Photography Tips from 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

January 11, 2016

Lions and tigers and bears… and egrets, and owls and puffins, oh my! Canadian Don Gutoski has snapped photos of the rare and the commonplace the world over, through the lens of his Canon camera. He recently won the 2015 International Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) contest for his “A Tale of Two Foxes,” a picture that graphically captures the effects of climate change.

His award-winning photograph, along with those of other entrants, are on display at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto until March 20, 2016, in an exhibit sponsored by Quark Expeditions®. Gutoski will also be appearing at the ROM on January 28, 2016, to give a lecture and conduct an exclusive tour.

A tale of two foxes- Photo credit: Don Gutoski
A tale of two foxes- Photo credit: Don Gutoski


Canadian High Arctic Ideal for Wildlife Photography

As an emergency room doctor based in London, Ontario, Gutoski traces his love of photography to a high school course. “I love animals. It was a natural progression to focus on wildlife.” 

He plans vacations around destinations such as the Canadian High Arctic that provide ample wildlife experiences. “My wife calls our adventures ‘fur and feathers’ trips. I look for places that provide good access to wildlife, and the ability to stay out late.” 

Gutoski admits it can difficult to choose a favorite photo. His “All Time Favorites” photo album includes many of his personal favorites. “Sometimes I pick the crowd pleasers, and other times on the species or the degree of difficulty. One pick is the cheetah taking down the impala as it's a view coming toward me. Most “takedown” shots are from the side or the back. The leopard on the tree branch is most people’s favorite, but I also like the jumping wild dog and the polar bear with the dark background.”


Patience in the Arctic

“You have to be patient. When I photographed “A Tale of Two Foxes”, I had seen the red fox chasing the arctic fox, and I stood for 3 hours in the arctic chill as I watched and waited. The result was the photo that won the contest. There is always a lot of waiting and watching to get the best shot.” 

Gutoski recommends buying a good lens, doing research to learn about your subject and spending time in the field to get a sense of the common routines of the animals. And of course, practice, practice, practice. 

“I carry less in my camera bag than some professional photographers. I used a Canon 1D X camera with 200-400mm zoom lens with built in and external 1.4 TC that gave a focal length of 784 mm to take the fox photo. I always have 2 camera bodies and lots of storage space. I really love the Canon 200-400 zoom and my 1.4 teleconverter.”

He says his love of animals and his personal style influence what he photographs. “However, being more connected to the contest will change how I approach my subjects as I look for that next unique shot. I will always enter the contest if I think I have something worthwhile to submit.” 

Gutoski’s most important piece of advice for wildlife photographers? “Always be patient.”

Enter the ROM Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest

Enter the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest

You can see Gutoski’s masterpiece “A Tale of Two Foxes” and other the winning photographs from the 2015 WPY contest at the Natural History Museum website, or even better, in person.

Quark is proud to sponsor the WPY exhibition at the ROM. Now in its 51st year, WPY is the most prestigious wildlife photography contest of its kind, drawing entries from amateur and professional photographers around the globe. Winning entries are selected by an international panel of judges based on creativity, artistry, and technical complexity.


As part of Quark’s sponsorship, photographers of all levels and visitors to the ROM are invited to submit their own photographs by January 31, 2016 to the ROM’s Wildlife Photographer of the year contest, for their chance to win a Quark Greenland to Canada: Inuit, Icebergs, and Wildlife 13 day expedition for two (2), a grand prize valued at over $20,000 USD. To enter, contestants can share their image from their unlocked Twitter or Instagram account and tag @ROMtoronto and #ROMwpy. For full details, please visit www.rom.on.ca/wpy.


Photography Tips for Wildlife Photographers

Those looking for the best photography tips for polar, landscape and polar photography can check out the dedicated photography section of our blog. Or, sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on arctic expeditions and all things polar!

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