His avian images are truly remarkable in terms of resolution, variety of subject, and unparalleled skill in documentation. When I realized that most of his photographs were obtained with a Nikon 200-400mm lens and occasional amplification with tele-extenders I decided to follow suit.
This lens has become my favorite in a variety of situations which include a recent canoe trip on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe and lots of hobby work around Vermont where I reside. In spite of loving the lens and feeling comfortable with it in most situations, I wanted to understand how Ray can use it hand-held and obtain wonderful macro images of tiny subjects.
Most importantly, bird flight photography requires lots of practice and acquired skill, and I clearly admit that most of my best images were probably accidents, more a product of auto-focus and high speed motor drive than unbridled skill.
In early April of this year I traveled to Toronto for a several day meeting and planned to extend my stay to spend a much anticipated day one-on-one with Ray Barlow. In the weeks prior to the visit he maintained e-mail and telephone contact and helped me to understand just what we would be doing for the day. It was one of the most important photographic experiences I have had, with Ray helping me to clarify camera and lens settings for rapid sequence photography.He understands the environment which surrounds his subjects and has become as much a naturalist as a master photographic technician. He has a unique method of finding whatever bird is in the migratory path or indigenous to his Canadian locale. He is understated and very friendly.
As I read the comments from others who have had the privilege of working with Ray either in a workshop or just some advice long distance through his website, it is apparent that everyone has the same positive experiences I have described. We spent most of the day talking about photography, finding and photographing bluebirds, and eventually locating some red-necked grebes which are indeed especially beautiful subjects.
As a physician who is involved in teaching medical students and residents on a daily basis, I am particularly interested in how others get their points across. Ray posseses a special quality that endears him to HIS students and allows them to ask whatever is on their mind without feeling intimidated or uncomfortable. I am fortunate to have been one of those students and am privileged to realize that I have a new friend who likes and understands my extracurricular passion.