Monday, 19 August 2013

Species Spotlight - The Great Northern Loon

The Great Northern Loon is one of the five loon species. Its closest relative is the other large black-headed species, the Yellow-billed Loon or White-billed Diver.

Adults can range from 61 to 100 cm (24–40 inches) in length with a 122–152 cm (4–5-foot) wingspan, slightly smaller than the similar Yellow-billed Loon (or "White-billed Diver"). The weight can vary from 1.6 to 8 kg (3.6 to 17.6 lbs). On average a Great Northern Loon is about 81 cm (32 inches) long, has a wingspan of 136 cm (54 inches), and weighs about 4.1 kg (9 lbs).

Breeding adults have a black head, white underparts, and a checkered black-and-white mantle. Non-breeding plumage is brownish, with the chin and foreneck white. The bill is black-blue and held horizontally. The bill colour and angle distinguish this species from the similar Yellow-billed Loon.

Bone structure contains a number of solid bones (unlike normally hollow avian bones), which add weight but help in diving.

Distribution and habitat

The Great Northern Loon breeds in North America, Greenland, Iceland, and Great Britain. This species winters on sea coasts or on large lakes of south Europe and the United States, and south to northwestern areas of Africa.


Chicks will ride on their parents' backs

This species, like all divers, is a specialist fish-eater, catching its prey underwater, diving as deep as 60 m (200 ft). Freshwater diets consist of pike, perch, sunfish, trout, and bass; salt-water diets consist of rock fish, flounder, sea trout, and herring.

The bird needs a long distance to gain momentum for take-off, and is ungainly on landing. Its clumsiness on land is due to the legs being positioned at the rear of the body: this is ideal for diving but not well-suited for walking. When the birds land on water, they skim along on their bellies to slow down, rather than on their feet, as these are set too far back. The loon swims gracefully on the surface, dives as well as any flying bird, and flies competently for hundreds of kilometers in migration. It flies with its neck outstretched, usually calling a particular tremolo that can be used to identify a flying loon. Its flying speed is about 120 km/h (75 mph) during migration. Its call has been alternately called "haunting," "beautiful," "thrilling," "mystical", and "enchanting."

Great Northern Loon nests are usually placed on islands, where ground-based predators cannot normally access them. However, eggs and nestlings have been taken by gulls, raccoons, skunks, minks, foxes, snapping turtles, and large fish. Adults are not regularly preyed upon, but have been taken by sea otters (when wintering) and Bald Eagles. Ospreys have been observed harassing divers, more likely out of kleptoparasitism than predation.  When approached by a predator of either its nest or itself, divers sometimes attack the predator by rushing at it and attempting to impale it through the abdomen or the back of the head or neck.


The female lays 1 to 3 eggs on a hollowed-out mound of dirt and vegetation very close to water. Both parents build the nest, sit on the egg or eggs, and feed the young.

Relationship with humans

These birds have disappeared from some lakes in eastern North America due to the effects of acid rain and pollution, as well as lead poisoning from fishing sinkers and mercury contamination from industrial waste. Artificial floating nesting platforms have been provided for loons in some lakes to reduce the impact of changing water levels due to dams and other human activities.

This diver is well known in Canada, appearing on the one-dollar "loonie" coin and the previous series of $20 bill, and is the provincial bird of Ontario. Also, it is the state bird of Minnesota.

The voice and appearance of the Great Northern Loon has made it prominent in several Native American tales. These include a story of a loon which created the world in a Chippewa story; a Micmac saga describes Kwee-moo, the loon who was a special messenger of Glooscap (Glu-skap), the tribal hero; native tribes of British Columbia believed that an excess of calls from this bird predicted rain, and even brought it; and the tale of the loon's necklace was handed down in many versions among Pacific Coast peoples. Folk names include big loon, black-billed loon, call-up-a-storm, ember-goose,

We often see Loons on our workshops and have experience anticipating their movement to offer you the best opportunity to photograph them in the environment.

