Instagram

I’m not great at keeping up with social media, but I was recently convinced to start putting up photos on Instagram. If you’d like to see my photos fairly regularly, you can follow me https://www.instagram.com/joelkoopphoto/. I’m going for a photo every day – not quite succeeding so far, but getting close. However, there will be a two to three week break soon when I’ll be up north without a cell signal. I’ll keep the details under wraps for now, but I’m pretty excited to be able to share some photos with you when I get back!

Zoo Classes and More

Curious Mule Deer

On Saturday I’m teaching a Wildlife Photography class at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. There’s still a few spots left if you’re interested. You can register at https://ereg.edmonton.ca/. The course code is 554483. If this Saturday doesn’t work for you, we also have classes set up for May 14th (course number 554483) and we’re in the process of setting one up for July 23rd.

Then on April 24th Eric and I are teaching a Mastering Your SLR class at the St. Albert Community Hall. More information at http://stalbertphotoclasses.com/wp/mastering-your-slr/

Taken near Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, Alberta
210mm, f8, 1/500 of a second

Subjects and Interest in Wildlife Photography

Gray Wolf Jasper National Park

A wolf is one of those reclusive and rare animals that is not often seen around here. So when I got a chance to spend a few minutes with this wolf in Jasper, I was very excited. It was watchful and curious, but most of all it was very purposeful – it had somewhere to be.

I’ve debated posting this picture for a while. I think I’m a fairly tough critic of my own photos, and I don’t think this is an amazing photo. I think it’s okay. And I don’t like posting okay photos. I’d like to be known as a really good photographer, not an okay photographer. But the kid in me says “IT’S A WOLF!!! I SAW A WOLF!!!!” And that’s hard to discount.

While an interesting subject helps a photo, I don’t think it can make a photo on its own. I still think it has to have some appealing aesthetic value beyond an interesting subject to be a good photo. This creates a bit of a conundrum for the wildlife photographer in me. While I have taken thousands of wildlife photos, I generally have very little control over the backgrounds, the lighting, and the locations of the animals. And I don’t want that control. I want the animals to go about their lives undisturbed by me. I don’t want to force them into new places and to do things that are uncomfortable for them. That kind of behaviour can threaten their lives and make them less likely to reproduce.

Every once in a while, circumstances will align just right (and knowledge of animal behaviour can make this more likely), and I’ll be able to get a good wildlife photo. The more I’m out in the woods, the more this will happen. But for me there is beauty all around – both flora and fauna, and I’m content being a photographer of opportunity. I get to share incredible landscapes with these amazing animals, and I’m thankful for the odd encounter, whether or not I get an good photo.

Thanks for a Great Evening!

Bighorn Sheep Sharing a Ledge in Jasper

Thanks to everyone who made it out on Wednesday night to the St. Albert Photo Club! We had a packed room — I got to meet lots of photographers, and see some familiar faces. I had a great time and appreciated all your comments and questions! Best of luck to all of you in your photography adventures!

Bighorn Sheep in Jasper National Park
210mm, f4, 1/640 of a second

Zoo Wildlife Photography Courses

This blog has been quiet for a while now. I have a lot of photos I’m excited to share, but only so much time to share them. In addition to teaching for St. Albert Photo Classes, I’m now employed by the city of Edmonton to teach photography classes at the Edmonton Valley Zoo! We’re starting up this spring with a full day class and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’ll keep you updated with links to register once they’re available.

Edit: You can sign up for the course at the City of Edmonton eReg page

In preparation for the course I’ve been around the zoo quite a bit lately, taking photos and getting to know the animals just a little bit. If you’re going to the zoo soon, make sure to visit the bactrian camel at the back – he’s always been super excited to see me. There are also some super-cute baby takins that were recently born.

I’m really happy to be teaching at the zoo, and I hope some of you can make it out to classes there!

Taken at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
1. 600mm, f6.3, 1/400 of a second
2. 300mm, f5.6, 1/320 of a second

Wildlife Photography

I don’t often call myself a wildlife photographer. Of course there’s wildlife all around when I’m outdoors. I love identifying the birds I see and trying to learn the birdcalls. I enjoy the few times I notice the white-tail deer before they notice me and start bounding away. I’ve appreciated the blasé indifference of all the bears I’ve run into while hiking. And I get really excited when I see a pine marten, otter, or mink—which is infrequent enough!

I think the main reason I’ve never considered myself a wildlife photographer is the gear. It sounds ridiculous now that I say it, but it feels like it’s hard to compete with photographers who have the multi-thousand dollar lenses and who take regular month-long trips to famous wildlife destinations. It can seem like wildlife photography is a hobby for the wealthy (although I don’t mean to dismiss the extremely hard working and definitely not-rich wildlife photographers out there—I know you exist too).

Yet somehow over the years I’ve managed to take quite a few pictures of animals. Some of them I even like quite a lot. It’s rewarding to think that I can rely on thoughtful composition and patience to get beautiful photos instead of relying on expensive gear. If I was outdoors purely for the wildlife photos I’m sure I’d be disappointed, but because I thoroughly enjoy the whole experience, I find that the wildlife experiences I do have are that much more special.

The photo above is a baby bighorn sheep in Kananaskis.
270mm, f5.6, 1/800 of a second

Coyote

This fall I have a NAIT student doing work experience with me, and on our outing this week we ran into this friendly fellow. In fact, he was a little too friendly for his own good, and I worry about him, but I still really enjoyed hanging out for a while.

f5.6, 1/1000 of a second

New Jewelry in Stock

If you’re looking for some new jewelry, both Tix on the Square and Daffodil Gallery have new earrings, pendants, and cufflinks to check out. When I dropped them off at Tix today, one sold right as I was unpacking it and the staff were also threatening to buy a bunch — so get them while you can!

The photo above is from Sandy Beach, where I met some of my family this past week. It was great to canoe out on the lake with my brother, chatting and taking pictures of the many birds. This is a Black Tern feeding its young.

300mm, f7.1, 1/1250 of a second

Symbiotica

Symbiotica — A collaborative exhibition of poetry and visual art.

Thursday from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at the Daffodil Gallery

Philip Jagger and I will have a piece on display that we collaborated on over the last month or so. There are a bunch of other collaborations there as well — should be fascinating! Hope to see you there!

And, completely unrelated to Symbiotica, here’s a shot from Vancouver Island last fall.

300mm, f8, 1/250 of a second

Playing in the Snow

I just got some excellent snowshoes to make my winter excursions a little easier than in past years (I’m used to slogging it with just my winter boots). And hopefully I can get out to a bunch of new places. I tested them out in Elk Island National Park today and had a lot of fun. I came across this herd of bison hanging out with some unusual friends. Click on the image to make it larger to make it easier to spot them.

300mm, f5.6, 1/200 of a second