Astronaut now hangs out of helicopters for bird pictures

Astronaut now hangs out of helicopters for bird pictures

The Sault’s Dr. Roberta Bondar, greatest identified for her 1992 house flight, has opened a cost-free Science North exhibit of her photographs of migratory birds

Canadian astronaut and photographer Dr. Roberta Bondar doesn’t intellect accomplishing some kind-of-nuts items in pursuit of wildlife images. 

That contains hanging out of helicopters to get her sought after shot.

“It is not for the faint of coronary heart,” Bondar reported, speaking at a Nov. 10 push conference, launching a images exhibit of her operate at Science North.

“Probably if I didn’t have this kind of a eager wish to communicate science in an intriguing way, and check out to have art enfolded with it, I most likely would not have taken all all those hazards. But hey, when you get to be my age, you form of want to have a couple of points to brag about. A whole lot of adventures, just about every impression has a tale.”

The 77-yr-previous Bondar is finest recognized as Canada’s very first female astronaut following her 1992 place shuttle flight, but she also has a passion for wildlife photography.

Sudburians are in a position to see her photography show “Patterns & Parallels: The Fantastic Very important,” free of charge of charge in Science North’s lobby through business enterprise hours right until Jan. 7, 2024.

The show combines visuals from land, air and room (thanks to a partnership with NASA) to tell the story of migratory styles of the whooping crane, lesser flamingo and piping plover species, which are all threatened or at risk of extinction.

Dr. Roberta Bondar speaks at Science North Nov. 10, 2023, at the unveiling of her new photography exhibit, “Styles & Parallels: The Wonderful Critical”. Heidi Ulrichsen /

‘It demands a good deal of concentration’

Bondar expanded a bit extra on the problems of having shots from a helicopter when afterwards questioned by

“It requires a large amount of focus, to start with of all, and a whole lot of belief amongst me and the pilot,” he mentioned. “Granted, I was a non-public pilot, but I never ever flew helicopters, but I do understand pitch, roll and bank and yaw and all the items that are technically essential in purchase to line a helicopter up to get the best artistic picture that I wanted.

“So with a helicopter going all the time, and being buffeted close to, we also you should not want to scare birds. So we have to preserve a specific altitude. So any of the aerial pictures are the most tough kinds to just take.”

Even pics taken from the ground can be complicated to execute. 

“In some of the places in Africa it was 40-degrees centigrade, no air conditioning, we were there for days, absolutely nothing chilly,” she said. “It was a quite, extremely scorching surroundings to operate in to check out to get these visuals of lesser flamingo.”

At the opening of Dr. Roberta Bondar’s images show, “Designs & Parallels: The Great Critical”, at Science North on Nov. 10, 2023 are (from still left) Sarah Chisnell, acting director, training and northern packages – Science North, Bonnie M. Patterson, chair of the board of directors  of the Roberta Bondar Foundation, Dr. Roberta Bondar, Amy Henson, ‪senior scientist at Science Centre , and Franco Mariotti, Science North Bluecoat Emeritus. Heidi Ulrichsen /

‘Such a distinctive exhibit’ 

Science North senior scientist Amy Henson admirer-girled a little bit in introducing Bondar at the push meeting, stating assembly her was a “12-12 months-previous girl’s dream of mine,” for the reason that she was just 12 when Bondar went to area.

“This is these a particular show, and 1 of the finest points about it is this perfect merge in between science and artwork,” Henson explained to

“So most people can value attractive imagery but the science tale that Roberta is telling in this is impeccable — the tale of various birds all around our earth that are endangered species and the landscapes and the ecosystems that they reside in. It’s amazing pictures and we’re so energized to be equipped to host it right here at Science North.”

Prior to travelling to Science North, Styles & Parallels was launched and exhibited in Sault Ste. Marie, Bondar’s hometown. Immediately after its stay at Science North, it will then vacation to other galleries, museums and science centres across Canada.

The exhibition functions huge, dramatic colour images taken by Bondar and picked NASA house photographs, as nicely as a online video set up. 

QR codes at the exhibition create an interactive learning expertise, allowing readers accessibility to digital finding out prospects like animations, audio from Bondar, and further movies taken in the field.

A staggering a few billion birds have disappeared from Canada and the United States because 1970, claimed press materials. The exhibition is a key aspect of the Roberta Bondar Foundation’s Room For Birds task, which utilizes photography as a device to have an understanding of the biodiversity of nature and the effect of human steps and weather modify on hen migration and habitat loss.

Dr. Roberta Bondar of Sault Ste. Marie was Canada’s 1st feminine astronaut, heading to space in 1992. Since then, she has come to be a respected wildlife photographer, significantly of birds. Her picture exhibit, “Designs & Parallels: The Great Crucial”, opened at Science North in Sudbury on Nov. 10, 2023. Heidi Ulrichsen /

Show took 10 years to accomplish 

“Now, several of you, in your lifetime may never see the piping plover, but it is the one particular that you may be capable to see around the Terrific Lakes,” Bondar told these at the Science North press conference.

“There are only 200 of these birds still left in the populace by the Fantastic Lakes. You can find a further inhabitants in the Prairies and 1 in the East Coast. So it’s excellent to be in a position to photograph these quite, quite uncommon species.”

She explained the exhibit took her 10 several years to be in a position to complete, and introduced her not only to the United States and Canada, but the African countries Tanzania and Kenya. Bondar mentioned she was on her way to Namibia to choose photos when COVID-19 strike and she had to appear home.

Bondar claimed she utilizes a great deal of substantial (and really costly) electronic digicam lenses to capture photos.

“I use the maximum optical lenses that I can get, and in essence the highest resolution sensors,” she reported. “So from the helicopter, I’ve been using Hasselblad all digital, and on the floor, Nikon. I’ve now switched to wholly mirrorless cameras on Nikon.”

Questioned about her chicken bucket record, Bondar mentioned she is functioning on photographing a few other endangered birds.

“One is termed the crimson knot, and it is a fascinating fowl,” she stated. “It’s grey-colored in the wintertime down in the southern elements of the States and into Central The usa. And then it flies up by Delaware, alterations its feathers to brilliant pink,” and at some point migrates up to the Arctic.

“And that is where it nests, as a lot of migratory birds do, because there are much less predators,” Bondar explained.

‘Our generation has not done pretty well’ 

Sudbury biologist and Science North “bluecoat emeritus” Franco Mariotti reported when he was a young teenager and a “wanna-be biologist,” he sent absent for a e-book on endangered species.

There were a number of thousand species stated in that e-book, but a United Nations report a few years ago “stated that one particular million species deal with extinction,” Mariotti reported. “Our generation has not finished quite very well to make a far better world for this technology.”

He said Bondar’s pictures get the job done is crucial since she passionately articulates “how significant and fascinating these other residing items are.
“Sometimes in the procedure, she will create surprise and awe about this earth, and that is what fuels restoration,” Mariotti reported.

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. She also handles instruction and the arts scene.