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  • Sydney Daniels

ask a photographer

When planning out this year of blogs, I wanted to switch things up and make pieces that were more interactive with readers. Photography is a unique art form that allows creatives unlimited ways to showcase their photos, which is why I wanted to put the offer out to ask what you wanted to know about nature photography.


"What are your top 3 backyard creatures?"

I was asked about a lot of favourites, but this was a cute, more personal version - thank you! I am currently living in a crappy student townhouse in Waterloo, but my backyard has been one of the few redeeming factors of this place.



There are red-tailed hawks that live on the roof of a neighbouring apartment, and from time to time you can see them circling above our building, and their calls sound like you're in a Western-style movie. Very cool experience, would recommend!



The squirrels and chipmunks tie for second place since they are of equal cuteness and slightly problematic. They are so adorable, I've seen them lounging on our outdoor furniture, or perched right in front of our patio door. As cute as they look, they are also a pest to my veggie garden, which is why they can't claim first place on this list.



Lastly we have the blue jays. They are not the most common in our backyard, but they are my personal favourite songbird. I'm obsessed with their pattern, the blue mosaics on their wings are some of the prettiest feathers out there.



"What is your favourite animal to photograph, and why?"

It goes without saying that I love me some birds. I love their uniqueness, their colours, and their songs. Since I was a kid I've been fascinated by birds; I used to gasp at pigeons driving around Toronto, I once dressed my sister as a 'tree' to get birds to land on her, so it's safe to say birds are one of my favourite animals.


Of the birds I've photographed, I love shooting birds of prey and waterfowl. I think they have the prettiest features and colours, birds of prey are especially cool to shoot when they are hovering overtop of me. With waterfowl, I find it fascinating seeing duck-like birds with such unique features and colours, and even personalities.



"What is your favourite place to take pictures?"

For years I've been visiting Lynde Shores, located between Whitby and Ajax. The chickadee trail never disappoints with its songbirds that are very familiar with people, so there's plenty to see at this park. I've also had good luck year-round with waterfowl and deer at Lynde Shores!



"Where would you go for a dream photography trip?"

The Galapagos has been on my bucket list for a while now. The insane biodiversity on these small islands is something I would dream of seeing in real life. The birds, reptiles, and mammals there are stunning, but if I'm in the Galapagos I'm visiting the sharks, specifically the hammerheads.


One of these days, I hope to get my hands on an underwater camera and swim with hammerhead schools. After that, I can die happy.



"Who's the best birding partner?"

It goes without saying that I would not have the life list I currently do without my partner, Alex. In the past year, he's gotten really into birding to the point where he's reached over 200 birds on his life list! Since he is dedicated to growing this list, he scopes out good birding spots and takes me to the hotspots he finds.


As annoyed as I get when leaving the house, I do love sharing our photos after a birding adventure. He's also become a good photographer in the process, and I'm very proud of the amazing shots he's been able to capture thus far.



"What are the best flowers to photograph right now?"

This varies on where you are, or when you read this. Right now (late June) in southern Ontario, shrubs like Dogwood and wildflowers like Crown-vetch, Ox-eye daisy, and Blueweed to name a few in bloom currently.


Milkweed buds are beginning to flower, which is very exciting because the monarchs will soon follow. Personally, I'm looking forward to the fall when Aster and Goldenrod begin blooming.



"What is the ugliest bird?" to "Favourite nature fact?"

First off, fantastic question. I love all birds but there are definitely some that are prettier than others. My personal answer is the turkey vulture. These birds have heads that are in desperate need of a skincare routine. That said, their work as scavengers is really interesting.


Turkey vultures have very unique methods of reducing disease intake, lowering their body temperature, and fending off threats. How they do this is gross to us, but useful for them: feces and vomit. Due to their diet made up of decaying flesh, they have extremely potent stomach acid that they use to disinfect their feet and food before they eat, as well as a self-defense mechanism, shooting vomit for up to 10 feet (Cornell Lab).

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