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Wildlife Photography From A Different Perspective


There is a new way of viewing wildlife photography that takes it to a whole new level as well as angle!

Gone are the days when one takes an SLR camera or heaven forbid a camera that actually takes a film, out into the wilds to capture the elusive wildlife. No need to carry heavy equipment and multiple lenses either.

Nowadays there are many different ways to take a picture as people are starting to think outside the box.

Let me give you an example:

I was out photographing a salmon spawn on a local river with my digital mirrorless camera. I was playing with the light on the water, the fish jumping, splashing and spawning and feeling pretty good about the shots I was getting.

spawning salmon
Spawning salmon – Olympus E-M1, f5.6, 1/125, ISO 500, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light

When I finally put my head up from being totally engrossed in my viewing, I saw a young man with his iPhone on a selfie stick hanging out over the water directly above the salmon. I was terribly envious as instead of getting a side shot, he was actually right over the fish looking down on them.


I guess I could have walked out into the freezing cold water to get the same effect, but I opted to stay on shore.

Further up the river, I came upon an individual with gumboots on (why didn’t I think of that) out in the river. They stooped and picked something up and I thought they were retrieving something they had lost until I realised they had a waterproof gopro camera and were taking underwater pictures.

I talked with them for a while as they told me about all the videos and shots they had taken on their holidays as they were visiting from back east.

They found it a perfect way to record their trip and the salmon spawn was a highlight for them. From the camera’s perspective and angle, it was just like being in the river with the fish.

It’s a matter of taking what you have and make it work for you. Here I was sitting on the bank, taking the same shots that thousands of other people have taken and yet just by thinking a little differently could have come up with a fabulous picture from a different point of view.

Makes you think…

Why I Love My Mirrorless Camera And Other Equipment


I am often asked what kind of camera I use to take bird pictures and I have found a mirrorless camera is the best solution for me.

So here is my camera and a current list of the equipment I use in the field. I will supply a link after each item if you wish to look at it or read the reviews on Amazon.


Olympus OM-D E-M1

A Micro Four Thirds camera or Mirrorless camera (silver version)

I’m not writing a review of my camera, but rather giving you an idea of why of love it so much and how it works for me taking pictures.

  • Ease of use
  • Totally portable
  • Lightweight
  • Customizable function buttons
  • Fast shutter speed
  • Built in grip
  • Easy battery access
  • Can easily reach all controls even with small hands
  • 5-way stabilisation which eliminated the shake from the M5 that I previously used
  • Great video and audio
  • Takes fabulous pictures

I have used this camera for two years now and find it lightweight to pack around and hike with, as I take it everywhere I go. I get lots of comments on it as it’s small and looks like a 1950 SLR camera. Easy to travel with and it fits easily in a carry-on or large purse. Click here to view

Olympus OM-D E-M5

A Micro Four Thirds camera or Mirrorless camera (silver version)

This isn’t my current camera, but I thought it deserved a mention. It was my first mirrorless camera and is less expensive than the M1. Wonderful entry level camera into the world of micro four thirds camera and easy to use. Click here to view on Amazon.

Pentax Digital SR 7x Optical Zoompentax point and shoot
This is a point and shoot camera that I have from a few years ago. They don’t seem to make it anymore, but it’s what I take pictures with when out in the garden and around the yard. I don’t care if it gets a little dirt on it and it fits easily in my pocket.


Olympus Digital 12-50mm lens

I bought the lens as a package deal when I purchased the camera. It’s a great all-round lens that you can use for wide-angle or macro. Click here to view on Amazon.

Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm Lens

This is the lens that I have continually on my camera and that I use for bird photography. It is great in low light and there are very few days of the years that I don’t take a picture with it. Click here to view on Amazon

Why I Use A Mirrorless Camera
If you look at the picture below and the size of the lenses you will get a sense of why I love my mirrorless camera so much. The lenses pictured here are a Panasonic 100-300mm f4/5.6 vs Canon 600mm f4. They both have the same reach as the mirrorless doubles the mm (so 300mm is 600mm) but I don’t need a sherpa to pack around my equipment with the Olympus M1 and the Panasonci 100-300mm lens.

mirrorless vs canon

A comparison shot that shows the size difference between a normal sized Canon 600mm F/4 telephoto and the similarly powerful Panasonic GH3 with a 100-300mm lens that converts to a 200-600mm F/4-5.6 equivalent zoom. Just in case you can’t see the GH3, it’s on the right and the Canon is on the left.


