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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Sunrise at Tiny Marsh with early sign of the ice starting to break-up

Sunrise at Tiny Marsh with early sign of the ice starting to break-up

Today I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to start my 45 minute drive to the Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area in Elmvale, Ontario. I have never had a disappointing day at Tiny Marsh and I often am rewarded with something I did not quite expect to capture during each visit. Today would be no exception. As usual I like to arrive with plenty of time to walk out along the main dike that extends out into the marsh, as I often find this to be most productive for sunrise imagery. Spring is getting underway a little slower here as the wetlands are still quite frozen over, a result of the extended, brutal cold we endured this winter which in turn created thick ice on the lakes and wetlands. In the image below you can see that things are starting to open up some now.

Tiny Marsh at sunrise in early spring

Tiny Marsh at sunrise in early spring

It was a cold morning with lightly formed ice on the surfaces of the newly open water sections. Along the edges of the marsh I noticed thousands of dead catfish, a result of winter kill, which is a common occurrence and quite simply a part of mother nature. These dead catfish will provide food for numerous wildlife, including racoons, snapping turtles, and many others. Having never encountered such an abundance of dead fish from winter kill I could not help but create a few images of them frozen beneath the ice.

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Tiny Marsh also supports a very large breeding population of Canada Geese and during today’s there were a few pairs hanging out in the open water near the main parking lot. In the distance you could hear the loud cackles of the majority of the marsh’s population.

Canada Geese at Tiny Marsh in early spring

Canada Geese at Tiny Marsh in early spring

Lastly, I wanted to scout out the boardwalk trail to see how things were looking for some of my soon to commence frog photography. The ice has receded completely in this area of the marsh but the water levels are very high this year – a result of the significant snowfall this past winter. I slowly made my way along the boardwalk, which was sinking into the water as I walked along it, and by the time I was done my feet were thoroughly soaked.

Tiny Marsh Boardwalk Trail submerged due to high water levels

Tiny Marsh Boardwalk Trail submerged due to high water levels

For folks that have never visited Tiny Marsh before I urge you to add it to your list of must see destinations, as it never disappoints. For private in-the-field photographic instruction please be sure to check out my newly added Workshops page on the blog by clicking here.

Long Point Workshop

For folks that are interested in a photographic workshop / tour to the tip of the Long Point Peninsula on Lake Erie, a destination that is only accessible by boat be sure to follow this link for further information. This workshop will take place on Saturday, May 31st.

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Sister Islands Curly-tailed Lizard_8421

This post will take us back to my February trip to Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands. The two smaller, of the three islands, in the Cayman Islands  are called Little Cayman and Cayman Brac and are often referred to as the Sister Islands. On the grounds at the villa that I had rented for my two week stay there were numerous lizards to be found. The most common was the Curly-tailed Lizard. These lizards reach a length of about 10 inches, from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail. During the afternoon they were difficult to approach, but early in the morning was a completely different story. Reptiles are often easier to photograph early in the day when they are too cool to really run away. Being cold-blooded critters they need to warm up in the sun before becoming active. Each of the Curly-tailed Lizards in today’s blog post were photographed at daybreak, using the Live View feature of the Nikon D800, while zooming in on the eyes to manually fine tune the focusing of my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. The camera and lens were supported by a Manfrotto BeFree Tripod. To read my review of this perfect travel companion and how well it is designed for such use please click here.

Please click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

Sister Islands Curly-tailed Lizard_7502

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Johnstone's Whistling Frog with HighLight Warnings

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog with HighLight Warnings

Above you see a photo of a Johnstone’s Whistling Frog that I created in Port Antonio, Jamaica. This was the first image that I created of these lovely little frogs during my stay in Jamaica. Being excited at photographing a new species I forgot to check my camera settings before clicking the shutter. When I scrolled back through a couple of the frames to confirm my exposures were correct I realized my error and immediately dialed in the correct settings but the frog jumped away. I was left with this image, which on the camera’s LCD screen was showing what appeared to be blown-out highlights (note that in the above image I made adjustments in ACR to mimic what I was seeing on the camera’s LCD screen – the highlight warnings on the camera would have been black instead of red as shown above).

Directly below is the same image as it opened in ACR. You can see that the highlights are not too bad after all. The red highlight warnings seen here red here are the flash generated spectral highlights, which are indeed blown-out with no detail whatsoever.

