Thursday, February 24, 2011

Best of Jasper Winter Wildlife Photos

This year's first big event, my Jasper Wildlife Photography Workshop from February 8-13,  went off without a hitch and continued the success of October's great workshop in Jasper. This time around, four wildlife photographers from the Calgary area joined me for 4+ days of learning how to track and find wolves, lynx, and other animals, while also learning the ins and outs of becoming a better wildlife photographer.

So, did we find any wolves? Well, sort of! I saw 2 wolves on the Athabasca River along Highway 16 on one of my pre-scouting days (Monday) and then the day before the participants arrived on Wednesday night, wolves took down a bighorn sheep on the river right near town! However, by the time we got out there on Thursday morning in the pre-dawn light, all we could find on the remains were five coyotes.

Fortunately, we did have a brief sighting on our second full day in the field of a beautiful gray wolf bedded down at the end of the meadow about 150 metres from the highway. Two of the participants got some shots (it was the first wild wolf sighting for both of them), but it was very early in the morning and proved to be tough to photograph and tough to see (one car never did locate the wolf).

We did find four kill sites over the course of the four days, including a fresh rail-killed elk that we kept an eye on for periods of the final two days with nothing other than coyotes, bald eagles and ravens coming in to it (two wolves were spotted near it in the dark shortly after we left one night). We also discovered fresh wolf and lynx tracks in numerous different areas of the park and I think all the participants left the workshop feeling like they will have a much better chance of finding wolves and other elusive, hard-to-find animals on their future forays into the mountain parks.

The highlights of the workshop were the wolf sighting, a stake-out on a cow and calf moose in a blizzard that never did quite materialize (the pair came achingly close to walking out into the open and crossing a river in front of us), an encounter with a monstrous 8x9 bull elk, and an hour in the sunshine with three white-tailed ptarmigan at the Columbia Icefields. In total, our counts for the week were: 1 wolf, 10 coyotes, 3 ptarmigan, 8 moose, 4 bald eagles, and a pile of bighorn sheep, deer, and elk.

Check out a few of the best pics from the participants below and let me know what you think! And if you're interested, I've secured dates for the February 2012 Jasper Wildlife Photography Workshop from February 7th-12th, 2012. This workshop will be exactly like this year's, with a wolf and lynx tracking component to go along with the fantastic photo and learning opportunities.

White-tailed ptarmigan © Pat Roque

Big Bull Elk © Jose Diaz

Bighorn Ram © Pat Roque

White-tailed ptarmigan © John Yates

Bull Elk © John Yates

Coyote © Hendrik Boesch

White-tailed ptarmigan © Jose Diaz

Moose © John Yates

White-tailed ptarmigan © Jose Diaz

Bull Elk in Snow © Jose Diaz

White-tailed ptarmigan © Hendrik Boesch

Wolf tracks across the Athabasca River © Hendrik Boesch

Bighorn Ram © Jose Diaz

Stare from Above © Pat Roque

Coyote © Pat Roque

The wolf!! © Hendrik Boesch (cropped from original - shot with 300mm lens)

There are currently five spots available for the February 2012 workshop and just two spots left in the October workshop (2011) -- for more info on booking a spot, please visit the Jasper Wildlife Photography Workshop page.

Thank you to Hendrik Boesch, Jose Diaz, Pat Roque, and John Yates for the use of their images.

Happy shooting!

John

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4 Comments:

Blogger Hendrik said...

Thank you for an awesome workshop John! Really enjoyed it a lot, special thanks for giving me my first wild wolf sighting!

February 24, 2011 at 6:09 PM  
Blogger Spinner said...

Wonderful wildlife shots! Just starting out myself and am wondering what kind of cameras the participants had with them.

February 27, 2011 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger JohnEMarriott said...

The gear wasn't all that fancy, most of the participants had 100-400 type lenses, or 300 f2.8, but only one had anything bigger than a 400. The cameras were all Nikon or Canon, but nothing particularly high end.

March 2, 2011 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Hendrik said...

I used a Nikon D300, my landscape shot was done with the old version of the Sigma 10-20mm f4-f5.6 and the wildlife shots with the Sigma 100-300 f4.

March 3, 2011 at 7:01 PM  

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