Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Real Animal Farm

The Muskoka Wildlife Centre
In January I attended a field trip to the Muskoka Wildlife Centre (MWC). It was organized by Janet Balon and Myrtle Herzog for the Richmond Hill Camera Club. It was a weekend long excursion but I could only stay for the day on Saturday.

It was quite a challenging experience. The temperature, when I left Minden, hovered around –30°C. The snow was white and crisp and squeaked underfoot. I dressed rather warmly in anticipation.

MWC is a unique facility. Their mandate is to provide a haven for rescued wild animals. Much of their funding comes from the government but they supplement it with revenue from visitors. To that end, they have put a program together to accommodate photographers who want to get up close and personal with wildlife. A team of keeper/handlers take photographers right into the enclosures with many of the animals and are skilled at getting the animals to pose in fence-free locations.

Some of the animals we got to visit were owls, wolves, a lynx, wolverines, foxes, a hawk and even a non-cooperative porcupine. In addition, there were some too dangerous to get too close to, such as a cougar and a moose. The bear, of course, was hibernating.

Winter photography is a bit of a challenge. You can read some technical details here.
I used fill-flash some of the time. Some of the techniques I used were wrong. I learned a lot from my mistakes and won’t repeat them. Here’s an article in my technical blog about using fill flash.
Anyway, I did manage to get some decent pictures. Here are a few of them.