These cinematic photographs will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the Canadian wilderness.
They were captured by Toronto-based filmmaker and photographer and take viewers on a cross-country journey through mountainous valleys and virgin forests, encountering packs of wolves, coyotes and other wild animals along the way.
Speaking to MailOnline Travel, Budziak says that every time he visits a new part of he ‘falls in love with it’. And his favourite time to explore the vast country is in the morning, ‘when the fog burns away and the mountains become visible’.
Andrew Budziak’s photographs will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the Canadian wilderness. This mesmerising picture of wolves crossing a river was taken in an unfenced sanctuary near the town of Golden in British Columbia
Toronto-based Budziak says that the wolves in the British Columbia sanctuary were used to humans, which helped him get close-up shots, but it also led to a scary encounter, with one wolf putting its snout on his neck
When photographing wildlife, Budziak says that he doesn’t often wear camouflage but always dons a good pair of boots.
He says: ‘I rarely wear actual camouflage, but I will wear colours that are neutral in the forest – greens, browns, and blacks. I have worked hard to figure out how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. It all starts with good boots. If your feet start to hurt, it’s game over.’
Budziak explains that depending on the project, he could be in the wild anywhere from a few days to over a month.
Budziak reveals that wolves are clever animals – and have an almost magical ability to disappear. He says: ‘Wolves are so smart. When you see them and they see you, you can tell that the wheels are turning in their head. They’re figuring out the situation. What first amazed me about wolves and their smaller cousins the coyote, was how when they don’t want to be seen, they can just disappear. It really is like magic. You blink and they’re gone.’ The picture above was taken near Golden, British Columbia
Budziak says that his trip to British Columbia gave him a new appreciation of just how powerful wolves are
He says: ‘I generally stay as close to the area where I’m working as possible. This means I often stay in cabins, which I love.’
And does he have the wilderness to himself?
Budziak reveals: ‘If I’m doing wildlife film work, I’m not often by myself. I travel with a small crew. If I’m doing a photo project, I’m by myself. If I’m in the deep woods, it’s pretty rare to come across other people. Some of the provincial parks can be quite busy, so you’re never really alone there.’
A stunning picture taken in Jasper National Park, Alberta. Budziak says that while his work was originally driven by a sense of wonder, he’s now focused on communicating the importance of conservation
As for getting around, it’s a mixture of ATVs, hiking and snowshoeing.
Budziak says: ‘Accessing dense parts of the forest can be tricky. In the summer, there’s lots of hiking. Occasionally access is only possible by ATV [all-terrain vehicle]. In the winter, I do lots of snowshoeing. I love strapping on snowshoes because you really can go anywhere.’
Before embarking on a wildlife expedition, Budziak researches his subjects carefully.
He explains: ‘I want to know as much as possible about these animals. I learn a lot by talking to experts. I’ll call a professor at the local university and just talk to him or her.
‘Knowing the behaviour of an animal you’ll be spending time with is important.’
In a bid to document wolves in their natural habitat, Budziak visited a sanctuary in British Columbia, where he had a scary close encounter.
This spellbinding picture was taken near the town of Hinton in Alberta. Budziak says his favourite time to explore the Canadian wilderness is in the morning ‘when the fog burns away and the mountains become visible’
‘The sense of wonder I felt as a kid walking between massive trees and swimming in beautiful lakes has never left me,’ says Budziak, who took the picture above in Alberta
Budziak’s dream wildlife encounter would be with a wild feline – he says he’s never seen any cougars, bobcats or lynx on his photography expeditions. The picture above was taken in Jasper National Park
He reveals: ‘These wolves were part of a sanctuary. That said, there were no fences and these wolves were far from « tame ». [They] were more used to humans than truly wild wolves, which I thought would make things easy. It wasn’t. Because they weren’t afraid of me, they got really close.
‘I can say in all the years working in the wild, that was one of the few times I was actually scared. I was crouched down and one of the wolves sneaked up behind me and put his snout right to the back of my neck. I could hear it breathing. I knew this wolf just wanted to smell me, but having those powerful jaws so close was terrifying. I’ve seen wolves before, and this gave me a new appreciation of just how powerful they really are.
‘After a few seconds, the wolf decided I wasn’t interesting and left. I was shaking when I stood up.’
A factory in Hinton, Alberta, standing in stark contrast to the rugged wilderness surrounding it
‘I want to remind people that the wild world is very much worth protecting,’ Buziak says. The picture above shows grazing bighorn sheep in Banff National Park, Alberta
Budziak reveals that wolves are clever animals – and have an almost magical ability to disappear.
He explains: ‘Wolves are so smart. When you see them and they see you, you can tell that the wheels are turning in their head. They’re figuring out the situation.
‘What first amazed me about wolves and their smaller cousins the coyote, was how when they don’t want to be seen, they can just disappear. It really is like magic. You blink and they’re gone. Wolves aren’t small, but when they want to, they just vanish. It’s truly remarkable.’
Along with wolf antics, Budziak says some of the other challenges he faces on expeditions include the weather and determined mosquitoes.
He says: ‘I do my best to remind myself that I have an awesome job and I’m not sitting in an office somewhere.
‘That said, weather can make things very difficult. Bugs and humidity are a terrible mix. Psychologically, mosquitoes can break you. It’s hard to focus on anything else when you’re getting bitten every second.’
If he’s in the deep woods, Budziak says it’s pretty rare to come across other people. However, some of the provincial parks can be ‘quite busy’, so ‘you’re never really alone there’. The picture above was taken in Jasper National Park
Budziak’s love of wildlife and the natural world started as a child when he spent summers with his family holidaying in Ontario’s forests. He reflects: ‘I developed this sense of comfort and familiarity with the woods.’ The picture above was taken in Jasper National Park
Budziak’s love of wildlife and the natural world started as a child when he spent summers with his family holidaying in Ontario’s forests.
He reflects: ‘I developed this sense of comfort and familiarity with the woods.
‘The sense of wonder I felt as a kid walking between massive trees and swimming in beautiful lakes has never left me.
‘I started photography when I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until my late 20s that I turned the lens on wildlife. When I did, it felt incredibly natural.’
While his work was originally driven by a sense of wonder, Budziak is now focused on communicating the importance of conservation and reminding people that the wild world is ‘very much worth protecting’.
Some of his more recent photos have focused on urban wildlife, showing how animals and humans inhabit the same spaces, with racoons, rabbits and foxes among his subjects.
Which of his photographs is his favourite? The coyote he captured crossing a frozen lake in Ontario can take a bow.