Pat Gillies is a local wildlife and landscape photographer whose work captures the beauty of our county and beyond.
Pat first picked up a camera in the 1970s, but it was the lull and restrictions of the pandemic that made him take his photography skills to the next level. He usually goes skiing in the winter, but with the mountains being closed, and not much else to do, he bought a new camera and really dove into the craft.
While he doesn't have an absolute favourite thing to photograph, you'll see a lot of birds and beautiful scenes of the lake in his work. Moments that are particularly beautiful, or that offer a unique perspective, also make Pat stop his car to get a shot.
One such moment was when he was out for an early morning shoot and passed a fox trotting up the road with a mouthful of bunnies, squirrels, and even a raccoon. This kind of scene doesn't come often, so it's no surprise he quickly turned back around to document the uncommon sight.
His website, patgillies.myportfolio.com, has these shots posted under 'Animals' - fair warning though, a couple of the shots may not be for the more sensitive viewer, but I think they're definitely worth a look.
For wildlife photography, like the fox and birds, Pat uses the burst function on his camera and ends up with hundreds of images. He goes through each one of them - quite the analytical task, I'm sure - and tries to find one that not everyone else has already taken pictures of before. It's the 'something different' that he looks for - the expression on the animal's face, the bird's feathers all fluffed up, those kinds of unique qualities.
Living on Miramichi Bay, Pat has access to a great sunset just from his porch. There are even times when he'll step away from dinner if there's something particularly eye-catching. But the same view every day, no matter how beautiful, can get boring for anyone, let alone a photographer. So Pat will also head over to Sauble Beach on occasion, or the falls in Owen Sound. He once got shots of the Northern Lights through the Sauble Beach sign! He says that when you look with your eyes, you can mostly see white with some tints of colour, but through a camera, it's much more vibrant. The editing process further brings out those colours and details.
For Pat, editing allows him to really get creative. When trying to create a particularly neat image, he'll spend a lot of time on this step. The greens are made a little greener, or the background will be made duller to bring out the subject. This is a lot easier to do in post-production than trying to capture a perfect image when shooting.
Pat also uses the RAW format to shoot with his camera, so editing is required anyhow. Pat says that editing is a whole new game; he's seen some pictures that are composed really nice, and it's a great shot in general, but that extra push that editing would give would bring the image to life.
If you've headed over to Pat's website, you'll see that he has an entire page dedicated to birds and you might be wondering, just how does he get all these great shots of so many different varieties? Well, Pat revealed that he does have a spot that he frequents, but if you were hoping to check it out yourself, you're out of luck. This little spot doesn't have any parking and Pat even has to block off a lane when taking pictures, though he can do so from the convenience of his car - a nice bonus of the location.
He does have a good reason beyond the parking situation, though, and it's that he doesn't want to scare the birds away! Considering how great his shots are, I have no complaints with keeping it a mystery.