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Profile: Andrew Collett (full exclusive web content)

When things don’t go as planned

 

Nature photographer Andrew Collett embraces the unexpected moments and happy accidents that frequently come his way — and make his photography all the better

Story by Stephanie Hounsell
Photography by Andrew Collett

As much as Muskoka-based photographer Andrew Collett recognizes the value of a good plan, he also knows you can’t prepare for everything. And sometimes it’s from life’s unexpected moments that the best photos emerge.

Wandering Moose

Take the day a moose casually wandered into his shot, for example. Collett, who doesn’t normally include wildlife in his photos, was taking pictures in Algonquin Park, ON, near the Spruce Bog. He was playing around with the frost and backlighting when a bold moose came out of the bush. “At first I was like, ‘Get out of my shot, you’re ruining a perfectly good nature shot,’” he recalls.

©Andrew Collett
Wandering Moose

 

But Collett quickly realized what a rare opportunity he was being presented with. He explains that photographers often specialize in wildlife or nature photography. It’s difficult to get a shot that combines the best of both worlds — a beautiful animal subject in a beautiful setting. This was one of those rare chances. “He was so perfect,” Collett says.

His heart raced as he took the shot, realizing the moose could leave at any time. “It was a rush I don’t get with landscapes, because with landscapes I really have the time to make sure everything is right.”

Collett now jokes that he’s an “accidental wildlife” photographer.

Enchanted Falls

The unexpected circumstance that resulted in Enchanted Falls was a tumble down the rather steep slope at Tews Falls in Dundas, ON. He decided to go with the flow and shoot from below because, well, he couldn’t get back up, Collett laughs. That was just the start. After sliding down, he got lost and had to follow the river for four hours — in the pouring rain. He determined to make the best of the situation. “‘Well, if I’m going to be here, I’m going to be here shooting, so I’m going to enjoy this,’” he told himself.

He decided he wanted to photograph the obvious subject matter, Tews Falls, in a more subtle manner, making it part of the scene instead of the whole thing — presenting the waterfall as you might come across it if you were out walking.

©Andrew Collett
Enchanted Falls

 

Layered tones add depth, he says, pointing out the darker colours in the foreground and lighter shades in the background. They — along with the river — serve to move the eye back and forth through the scene, he says.

Ideally, there wouldn’t be any branches in the foreground interrupting a clear view of the waterfall, Collett says. But as a self-described “purist,” he wouldn’t Photoshop them out, so he made his peace with them.

This photo shows that even near the end of fall, when most of the leaves have fallen and there’s little colour left, there’s still beauty to be found — another perhaps unexpected pleasure.

To read more of this interview with Andrew Collett, please purchase the Fall/Winter 2018 issue online or at your local newsstand, or to never miss an issue please subscribe here

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