Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thanks to Paul Naish

In the past I have only taken photographs of landscapes and underwater scenes. When Brenda and I went on the Muskoka Wildlife Centre fund raising cruise in 2010, we saw the wonderful pictures that Ray Barlow had taken of the wildlife at the centre. I also discovered he runs workshops at the centre so I signed up for a winter photo shoot  this year.

Of course it turned out to be the coldest day of the winter so far. It was -23c when I pulled into the parking lot of the Centre, 10 minutes south of Gravenhurst. When I left four hours later, it had climbed to a balmy -13c. However, there was no snow and except for having to deal with shadows, a bright and sunny day for taking pictures.

Ray gave us a briefing in the centre before we went out. This is when I discovered I was using a completely different technique for taking pictures than those I'd been learning with Andrew Collett on his landscape workshops. Had I thought, I would have practiced some of the changed settings before I went. As it was, I think I got them close enough for the 560 pictures I took. Yes, I discovered you take a great many more pictures of something that is constantly moving than a nice subdued landscape.  The dozen or so pictures here are the distillation of those 560.

During Ray's briefing, I discovered we were not just walking around the center taking pictures but actually getting into most of the pens with the animals and that the Centre staff would be helping in herding them so we could take great pictures. I did not know we were going to get up and personnel with the animals. Very exciting.

Next, Dale Gienow, one of the co-directors of the Centre, gave us a safety briefing on how we would entering and exiting the pens and how he would be positioning us so that the animals had a 'safe zone' in which they were close but comfortable. Something about the animals getting a safe zone but us poor humans just on our own was a bit concerning. As it turned out, we were able to get inside all of the cages except for the mountain lion. For those shots we were able to get inside the first fence so we could take pictures through the openings in the links of the fence as opposed to through the fence. After signing the customary waiver, we were off to take pictures.
It would turn out to be one of the most existing three hours I've spent taking pictures.

Most of the animals in these pictures are rescue animals from people who attempted to raise them as pets. So when I say 'herd' they are not trying to put them in unnatural exposure to people. The Centre respects they are wild animals and need their safe zone.

Many thanks to Ray and the Muskoka Wildlife Center for a wonderful day. I will be back.

(More images on Paul's Website!)

Paul Naish

(please click on the images for a larger view!)

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