Feeds:
Posts
Comments

 

Join Andrew McLachlan in Ontario’s Muskoka District on October 1st, 2nd, & 3rd 2018 for 2 ½ days of in-depth photographic exploration of the finest waterfalls and rivers, forests and wetlands of the region. Embrace the beauty of Muskoka and learn the skills of landscape photography amid the palette of autumn. If we are lucky enough to have clear night skies we will add on a starry night-scape session too. Maximum number of participants is 8.

Do note that there will be some walking involved, through woodland trails with uneven ground. The longest walk will be roughly 1 kilometre in length. Please do not hesitate to inquire should you have any concerns regarding physical limitations that may affect your ability to attend this event.

Itinerary:

Tuesday, October 1st:

  • Meet in the parking lot of Brooks Falls (Huntsville area) at 7:00 a.m. for waterfall photo session
  • Stop for lunch (on your own) at 1:00 p.m.
  • Oxtongue Rapids (Huntsville area) photo session
  • Dinner (on your own) at local restaurant at 7:00 p.m.
  • Get some rested for early start on Wednesday

Wednesday, October 2nd:

  • Meet at 6:00 a.m. at pre-determined location in Bracebridge and carpool to waterfall for photo sessions
  • Stop for lunch (on your own) at 1:00 p.m.
  • Additional waterfall / river sessions
  • Sunset photo session
  • Complimentary dinner at local restaurant

Thursday, October 3rd:

  • Meet at 6:00 a.m. at pre-determined location in Bracebridge and carpool to Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve for sunrise and morning photo session
  • Depart for home 12:00 p.m.

What’s Included:

  • In-depth photographic instruction during each photo sessions with LCD review
  • Dinner at nearby restaurant on Wednesday October 2nd

What’s Not Included:

  • Accommodations (numerous options available… I will be staying at the Sleep Inn in Bracebridge – they serve a continental style breakfast)
  • Transportation
  • Car pooling of participants is encouraged to arrive at each location
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Alcoholic Beverages

Workshop Fee:

$325.00 CDN plus taxes

Payment can be made via email transfer or by cheque.

 

To reserve your spot in the Muskoka Autumn Colour Spectacular please contact me by clicking here to arrange payment. Please do not delay in booking your accommodations as hotels / motels in the area will fill up quickly.

 

Cancellation Policy:

No Refunds. Check your schedule carefully prior to booking.

Advertisements

Halfway Log Dump
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

In May of 2016, I made a three day visit to Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula National Park. Today I revisited the folder of images from that trip to optimize several of the photographs that were tucked away due to my backlog in editing the files. Bruce Peninsula National Park can be found at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula near Tobermory, Ontario. It is also on the Niagara Escarpment – an UNESCO World Biosphere site. One section of the park lies on Lake Huron while the remainder of the park is facing beautiful Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay provides landscape photographs with a plethora of stunning vistas with ragged cliffs, cobblestone beaches, and unlimited shoreline details to photograph. A short distance out into Georgian Bay lies the Fathom Five National Marine Park, which is home to the famous Flower Pot Island. If you are a landscape photographer the Bruce Peninsula needs to be one of your bucket list items.

Halfway Log Dump
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Indian Head Cove
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Indian Head Cove
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Flower Pot Island
Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario

 

The Grotto
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Flower Pot Island
Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario

 

We will be holding a one day only event for the next Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop with an optional add-on Photoshop session from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. that will be held at LifeLike Imaging in Mississauga, Ontario. This will likely be the last frog workshop of 2018.

Saturday, September 22, 2018 10:00a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Optional Add-on Photoshop Session 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

The space for this workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants to allow ample time for folks to photograph each species of frog.

These are the only workshops available whereby you will be able to capture stunning imagery of 15 – 20 different species of frogs from all over the world. We will be photographing numerous varieties of dart frogs endemic to the Amazon rainforest, several tree frogs of Costa Rica and South America, as well as the bizarre Leaf Frog of the Malaysian jungle. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to explore the jungles of the world on your own in hopes of photographing a mere fraction of these species. These workshops, in partnership with Understory Enterprises, will bring you an incredible opportunity to photograph these 15 – 20 species of frogs in a comfortable atmosphere with natural studio set-ups. The recommended gear for photographing these tiny frogs is a macro lens and off camera flash. Alternately, using high quality close-up filters such as the Canon 500D filters will allow many lenses such as the Nikon 80-400mm or Canon 100-400mm to focus close enough for these small subjects. Please contact me here if you have any equipment inquiries when registering for this workshop. I also have custom made flash diffusers that will allow folks to capture stunning imagery using camera mounted flash as well.

New to this workshop will be an optional 2 hour add-on Photoshop session for folks that wish to learn how I edit and optimize my frog photography. I will also be on hand to guide you through optimizing a couple of your own images from the workshop.

Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided during the workshop.