Please check out our workshops and come photograph some Loons.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Canadian Photography Workshop Series

I have had the pleasure of travelling to some fantastic places... Africa, France, Mongolia, Eastern Europe, South America... and no matter where I go, and who I meet, I always get asked about Canada, my home.

I guess its the expansive nature of our country. The draw of the Rocky Mountains, the expansive prairies, the eclectic economic center of Ontario and Quebec, and the iconic eastern provinces on the Atlantic Ocean... and definately not to be left out, our territories to the north, and their allure of untamed lands and wildlife...

Over the past year I have been mulling an idea that would bring International Photographers to Canada. A friend of mine, Tim Vollmer, brings photographers from around the world to Iceland and hosts amazing trips that can be found nowhere else on earth...

Canada also has that diverse and unique offering, and frankly, I think better opportunities than Iceland, (sorry Tim... LOL)

So in July of 2013, North of 49 Photography was launched. North of 49 refers to the latitude line of our border with the USA. So all workshops and tours that this new company will conduct, will be north of the 49th latitude line.

Our Canadian instructors and guides have knowledge of the lands and the wildlife that we will be photographing to ensure that you have the best experience possible. These Canadian instructors and guides will also support the International Photographers that visit Canada with their friends and clients. So, you get two professional photographers to help you when you come to Canada. This offers a great ratio and increases your learning time.

Currently we have a variety of workshops and tours that focus on the very photogenic Pacific coast in Tofino, British Columbia, a few workshops centred around thousands of migratory bald eagles, Northwest Territories for landscape and Northern Lights, and as well, a workshop up in Algonquin Park and the Kawartha region of Ontario.

All of these workshops can be found at

In the coming months we will also be adding a few polar bear workshops in Nunavut and an east coast lighthouse workshop along the Atlantic coastline.

I hope you will bookmark the site and refer back to it often. We will be constantly updating the workshops and the blog will be filling up with all the information you will ever need on Canada, its people, its regions and where we will be travelling to.

I wanted to thank you all for your support with the Photographers Lounge. That company will continue to operate our International Workshops and local one day workshops under



Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Canadian Species Spotlight - The Osprey

The Osprey sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle, or fish hawk, is a fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings. In 1994, the osprey was declared the provincial bird of Nova Scotia, Canada

The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.

As its other common name suggests, the Osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialized physical characteristics and exhibits unique behavior to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own family.

The Osprey is the second most widely distributed raptor species, after the Peregrine Falcon. It has a worldwide distribution and is found in temperate and tropical regions of all continents except Antarctica. In North America it breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to the Gulf Coast and Florida, wintering further south from the southern United States through to Argentina.

The Osprey breeds near freshwater lakes, and sometimes on coastal brackish waters. The nest is a large heap of sticks, driftwood and seaweed built in forks of trees, rocky outcrops, utility poles, artificial platforms or offshore islets. Generally, Ospreys reach sexual maturity and begin breeding around the age of three to four, though in some regions with high Osprey densities, they may not start breeding until five to seven years old, and there may be a shortage of suitable tall structures. If there are no nesting sites available, young Ospreys may be forced to delay breeding. To ease this problem, posts are sometimes erected to provide more sites suitable for nest building.

Ospreys usually mate for life. Rarely, polyandry has been recorded. The breeding season varies according to latitude. In spring the pair begins a five-month period of partnership to raise their young. The female lays two to four eggs within a month, and relies on the size of the nest to conserve heat. The eggs are whitish with bold splotches of reddish-brown and are about 6.2 by 4.5 cm (2.4 by 1.8 in) and weigh about 65 g (2.3 oz). The eggs are incubated for about 5 weeks to hatching.

The newly hatched chicks weigh only 50–60 g (1.8–2.1 oz), but fledge in 8–10 weeks. When food is scarce, the first chicks to hatch are most likely to survive. The typical lifespan is 7–10 years, though rarely individuals can grow to as old as 20–25 years. The oldest European wild osprey on record lived to be over thirty years of age. In North America Bubo owls and Bald Eagles (and possibly other eagles of comparable size) are the only major predators of both nests and sub adults.

