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Archive for October, 2011

Great Blue Herons are one of my favorite birds to encounter. I often photograph them from my canoe on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. The problem is that they are often difficult to approach here in Ontario. While I was out shooting fall colours at Stubb’s Falls on the Little East River in Arrowhead Provincial Park I encountered a ridiculously , cooperative Great Blue Heron. I was able to get so close to this bird that I had to back-up, at times, due to the minimum focusing distance of my 80-400mm VR lens, which is 7.5 feet. The base of Stubb’s Falls has many large boulders in the river making it difficult to capture a clean background, but I tried to work with the difficult elements before me, to capture a sense of place for this bird as it hunted in the fast flowing waters of the Little East River.

Since this heron was being so cooperative I decided to try some long exposures to blur the water for creative effect. The three images below have had their backgrounds slightly blurred in photoshop. The white foam floating by in the background does create some distraction for me, but this was the scene before me and what I meant by difficult elements to work with. I hope you find them interesting nonetheless.

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Small Lake At Sunrise, Seguin Recreation Trail

While out shooting fall colour about three weeks ago I wanted to visit one of my most favorite trails in Ontario – The Seguin Recreation Trail. This trail is not far from my family cottage on Horseshoe Lake. Sometimes I will drive out to the access point on Highway 69 and other times I will walk a one hour, woodland path off the cottage road out to this trail. For this day’s shoot I decided to drive out to the access point. The trail is no longer open to automobile traffic, only hiking, cycling and ATVs are permitted.

The Seguin Recreation Trail is rich in Ontario history and back in the late 1800′s it was once a railway line. This railway line was built by lumber baron JR Booth and connected Depot Harbour on Georgian Bay to Ottawa. The tracks have since been lifted and the trail is now referred to as the Park 2 Park Trail, which connects Killbear Provincial Park with Algonquin Provincial Park. When in Algonquin Provincial Park if you happen to hike the Mizzy Lake Trail, you will be walking on the old railway bed when you reach the section of the trail at Wolf Howl Pond.

I have always enjoyed this trail for its numerous beaver ponds and small lakes void of hand-of-man elements. Below you will see two versions of two different scenes captured along this trail. I am interested in hearing from folks as to which version of these two images they prefer and why?

Small Lake at Daybreak – Version #1

Small Lake at Daybreak – Version #2

Autumn Wetland – Version #1

Autumn Wetland – Version #2

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Highland Pond in the Torrance Barrens

As the fall colour display is winding down rapidly, with a large percentage of leaf fall, I am catching up on processing some of this season’s images. The image above is a three image HDR processed with Oloneo PhotoEngine that was captured at Ontario’s Torrance Barrens / Dark Sky Reserve near the town of Gravenhurst. I was immediately drawn to the line of white pine needles along the rocky shoreline and the cloud formation in the sky at Highland Pond. I composed the scene with the pine needles forming a strong diagonal line coming out of the lower right corner to draw the viewer into the scene. The Torrance Barrens was the first site designated as a dark sky reserve and is quite popular with astronomers. I hope to try some night photography in the future. The terrain here is dominated by exposed bedrock covered with lichens and moss and mostly Red Oak, White Pine and White Ash trees. I particularly enjoy the area right around Highland Pond, which is accessed from the entrance on District Rd. 13 (Southwood Road). I often arrive here for sunrise and then wander the trails afterwards to see what I might discover. Below are two additional images from my recent visit to the barrens and three sunrise images from a previous visit a couple of years ago. The Torrance Barrens / Dark Sky Reserve will be featured in my upcoming eBook.

Boardwalk over Highland Pond

My Shadow at Highland Pond

Sunrise and Mist at Highland Pond

Highland Pond at daybreak

Sunrise at Highland Pond

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Algonquin Provincial Park

I love going out to shoot in overcast, drizzly weather conditions and my favorite lens to use on these days, if I am not shooting waterfalls with my wide angle zoom, is my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. I love to use this lens to extract images from within the landscape and to shoot blurs. The Nikon 80-400mm VR lens has one major drawback to it though, and that is the poorly designed tripod collar. When I first began using this lens, many years ago, I immediately became aware of the vibration transmitted through the lens by the camera’s mirror. Vibraton that will compromise image quality. Fortunately there is a solution available. Kirk Enterprises offers a tripod replacement collar that firmly cradles the lens eliminating the vibration problem. You can view the replacement collar here. When I use the lens to shoot blurs I like to use it in the 200-400mm range and often I will handhold the lens for camera movement blurs. When I am relying on mother nature to create the blur via wind or flowing water, I lock the camera and lens firmly to my tripod by means of the replacement tripod collar.¬† Some of my recent¬† intimate landscapes and blurs can be seen below that were created with this lens during this year’s autumn outings. Head over here to see my favorite image from my Lake Superior Provincial Park trip in September. Don’t forget to hit the ‘like’ button :).

Lichen Covered Dead Tree

Autumn Reflection in Horseshoe Lake

Torrance Barrens near Gravenhurst, Ontario

Handheld Autumn Birch Tree Blur

Torrance Barrens near Gravenhurst, Ontario

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Bracken Fern

While playing around with the Fractalius plugin for photoshop, I wanted to see what effect the filter had on some of my recent leaf detail images that I had been shooting. I used my 105 macro lens to zero in on the vein structures of the leaves. After optimizing the images I opened them up in the Fractalius interface and used the ‘Glow 100′ and the ‘Rounded’ presets to achieve the desired results. Hope you like these artistic renderings. Let me know which is your favorite and why?

Sugar Maple Leaf

Autumn Red Oak Leaf

Sugar Maple Leaf

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Rosseau River

In my last post I indicated that many of central Ontario’s fall colour was rather dismal this year. Yes, there were some pockets of lovely colour, but by and large it was not very impressive at all. One of my favorite destinations for fall colour is a section of the Rosseau River that is about 30 minutes from my family cottage. It usually produces fairly decent colours consistently and the rocks in and around the river make great compositional elements. While we were preparing to close the cottage for the coming winter I made one last quick trip to the Rosseau River. I prefer to shoot my waterfall and river scenes in overcast-type light, so I arrived early in the morning before the sun rose high enough in the sky to ruin the scene with strong, contrasty light. As I was preparing to leave, I noticed and liked the way the sun was illuminating the tops of the trees along the river. Rather than reach for one of my grad filters I decided to shoot a 5 exposure HDR and process the image files in Oloneo Photo Engine.

I made one final trip today to a small waterfall along the Nottawasaga River, near my home, for some additional fall photography, but with yesterday’s high winds there was a large percentage of leaf fall noticeable. Yikes!…looks like winters a-coming.

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Brook’s Falls on the Magnetawan River

I was away last week shooting some fall colour images around the Muskoka region and the Almaguin Highlands region of Ontario. Much of the autumn display this year in those locations was rather dismal, in my opinion, with many of the colours being muted and leaves falling from the trees brown and dry. We experienced a very hot and dry August which probably impacted the fall colours this year, however, there were some small pockets of nice colour to be found. During my travels last week I was sure to stop by my favorite waterfalls in the region and was pleased that some nice colour was to be found at these sites. Each of these sites will be featured in my upcoming eBook. Here are the first optimized images from last weeks adventures. Hope you like the photos.

Stubb’s Falls on the Little East River in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River

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