Life's Adventure, One Map Tack at a Time!

By Ray Mckenzie
December 27, 2012



Fire in the Sky - Aurroa by Ray Mckenzie ©

Fire in the Sky - This was my first photograph of a major geomagnetic storm on 24 October 2011, and has become my trademark.  I was with my wife at our home near Saskatoon, when the sky started to glow.  I managed to grab my camera and take a few shots to capture the moment.  The Aurora that night was the most incredibly bright and colorful one that I had ever seen.  A night that I will never forget!

I love taking pictures!  Sounds cliché but seeing the beauty of our planet, through still pictures, has always captivated me.  During my youth I remember sitting in the town library, for hours on end, looking through books, National Geographic Magazines, and without fail I could see myself traveling the planet while taking pictures of exotic people, animals and places!  When I reached my adult years I felt the strong need to serve my country and put aside my dream of nature photography.  However, I always had a decent camera with me, taking photographs whenever the opportunity presented itself.  Since those days, my love of our world and nature has only grown.  In 2010 I decided I needed to pursue something that I truly loved to do, take photographs of nature!  I also wanted to improve my understanding and skills with a still camera.  In 2012 my dream became reality when I opened Map-Tacs Photography.  Immediately, I began the process of building the foundation for my business.


Maelstrom - storm by Ray Mckenzie ©


Maelstrom. I could hear the rumble of an approaching storm in the middle of the night on 21 July 2012, I jumped out of bed and grabbed my gear.  The storm was approaching fast and lightening was flashing with incredible frequency.  Fortunately, I had a clear view of the massive, approaching storm front.  I took pictures until the power of the thunderstorm hit our yard, and then it was a mad dash to the house!


Wagon summer by Ray Mckenzie ©



Wagon in winter by Ray Mckenzie ©


Wagon Summer and Wagon Winter I wanted to see what I could do with the same subject in completely different circumstances.  We have an old wagon at the edge of our yard which I have photographed many, many times.  The winter shot was challenging due to the heavy winds, but the sky had such an interesting pigment that I wanted to capture the wagon with that sky.  I love the textures of the wood, grass and snow!

My passion for nature photography comes from the realization that life is precious.  When I take the time to slow down and absorb my surroundings, I am able to find something truly wonderful in almost any environment. During my life I have been blessed with opportunities to travel the globe.  Those travels have helped me complete a paradigm shift in the way I see our world.  I have found that despite the borders that separate countries, wide varieties of religious beliefs, and different degrees of monetary wealth, people are very much the same across our entire planet! 


Red Fox by Ray Mckenzie ©


Do not disturb me. I noticed a little fox trying to take a nap in a thatch of trees.  I was lucky that I had my gear with me.  I was able to work my way into a location close enough to take a few pictures of him before he decided to go back to sleep.  Although, at one point, he appeared to be looking right at me!


Cameron Falls by Ray Mckenzie ©

Cameron Falls in Waterton National Park, AB


Illuskons - Red Rock Canyon by Ray Mckenzie ©


Illusions I was in the Calgary/Southern Alberta area scouting locations for a yoga photography session, and stopped at Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Park.  I wanted to try something abstract with the painted canyons, so I hiked in, walking in the water to get to an area of crystal clear water with colorful rocks on the bottom.  I knew the light would create an interesting, abstract view of the river.  After playing with angles to eliminate as much reflection as possible, I captured a few shots I really liked.  This one created the illusion I wanted, and I was excited to have a shot turn out as I had hoped it would!



City's Edge -  broken windmill at night by Ray Mckenzie ©


City’s Edge A broken windmill, alone in a field.  I had taken pictures of it before, but I really wanted to capture the glow of Saskatoon (“Saskatoon Shines” is the city motto), with part of the milky-way and the windmill.  I played with exposures and angles, but could not seem to get it right.  Then I decided to “paint” the windmill with light from the Maglite I carry in my gear.  It took me a little while, but I was able to capture the look I wanted.



Winter's Edge by Ray Mckenzie ©

Winters Edge
This is a photograph of a pond near Crawford Lake, SK, with a clear area of water that was stubbornly staying unfrozen with the help of some Muskrats.  The color of the water was so blue.  The Muskrats would show up now and then to say hello, with a ripple to the surface.  When I looked at the scene, it appeared that the water was using the slender fence to try and hold back winter…to no avail!



Throughout my experiences I have learned that regardless of where people are in the world, they all love their families, want to be loved, to have a roof over their head, and enough food to eat.  Being fascinated by still photographs has also played a significant role in helping me understand the aforementioned fact, and deepen my love of our wonderful world.
In terms of style, I love Ansel Adams and Peter Lik’s style of photography.  However, I do not want to copy their styles.  I want to develop my own style, which comes through in my pictures.  I have been to some of “the” once in a lifetime locations, and captured the moments in still photographs, but those pictures are not what defines my art.  I truly enjoy walking around and looking at the small things, textures, lines, colors, something just a little different than the mainstream, breaking or bending some of the “rules” of photography.  I really enjoy shooting in challenging bright and low light conditions.     



Aurora 9 March 2012 by Ray Mckenzie ©



Aurora 9 March 2012 This powerful geomagnetic storm had an amazing display of northern lights, straight east of Saskatoon, SK.

I have also developed a love for the night sky.  Living in the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan area, I get to see amazing Aurora Borealis, and often, crystal clear skies.  The province is referred to as the land of the living sky and truly it is.  I find night shooting very challenging, and I get extremely excited when the sky begins to glow with a geomagnetic storm - an amazing and awe inspiring display of nature!

Life is an ongoing lesson and, for me, a constant search for a new adventure!  I cherish the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of other photographers, amateur or professional.  I truly believe that the still image can be used as a medium to help understand, learn more about people across our planet, and hopefully help diminish the borders that divide us.  We all share commonality, a love of pictures and this world we live.  My wish is to increase the bonds that tie us, inexorably, to our planet and each other.   So take a chance and place your own Map-Tac on our world! 

My gear:
Canon 1DsMkIII
Canon 7D
Canon 24-70 L f2.8
Canon 70-200 L f2.8
Tokina 11-16 f2.8
Manfrotto Aluminum Tripod & head
Wireless shutter release 




Ray Mckenzie portrait

Ray in Colorado


Ray Mckenzie is a professional photographer who owns Map-Tacs Photography in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.   I have been taking photographs since I purchased my first camera in 1979, allowing me to take pictures of places I have been and helped me fall into love of our world. 


Map-Tacs Photography

Phone: (306) 716-5968

PO Box 9 Site 907 RR# 9, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 1P3





[ Top ]