Top 15 Photos of 2015

This year, I was very fortunate to spend several months travelling. While photographing in five different countries, I saw some amazing locations and wildlife, some of which were totally new to me. I headed back up to Alaska and explored some new areas such as the Seward Peninsula and Katmai National Park. My travels took me to a country I had been wanting to visit for quite some time, Costa Rica. Further south yet, I spent over two months in Ecuador and Peru. Of course I also spent considerable time exploring the place I love most, my home province of British Columbia.

I've narrowed down my top 15 photographs of the year and would love to hear what you think - do you have a favourite? Feel free to leave a comment below...

Test Of Time Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada Sitka spruce trees grow atop an interesting rock formation along the storm-battered west coast of British Columbia's Vancouver Island. I sat in this location for a few hours one late winter evening, hoping the sun would break through the thick clouds. Just before sunset, as the tide was at its best, the sun briefly snuck through and lit up the southwestern sky.



Test Of Time
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Sitka spruce trees grow atop an interesting rock formation along the storm-battered west coast of British Columbia's Vancouver Island. I sat in this location for a few hours one late winter evening, hoping the sun would break through the thick clouds. Just before sunset, as the tide was at its best, the sun briefly snuck through and lit up the southwestern sky.

Mountain Goat Coast Mountains, British Columbia, Canada More than 50% of the world's population of Mountain Goats reside in British Columbia. Due to their affinity for steep mountain slopes, they are seldom seen by people. Inhabiting these precipitous cliff faces keeps them safe from predators such as wolves and cougars. Specially-adapted cloven hooves allow them to travel safely through this dangerous terrain.


Mountain Goat
Coast Mountains, British Columbia, Canada

More than 50% of the world's population of Mountain Goats reside in British Columbia. Due to their affinity for steep mountain slopes, they are seldom seen by people. Inhabiting these precipitous cliff faces keeps them safe from predators such as wolves and cougars. Specially-adapted cloven hooves allow them to travel safely through this dangerous terrain.

Violet Sabrewing Caribbean Lowlands, Costa Rica The first time I saw a Violet Sabrewing, one of the world's largest hummingbirds, I knew I wanted to get a great photo of one! This year, during my first trip to Costa Rica, I had the opportunity to photograph this species visiting beautiful heliconia flowers. An amazing example of coevolution - some species of hummingbirds have bills that match the sharply curved flowers of certain plants, as seen here. This symbiosis allows the hummingbird to draw out more nectar, and for the plant to be pollinated more effectively.


Violet Sabrewing
Caribbean Lowlands, Costa Rica

The first time I saw a Violet Sabrewing, one of the world's largest hummingbirds, I knew I wanted to get a great photo of one! This year, during my first trip to Costa Rica, I had the opportunity to photograph this species visiting beautiful heliconia flowers. An amazing example of coevolution - some species of hummingbirds have bills that match the sharply curved flowers of certain plants, as seen here. This symbiosis allows the hummingbird to draw out more nectar, and for the plant to be pollinated more effectively.

Home Temperate Rainforest, Southwestern British Columbia, Canada The temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest is where I've grown up. I think this self-portrait exemplifies my sense of wonder and awe for this environment. This particularly lush area, thick with sword ferns, vine maples and epiphytes, is just a half hour drive from where I live near Vancouver, British Columbia.


Home
Temperate Rainforest, Southwestern British Columbia, Canada

The temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest is where I've grown up. I think this self-portrait exemplifies my sense of wonder and awe for this environment. This particularly lush area, thick with sword ferns, vine maples and epiphytes, is just a half hour drive from where I live near Vancouver, British Columbia.

Muskox Calves Seward Peninsula, Alaska, USA Alaska's Seward Peninsula is located just south of the Arctic Circle, a remnant of the Bering land bridge. A trip here in early June to photograph tundra nesting birds was a fantastic experience. Upon closer inspection, the seemingly stark landscape is vibrant and filled with life. In addition to the unique birds, the opportunity to photograph Muskox was a big highlight for me. Two youngsters investigate me while their mother grazes nearby.


Muskox Calves
Seward Peninsula, Alaska, USA

Alaska's Seward Peninsula is located just south of the Arctic Circle, a remnant of the Bering land bridge. A trip here in early June to photograph tundra nesting birds was a fantastic experience. Upon closer inspection, the seemingly stark landscape is vibrant and filled with life. In addition to the unique birds, the opportunity to photograph Muskox was a big highlight for me. Two youngsters investigate me while their mother grazes nearby.

