Photography has to be a passion—I spend far too much time staring down the barrel of a heavy long lens in cold, blustery conditions or sifting through a seemingly infinite folder of identical images on a computer for it to be anything other. It’s not for the faint of wallet either; Expensive camera body upgrades are inevitable for capturing the perfect action-stopping shutter speed while large dynamic sensors are necessary for recording detail in high contrast conditions. For competitive results, you’ll need the brightest precision lens with a swift focus capable of snagging a fast-moving edge and let’s not forget the army of hard drives and the computer processor on steroids required for editing and cataloguing those huge files.

My digital SLR work started with nature, particularly photographing the birds of the eastern Great Lakes area. The diversity of bird species that make their home here is surprising. You will find a surpassingly large range of birds from small, very quick moving hummingbirds, finches and warblers to large modern pterodactyls like the great blue heron and even great egrets. We see plumes of almost every color—from the exotic shades of the indigo bunting and scarlet tanager to the camouflaged bodies of screech owls and female ducks, these by far the most difficult to photograph due to their high contrast darks and whites. However, it was well into that photographic bird journey that I discovered an even more elusive species taking flight in the freshwater shores of the Niagara region, a species known as kiteboarders.