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Archive for January, 2011

I am by no means a computer genius and my photoshop skills are a little limited also. I tend to learn the techniques needed to achieve the results I am seeking. One such technique I have never mastered is masking to remove complicated objects or to change backgrounds for creative reasons. Recently Topaz Labs introduced Remask 3 which really simplifies the masking process. To find out more about this useful plugin click here. I have posted a couple of before and after examples of how this plugin was used to improve the photos.

In the Mallard drake images below I have always loved the pose of this duck as it came in for a landing on the frozen water of Lake Ontario in Toronto, but the white band of snow on the ice is very distracting and has always annoyed me. After masking the Mallard I was able to easily clean-up the distraction.

Before Remask 3

After Remask 3

The Brown Pelican (Atlantic Phase) below was photographed several years ago in Cuba on the island of Cayo Largo in the Caribbean Sea. I have always enjoyed this Pelican’s humorous pose, but the out-of-focus boat in the background simply ruins this image. After applying a mask using Remask 3 I was very pleased at how the software handled the fine feather details at the back of the pelican’s head. With the mask on a separate layer I was now able to remove the boat simply and efficiently.

Before Remask 3

After Remask 3

(I also rotated the image slightly and moved the bird to the right a little for compositional reasons)

 

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After some very cold -30 Celsius weather earlier this week and strong winds to accompany it I thought I would post an image from a warmer season.  This photo was captured last fall along the Crowe River in Ontario’s Kawartha Region. I was drawn to how the river shot through the small narrow gorge before bending off to my right.

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One of my favorite Photoshop plugins is Fractalius. It is a fun plugin to play with and create very interesting results from all sorts of imagery. Lately, I have been using it on some winter photographs to create abstracts, such as the Fractalius results on the snowdrift above, or I have been applying it to some of my winter trees, silhouetted at the edge of day, for an alternate version of those images. I quite like the results of using Fractalius on some of these landscape imagery. Hope you do too!

Winter Sugar Maples at sunset

Winter Sugar maples at dusk

Hoarfrost on winter Sugar Maple and farmland

Snowdrift and trees

Winter Sugar Maples at sunset

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While I find photographing animals in the wild to be a much more fulfilling and rewarding experience, controlled subjects can also offer unique opportunities. I will often attempt to capture images of a given subject that I know will be virtually impossible for me to capture in the field, such as the Bobcat portrait above. I also tend to select subjects that are threatened or endangered. Here is a collection of some of my favorite images of controlled subjects. Hope you enjoy this collection of photos.

This Red Fox was trying to sleep while keeping a watchful eye on a pair of young Siberian Tigers were playing in an adjacent enclosure.

I highly doubt that I will ever see a Wolverine in the wild so when the opportunity to photograph one in a controlled situation presented itself I jumped at the chance.

A young Siberian Tiger hissing at its litter mate while playing. Would you really want to be this close to a tiger in the wild with this menacing look?

A Lioness photographed near my home at a sanctuary that gives exotic pets a home when there owners realize that big cats don’t make good house pets.

A beautiful, captive, Swainson’s Hawk spreads its wings in the wind for a pleasing pose.

Great Horned Owl

Turkey Vulture – ugly as they may be, vultures are one of the most beneficial species on the planet – nature’s clean-up crew.

Lynx – I’ve seen one Lynx in the wild, in Ontario, in my lifetime. It ran across a highway with no chance to photograph it.

Eastern Screech Owl – difficult to find and photograph with a pleasing background.

Green Water Dragon – by using a flash I was able to eliminate many elements in lizards enclosure and give the illusion that it was photographed at night.

A highly endangered Cuban Crocodile photographed at a breeding facility in Cuba. These crocodiles are now thought to only exist in Cuba’s Zapata Swamp.

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A small stream near my house provided some opportunities for images of winter river details. I love shooting these type of images and could spend an entire day creating various compositions of the patterns that exist in river ice.

Hope you like the image.

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One from the archives taken at Potts Creek in Ontario’s Muskoka Region near the town of Bracebridge. A light snowfall the night before left a pleasing dusting of snow on the rocky backdrop along the river. I remember seeing many toboggan -like tracks in the snow, at this location, which were made by Otters playing in the snow.

This image was originally captured on Fuji Velvia, with a Nikon F80 and a 20-35 f 2.8 lens and scanned on a Nikon Coolscan 5000. If my memory is correct, I believe I used my Singh-Ray 3-stop continuous grad filter, positioned upside down, to bring out the area behind the river which was in slight shadow.

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Going through some of my images from last year and thought I would post a few. Hope you like the photos.

Sunrise at Antrim Lake in Ontario’s Halfway Lake Provincial Park

Fall colour along Irondale River

The Gut on the Crowe River in The Gut Conservation Area

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After yesterday’s afternoon with the Mallards, I began shooting some of the various patterns in the frozen surface of Lake Ontario where it met the open water. Often it seems that there is an endless array of patterns to capture. All the images here were photographed with my 80-400 VR lens (with VR off) and a Nikon polarizer. The polarizer was used to slow down time so that the rippled surface of the lake would be rendered smooth. Here are my favorite ice-scapes from yesterday.

This image was captured when there was minimal merging among the floating pancakes of ice

A late day sun warmed-up this ice-scape

Photographed minutes after the above image when the sun went behind a cloud.

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This afternoon I spent a few hours down at Humber Bay Park on Lake Ontario in Toronto. I enjoy this location for Mallard Ducks and other ducks species that tend to spend the winter here. The Mallards were particularly fun to watch today as they bathed, preened and chatted away the afternoon in a sheltered section of the park, away from the wind. Here are a few of the images captured during today’s outing.

Mallard hen preening

Mallard drake bathing

Mallard drake wing-flap

Mallard drake standing on ice in shallow water

Mallard hen preening

Mallard drake

 

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This photo of my beloved 1970′s Gibson J200, converted with the photoshop plugin, fractalius, is to pay tribute to the great American songwriter Townes Van Zandt. On this day in 1997 Townes died. Townes was considered by many to be one of the greatest songwriters ever, if not the greatest. I had the opportunity to see Townes play on a number of occasions and through friends in Nashville, met the man twice. Throughout his performances he would often share silly jokes, guaranteed to fill the hall with laughter. In his performances, he would also play a cover song or two by Hank Williams or the great Texas bluesman Lightning Hopkins. I’ve heard it said that Townes spent his summers in the Colorado wilderness with his horse Amigo and his summers down in Texas. Townes’ songs flow, flawlessly, as if he pulled them out of the sky while they floated by. “Sky Songs” I believe he once called them. His timeless music follows me on every road trip I take.

Please click here for Townes singing “Pancho & Lefty”, one of his most popular songs, and here for Steve Earle’s “Fort Worth Blues” which was written for Townes when he died. If you ever have a chance, check out the DVD “Be Here To Love Me Today” about the life and times of this true great Texas songwriter, it is superb.

Here’s to Townes!

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