I’ve been shooting nature and wildlife for over 20 years and Canada is definitely one of my favourite destinations.
The phenomenal network of national parks and abundance of unique wildlife is why I love coming back to this amazing country.
If you love wildlife too, Adventure World has some incredible places to explore especially on Vancouver Island.
British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada and offers some of the most amazing wildlife opportunities. This was my second visit and it was a completely different experience to my last. On my first trip to I was fortunate enough to spend time at a place called Knight Inlet Lodge off Vancouver Island, observing the almighty grizzly bears catch salmon. I remember spending a long time perched up above the river photographing them doing what they do best. One even managed to catch a salmon mid air.
This time around it was all about chasing sea life. I took an amazing scenic flight from Vancouver to Campbell River and from there, we headed straight up to Telegraph Cove where we chartered a boat and spent an entire day looking for marine animals.
As we headed out on the boat, our First Nations guide who accompanied us told us that if a bald eagle flies straight overhead, it would mean good luck. These two that I captured are known as mature bald eagles. As juveniles their feathers are brown and once mature, they become black. It was either a coincidence or maybe the stars aligned because, sure enough, one did fly above us and the day turned out to be incredible. We came across whales, orcas, seals, sea otters, dolphins and porpoises – an epic wildlife experience in Johnstone Strait.
For all you passionate photographers out there, I used the new Canon 1DX Mark II and the new Canon 100-400mm lens. It’s the perfect go-to travel camera if you plan to capture wildlife. The low light capabilities of the Mark II really helped with the overcast sky. Because I was frequently shooting at 400mm in the low light, the higher ISO range really came into its own. I was very rarely shooting under 1000 ISO because I was moving on a boat. In this situation, I recommend keeping the shutter speeds over 1/1200 seconds.
At one stage as we were cruising along, we found ourselves in the middle of a super pod of about 100 resident orcas. It felt like I was in a photographer’s dream. With this shot, I used the auto focus points fixed to the bottom of the frame. That way I could nail focus on the orcas on the bottom third of the image and still showcase the beautiful scenery I witness at Johnstone Strait.
We learned that there are two types of orcas that can be found at Telegraph Cove. Resident orcas that live in the area and only eat fish, as well as transient orcas that travel through the area. Transient orcas are also known as killer whales and feed on marine animals. A sea lion popped up to say hello to us at one point and luckily there were no transient orcas around, so he was safe, and he seemed to know it too.
Later that day we were lucky enough to come across two transient orcas and followed them for a few hours, watching them hunt – that’s when this guy hopped up to have a look around.
I only spent one day out on the water, but it just blew me away. The orcas weren’t shy at all and were happy to swim close by. One swam right under and you could hear them singing loudly through our aluminium boat. At times there was just so much going on that it was almost impossible to capture everything on camera. That’s when I knew I it was time to sit back and take in how awesome everything was.
Adventure World run tours to Orca Camp in Johnstone Strait all year round.
Out of all the wildlife I encountered at Telegraph Cove, I loved the dolphins the most. They were all around us and were surfing along the front of our boat. There would have been over 100 and they stayed around for about 10 minutes. The water was like a sheet of glass and it made for great conditions to shoot these beautiful mammals. The dolphins were photographed with the 50 mega pixel beast that is the Canon 5DS. Because they were so close and I was only shooting at 24mm, I could use shutter speeds of around 1/500 of a second and didn’t quite need to ISO range as I did for the other images. The weather sealing on the camera was also quite helpful.
I experienced a different side of Vancouver Island this time around and it has once again taken my breath away. I have a feeling I’m going to be coming back here quite a bit. I absolutely love this part of Canada and the country as a whole. I also had the chance to visit the Northwest Territories as part of this trip and that was an incredible experience. Seeing the Northern Lights is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. I love it here and really feel at home as Canadians are so similar to us Aussies. With stunning night skies and epic wildlife, I’m definitely excited about the next few trips back to this beautiful country.
Aussie photographer Sean Scott Takes us to one of his favourite destinations – Vancouver Island. Video shot by @barekiwi
To plan your Canadian adventure go to www.explorecanada.com.au