2012 Favourite Wildlife Photographs

Winter Soaring - © Christopher Martin-5201

In 2012, I had some wonderful encounters with wild animals.  Most were in Alberta near my home either on the prairies or in the mountains.  I am constantly reminded how fortunate I am to have an abundance of wildlife living in my literal backyard and in any direction I choose to walk, ride or drive.  Kananaskis Country mesmerized me more this year than ever before and I enjoyed time with coyotes, bears, sheep, moose and hawks there.

Passing through - © Christopher Martin-3946

(please click on any image if you want to open a new page with a higher resolution version)

Hunting in the grass - © Christopher Martin-9706

I started the year with a goal to put significant time and energy into improving my wildlife photography.  My priorities to accomplish this were to improve my approaches to wildlife (to minimize disruption and increase the chance to observe natural behaviour), improve my technique (better sharpness and quicker response to animal movement) and create images that tell a more complete story about the animals (more engaging and interesting).  I moved forward on all fronts though I know where I want to get to and so I will be keeping the same goals to start this new year.

Water off a loon's back - © Christopher Martin-2213

As spring took hold, I wanted to photograph bears.  In previous years, I hadn’t put in the time to learn their habits, locations and behaviours.  I put in time reading books and talking with people who know a lot about Black Bears and Grizzly (Brown) Bears.  There is much (much) more to learn but the effort was rewarded with some good images from the Kootenay National Park and the Banff National Park.  A decent start to the images that I have in mind.

One of 64's cubs - © Christopher Martin-0678

The cubs above and below were Grizzly Bear #64’s and I found them on a couple of occasions along the Vermilion Lakes Road near Banff.  So beautiful and very photogenic.  The park’s wildlife officers did a good job working with visitors and there seemed to be a level of respect and restraint better than I have observed other years.

Cub play - © Christopher Martin-9724

The meadows of dandelions blooming in the spring draw the bears to the roadsides along Highway 93 in the Kootenay National Park and I made a couple of trips there to photograph the black bears.  This bear had picked the flowers clean on the rocky slope.  The wet fur and the posture made for a nice moment to photograph.

Over the shoulder - © Christopher Martin-0782

In the summer, I visited Jasper National Park for a solid week of photography.  The absolute highlight was this black bear cub sprinting up two different tree trunks.  Momma kept grazing while junior seemed to be playing.  It was amazing how fast this young animal climbed and almost more impressive when it slid down twice as fast.

Cub scout - © Christopher Martin-3942

I love photographing birds.  Left unchecked I would fill this collection with way too many avian photographs.  Trying to rein myself in here but it was a good year for birding and bird photography.  Along the way I saw the movie “The Big Year” and that got me thinking… not yet but probably one day.  Here then are a few from the year that stood out for me.

Solitude - © Christopher Martin-7101

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Mallard shakes - © Christopher Martin-8379

Great Gray Owls dominated my local outings to West Bragg Creek in April and May.  I had a connection with one owl in particular (or at least I felt one and hope the owl did on some level too) and spent many days with it flying around me, landing beside me and generally spoiling with opportunities to photograph this most magical of animals.  This was a favourite among many special images of this owl.

Forest flight - © Christopher Martin-1974

The last part of the year I had a great wildlife trip to the Jasper National Park with my friend Jeff Rhude on a workshop with John Marriott.  John is one of Canada’s pre-eminent wildlife photographers and it was really fun to spend a week focused on wildlife photography.  I worked for the images there and the results were pretty satisfying.

A ram's portrait - © Christopher Martin-5702

The rams were assembling ahead of the rut in groups around the park.  We did not have any head butting to photograph but there was time to really work with the opportunities available.  This post was a favourite of mine from the year.

His land - © Christopher Martin-0886

An encounter with a pair of very approachable ravens at a pullout along the Icefields Parkway and family of juvenile bald eagles along the river just outside of Jasper were two other highlights from a very good trip.

Raven profile - © Christopher Martin-6264

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Juvenile in flight - © Christopher Martin-8123

At the end of the year my family went to Kaua’i and the wildlife fortunes were with us.  We had amazing encounters with Hawaiian Monk Seals, Green Sea Turtles and birds of many feathers.

Egret ballet - © Christopher Martin-1079

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Monk Seal peek-a-boo - © Christopher Martin-2821

The encounters continued below the surface and I fear I’m hooked on this fascinating branch of photography now – we’ll see where that takes me in 2013.

Turtle magic © Christopher Martin-4298

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Camouflage school  - © Christopher Martin-081743

The year finished with the discovery of Snowy Owls very close to my home.  There are a pair, and possibly a quartet, of Snowies currently hunting in the Springbank Airport area.  I spent some time with them before the end of the year and have continued regular evening appointments with them in the first few days of this new year.  These owls have not been seen in this area before and my first photographs of  Snowies made in February and March last year required driving a couple of hours east.  The first image in this post was from a range road near Gleichen an hour east of Calgary during one of these longer drives.  It is very special to me that I have been end the year with Snowy owls very close to my home as they have become a favourite animal of mine.

Downstroke - © Christopher Martin-0178

11 responses

  1. Pingback: 2013 Favourite Wildlife Photographs | Christopher Martin Photography

  2. elmediat

    Your work is a fantastic window into the natural world. Just beautiful. Looking forward to what comes in the days ahead. :)

    January 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm

  3. Reblogged this on bearspawprint.

    January 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm

  4. Each one became a favorite as I scrolled through them. Couldn’t possibly choose one over the others! Hope 2013 is good for you and your images.

    January 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm

  5. Son muy buenas fotos Christopher, felicitaciones, que Dios te bendiga, un abrazo de anyo nuevo.

    January 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

  6. very beautiful photos!

    January 5, 2013 at 11:54 am

  7. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos with us.

    January 5, 2013 at 11:12 am

  8. Those were great goals with great results. Such a joy to view them.

    January 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    • Thank you Lyle – I appreciate the time you take to check out my posts and to comment. Happy shooting in 2013.

      January 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

  9. Fantastic photos. You truly do live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm

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