From a very young age, Douglas Noblet has been capturing and sharing the beauty of our Canadian wilderness as seen from the sky. Not such a bad job, don’t you think? Read on to learn more about his amazing work.
Canadian aerial & landscape photographer Douglas Noblet is the founder of Wild Air Photography, and he spends his days producing breathtaking shots from incredible aerial angles…
Doug lives in Nelson, BC and as a pilot can access the most remote and untouched areas of the Canadian West. His photography has captured the most rugged and beautiful landscapes, mountains, and scenery from such places as the Bugaboos, the Selkirk Range, the Purcell Range, Mount Assiniboine, Mount Robson, Valhalla Park, Banff National Park and more. You can view a sampling of his work below and much more at www.wildairphoto.com.
Doug, how did you get started in photography?
When I was 13 years old my family lived in Calgary right in the flight path of the airport. My dad worked as a pilot. My mom dabbled in photography and had all the photography textbooks which I would read. When I received a camera for my birthday, it was natural for me to start photographing planes. They were big and cool and featured in my life at the time. I liked them, so I shot them.
When did you realize you could make a living at it?
When I was 14 or 15, I went to Europe with my parents and took lots of photos. I would post them online on photo websites. I posted a photo of a plane that had experimental winglets and someone saw it online and offered me $20 for it. I thought that was pretty cool. I was about to accept it when one of my dad’s friends who was a photographer told me it was worth more. He ended up getting me $250 for it. That was the first image I ever sold. I kept taking pictures of planes, and also sold a few helicopter photos. I always had camera with me. Shortly after that I got a cover shot on Helicopter Magazine, and would sell a few here and there. Vertical Magazine also used a few images of mine. So I got my start by focusing on aviation which then slowly transitioned into landscapes and nature.
And you're also a pilot?
Yes. I also started paragliding around the age of 15. That got me into aerial photography, but it’s really challenging to paraglide and take good quality photos at the same time. So 3 years later I bought a power paraglider which let me get great aerial images. I would shoot images of houses or malls and would then sell them to interested parties. 5 years ago I started flying the 172, a small 4 seater and my photography just kept getting better. I’ll go up with a couple of friends and they’ll bank the plane as I’m shooting. Since I got my pilots license I’ve done a lot of aerial photography throughout the Selkirks, the Purcells, the Rockies, and I’ve taken many backcountry trips to shoot both landscapes and wildlife.
What are the keys to getting a great aerial shot?
Being at the right place at the right time. Having the access and flexibility to go when the conditions are right. Knowing what you’re looking for. Getting the plane to the right elevation and position. If you’re able to control the flight in terms of when you go, how high you go then you can increase your chances of getting beautiful, unique shots. The golden hour is the half our on either side of sunrise and sunset, but you can still get great shots at any time of day.
Where are your favourite places to shoot?
The Bugaboos is the highlight. It’s just spectacular with lots of granite and glaciers. Its pretty awesome. I also love Valhalla Park (which is a 15 minute flight from Nelson) in the Rockies, Mt.Robson and Mt.Assiniboine are both spectacular.
Do you often shoot in the Banff National Park?
I’ve done a number of trips through the Rockies, Banff and Jasper to shoot but not so much aerial photography out that way because its further from the Kootenays. I have done a few trips up to Columbia Icefields, and Assiniboine (west of Canmore).
Where do you go for your wildlife?
I have seen a lot in the West Kootenays and Lardeau River where the Grizzlies like to hang out. I did a trip this past fall through Bella Coola and the Coast Range and then back through the Rockies. I’m really enjoying shooting wildlife and landscapes although I wouldn’t call myself a wildlife photographer. You can spend weeks seeing nothing just to get one shot.
How often do you get up in your plane?
Three or four times a month but it really depends. I have seen a lot of the territory that is close to me, around Nelson and area, so now it’s all about fewer trips but bigger trips that are further out. I’m currently planning a trip to the North end of the Selkirk’s and working on lining up the weather and the people. I’ve got another plan to do the Rockies all the way to Mt. Robson.
How can people buy your work?
People can order museum quality canvas prints through my website. I sell calendars through 100 different stores throughout Calgary and Victoria. I have two calendars out this year, one of the Rockies, and the other the Kootenays.
Having seen so much of it, what would you say Canada has to offer to visitors from other countries?
It’s simply spectacular. I spent a few months in Europe last spring and it’s beautiful but you get trains, cable cars and man-made features going to every mountain top. Canada is a lot more wild. To get to a place in Canada you really have to earn it. You have to ski, bushwhack, hike or fly, you can’t just drive up to it. There are some places that are accessible for those who don’t want to put a lot of energy into it, but if you’re looking for more of an adventure it’s an incredible opportunity to see true wilderness, and it’s just stunning.
Are you involved in conservation issues?
Lots of groups use my images use my images for conservation purposes. I don’t focus those issues, but I think people seeing those images can be inspired to become more aware. I’m happy to support conservation efforts with my work.
What do you see in your future as a Photographer.
My goal is to show people what awesomeness we have in the Canadian wild. My job is to document that in images and inspiring people to visit, explore, or simply enjoy it in their homes through a calendar. I’m also working on a coffee table book project to inspire appreciation for our natural beauty and images.
Where can people find your work?
My website has a collection of my favourite images at www.wildairphoto.com. People can order my calendars direct from my website although there are lots of stores throughout BC and Alberta that carry them. My coffee table book will be available online as well, once it’s published and ready to go.