Victoria Camera Club and the Nanook Lodge

When I moved to Victoria from Calgary, I had a strong desire to explore my new surroundings with my camera and meet people like me who enjoy photography. In Calgary I had been a very active member of the Foothills Camera Club for over 20 years and had heard of the VCC because both clubs competed in competitions within CAPA. As I got more involved with the VCC, I started to learn of trips the club arranges. One was to Nanook Lodge for bald eagle photography. I signed up and began to look forward to finding new locations for my wildlife interests.

Trips such as that to Nanook Lodge involve a small group of photographers who travel to a remote location not accessible by car. This trip, May 29-June 2, 2022, was organized by VCC members Kathryn and Nick Delany. I was hesitant to sign up because the cost was $4200—a lot of money to commit—and  Covid restrictions had only just begun to be relaxed. But I signed up anyway and began looking forward to seeing the BC coast and Stuart Island.

I began my trip by travelling to and staying overnight at the Comfort Inn next to the marina in Campbell River. Although others in the group drove up from Victoria the morning of the trip, I had been anxious to start and did not want to risk car trouble or anything else unexpected. We each paid $25 to park our vehicles for the week at the marina.

Ready to begin our adventure, our small group gathered at the dock for our 9 a.m. departure. We boarded our water taxi with Josh, our captain. We had not been out for more than 5 minutes when we saw a humpback whale breaching by the Campbell River waters. I learned quickly to keep my camera and long lens at hand and ready for action.

After a couple of hours in the water taxi we arrived at the dock at Nanook Lodge. We were greeted cheerfully by our host Sam Anderson, a young man who, we learned, is from Colorado, and who, with his father, hosts fishermen at the lodge. Only a few times have wildlife photography tours been part of their itinerary. They work in a location rich with wildlife, and talked of seeing bears, whales, porpoise, and other animals close by. 

After lunch on that first day we began our search for eagles. When the strong tides started moving, the hake fish were pushed to the surface of the water. Then we were surrounded by 10 then 20 eagles flying in every direction as they picked up fish to eat. I was amazed to see these eagles battle each other for food. Once an eagle had a fish in its talons, the eagle transferred the fish to its beak. I had thought the eagle would calmly take the fish to a tree branch to eat so seeing it start to eat immediately was a surprise. 


Some photographers say that getting great photos of birds in flight is one of the hardest types of photography. Our new mirrorless cameras, however, promise wildlife eye detection and super-fast focus. Shooting these eagles in combat for food would be the ultimate test for me.

I had just received my new Nikon Z9 body which I had paired with my older pf 500mm 5.6 lens. Of course, not every shot one makes will be super crisp, but one learns as one goes. Which focus command on your camera is best? Which shutter speed? Learning how to pan and shoot in a moving boat that is being rocked by strong tides and how to avoid other photographers in a small space were two more factors coming into play. It is a great rush when the action is all around you.


I think this is why people move to British Columbia—to experience the wild coast where whales can pop out of nowhere and where eagles soar. Over the next couple of days, I thoroughly enjoyed our host, VCC members, and my surroundings. Nanook Lodge has a rustic feel but is very comfortable. My private room and bathroom was upstairs and great for me. With all that fresh air I slept with no difficulty at all.

I am a member of the online Scott Kelby photography company called Kelbyone which recently had a photo of the year contest. I entered my favorite bald eagle photo—a tight shot of an eagle holding a fish in its prehistoric talons. It received an Honorable Mention; I felt pretty satisfied with that. That photo summed up my trip.

Another trip to Nanook Lodge will run from July 9-12, 2023. It is not too late to sign up. Sam has raised the price of this year’s trip only slightly to $4400.

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