ProFolio: Canadian Nature Photographer Stephen Elms
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.