December 9, 2014
If you are looking for a nice 2015 calendar for yourself, a family member or a friend, you may be interested in this selection of beautiful calendars that feature my photography. Some of these calendars are offered in different sizes like 'large wall', 'mini' and 'desktop'. The Winnipeg title is a brand new calendar for this year! These calendars should be available in many book stores across Canada like Chapters / Indigo / Coles as well as many of the independents like McNally Robinson Bookstores here in Winnipeg. Of course, some regional titles may not be offered in some regions but they can still be available from the publisher. If you can't find a particular title, let me know and I will send you to the publisher's web page. Thank you in advance for supporting my work! Enjoy!
December 7, 2014
It's always exciting to make your first photographs of a new species! I went out yesterday morning to explore around Starbuck, Manitoba and came upon a couple of snowy owls. These large owls are active during the day and they are truly beautiful birds to see and observe. Snowy owls breed in the Arctic and some birds winter within their breeding range but some can be found on the prairies during the winter and their migration to more southern areas. When their main food sources of lemmings and small rodents dwindle in the Arctic every few years, snowy owls tend to migrate further south in search of food and this is why, in some years, they are more commonly seen in these parts.
I had only seen two other individuals in my lifetime (and one of those was a few days ago) but I had never had the chance to photograph them. My experience with most wildlife I encounter is that they don't stay around very long when they notice humans. I usually have my camera fitted with a long telephoto lens at the following settings: shutter speed set to ISO 1000, automatic exposure mode, automatic focus, shutter set on continuous high speed, widest aperture possible, fastest shutter speed possible for the prevailing light conditions and the lens set on vibration reduction, usually with no filters attached. This combination of settings allows me to shoot at fairly low light levels and perhaps get a decent shot. As I see wildlife when I am driving, if I am not ready, I will drive by for quite a distance before turning around and stopping to set up the camera properly. As I approach my subject, my window is down and I make sure there are no other vehicles close by before suddenly stopping, pointing the camera and shooting one to a few frames as soon as possible. Often, that may be the only opportunity to capture an image before the animal takes off. Depending in which direction the bird decides to take off in, you may or may not get an opportunity to make an action shot. Yesterday was a mostly cloudy day and the sun came out only briefly in my location, enough to make the first photograph of the perched owl.
It's clear that the days of the grain elevator are numbered! As I traveled across the Canadian prairies over the last 35 years, I have always kept an eye out for photo possibilities. As I drive closer and closer to the elevators, I begin to consider how I might capture this particular one, from which direction should I photograph it from, from which vantage point, what should I include as part of my composition, etc. Often, the lighting would be dictacted by the time I happened to drive through but, at other times, I would make an effort to explore the elevator at different times of the day. This included photographing elevators at night with stars trailing and northern lights dancing, some times also accompanied by the howling of coyotes. I have captured many of the sentinels on film and as digital captures. While my collection is far from a complete document of their existence, my photographs represent some of my favorite experiences with grain elevators.
"As 'Prairies North, the magazine of Saskatchewan' marks its fifteenth year, we tip our hat to the wooden elevator, its concrete replacement, and the farming life behind it all" states editor Lionel Hughes. 'Prairies North' is a very fine and important magazine. In last year's Summer 2012 issue, 'Prairies North' also featured images from my latest book 'Mike Grandmaison's Prairie and Beyond' (published by Turnstone Press). View the Summer 2013 issue of 'Prairies North' for more of my favorite photographs of these vanishing 'prairie giants'. And if you happen to be traveling through a Manitoba town this next year, keep an eye out for my print exhibition 'Prairie and Beyond' which also features one of these prairie giants.
It is very exciting to finally publish a photographic book of my 'adopted home'. In this new book, made possible from a recent collaboration with my new publisher, Turnstone Press, I hope to dispell the misconception that the prairies are flat and uninteresting as they are truly anything but.