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ProFolio: Canadian Nature Photographer Stephen Elms

December 9, 2010 Profile & Interviews 9 Comments

Written by: Charlie Borland

My name is Stephen Elms and I am from a small town in Ontario Canada.  I have been a Police Officer for fourteen years.  Having spent eight plus years on both a SWAT Team and Explosive Disposal Unit, I realized the true benefit and enjoyment I received from photography.  Taking pictures became a form of relaxation for me, as I found the entire process (from picture taking to editing) very therapeutic, and a stark contrast from the stresses of my full-time job.  It was two years ago that I realized it was time to focus more on my true passion in life, taking pictures.  

Aside from photography, my other passion in life is the outdoors.  I’ve been an avid camper and canoeist for over thirty-seven years.  Combining my two most enjoyable activities (photography and the outdoors) has proven to be a very rewarding endeavour.  Each trip into the wilderness rewards me with new and rewarding experiences, both personal and photographic.  Here are nine photographs I have taken over the past few years during various excursions into the Ontario wilderness:

nature, photography, canada,

(c) Stephen Elms

1. Misty Morning – I have spent many years paddling the over 2000 km’s of canoe routes in Algonquin Provincial Park.  On this morning I awoke just before sunrise in hopes of catching some mist hovering over the calm waters of the lake we were camping on.   In September the lakes are usually warmer than the air which causes the mist to form, creating a moody photographic opportunity.

nature, photography, canada,

(C) Stephen Elms

2. Barn Owl – I snapped this photo of a Barn Owl at a local Conservation Area.  The added reach of a 2X Teleconverter on a 70-200mm lens was perfect for framing this beautiful bird.

nature, photography, canada,

(C) Stephen Elms

3. White Birch – The stark contrast between the white paper-like bark of this Birch (i.e. White or Paper Birch) and the deep red leaves of the Maple tree really caught my eye.  I always enjoy photographing either during or after a rain storm.  The moisture really brings out the saturation in primary colours and I am often quite happy with the results from even the simplest of subjects.

nature, photography, canada,

(C)Stephen Elms

4. Autumn Rapids – The use of a sturdy tripod was necessary to create the effect of blurred / smooth water flowing over the rocks.  Sturdy footwear that I didn’t mind getting soaked was also required as I was standing in knee-high flowing water with the tripod legs submerged.  It’s also a challenge to get a slow enough shutter speed in daylight to get the effect without blowing out all the highlights and overexposing the entire scene.  I usually head out for these kind of shots on very overcast days or in the hours just before the sun goes down.

nature, photography, canada,

(C)Stephen Elms

5. Moon Over Daisy Lake – Night photography is something I have really enjoyed experimenting with.  I shoot with a Nikon D3S and the low light capabilities of the camera are simply phenomenal.  Cranking the ISO up to 12,800, with a wide open aperture of 2.8 can yield some very impressive results.  This is a 30 second exposure with a smaller aperture (around f14) of a lake in Algonquin Provincial Park at around 11 pm.  Using a smaller aperture created the burst-like effect of the light emanating from the moon.

nature, photography, canada,

(C) Stephen Elms

6. Autumn Leaf – Sometimes the simplest of subjects can be fun to photograph.  To me, this image epitomizes “Canada”…the water, the rock, the iconic Maple leaf.   What caught my attention with this lone drifting leaf was the contrast in colour between the dark water and bright, saturated leaf.

nature, photography, canada,

(C)Stephen Elms

7. Northern Dock –  Sitting on the dock of our friends cottage is a truly relaxing experience.  Most people, however, only think this way when the sun is shining and a warm wind gently blows across the lake.  I have never let poor weather spoil my enjoyment of a day either camping or at the cottage.  Lighting on days like these can create some very intriguing moods, which I love trying to capture with my camera.  Fog, mist, and moisture can turn the average landscape into a scene full of ambience and mystery.