You can often find Osprey flying around and fishing in many of the lakes and streams we visit on our workshops with North of 49 Photography.

Please check out our workshops and contact us if you see anything that interests you.


Monday, 5 August 2013

Social Media Workshop for Photographers

As a small photography business owner that has a limited budget for traditional marketing efforts, social media and the internet should be playing huge role in helping you gain new clients and grow your business.

While many of us have entered the social media space, there is always room for improvement and definitely ways to streamline the work load, while increasing your conversation ratios of casual followers to paying clients.

Does these statements sound familiar?

I have a website, Why do I need Social Media?

I am ready to use the internet and social media in a smart and meaningful way–without taking time from your primary business?

I want to reach and engage prospects directly instead of wasting time and money on passive advertising?

I want to create a community of advocates who promote and support your business for you?

Is there a special connection to customers that you've heard others have–but you're missing?

Does the ever-changing information about social media confuse you?

And–maybe you'd like some expert guidance to help you understand and use all that social media has to offer?

Some Quick Facts about Social Media That We Will Address

Facebook has 1 billion users, twitter has about 500 million. How many of those users do you think could be potential customers?

Social media increases your online presence, making your company easier to find through searches and organically.

Posting on Social Media increases your brands exposure, and who wouldn't want more exposure?

Social Media gives you a free platform where you can have conversations directly with customers that may otherwise never hear of your company!

Complaints happen. Addressing public customer complaints quickly and efficiently can contain the spread of negative feedback, and can also help create new raving fans.

Our Social Media Workshop is a great way to help you and your staff identify your target audience and establish a strong message you'd like to deliver through a number of social media outlets. We will help you identify the best social media platforms for your business, because what's right for some isn't right for all. We will make sure you and your staff become comfortable communicating with your customers and creating meaningful conversations online.

It's a great way to align your marketing strategies with your online media initiatives, and make social media work for you.

About Your Instructor
Kevin Pepper has over 12 years working in the Internet industry for large multi-national organizations and some of Canada’s largest media companies. Companies such as Canwest, Sun Media and Trader Classified Media.

From managing one of the world’s largest internet business targeting used car buyers to teaching small to medium sized businesses on maximizing the power of the Internet, Kevin’s social media and internet experience is extensive.

Having changed his career in 2011, Kevin now operates two companies that offer local and international photography workshops for enthusiastic photographers.

Pulling from all his past learnings, Kevin now offers other professional the insights he has learned so that you can benefit from this knowledge and grow your own business, not matter what budget you have for marketing.

Here is a breakdown of the workshop:
January, 25th, 2014 - 6 hours long (we begin at 9:00am to Noon, and then resume at 1:30pm and go till 4:30pm
Part I
Part II
Overview of Social Media Choices
Who does it?
How often?
Options & Costs
Best Practices
How to measure success

Our sessions include brainstorming and interactive feedback and everyone takes away the maximum amount of knowledge specific for photographers.

Location is in Cambridge, Ontario

Cost is $150 plus HST/ per person (payment due at time of registration, non-refundable) - first 20 registrations for $69.00

We will send you a form for your employees to fill out prior to the workshop to make sure we are all prepared and we can completely customize the workshop to your needs and goals

We will follow up with our written recommendations for your company

Contact Information:
(phone) 519 620 9185

Once you contact me to register you will receive a questionnaire to better help me understand your business situation and your specific needs. This will help me address your specific concerns and maximize the personal feedback you receive after the workshop.

I look forward to seeing you at our next social media workshop.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Species Spotlight - Canadian Moose

I have started a new blog that is dedicated to highlighting animals, destinations and photography destinations in Canada... the blog on this website can be found here...

Today I am highlighting the Canadian Moose... I hope you learn something about this huge animal after reading the post.