Olympus 7.6-Volt 1220 mAh Battery

I have 2 batteries so that when I have one in the camera the other one is charging or in my pocket, in case I run low. Click here to view on Amazon

Battery Charger
This is the battery charger that I use with the above battery. Click here to view on Amazon

Olympus Battery Holder and Grip
When I had the Olympus M5 this was something that I couldn’t live without. It allowed me to have a great grip on the camera when I was using it over a long period of time. It also comes with a second battery holder and a vertical grip that a lot of people find useful. Click here to view on Amazon

Manfrotto Monopod
I usually carry this item with me when I go walking and find it extremely useful. I have a quick release plate that I use on the bottom of my camera to allow it to attach a strap as well as the monopod so I can switch back and forth quickly. I also use it as a walking stick when walking over rough ground. Click here to view on Amazon

Quick Release Plate for Manfrotto
This works really great with the monopod and the strap. I can just leave one part on my camera to use with the strap with the D-ring in the bottom and I leave the other half on the monopod. Very quick to take the strap off and attach the camera to the monopod. Click here to view on Amazon

Black Rapid Strap
This is a strong strap and very comfortable with a swivel click at the bottom so it never gets tangled. The strap that I have was made for a woman and allows you to carry the camera on your hip and quickly lift it up to take a picture. Click here to view on Amazon

There are always rainy days when one needs a waterproof cover for their camera. There are lots of fancy and dry bagexpensive equipment options to cover your camera, but I found the best solution for me is just a dry bag. I have two. One that I use when we are travelling or in the boat, and the other when I am walking or hiking.

I use the one in the boat in case the camera get sprayed or falls overboard. I haven’t tested it, but the bag is watertight and is suppose to float. Here is hoping I never have to test it. Click here to view on Amazon

The other dry bag has a bit of a modification. I took a pair of scissors and cut an X in the bottom of the bag, just big enough for my camera lens and hood to fit through. It’s a tight fit, so it seals around the hood and leaves the lens free.  Easy to carry and I can just pull back where you clip it together to see the controls and viewfinder on the camera.

Three Legged Stool
This stool is easy to pack around as it has a carrying strap. I carry this over my shoulder, the camera on a strap over the other shoulder and the monopod under my arm if I’m not using it as a walking stick. All my equipment is very light and portable. Click here to view on Amazon

This is a good light tripod made from carbon fiber and the more I use it… the clearer my pictures. I don’t usually take it on walks but use it if I’m going to be in one place for a while. Click here to view on Amazon

Pistol Grip Tripod Head
I use this on my tripod as I found the regular ball head too cumbersome for fast-moving birds.  Once I got the hang of the pistol grip I found it really easy to use and holds my camera steady even with the larger lens. Click here to view on Amazon

Camera Bag
This little Lowepro camera bag fits my camera and both lens in it for when I’m travelling. Small and compact and carries everything I need. Click here to view on Amazon

Slingshot Bag
I use the larger bag if I’m wanting to carry more equipment than my camera. Comfortable and compartmentalize inside to keep your lenses and camera safe. Click here to view on Amazon


I have a couple of blinds that I use as well as just camouflage netting to put over myself in the field. I am always amazed at how the birds just ignore them and allow me to take pictures. They really do work.

NW400M Backpack Pop-Up Hunting Blind
This is a great option for the backyard. I will set it up on my deck so I am level with the bird feeders and can just pop in and out of it when I see something interesting. It also keeps out the bugs. Click here to view on Amazon.

Pop-Up Cabana
This one is a little different and I haven’t used it a lot yet, but it’s actually for changing clothes in. I got it because it was smaller and a little lighter than the hunting blind and easier to pack when hiking.

I throw a camouflage net over the top and pop inside and sit down leaving the opening slightly open for my camera. I might just make a slit in the side for the camera lens, but as I said, I haven’t used it a lot yet so I’m not sure exactly what will be easiest. Click here to view on Amazon.

Photo Editing Programs

I do very little editing on my photo’s and try and get it right in the field. The most I do is to crop and possibly sharpen an image.

There are all sorts of cool things you can do with photo editors, but I like to see the photo as I shot it and don’t always have time to play around with it to get the “perfect” shot. What you see is what you get!

The first program I use is called BreezeBrowser Pro. I open the pictures that I’ve taken for the day in the program and it’s easy and quick to sort through them keeping the ones in focus and deleting the rest. When I take over 1000 pictures a day, this is a real time-saver.

The two main programs that I have for photo editing are:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Lightroom


I have found the following courses and books very helpful.