Bluethroat Seward Peninsula, Alaska, USA One of the most sought after Alaskan birds - the Bluethroat. This subspecies of gorgeous songbird winters in Southeast Asia; migrating northward, crossing the Bering Sea to reach its breeding grounds in river valleys in the state's far north. Despite their bright colours, locating these guys can be challenging. First, myself and Glenn Bartley listened for their songs and scanned the sky above their preferred habitat of large swaths of dense willows shrubs where they make display flights. After tracking down this male, we observed for quite some time in order to determine his favourite singing perches. Using camouflage blinds as not to disturb him, we set up nearby and were able to get some closeup shots. Seward Peninsula, Alaska.


Bluethroat
Seward Peninsula, Alaska, USA

One of the most sought after Alaskan birds - the Bluethroat. This subspecies of gorgeous songbird winters in Southeast Asia; migrating northward, crossing the Bering Sea to reach its breeding grounds in river valleys in the state's far north. Despite their bright colours, locating these guys can be challenging. First, myself and Glenn Bartley listened for their songs and scanned the sky above their preferred habitat of large swaths of dense willows shrubs where they make display flights. After tracking down this male, we observed for quite some time in order to determine his favourite singing perches. Using camouflage blinds as not to disturb him, we set up nearby and were able to get some closeup shots. Seward Peninsula, Alaska.

Black-legged Kittiwake with Capelin Bering Sea, Seward Peninsula, Alaska, USA During a trip to Alaska, a Capelin spawn on the shores of the Bering Sea attracted large numbers of seabirds, particularly Black-legged Kittiwakes. Sitting on the shore with the sun at my back, I took a few hundred frames as the schools of baitfish were subjected to a barrage of attacks from above. Often times when Kittiwakes would make a successful dive, Jaegers and Glaucous Gulls would steal their prize before they could swallow it. 


Black-legged Kittiwake with Capelin
Bering Sea, Seward Peninsula, Alaska, USA

During a trip to Alaska, a Capelin spawn on the shores of the Bering Sea attracted large numbers of seabirds, particularly Black-legged Kittiwakes. Sitting on the shore with the sun at my back, I took a few hundred frames as the schools of baitfish were subjected to a barrage of attacks from above. Often times when Kittiwakes would make a successful dive, Jaegers and Glaucous Gulls would steal their prize before they could swallow it. 

Immersed Southwestern British Columbia, Canada A 70 metre waterfall plunges into a canyon in British Columbia's southern Coast Mountains. While others dried up to dangerously low levels, glacially-fed creeks and rivers surged with meltwater during our recent hot, dry summer. By positioning my tripod legs between submerged boulders and leaning on it to dampen the vibrations caused by the swift current, I was able to capture this angle of a small falls downstream - a chilly endeavour. 


Immersed
Southwestern British Columbia, Canada

A 70 metre waterfall plunges into a canyon in British Columbia's southern Coast Mountains. While others dried up to dangerously low levels, glacially-fed creeks and rivers surged with meltwater during our recent hot, dry summer. By positioning my tripod legs between submerged boulders and leaning on it to dampen the vibrations caused by the swift current, I was able to capture this angle of a small falls downstream - a chilly endeavour. 

Tufted Puffin Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington, USA This closeup photograph of a Tufted Puffin was taken from a kayak in the Strait of Juan de Fuca - the water which separates British Columbia's Vancouver Island and Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Very small remnant breeding populations are still holding on isolated islands in this region. During this shoot, young Harbour Seals became very interested in my friend's and my kayaks, even nibbling on the rudders.


Tufted Puffin
Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington, USA

This closeup photograph of a Tufted Puffin was taken from a kayak in the Strait of Juan de Fuca - the water which separates British Columbia's Vancouver Island and Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Very small remnant breeding populations are still holding on isolated islands in this region. During this shoot, young Harbour Seals became very interested in my friend's and my kayaks, even nibbling on the rudders.

Canada Lynx Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada This summer while scouting for myself and Connor Stefanison's Manning Provincinal Park - Wildlife and Mountain Vistas photo workshop, we had a brief but memorable encounter with one of the continents most elusive mammals - a Canada Lynx. 


Canada Lynx
Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

This summer while scouting for myself and Connor Stefanison's Manning Provincinal Park - Wildlife and Mountain Vistas photo workshop, we had a brief but memorable encounter with one of the continents most elusive mammals - a Canada Lynx. 

