Sharp shooter puts nature in focus

Photographer Carla Hunt's nature pictures are often found in The Morning Star

Nature photographer Carla Hunt at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.

Nature photographer Carla Hunt at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.

It all started when she captured a photo of an eagle in flight on her iPhone and it has grown into a passion she cultivates every chance she gets.

Carla Hunt is a regular contributor to The Morning Star, submitting her nature photography of wildlife in the Okanagan.

Armed with only her camera, Hunt will often spend an entire day from sunrise to sunset in the bush, hiking and sitting until the animals and birds become used to her presence.

She moved to Vernon in 1998 from Victoria and fell in love with the Okanagan. She has a successful senior administrative support consulting business called Raven-Hunt Consulting.

Hunt has always enjoyed playing around with photography, but her hobby evolved five years ago, when she returned to Victoria to care for her ailing foster dad.

“It’s how I kept my sanity, because he was struggling with dementia. I would take walks down to the ocean and take pictures. One day I noticed an eagle in a tree and thought I’d take a picture. I caught him just taking off out of the tree and I was hooked,” she says with a smile, remembering the moment.

“It really taught me how to focus and get re-balanced because wildlife, if you really sit and observe them, aren’t worried about things that we’re worried about and stressing over things we stress about, which was really helpful to me.”

Connecting with her dad over her photography in the evenings is a special memory for her.

“I’d take a look over my pictures and he’d be looking at them and he’d pause for a minute and say that’s a bald eagle, deer, or whatever it was, so it was helpful to him, too. Then he would say ‘You took that picture? That’s so cool!’ and it would snap him back into reality…it was really good for both of us.”

Since she has been back in Vernon, the mom of four kids, ranging in age from 14 to 24, is outside taking pictures any chance she gets.

Usually she goes out solo accompanied only by her Nikon D7000 and Sigma 150mm-500mm lens, but sometimes one of her children will tag along and she admits that they are her biggest fans.

The first time one of her photos appeared in The Morning Star she says her daughter came running into the room with it crumpled and clutched in her hand because she was so excited.

Hunt has been tossing around the idea of making a calendar of her photos to sell, but for now she just makes them for her friends and family.

She finds it very peaceful and calming to re-connect with nature.

“Observing wildlife is really cool if you take the time to watch them. The animals are different in each area, the size, the colour, it’s really neat.”

The one animal that has been elusive for Hunt is the cougar.

“I see these stories in the news about a cougar in Coldstream and I think, ‘why doesn’t anyone phone me!’”

For many people the idea of seeing a cougar or bear by themselves in the woods is the stuff of nightmares, but for Hunt that’s the goal.

“I’m hoping to see more bears this year because I just got a bigger lens. It is huge and heavy and I’ve almost had to re-learn how to photograph with it.”

She admits she’s had a few wild experiences. The first time she saw a bobcat up close she had to tell herself to take a deep breath to calm herself because she feels animals can sense a person’s stress and unease.

Once she was caught off guard while taking photos of a sunset. She heard dogs barking in the distance before seeing a large black bear running straight for her, away from the dogs.

“He wasn’t even looking at me, he was just running away from whatever had scared him, the dogs I’m assuming, and he came barrelling towards me, so I just stomped my feet on the ground and yelled and it scared him even more and he took off to the left. I was so scared I couldn’t get a picture off.”

Hunt says she hasn’t got over her fear of some wildlife and she is constantly watching and smelling for danger. She says coyotes have a distinct smell.

A self-taught photographer, she is always experimenting, learning through trial and error, and constantly evolving.

“You have to have patience to wait, especially when photographing eagles, they will fly eventually. I love when I’m out in the field and I can see the photo I want to get and I get home and realize I got it.”

Coming home to Vernon after looking after her dad, she says she sees things from a new perspective.

“I see how much wildlife we have here. I think the biggest thing I noticed was the growth in Vernon…I think that is a big reason why I’m trying to get so much detail in my wildlife photography. I want people to see all this wildlife we have and the habitat destruction going on. The further we develop that, the less space they have to live.”

 

Just Posted

Spring cleanup is underway. Google Image.
COLUMN: Baby Boomers work ethic

‘It seems our work ethic extends to and includes our hearts as well’

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

The Kalamalka Lake water source is being turned off next week starting on Monday, May 17, 2021 for some operational repairs. (Black Press Media file photo)
Kalamalka Lake water source turning off for repairs starting Monday

Greater Vernon Water expects the repairs to last one week

Vernon Search and Rescue's Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Doctor Jessica Luksts is being recognized on BC Family Doctor Day for her part in the early days of the pandemic. (Submitted)
Celebrate BC Family Doctor Day on May 19

The South Okanagan Similkameen has over 80 family doctors serving the community

COVID-19 virus. (Black Press Media file)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Kelowna retirement home

The outbreak at Sandalwood Retirement Resort was initially announced by Interior Health on April 23

Most Read