Book: David Busch’s Olympus OM-D E-M5 Guide to Digital Photography
I found the manual that goes along with the camera lacking in clarity so purchased this book which filled in all the blanks and was much easier to read. Click here to view on Amazon

Book: David Busch’s Olympus OM-D E-M1 Guide to Digital Photography
If found David’s book so helpful on the M5 so I got the one for the M1 as well and wasn’t disappointed. Click here to view on Amazon

Glenn Bartley Photography Workshop
I took Glenn’s Vancouver Island workshop in the spring of 2013. After years of taking pictures on my own, Glenn really helped me in taking my camera off auto focus and showed me I could even take pictures in the rain. He’s very knowledgeable and a great teacher. Click here to view his workshops and work.

I have taken some of their online video courses on photography. The instructors are excellent and well versed in their topics. They allow you to watch a course free online and then give you the opportunity to purchase it. I have purchased 2 of their course and found them both extremely helpful. Click here to view their current courses…

Courses I have purchased:

Olympus OM-D EM-5 – Fast Start
Olympus OM-D EM-1 – Fast Start
Fundamentals of Digital Photography 2014 with John Greengo

Every year I watch the updated Fundamentals of Digital Photography when they offer it free as well as any outdoor and landscape program that I can. If you are using Photoshop or Lightroom they have some great courses for those as well. I found it a wonderful way to learn

Simple And Lightweight:

As you can see from my list, I like everything to be easy and lightweight. It suits how I take photo’s as well as the terrain where I bird. I very rarely pack a tripod with me and normally take the monopod but most of my pictures are handheld.

When I travel I pack my mirrorless camera, extra batteries, charger and monopod along with my laptop in a backpack with extra clothes and jacket to protect them. Easy to carry on a plane and take your gear out when going through security.

7 Reasons to Sow Your Own Seeds


1) You Get What You Plant

When you sow your own seeds, you get exactly the plants and produce that you want. The seed producers are very careful as to what goes into the package and I’ve always had good results from them.

One year I bought some acorn squash seedlings and they all turned out to be spaghetti squash. One can only handle so many spaghetti squashes, but I guess it was better than them all turning out to be zucchini.

Another time, I bought corn seedlings from a nursery and they were just marked “corn” nothing else. And it turns out the nothing else was what we called “cow corn” or “field corn”.

I found this description

“Although field corn kernels start out soft like sweet corn, it’s not harvested until the kernels are dry. Field corn is used to feed livestock, make the renewable fuel ethanol and thousands of other bio-based products like carpet, make-up or aspirin.

Sweet corn is harvested when the kernels are soft and sweet, making it ideal for eating. If you grab an ear of field corn and try to take a bite, you’ll probably break your teeth. It’s hard and dry (and only tastes good to cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys and some wild animals).”
Minnesota farm guide

Needless to say, it was the wildlife that got the corn that year.

corn field

 2) Control

One of the nice things about growing from seeds is you also get to control the quality of the plant. Whenever possible I buy non-GMO and organic seeds. Let me restate that. I never purchase GMO seeds and if the seeds I purchase don’t say organic on the package, it’s usually because the farm is waiting to be certified organic.

When in doubt, you can contact the seed company and they are very helpful and informative.

3) Variety

If you go into a garden centre and want to purchase some bean seedlings, you will normally have a choice of bush beans, pole beans and maybe a drying bean if you are lucky.

Beans are so easy to grow from seeds that you can have any kind you want and in looking through one of the places that I purchase my seeds from they have over 39 different varieties. Now that’s not anything that you are going to find in a nursery.

bean seeds

4) Suited For Your Area

One of the reasons that I like to purchase seeds locally is that they are grown in the area I live in and do well in the climate.

There is no sense in buying a plant that does will in Arizona only to plant it into my west coast garden. The soil and rain requirements are so different that the seedlings would wither and die.

A great place to get local seeds are what are called around here “Seedy Saturdays“. It’s where all the local seed savers come together and swap and sell seeds. There is a huge variety and just about all of them are of an heirloom type seed as hybrid seeds don’t always ring true when you are saving seeds yourself. They will revert back to the parent variety.

Case in point, I saved some squash seeds from a hybrid plant one year (can’t remember what it was but it looked like an acorn) that we really enjoyed.

The following spring I planted them and to my surprise, I got two different species of squash. One was a definitely a kabocha and the other was a hubbard squash. It was called a mystery until the fall came and you could distinctly see their colour and shape.

5) Disease

Large greenhouses and places that start plants, don’t always have disease free soil which in turn can contaminate your garden.

