© Norm Ullock, Female Alaskan Grizzly Bear taken at Lake Clark Alaska, USA. Nikon D800 with Nikon 200-400mm f/4 lens, ISO 250, focal length 400mm 1/500sec, f/5.6.[vision_two_thirds] [vision_content_box style="teal-2" title="BIO"]
I live in Toronto, Canada and I enjoy travel and photography. My wife is also a photographer so I am very lucky that we can enjoy our hobby together. I am an award winning photographer including being honored with both runner up Photographer of the Year and Photographer of the Year in my home club.
I enjoy shooting most genres in photography but nature wildlife is my passion. I particularly enjoy capturing birds in flight. I am also an accredited photography judge in Canada and I frequently teach photography and judging courses.[/vision_content_box] [/vision_two_thirds] [vision_one_third] [vision_content_box style="teal-2" title="FAVOURITE LENS"]I would have to pick my Nikon 200-400mm f/4 lens. This is a beast. It is sharp and focuses quickly and in any lighting condition. It takes teleconverters up to 2X and will still autofocus on my D800. With the camera and a teleconverter and the lens it works out to about 13lbs which is a lot to hand hold but it can be done. [/vision_content_box] [/vision_one_third]
Most Memorable Moment
When I was photographing Grizzly Bears in Alaska, there was one day when an 850 lb female bear began walking in my direction from about 200 yards away. I had my 200-400mm lens on her and as she continued to walk closer it came to the point where at a focal length of 200 mm my viewfinder could only see her head and shoulders because she was so close. She continued to walk past me on a mission to find salmon. To be that close and be able to tell the story was such a thrill. It is a moment I will never forget.
Wow this is a tough question. I have shot in 21 countries, 38 U.S. states and right Canadian Provinces. I would have to pick Lake Clark, Alaska as my favourite wildlife location. It is a 90 minute flight from Anchorage, Alaska and it is very wild and remote place. Being up close to Grizzly Bears and being accepted by these animals in their habitat is a truly amazing experience. They didn't seem to perceive us a threat or a food source. This is their turf and they allowed me to observe them with their cubs, without any sign of aggression on their part. Truly an experience I will never forget.
What's in Your Bag?
Nikon D800 & D300
Nikon 24-120 mm f/4
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
Nikon 200-400mm f/4
Nikon 16-35 mm f/4
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
Benro Tripod, ProGold ii Ball head, JOBU Gimball head
Various filters ND, Graduated ND, polarizer
ThinkTank Airport Takeoff bag
When did you start photography?
I have always owned a camera since I was a teenager. As my family grew up I shot color slides mostly as a record of my family for memories. I always had a desire to make artistic photos but in the film days I didn't have the time or knowledge to do it. In 2001 I bought my first digital camera a Nikon Coolpix 995. This was a computer with a lens on it. Using my background in information technology I began to learn and grow as a photographer. Post processing on a computer gave me instant feedback on what I did right and what I needed to improve. In 2010 I began entering competitions with my work and this facilitated my growth as a photographer. I began to study composition techniques and how to create art. Today I continue to learn and develop as a photographer. I use my knowledge to share with others through my frequent writings and teaching in courses.
Latest wildlife picture?
I usually spend time away from the city in the wildlife habitats where birds and animals live. I also live in a suburban city environment where many animals and birds have learned to adapt to man's encroachment on their natural habitat. Last week while eating breakfast a Red Tailed Hawk landed on my backyard fence, outside my kitchen window with a small bird it had just taken. The hawk calmly sat there about 40 feet from my window, enjoying its morning meal. I went and got my camera and my 200-400mm lens and fired off a few shots and managed to get a nice urban habitat shot of the Red Tailed Hawk with its kill.
Who are your heroes?
I have studied the work of many excellent photographers over the years, some skilled amateurs and some professionals, and it is difficult to pick heroes as so many have much to offer when I look at their work. If I had to pick one photographer that I have learned a lot from it would have to be Ian Plant in the USA. Ian is a skilled landscape photographer and has written books on topics such as composition techniques. I spent a week shooting with Ian in 2015 and his techniques for creating art have been a help and an inspiration to me. Another photographer I have learned a lot from is Michael Bertelsen in Ontario Canada. Michael is an outdoorsman and a professional photographer. His big asset to me is his knowledge of wildlife. How to find subjects and where they are. He also knows how to photograph them. I have shot with him several times and always have fun.
Best piece of advice
I would have to pick knowing and using the exposure triangle exceptionally well is the best advice I have received. In order to get awesome shots of animals and birds where the entire creature is in focus and the background has a bokeh that the maker wants, can only be done by selecting the appropriate shutter speed, ISO and Aperture for the composition at hand. Knowing the depth-of-field you will have for a given shot from your selected focal length and aperture is critical to successful shots.
I would say birds in flight are my favourite subject. I say this because I believe it is the most difficult genre to get consistently right. We have no control over our subject's behaviour, the lighting or if we will even find them. It requires a lot of luck to have all these conditions converge in our favour. When the conditions do occur in our favour, you better know what you are doing with your gear in order to capture a quality image.