Johnstone's Whistling Frog in ACR inter-face

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog in ACR inter-face

Now look at the optimized image file below. After making the required slider adjustments in ACR I was able to recover a great deal of detail in what the camera originally indicated was blown-out and lacking detail. I then opened the image in Photoshop and using a series of Quick Masks and Clone Stamp Tool applications addressing the flash generated highlights.

Johnstone's Whistling Frog, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog, Port Antonio, Jamaica

This is why I do not delete photos, in the field, as seen on the camera’s LCD screen. I always wait until I am editing a trip’s images when back home at the computer.

Please click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

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Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

It was in bright, afternoon sunlight that I found myself along the shore of Lake Superior at the mouth of the Coldwater River in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park, during my trip to the park in September of 2013. I knew that I wanted to create an image whereby the waves on the lake would be blurred to a smooth texture so that they would not compete with the other elements within the composition. But the light was too bright to obtain a slow enough shutter speed to allow for this vision. At the last minute before departing for Lake Superior I decided to throw the B&W 10-stop Neutral Density Filter in my gear bag.I was glad I did. After attaching the filter to the lens I had the extended exposure that was needed for this composition. The above images was the result of a 15 second exposure that blurred the wave action on the lake and captured the passage of the swiftly moving cotton clouds.

For folks planning to attend the upcoming Long Point Workshop I will have this filter on hand for anyone that may wish to give it a try. If you missed the Long Point Workshop announcement you can find it by clicking here for more information.

Please remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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Hatchery Falls, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Hatchery Falls, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

This morning I awoke at 5:00 a.m. to begin my journey north to Ontario’s Muskoka region to meet up with fellow photographer / friend Kyle McDougall. Do take a moment to check out Kyle’s work as he is a very talented photographer.The plan was to visit several of the areas secluded, woodland waterfalls. The weather forecast was for cloudy conditions with temperatures hovering around 2-3 degrees Celsius. Perfect weather for a comfortable day photographing winter waterfalls.

Ontario’s Muskoka region has been hit hard this winter with tons of snowfall. There is roughly four feet of snow on the ground and significant ice formation at some of the waterfalls, due to the brutal cold temperatures encountered this winter. At each of  the destinations it was somewhat tricky getting into position for some of the images as I would often sink to my waist in deep snow along the riverbanks. My lower back problems did not appreciate this very much and are now getting even with me for heading off without my snowshoes.

Potts Creek, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Potts Creek, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada (10-stop Neutral Density Filter Used)

On today’s waterfall excursion I experimented with some new techniques, gear, and camera features. In the image that opens this blog post I used the focus stacking technique, whereby I created three separate images with each focused at a different point from foreground to horizon and then assembled them in photoshop to create one image file. In the above image at Potts Creek I was very disappointed to see lots of foam floating in the creek below the falls, but I noted that it was floating around in a circular motion. By attaching a B&W 10-stop Neutral Density Filter to the lens I was able to create an image with a 30 second exposure that would record the circular motion making it a pleasing element within the composition.

Skeleton Falls, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Skeleton Falls, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada (in-camera HDR)

The final experiment I tried was setting my Nikon D800 to it’s in-camera HDR function. By doing so the camera would create a natural-looking TIFF file of 100 MB. I was quite pleased with the in-camera HDR results and will use this mode often. For winter imagery I found it opened up the shadowed areas nicely and brought out the greens in the cedar trees well too. While optimizing these images I chose to add a touch of Nik / Google’s Detail Extractor filter from Color Efex 4 to bring out the fine details in the snow.

Please click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper version.

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Optimized Version of Cuban Treefrog on Cayman Brac

Optimized Version of Cuban Treefrog on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

I have just spent the last hour optimizing the above photograph of a juvenile Cuban Treefrog. During my trip to Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands. Each night I would leave the villa and go for a night-time stroll in search of some night-life. The Cuban Treefrogs were plentiful and I spent many enjoyable hours creating numerous images of them. In the original RAW capture below you do not need to look too closely to identify many of the issue.

Original RAW Capture - Cuban Treefrog

Original RAW Capture – Cuban Treefrog

First and foremost I was not holding the camera square with the world, there are two unsightly, tiny stones on the frog’s lip and if you click on the images to see the larger, sharper version you will see a lot of flash generated spectral highlights. To optimize this image I first rotated until I felt that froggie was square with the world and then using both a series of quick masks and clone stamp tool I painstakingly worked on the image at 400% to effectively evict each of the spectral highlights. The nice thing about the massive image files created by the Nikon D800 is that you can afford to lose a few pixels when rotating and cropping such as this with no degradation to the image quality.