I know this one first hand as last year when I purchased some Brassica which is just a fancy latin word for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts and kohl rabi.

The cauliflower wasn’t doing as well as expected and the broccoli was almost non-existent so I pulled up a few plants so I could plant some more. The roots of the plants were covered in what looked like knots or growths.root knot

In doing research I found these are caused by something called nematode which is a microscopic worm and very hard to get rid of organically. It is also known as root knot.

I always have done crop rotation, so I must have had some poor seedling stock last year. Needless to say, I am starting my own Brassica this year and planting them in different beds. Only 2 beds were affected, but I treated all my beds like they were.

I planted a cover crop of winter rye this year and I’m hoping that will do the trick. I will let you know how that worked.

6) Succession Planting

When you grow your own plants it’s a lot easier to do succession planting. That is when as soon as one plant is finished you put in another.

As we have a long growing time on the west coast, this makes an extended garden season. A lot of plants overwinter and I’m still eating kale and pulling leeks from my last year’s garden as I type.

I’ve always found that when I want another plant to replace the last one, I can never find anything at the nursery. They have either quit bringing in plants or just have the basics like lettuce and kale.

If I’m doing my own planting from seeds then I can have a seedling ready to plant, and I get the variety I want.

7) Satisfaction

There is nothing more satisfying than looking through the seed catalogues, picking the seeds you want, starting the seedlings, planting them into the garden and watching them grow. This is when you truly get to see the miracle of life.

Plant a seed, add light, warmth and water and watch it grow. Amazing!


One day I’m going to save all my own seeds and get exactly the plant and produce that I want.

Just an update:

Last fall I saved seeds from:

  • snap peas
  • shelling peas
  • chives
  • sunflowers
  • dill
  • basil
  • scarlet runner beans
  • pole bean
  • black beans

They all seem to be sprouting and viable seeds and I will plant them in the garden this year.

7 Reasons to Sow Your Own Seeds

There Is Beauty In The Buds


It’s spring here on the west coast and after a cool (for us cold) winter. We actually got snow which is almost unheard of here and the trees and bushes are starting to display buds which are threatening to burst into bloom.

The buds are tight and compact. Waiting to see if it’s safe to expose themselves to the elements or should they stay put for a little while longer. Wanting to let go of the outer shell that is holding them back from emerging into the sunshine.

While most of them sit and wait patiently for the appropriate time to surface, others throw their buds to the wind and emerge in all their glory.cherry blossom buds

cherry blossom buds

They take the risk that frost might kill them, or they might drop to the ground or turn brown on the bush.

But still, they take the risk. Letting go all their doubts and fears and becoming what they were truly meant to be. A wondrous vision of colour and light that feeds the earth and the soul.

Having led the way, other buds follow in their wake. Happy to see the light again, knowing they have others to thank for showing them what was possible.

The buds start to glow like lights on a Christmas tree and their world becomes a wash of colour. Pinks, purple, greens, yellows, reds, and blues burst forth as each tries to outdo the other.

apple blossom

And then as quickly as they appear, they drop to the ground or emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. Unfurling their leaves until the horizon appears green with the colours of newly minted leaves.

They hover there like a mist over the land until they are swallowed up into the deep green of the forest promising to be back again in spring.

Like the bud, how tightly we as humans hold thought, ideas and emotions close to our chest, unwilling to expose them to the light and allow the world to see their magnificence.

What would it be like to let go?

To let go of  “no one else has done it”, “what will people think”, and the “who am I to _____”.

What would it be like to burst forth in all our glory and damn the consequences!

Knowing in our heart of hearts that as we open up, the world becomes a little brighter and begins to glow. Softly at first, as we find our way and then like the bud, burst forth into the unknown with the anticipation of splendour.

Rufous Hummingbirds Make Their Spring Arrival


Every year I wait to hear news of the rufous hummingbirds as they make their way north to us. People in the outlying areas report seeing one, then further up the coast, you’ll hear of another. All the while, I am keeping my eye on the hummingbird feeders that the Anna’s hummingbirds are so fiercely defending.

We have Anna’s hummingbirds here all winter and I make sure that I always have nectar out for them especially in the freezing weather.

But… in the spring, the rufous come. They have their own charm and their colouring is very distinctive.

