to the south, these birds visit the Canadian winter to hunt for voles and rodents in the open fields. Every owl has its unique features and can be photographed in different ways. Some can be approached within just a few meters, making those long lenses too big.
We visit various winter landscapes and photograph the owls in as many different situations as possible. Most commonly seen are the speckled younger and female birds, but adult male birds in their pure white plumage also make an appearance. In recent years, we also photographed several other species including great grey owls, northern hawk owl and boreal owl.
AUTOFOCUS AND EXPOSURE CONTROLS
Nothing is more exciting than viewing a snowy owl in the finder as it jumps up from the snow and goes for its hunt, flying straight into your camera. What are the tricks to photographing fast action? Which AF- and other setting create the sharpest images? Every photographer, regardless of which type of camera they use, can count on plenty of instructions. The exposure of white subjects on sunny, white backgrounds is very challenging for any camera. We will discuss this extensively.
Before we go out into the cold, you learn how to protect your gear, how to handle long lenses and when to use your tripod. All is focussed on getting those stunning shots!
ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT
After flying to Montreal, a bus drives us to our basecamp. Our cosy bed & breakfast is located about an hour and a half from the airport and close to the snowy owls.
We might travel a larger distance if this guarantees better photographing conditions. Because we travel in a small group, we can move fast and adapt to circumstances.
CLIMATE, CLOTHING AND GEAR
Very warm clothes are essential on this trip, as we will immerse ourselves in sub-zero temperatures for many hours. I will explain all about how to dress warm, and what kinds of clothes to bring. Expect various temperatures, from -5°C to -25°C, wind-chill factor not included! We never walk very far, but the challenging factors are the deep snow and the cold, long hours.
We photograph fast-moving birds, so bring fast cameras with lenses varying from 200mm to 600mm. Distances to the owls will vary a lot, from just a few meters to birds in the landscape. Lens covers will protect your gear against cold and snow.
We shoot loads of pictures every day, so bring lots of battery power and good memory cards. We advise you to bring a laptop, fast card readers and big memory disks. You will be amazed by the number of pictures we take on each session.
MY FAVOURITE ENVIRONMENT
During this week, I will guide you and help you at any time to learn as much as possible about the snowy owl. You will discover how to make the most stunning shots and how to prepare for the cold. I’ve been travelling to Canada for years to photograph this beautiful bird. The icy temperatures and Arctic birds are a true passion of mine. The expert I work with is a real snowy owl-whisperer. He helps me guide trips for dedicated photographers every year. A truly unique experience!