nature, photography, canada,

(C)Stephen Elms

8. Inukshuk – For centuries the Inuits of Northern Canada have used these stone formations for marking hunting trails and food caches and for assisting in navigation.  It is quite common to stumble upon these Inukshuk’s on hiking trails all across Ontario, as hikers and outdoors-folk continue to build these monuments of all sizes and shapes (although most often they are built for fun as opposed to purpose).   I came upon this Inukshuk while exploring the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay in northern Ontario, Canada.

nature, photography, canada,

(C) Stephen Elms

9. Autumnal Splendour – Fall in Ontario can be spectacular.  I took a short hike along a trail not far from my home and the vibrant yellows of this Maple tree really “popped”.  I find fall one of the best times of year for picture taking.  Colours can be vivid and vibrant, the air is cooler so it is nicer for hiking, and you are often rewarded with images rich in contrast and colour.  I find the use of a polarizing filter very beneficial in capturing the true colour of a scene.
You can view Stephens website here.
Do you have a hot portfolio you wish to share with our readers? If sop, please send and email WITH A LINK to you site or where you want us to review the photos. pronaturephotographer@gmail.com

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Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jim Bullard says:

    Stephen, The Barn owl is an awesome photo. Love it.

  2. Steve E says:

    Thanks Jim I appreciate the kind comment.

  3. Patricia Kraemer says:

    Hi Stephen Elms,
    I am currently in school at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh To get my Bachelors degree in Photography.
    Can you tell me what kind of money I could be making with Landscape, Nature and wild life Photo’s?
    I do my best work when it comes to landscape and Nature. I am writing a paper right now about my career and how far I can make it.
    Is there a demand for Landscape, Nature, or wild life photo’s?

    I love your work. would you please get back to me about this thanks
    Patty Kraemer

  4. Steve E says:

    Thanks Patty I am sending you an email now…

  5. Susan Oling says:

    Hello Steve, I’m a big fan of your work and have enjoyed seeing many entries in the AO contests….I have a question concerning teleconverters…I have a 55x200mm so would a teleconverter help? Do they make them even stronger????? are there special concerns with using one, will I lose some of the perfermance from my VR lens, or any of my
    f-stops?….I always get a wonderful opportunity to shoot several family of Loons in the spring and need a stronger zoom lens….unfortunatly can’t afford one of the big boys….so I was hoping a converter might help!!!!

    Sincerely Susan Oling

  6. Steve E says:

    Hi Susan! As far as teleconverters go you will certainly gain the added reach. a 2X TC to your lens would essentially give you a 110X400mm. Keep in mind that it also affects your minimum aperture (ie my f2.8 lens becomes an f5.6). You will likely notice some deterioration in quality however it really depends on the TC and lens specific combo. Apparently the 2X TC and the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRI was not great, however the newer version of the Nikon 2X TC and the newer 70-200mm f2.8 VRII is a great combo. Nothing will give you as good quality as a long range prime lens, however. But the trade-off (for me anyways) is the versatility you gain with the TC as well as the cheaper cost. I would google some reviews on the specific lens and TC combo you are thinking about and see what the general consensus is.

    I love the 70-200mm and 2X TC combo. When I’m hiking in the parks I sling that combo (gives me the opportunity to snap a quick shot of a fleeting animal or the ability to remove the TC and go back to my 70-200mm range). I also sling a camera with a 24-70mm lens for the landscape stuff….I try to avoid swapping lenses as much as possible but it can be a pain at times carrying 2 cameras with all the other gear as well (tripod, filters, etc).

    Does that help you out at all?


  7. […] Related Posts: Nature Photographer Richard Wong, Nature Photographer Stephen Elms […]

  8. Jenny says:

    I was wondering if I could use one of your photographs in a document I am working on for a canadian company.
    its no.6 I will obviously credit you, and put a link from my website when the work is done to here.
    All the Best,

  9. Stephen Elms says:

    Hi Jenny thanks for the interest :) Shoot me an email and you can fill me in as to what you are looking for. My email address is: elmsphotography@cogeco.ca


    Steve Elms

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