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Archive for September, 2011

Old Woman Bay on Lake Superior

During my recent trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park I awoke on the first morning to a bitter, cold wind and a sky full of rather nasty looking storm clouds. I was hoping for weather conditions that would have been a little more favorable, but I always make a habit of getting up and getting out there regardless of the current weather conditions, especially on windy days when things can change in a hurry. One of my favorite spots in the park is at Old Woman Bay. The sandy beach at this location has many sun-bleached logs strewn about, presumably by extremely rough conditions on the lake during stormy weather, something that Lake Superior is noted for. I found an old tree stump at the water’s edge that I knew would make a nice foreground element, so I sat down on the beach with my 12-24mm lens and framed this scene. Why did I sit down? I wanted a low perspective so that the tree stump would not rise above the horizon line and merge with the sky and secondly, it was incredibly windy and it is much easier to keep everything steady (camera and tripod) when you assume a lower profile. I also used a polarizing filter to reduce some of the glare from the water and make the clouds a touch more dramatic. I also used my 2-stop Singh Ray grad filter to darken the sky. As I was playing around with various shutter speeds to get the desired amount of blur to the incoming waves when the sun began rising behind me and lit up a section of the clouds adding the final piece of the puzzle to this scene.

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Katherine Cove on Lake Superior – B&W Effects

While wandering back along a section of the Coastal Trail in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park at Katherine Cove this pattern, caused by a previous wave, caught my attention. I used my 12-24mm lens and positioned my tripod low to the ground and chose a vertical composition so that this interesting pattern could dominate the foreground of this photograph. I was able to squeeze off a couple of frames before a rogue wave came ashore and washed away the design. Above is a version converted to black and white using the new photoshop plugin from Topaz Labs called B&W Effects. There is a free trial version available for download, but until October 3rd you can use Topaz Lab’s discount code from the website and purchase the plugin for a mere $29.99. Below you will see the original, colour version of the image which do you prefer?

Katherine Cove on Lake Superior – colour version

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Sunset at Katherine Cove, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

I have always been hesitant to give HDR imagery a try. Recently, I became aware of  Oloneo Photo Engine and was very impressed with how natural images processed with this software looked. On my recent trip to Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park I decided to try a few scenes as HDR to see how they would turn out when processed with Oloneo Photo Engine. I was quite impressed with how easy the software was to use and how natural the end results were. The image above of the sunset at Katherine Cove is a 5 frame (-2,-1, 0, +1 & +2) HDR composition. In the image below, as I was photographing the Aux Sables River in Chutes Provincial Park, which was on my route of travel while driving to Lake Superior, the sun broke through the clouds creating rather unpleasant contrast within the scene. I decided to shoot 3 frames at -1, 0 & +1 as an experiment to see how the scene would be rendered after processing the image files with Oloneo Photo Engine. So far I am very pleased with this HDR software for keeping my landscape imagery looking as natural as possible. However, when I am seeking the grunge look it is hard to beat Photomatix. A 30-day trial is available from Oloneo Photo Engine so that you may try out the software before deciding to buy.

Aux Sables River in Ontario’s Chutes Provincial Park

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Incoming Wave Blur on Lake Superior

While in Lake Superior Provincial Park last week I took advantage of several opportunities to shoot various water blurs around Lake Superior and beyond. These blurs included wave blurs and flowing river blurs which I could shoot all day long. I spent several hours along the Magpie River near Wawa, Ontario during some over-cast, rainy weather conditions creating many moving water blurs. There are several rivers in Ontario’s Algoma Highlands that flow rather quickly down from the highland terrain as they make their way to Lake Superior. I often find it best to bracket the length of my exposures for moving water blurs so that I can choose the amount of blur I desire in the flowing water later when back home at my computer. I will most often start with an exposure of about 1/15th of a second and increase the exposure time from there, depending on the flow rate of the river of course. There are also several waterfalls along these rivers that I will feature in a future post. This post contains a few of my favorite water blurs that I have processed thus far. Hope you like them too!

Magpie River at Magpie Falls, Wawa, Ontario

Mini-cascade on the Magpie River

Magpie River Details

Magpie River Details

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Wave crashing into Lake Superior’s rugged coast

I spent a few days last week up on the eastern shore of Lake Superior in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park. All of my previous trips to Lake Superior the lake was always rather calm. Lake Superior is noted for being a dangerous lake as winds can change and the lake conditions can become extremely rough. In the above photo I would guess the waves this day were in the 4-5 foot range and as they crashed into the rugged shoreline they would create impressive sprays up into the air. The winds and rain persisted throughout for the above location which can be noted in the out-of-focus look to the background – it is a torrential downpour in the distance. These rains and winds continued for the duration of my trip creating various challenges and the nights were rather chilly for sleeping in the car, but I able to find several nice situations that I will share in upcoming posts. One challenge was creating sharp images in the brutal winds. For the image below I sought shelter on the down wind side of a small peninsula at Katherine Cove and choose a long exposure to blur the water and the forest. By shooting on the down wind side I was easily able to keep the massive boulder at the water’s edge in sharp focus to anchor the image.

Windy conditions at Katherine Cove on Lake Superior

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Little Abitibi River in Ontario’s remote Abitibi Canyon

Since downloading Topaz Labs B&W Effects, I have been experimenting with the various presets and sliders, to fine tune the treatment of each individual photograph. I absolutely love the detail and detail boost sliders for creating a HDR-ish, grunge-like effect. I am also becoming rather fond of the transparency slider for revealing a touch of colour from the original capture, for a desaturated appearance. While I am still experimenting with the program, here are a few recent images that I have applied Topaz B&W Effects too.

George Lake, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

Abandoned Truck near Parry Sound, Ontario

Muskoka River, Bracebridge, Ontario

Lady Ferns, Parry Sound, Ontario

Kakabeka Falls, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Old Car, Granite Ridge Trail, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

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Male Bullfrog in wetland

Over the course of last weekend I photographed many Bullfrog images. I have had trouble locating the adults in the Horseshoe Lake wetland this year. Not because they are hard to find, but because their numbers have been decreasing over time. I remember when my parents first bought our cottage, 30 years ago, and how the Bullfrog’s calls would fill the night air, but now it seems that there are substantially less frogs singing. On another note, many bullfrog tadpoles have emerged from their watery home to begin their new life above the water’s surface. Hopefully many of these froglets will make it to adulthood and replenish some of the frog numbers here.

Many of these new Bullfrog images will round out the images I require for a project I will be beginning shortly that pertains to frogs. To photograph the ‘frogscape’ above I used my 12-24mm lens set to its closest focusing point, a polarizing filter, a 2-stop grad filter and a bubble level. While handholding the camera just above the water’s surface, I leveled the camera according to the bubble level and fired away.

Below is a collection of images of a large, rather plump male Bullfrog that was most cooperative while it was at rest on a floating section of waterlily roots. Aside from the usual assortment of predators (herons, snapping turtles & water snakes), the juvenile Bullfrogs are also preyed upon by the adult Bullfrogs that have voracious appetites. If they can stuff it in their mouths they will eat it.

Male Bullfrog

Male Bullfrog

Male Bullfrog

Male Bullfrog

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