Oh Canada - The Maple Leaf Forever

Dearest Readers, I have returned from the land "where pines and maples grow, great prairies spread and Lordly rivers flow!"

Chris's Mom has a house on Yoho Lake in Yoho, New Brunswick, about 5 hours through deep Stephen King Country and about an hour over the Canadian border.

(This shot was taken with my 24mm-70mm zoom. 6 photos were taken and stitched together giving me a fish-eye type shot.)

Quite a beautiful area of North America! If you're looking to getaway from it all, I highly recommend the trip.

Photographically speaking, a land of plenty!

It seems like every year we make the trip, we bring soggy New England rain with us. This year was no exception. However, on Sunday the rain cleared up and the sun popped out and gave us a beautiful day.

On that day, I managed to snag some nice wildlife photos. Unfortunately, I was only armed with my portrait lenses, so I was not able to get as close as any professional wildlife photographer would have.

I have a thing for hummingbirds. Growing up I actually have only seen them skirting through my peripheral vision. Very rarely had I actually stopped and enjoyed the little buggers as they feasted.

I had the opportunity this weekend.

The neighbor (and up there, it seems like EVERYONE'S a neighbor) had a couple of hummingbird feeders set up and she told me she has oodles of birds feeding everyday. So I joined her on her porch with my trusty 135mm.

I have never seen so many hummingbirds in my life! Ok, it's only a few. But, golly, these little buggers are FAST!

Photographing hummingbirds beautifully requires some very fast shutter speeds or else you'll get nothing but a feathery blur. I had to jump my ISO up to 400 just to accomplish a 1/200th of a sec shutter speed at f8. Any higher than that and I would get into noise territory. I could have jumped the ISO up to 3200 and obtained 1/750th plus speeds, but I didn't want to sacrifice image and color quality. Besides, even at 1/2000th of a sec, the wings will still be a blur.

Still, I think I did them justice and next year I'm definitely coming more prepared. A simple off-camera flash would help freeze some of the action and give me the ability to up my shutter speeds with Canon's speedlite Hi-sync feature.

Later on that afternoon, I was half-snoozing, half-getting burned to a crisp on the dock, when Mr. Ed (cottage owner) and Eddie (another guest) sped up to me in the boat after doing a lap around the lake and exclaimed "Andy, quickly, jump in! There's a couple of eagles you need to get some photos of!"

So I ran and got my camera and jumped into the boat.

When they said "eagles" I didn't think they meant Bald Eagles. I have never had the chance to witness a Bald Eagle in the wild - let alone TWO of them.

These birds are enormous and absolutely stunning to see.

After 20 mins of chasing them around the lake, we decided to leave them alone. We were also afraid one of them would swoop down on us and steal one of us away.

I'm still lost for words about this experience seeing these magnificent creatures. Very humbling. I know next year I will show up with a 100-400mm lens with a 2x extender just in case!

After that adventure I went back to snoozing on the dock.

There were these bright blue dragonflies skimming along the surface of the water. They're not as noble and grand as the eagles, but I thought they were pretty.

So overall, it was a pretty productive mini-vacation. Now that I know what kind of wildlife the Yoho region Canada harbors, I will plan accordingly for next year. Maybe even snag me that elusive Loon! Whoo-hoo!