George C. Riefel Bird Sanctuary host Langara’s photography students

Langara’s professional photo-imaging students took a trip to George C. Riefel Bird Sanctuary in Delta, B.C. to try out bird photography equipment. (Edmond Lu photo)

More than $100,000 worth of photography equipment and 30 years of experience in bird photography were both on loan to students of Langara’s professional photo-imaging department as they spent last Wednesday at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta.

Representatives from Canon and Vancouver-based camera store Beau Photo brought specialized equipment suited for bird photography such as high-frame-rate cameras and long telephoto lenses just for the occasion.

As well, John Gordon, an experienced bird photographer and photojournalist accompanied the department on the trip, offering his expertise in the field and helping the students and faculty find rare birds like the great-horned owl and red-tailed hawk among the sea of mallards and sparrows.

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John Gordon, a retired staff photographer for The Langley Times now turned professional bird photographer, addressed students at the Riefel Bird Sanctuary. (Edmond Lu)

“Take on everything you can,” said Gordon, kicking off the day with some advice to those in attendance. “Try new things in your photography.”

Gordon has had his photos published in The Langley Times, various photography and birding magazines, as well as in books written by Gordon himself.

Much of the faculty was also present, both instructing students and taking the chance to learn from the experienced bird photographers themselves. “We must expose our students to as many different facets of the industry as we can in the two years they are with us,” said photography department chair Catherine O’Brien-Bell. Despite the change of pace, the students wielded their heavy, cannon-like lenses worth thousands with enthusiasm, pointing them at everything in sight be it a bald eagle or a fellow student.

The reputation of the photography program at Langara is partly why they were able to secure the equipment and experience to make this trip possible.

“Langara is one of the top photography schools in the city right now, if not the top,” said Jason Kazuta, a representative from Beau Photo, which loaned out some of the equipment along with representatives from Canon and Nikon.

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A second-year photo student trys out Nikon’s 200-400mm f/4 telephoto lens. (Edmond Lu)

The department organizes one of these trips each year, so students have the opportunity to attend twice in the course of their two-year program.

“Having a second go at it is definitely way more fun,” said second-year student Gaelan Glenn. “I was looking at my stuff from before and some of it looked pretty bad.” Glenn said that the technical skills they learn at school helps even if they don’t do this sort of photography often.

The outing was a welcome reprieve for the faculty, as well.

“It is really important to have fun. School is stressful, especially right now,” said O’Brien-Bell. “If nothing else, the day was good therapy for everyone involved.”

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A great-horned owl naps as students snap away with their pro equipment. (Edmond Lu photo)

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