Now for the quiz: to photograph the Cuban Treefrog I used a Nikon D800 and what lens? The frog measured about an inch in length. I will reveal the answer in 2-3 days.

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The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

The island of Cayman Brac, found within the Cayman Islands, is noted for its numerous caves, which are found at various locations around the island. These caves were typically used as hurricane shelters many, many years ago. I briefly explored a couple of caves while on the island in February and quickly became quite fond of the interesting formations that were to be found inside The Bat Cave, located a stone’s throw away from the villa I was renting for my trip. I found my Nikon 18-35mm lens on the Nikon D800 was the perfect combo for creating the images that I envisioned. This set-up was firmly mounted to a Manfrotto BeFree Tripod, which was a real life-saver due to its light weight, durable designed that was a pleasure to use in the field during this trip.

Here are some additional images created inside The Bat Cave. Please do remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Roof Details Inside The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Roof Details Inside The Bat Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

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Intimate View of the Bluff on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Intimate View of the Bluff on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

As folks who have been following along here at the blog know I visited the island of Cayman Brac in February, which is found in the Caribbean Sea, among the Cayman Islands. Cayman Brac is located 90 miles northeast of Grand Cayman. It was on the 10th day of May in the year 1503 when Christopher Columbus discovered Cayman Brac, with its large, central, limestone bluff that rises steadily as it travels the length of the island, to reach a height of 140 feet above sea level at the eastern most tip of the island. The name ‘Brac’ comes from the Gaelic name for bluff.

In the previous blog post I featured the vistas as seen at Long Beach. After creating numerous sunrise photos at Long Beach I made my way closer to the bluff to create some intimate imagery of the bluff and the limestone rock that is strewn about. Since the bluff was still cast in shadow at this time of the morning I had the even lighting needed for this intimate view. I explored the base of the bluff to find a pleasing aray of scattered, limestone boulders to use as foreground elements that would lead up to the vertical face of the bluff. This was my most favorite intimate view created on this morning. I will share other bluff details in a future post soon :)

Please click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

Please check out this link to ieyenews, A Cayman website that I have shared my Cayman Brac trip.

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Long Beach on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Long Beach on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

On the second last morning of my two week visit to Cayman Brac, in the Cayman Islands I awoke to the alarm at 5:00 a.m. and drove out to the eastern tip of the island along the road running along the north side of the island. The entire island of Cayman Brac is 12 miles long and on average 1.5 miles wide, so it does not take too long to get from one end or the other, but one must remember to drive on the left side of the road.

Long Beach on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Long Beach on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Long Beach is hardly a beach as the shoreline is a rugged and jagged terrain that easily chewed up the soles of my sneakers. This rugged shoreline extends from the ocean to the bluff, which stands roughly 140 feet above sea-level. I knew photographing sunrise here would be tricky at best because the sun rises on the south side of the bluff and I was facing the north side. If the conditions were right though, it just may make a wonderful scene. The waves at Long Beach were a little troublesome as there was lots of salt spray to contend with. In order to cope with the resulting salt spray I chose to do what I most often do back in Ontario when photographing waterfalls. I will typically place a clear plastic bag over my camera and compose the scene. Once I have the composition I am happy with I will raise the bag up and away from the front element of the lens, focus, and press the shutter – this technique usually works very well and minimizes the amount of time spent cleaning the front element of the lens and/or filters that may be attached to the lens.

BTW – that large, house-sized boulder sitting in the ocean at the base of the cliff is affectionately referred to as ‘Little Cayman Brac:)

Please click on the photos to see the larger, sharper versions.

 

 

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Conch Shell at Daybreak on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Conch Shell at Daybreak on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

As I continue to edit and process the images I created on the island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands, I came upon this one of a perfectly intact conch shell that my 6 year old daughter had found one day. I made sure to hang onto it for a few days to use as a prop at sunrise. When I began to optimize this image file I began daydreaming of the amazingly, wonderful conch chowder, which was served in restaurants on the island. I guess I’ll just have to go back next winter for more :)

The above photo was relatively simple to create. I used my Nikon D800 with the Nikon 18-35mm lens and a Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density filter. All of this was mounted on a Manfrotto BeFree Tripod, which is a great, light weight tripod designed for travel photography. If you did not get a chance to read my review of this tripod yet, please follow this link. I would then await the waves to wash in to shore and then as they retreated back into the ocean I would create the images, until I captured what I considered to be the most pleasing, outgoing wave blur.

Please click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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