Jess Findlay

Last night at the North Shore Photographic Society we had a guest speaker/photographer come in to share his images and provide us with some tips. The photographer was Jess Findlay, a very young (21 years of age) and accomplished landscape/wildlife photographer. Jess was born and raised in Vancouver, has a tremendous love of the outdoors and received his first camera from his father at a young age. He doesn’t have any formal training apart from what he has learnt from his father (also a nature photographer) and his camera club. In 2011 he was awarded the International Youth Photographer of the Year award from Nature’s Best and was awarded in this year’s BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

One of his favourite images is that of a coyote sleeping in the snow. Jess told us that he was in the back country alone and was tracking the coyote for a few kilometres. After a while the coyote just stopped, looked at him and lay down to sleep. Jess likes using a wide angle lens for some of his wildlife photography and he was able to approach to about two metres of the coyote to take this amazing photograph. The sky had just started to change colour with the sunset and the orange tones of the sky are mirrored in the colour of the coyote’s fur. There is a lot of movement in this image: the coyote curled up in a ball, the circular melt patches around the grass tufts in the snow near the animal, the soft undulating curves of the hills and the diagonal striations of the clouds.

Jess’s Pauraque Study photograph is the one that was awarded in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year this year. The image has an abstract quality with texture and colour brought to the forefront of this interesting looking bird.

His photograph of the red fox was exhibited at the Smithsonian for the International Youth Photographer award and his youthful face lit up when he told us about the experience of seeing his photograph blown up to six feet hanging proudly on the walls of the Smithsonian.

Jess likes to photograph wildlife in its environment, not only as portraits, and one can clearly see his love of the landscape and wildlife blended in these images. He actually uses flash (multiple units) quite a lot in his photography. In his photograph entitled The Protector, he explained that he had again used a wide angle lens, was sitting in a canoe in the marsh when the black tern came swooping down on him. He used his flash to light the bird as it was low light and the shadow behind the bird caused from the silhouetting of the bird after the flash had fired is visible. Apparently people often ask him if the bird was Photoshopped into the image. He explained that if he hadn’t used the flash the bird would have been silhouetted just as the trees in the background were.

Some of his take home tips were about waiting for the correct light, varying shutter speed for dramatic effects, creating abstracts and shooting wildlife in their own environment. Being an avid bird watcher, he imparted a few tips on getting natural looking photographs of birds that frequent one’s garden as well.

Jess now travels the world going to Ecuador, Peru, the Aleutian Islands and the Arctic circle in Alaska to name just a few places and is giving workshops in British Columbia, Ecuador and Peru next year. Such amazing accomplishments for someone so young!

Reference List

Jess Findlay Photography. [online]. Available from http://www.jessfindlay.com/index.html  [Accessed 28 October, 2014]

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