The males have this wonderful rufous colour that almost looks the colour of rust.

rufous hummingbird male
Male Rufous Hummingbird feeding – Olympus E-M1, f5.6, 1/125, ISO 500, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light
Male Rufous Hummingbird – Olympus E-M1, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 320, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light

The females are a little less showy with green on their backs and rufous sides.

rufous hummingbird female
Rufous hummingbird female – Olympus E-M1, f5.6, 1/800, ISO 500, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light
rufous hummingbird female
Rufous hummingbird female flying – Olympus E-M1, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light

I could spend hours sitting on the deck watching the hummers. Between the Rufous and Anna’s, the feeders get a workout. They are very territorial and as soon as one is at the feeder, another one buzzes it and drives it away.

It’s always amazing to me that they ever get time to eat, but the feeders go down quickly and I usually need to fill them on a daily basis in the summer.

Spring has arrived when the rufous hummingbirds appear.

It’s Lambing Time On The West Coast And Everyone Is Accounted For


Lambing time is an exciting time for farmers and passerby’s alike. For the farmers, their herd increases and wool production goes up. For passerby’s it’s a delight to see the lambs frolicking in the fields.

lambs playingLambs playing – Olympus E-M1, f5.6, 1/1000, ISO 320, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light

Lambing can be complicated and tragic as well as exciting and exhilarating.

Complicated and tragic as a ewe can often have twins and complications can arise with the delivery if the farmer isn’t on hand.

On the other hand, there is nothing more satisfying than waking up in the morning to see a new crop of lambs that the ewe’s had all by themselves.

In driving down the country roads, lambs abounded. One thing that struck me as pecular was that the sheep had large numbers written on their back in different colours, until I noticed, that the lambs had the same numbers and colours spray painted on their backs as well.

I’m sure the ewe’s don’t need a number to ID their young, but it sure is a big help for the farmers to know which lamb(s) go with whom.

I watched one lamb with the number 147 hang out with numerous numbered mums until it finally came back to its own. And how did I know…? She had the number 147 in purple on her side as well.

lamb 147
Wrong Mum – Olympus E-M1, f5.6, 1/1000, ISO 320, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light

When I had downloaded my pictures at home, I also noticed that the lambs had bands on their tails so I did a little reading. Turns out they put elastic bands on the lambs tails in what is called docking, which means the end of the tail doesn’t get any blood so it ends up dying and falling off.

Reading further, it appears that there really isn’t a valid reason for doing so other than sanitary reasons as it keeps the tail area clean from poop and lessens the occurrence of wool maggots.

tail docking
Docking tail – Olympus E-M1, f5.6, 1/1000, ISO 320, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light

Some Interesting sheep facts:

  • Lambs are usually born in the spring (March-April) and although it is common to have 1-3 lambs, most of the younger ewe’s will have just one lamb.
  • Lambs are between 5-8 pounds when they are born.
  • Female sheep are called a Ewes
  • Male sheep are called a Rams
  • Male sheep that have been castrated are Wethers
  • Young sheep (less than a year old) are Lambs
  • Did you know that sheep can actually recognise up to 50 other sheep faces for 2 years and that they recognise human faces as well?
  • Sheep and goats are often mixed up, but they really are two different species. Goats have more chromosomes (60) than sheep who only have 54 chromosomes.
  • In New Zealand, there is more sheep than people. There is 7 sheep for every person which is down from 1982 when there were 22 sheep for every person.
  • I don’t know how they milk one, but sheep’s milk is ideal for making cheese. It contains a higher amount of calcium, vitamins A, B and E and other nutritional elements than cows milk. I particularly like sheep feta.
  • More than two-thirds of sheep in the US are in these states… Texas, Wyoming and California
  • Most sheep are sheared once a year for their wool, but there are some breeds that need to be sheared twice a year.
  • The wool that is produced has the following properties.
    • durable
    • insulating
    • wrinkle-resisting
    • fire-resistant
    • moisture-absorbing
  • Because of its insulating properties, it makes an ideal source for clothing, like sweaters, jackets, blankets and so much more.
  • There are more than 200 different breeds of sheep on the planet.
  • Sheep are very social mammals and live in what we call flocks or herds
  • Sheep have excellent hearing and sight and can see behind themselves without turning their heads around.
  • They live around 6-11 years

While all that might be true, I get my kicks out of watching the lambs gambolling in the fields with their mothers, nursing and butting the ewes so hard it makes them stagger. Coming across a group of lambs laying together hiding in the grass or finding the tallest hump, hillock or stump to stand on and survey their new and awe-inspiring world.

climbing lambs
Lambs on a rock – Olympus E-M1, f5.6, 1/2000, ISO 500, Lumix 100-300mm, natural light

Lambing in the spring is an event not to be missed.