Photography in Ontario’s Provincial Park

by Stephen Elms
November 4, 2013


I’ve been fortunate to experience the beauty of Ontario’s Provincial Parks since I was very young.  Years of canoe trips, camping excursions and winter camping have afforded incredible opportunities to develop my photography skills.  Parks such as Algonquin, Killbear, and Killarney have become my “second home” and always provide unique and incredible experiences, which I have captured with my camera over the years.


Moose have always been a favorite subject of mine.  They have an awkward beauty about them.   I spent the better part of two hours earning this young bull’s trust.  This image was shot with a 70-200 mm lens.  I like to get nice and low for wildlife shots to capture the foreground for context.


Moose by Stephen Elms ©


This beauty spent almost two days hanging around our campsite in Algonquin Park.  I was able to sneak up quietly with a 70-200 mm lens to capture this peaceful moment.



Moose by Stephen Elms ©




It can be very hard to get out of a cozy sleeping bag for first light, but I find you are often rewarded with incredibly soft lighting, and spectacular wildlife opportunities.


Moose in the morning mist by Stephen Elms ©



Below - This Pine Marten became a regular visitor while on a November trip into Algonquin Park.   This little guy was extremely playful and seemed to like to pose for pictures!  This image was shot with a Nikon D3S and 70-200mm f2.8 lens.




This magnificent black bear decided to visit my campsite in Killarney while I was out for a hike.  I always keep my camera at my side while out and about in the Parks, as you never know what you will find or come home (to your campsite) to!


Black bear by Stephen Elms ©



Spring can be an incredible time for moose viewing in Algonquin Park as they often are seen along the roadways, drinking salty water in the ditches (salty due to the winter road salting).  This was shot with a Nikon D3S with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens and 2X teleconverter (400mm focal length).



Deer are also abundant in many Ontario Parks.  While on a recent camping trip in Killbear Provincial Park, we literally had deer walking right through our campsite!  My Nikon D3S with 70-200mm lens never left my side!



Deer by Stephen Elms ©



I had this image in my mind for many years.  The location (Killarney Provincial Park) has a beautifully rugged shoreline and is incredibly picturesque.  I placed a light inside the tent and set my shutter speed for 8 seconds, at f22.

Tent at night Killarney provincial park by Stephen Elms ©



Night photography has become one of my favorite endeavors.  Sitting out in the darkness for hours can be extremely relaxing.  This shot (taken in Algonquin Park) is a blend of 100, thirty second exposures (combined via Starstax) plus two images for the ambient light both around and in the tent.

Tent and star trails by Stephen Elms ©



This iconic wind-swept Pine tree in Killbear Provincial Park was shot in a similar manner.  Several thirty second exposures were combined using Starstax , after which I “painted” the tree with my flashlight to brighten it.


Star trails and tent by Stephen Elms ©



Algonquin Park is known around the world for its vast system of canoe routes.  September is a fantastic time of year to venture into the park as there crowds and bugs almost disappear.  This shot was edited in Lightroom to increase clarity and saturation.

Canoe by Stephen Elms ©


Waking for first light has often rewarded me with some spectacular photographic opportunities.  This paddler was out on an Algonquin lake at about 6:00 am and the lighting was incredibly warm and soft.

Canoe on lake by Stephen Elms ©




As you can see, Ontario’s Provincial Parks can be the perfect backdrop for the outdoor photographer.  They provide the perfect “classroom” in which to develop your skills, and offer a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal, every day life.



Canoe in fog by Stephen Elms ©

My Gear:

Whenever I am in the Parks I carry two camera bodies on me at all times (I’ve learned this the hard way, as I’ve missed a few fleeting wildlife shots because I had to dig around in a bag for my gear).  I carry a Nikon D700 with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens on my hip (held on a Spider Pro Holster) and a Nikon D3S with a 70-200 mm f2.8 lens over my shoulder (on a Black Rapid Strap).  I also carry an F-Stop Satori EXP bag which holds my tripod, cable release, filters, macro lens and 2X teleconverter.

If you would like to see more of my work, you can check out my website at:


Stephen Elms self portrait  

Bio: As an avid outdoorsman, I’ve spent the better part of 40 years exploring the great outdoors by foot, snowshoe and canoe. I began as a hobbyist photographing the wildlife and landscapes of Ontario’s Provincial Parks. That hobby quickly became a passion that has continued to grow until this day. My outdoor adventures have seen me photographing everything from Grizzlies in Alberta, to rutting Bull Moose in Algonquin to starry nights in the dead of winter in Killarney. I have been fortunate to have my wildlife and nature photography published by Ontario Travel, MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op),, Photo News Magazine, Photo Life Magazine, Explorers Edge and Over the years, Algonquin Provincial Park has become my second home, and I run photography workshops with Algonquin as the amazing venue.




Telephone: 905-802-9877





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