Jeff Robinson Photographs Thunder Bay’s Wild Landscapes and Inhabitants 

Story by Bonnie Schiedel, Photos by Jeff Robinson 

For some photographers, it’s all about the process, the gear, and the technology. For Thunder Bay’s Jeff Robinson, though, photography is primarily a way of preserving memories of his outdoor adventures. “I like exploring, I love being outside, I love wildlife. So yeah, in my mind it’s always more about just collecting the experience […] and more about just being an outdoorsperson,” he says.

Photographer Jeff Robinson (Photo by Brooke Robinson)

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Robinson studied biology at Lakehead University and earned a master’s degree in amphibian ecology. He spends as much time as he can exploring the Northwest as well as his rural property in Sunshine, camera in hand, and he also fits in some photography time during lunch breaks and after hours in his role with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which sometimes takes him to some remote areas. Robinson bought his first digital camera 20 years ago, but it’s only in the last decade or so that he’s been focused on improving his skills through trial and error, a few photography books, and some how-to websites. “For every photo I have that I’m proud of, there’s hundreds, literally, that [the result] wasn’t what I saw, it wasn’t what I experienced,” he says. 

Lens ball in the forest

Some favourite subjects include the northern lights, waterfalls, and birds. Robinson particularly enjoys wildlife and landscape photography because of the element of the unexpected, such as a chance sighting of a great grey owl. He recently got a new 600mm telephoto lens, which allows him to capture vivid wildlife shots from a distance without disturbing the animal, and he’s also mindful of not heedlessly trampling vegetation in pursuit of a shot. “I try to be as least disruptive as possible.”

Eastern screech owl looking down tree trunk

What’s up next? Spring’s migration of birds, of course, as colourful little warblers and other birds return to Northwestern Ontario. “For three weeks before the leaves really flesh out on the trees, there’s good opportunities to get really good views of the birds. Once the leaves come out and they start nesting, they’re much harder to see and find. So I do look forward to that every year.”

Bald eagle taking flight

Robinson’s love of animals—both domestic and wild—carries over to the fundraisers he does by selling calendars featuring his images. Over the years he’s raised money for local organizations like Thunder Bay & District Humane Society, Paws for Love, Murillo Mutts Respite Refuge, and most recently, Thunderbird Wildlife Rescue and Northern Reach Network. “That’s a way for me to do something I enjoy and to give back,” he says. 

Beaver snacking on willow twig

To see more of Jeff Robinson’s work, go to or @northernexposurebyjr on Facebook.