How to prepare for nature photography

I find inspiration in my region. It is not necessary to travel long distances in order to find interesting subjects. The secret is in the preparation.

Before heading out in the field, I study maps to determine the location of my subject : fauna, flora or type of landscape (waterfall, rugged coastline, abandoned mine…) When it comes to wildlife, I research their habits, life cycles, tracks and droppings. I also talk to local people who have a good knowledge of the area. They like to help and sometimes they even share some secrets. I check the weather because the light will affect the type of images I want to create (sun, fog…) and I dress accordingly, especially if I plan on staying outside for hours in cold temperatures. Sometimes, despite all that preparation, I come back home empty handed. Other times, when I had plan to take images of river otters, I come back with images of a derelict bridge. No matter if I am on foot or in my car, I tend to take detours because I am curious by nature and I like exploring. Although I go in the field with a project in mind, sometimes I return with something totally different. Flexibility is the key.

Storm is coming. Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Storm is coming. Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

For this particular image, we were expecting a storm and I had previously spotted a strip of land in the Comox estuary with an unobstructed view of the Beaufort Mountain range. As the sun was setting behind the mountains, big clouds were quickly moving in. I framed my image in order to remove any distractions such as the deforestation on the mountains and houses on the coastline. I set my shutter speed pretty high because it was very windy and I didn’t want a blurry picture. As I was framing my image, I noticed a sailing boat which was heading for the marina. I waited for the boat to be in a certain area within the frame before I released the shutter. In post-processing, I converted the image in black and white to give it a bit more dramatic effect.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III - f/5, 1/2000 s, 100 ISO - converted in black and white