Sea Otter Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, USA Tired from an hour or so of meticulously cleaning her coat, a female Sea Otter rests, afloat on her back in a secluded cove along the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. Having little to no fat reserves, it's critical that Sea Otters keep their fur in good condition in order for them to stay waterproof and insulated from the chill of the North Pacific.


Sea Otter
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, USA

Tired from an hour or so of meticulously cleaning her coat, a female Sea Otter rests, afloat on her back in a secluded cove along the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. Having little to no fat reserves, it's critical that Sea Otters keep their fur in good condition in order for them to stay waterproof and insulated from the chill of the North Pacific.

Brown Bear Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA This year I had the opportunity to return to Alaska in August to work as the photography guide and naturalist onboard a Zungunruhe Birding Tours boat trip focused on bearwatching in some remote areas of Katmai National Park. Having never seen Brown Bears before, I was eager to get up close to learn as much as I could about these amazing animals. One of my most memorable experiences was when this male, weighing over 1000 pounds, walked up the shore of a river and plunged into a school of salmon just a few feet in front of me. Being splashed by and feeling like you could reach out and touch one of the world's most awe-inspiring apex predators was pretty amazing!


Brown Bear
Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

This year I had the opportunity to return to Alaska in August to work as the photography guide and naturalist onboard a Zungunruhe Birding Tours boat trip focused on bearwatching in some remote areas of Katmai National Park. Having never seen Brown Bears before, I was eager to get up close to learn as much as I could about these amazing animals. One of my most memorable experiences was when this male, weighing over 1000 pounds, walked up the shore of a river and plunged into a school of salmon just a few feet in front of me. Being splashed by and feeling like you could reach out and touch one of the world's most awe-inspiring apex predators was pretty amazing!

Hoatzin Amazon Rainforest, Southern Peru While leading a photography workshop in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru, alongside Glenn Bartley, our group was enjoying a beautiful evening paddle on one of the region's many oxbow lakes. An amazing, prehistoric-looking bird called the Hoatzin is a fairly common sight along the margins of these lakes, so we were on the lookout. Just as the light was at its best, we spotted one soaking in the day's final rays on a fallen tree. I was pleased to capture it strutting along, displaying its amazing crest.   


Hoatzin
Amazon Rainforest, Southern Peru

While leading a photography workshop in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru, alongside Glenn Bartley, our group was enjoying a beautiful evening paddle on one of the region's many oxbow lakes. An amazing, prehistoric-looking bird called the Hoatzin is a fairly common sight along the margins of these lakes, so we were on the lookout. Just as the light was at its best, we spotted one soaking in the day's final rays on a fallen tree. I was pleased to capture it strutting along, displaying its amazing crest.   

Long-tailed Tyrant Amazon Rainforest, Southern Peru A male Long-tailed Tyrant descends from his favourite perch, in pursuit of a flying insect. A species of flycatcher found throughout parts of Central and South America, males of which are adorned by impressively long tail streamers. My workshop group and I photographed a nesting pair not far from our cabins where the Andean foothills meets the Amazon Rainforest in southern Peru.


Long-tailed Tyrant
Amazon Rainforest, Southern Peru

A male Long-tailed Tyrant descends from his favourite perch, in pursuit of a flying insect. A species of flycatcher found throughout parts of Central and South America, males of which are adorned by impressively long tail streamers. My workshop group and I photographed a nesting pair not far from our cabins where the Andean foothills meets the Amazon Rainforest in southern Peru.

Ephemeral Coast Mountains, Southwestern British Columbia, Canada My goal was to photograph this lake, located deep in the backcountry of Southwestern British Columbia's Coast Mountains, after the first major snowfall of the winter season, before it froze over. After hiking in and setting up camp, snow started falling heavily. I awoke to clear skies and a thick blanket of over 30 cm's of fresh snow. During the morning twilight, cloudy skies parted and the sun rose above the surrounding peaks, illuminating ice fog that lingered above the surface of the lake. It was one of the most memorable mornings I've spent alone in nature. 


Ephemeral
Coast Mountains, Southwestern British Columbia, Canada

My goal was to photograph this lake, located deep in the backcountry of Southwestern British Columbia's Coast Mountains, after the first major snowfall of the winter season, before it froze over. After hiking in and setting up camp, snow started falling heavily. I awoke to clear skies and a thick blanket of over 30 cm's of fresh snow. During the morning twilight, cloudy skies parted and the sun rose above the surrounding peaks, illuminating ice fog that lingered above the surface of the lake. It was one of the most memorable mornings I've spent alone in nature. 


Want to join me in some of these exciting locations?
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