To register for this workshop folks may contact me by clicking here .

Payments can be made via email transfer or by cheque made payable to Andrew McLachlan.

The cost of the workshop is $195 CDN plus taxes. Folks that wish to sign-up for the 2 hour Photoshop add-on session please add $65 CDN plus taxes.

Please specify when registering for these workshops if you wish to sign-up for the Photoshop session afterwards.

Cancellation Policy

Full refund, less a $25 administration fee, 31 days prior to the workshop date.

No Refunds 30 days prior to the workshop date.

Brown Booby in flight, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 90mm
ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/5000 sec.

Originally released in August of 2010 the Nikon 28-300mm VR lens has to be one the most versatile lenses available. Often you can find this lens in the used gear department for approximately $700 CDN. Like most folks, before I purchased this lens for my own gear bag I read several on-line reviews. I did not believe that the lens could really be as bad as folks were leading on. Here is a selection of some items that I noted during my internet readings:

  • softness in the center, sharpening up out towards the corners, and the some more corner softness
  • stopped-down results are downright blurry at the telephoto end of 300mm @ ƒ/36)
  • the 28-300 isn’t a really sharp lens and the corners are mush
  • zoom range exhibited shockingly poor off-axis image quality
  • is not a pro level lens nor one I’d use for critical shoots
  • I’m assuming this lens was defective as I couldn’t get a sharp picture no matter how hard I tried

I determined that in order to find out for myself I would need to add this lens to my gear bag. Right before I boarded the plane for my Cayman Brac Photo Tour in February I did just that. It is now one of my most favorite lenses. The lens does have one annoying habit, or at least my copy does. When the lens is pointed downward the zoom creep is very evident. Nonetheless, my honest opinion is that this lens does produce stellar results when good technique and creative vision is applied. Often I can be found in-the-field with my 28-300mm lens attached to one of my Nikons ready to capture those fleeting moments where changing lenses is not an option. The 28-300mm range is perfect for such circumstances.

I have never been one to trust the so-called internet experts. I much prefer to take gear out into the field and put it to the test. A real world review illustrating the quality of the lens with photographic examples.

Having the ability to zoom from 28mm to 300mm is a definite plus. On Cayman Brac I was able to photograph nesting Brown Boobies at close range and then quickly zoom out to 300mm to capture Brown Boobies in flight as they approached the cliff edge on their return to their nests.

Brown Booby pair at the nest, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 55mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

I also find the lens to be a powerful tool for my landscape work as illustrated in the below image of a winter wheat field at sunset near my rural home in Thornton, Ontario. A Singh Ray 3-stop reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter was also used in the capture of the sunset scene below.

Winter Wheat at Sunset, Thornton, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 82mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 3 seconds.

Having a minimum focusing distance of a mere 1.6 feet throughout the entire zoom range is also a huge bonus to my frog photography. In the past I would have to switch lenses to create my signature frog-scapes and close-up portraits. With the Nikon 28-300 I can simply zoom the lens from wide to telephoto and create both scenarios in mere seconds, as illustrated in the two Bullfrog images below.

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 48mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

 

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

While photographing Wood Ducks in Toronto, Ontario I am also able to create stunning portraits and close-up feather details due to the short, minimum focusing distance. While I was photographing feather details of a Wood Duck hen that had chose to sit beside me on a particular outing I had noticed that a lovely drake Wood Duck had also come into close proximity allowing me to zoom out and create a tight head shot of him. The versatility of the Nikon 28-300mm lens allowed me the opportunity to create both these images without the need to switch lenses , which would likely had caused one of the two birds, or both, to move further away.

Drake Wood Duck, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 2000, f5.6 @ 1/250 sec.

 

Hen Wood Duck Feather Details, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 1000, f11 @ 1/80 sec.

While walking along the shoreline of the Caribbean Ocean in Cayman Brac I came upon a dead crab. The shell of the dea crab was beautifully colored with interesting details too. To create the below macro shot of the crab shell details I used my Canon 500D Close-up Filter on the Nikon 28-300mm lens and stopped down to f22. There is some minor softness in the extreme corners of the image but this is due to the curvature of the shell. Ideally I should have used the focus stacking method to gain perfect sharpness in the corners.

Crab Shell Details, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/40 sec.

For those of us longing for some cooler temperatures in this heat wave, I have included a winter river detail image from my Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop this past January 🙂

Winter River Details, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1.6 sec.

Rusty Old Wreck Interior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens

Without a doubt rusty old dilapidated automobiles look great with a touch of grunge processing added to them. On Thursday June 21st I visited a nearby auto wrecker to photograph several old abandoned cars and trucks. I was quite fascinated by the state of decay inside this particular old car.  Using my amazingly wide and razor sharp Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens on my Nikon D800 I set out to create this extreme wide angle, interior view. The above image was created from one RAW image file. In Adobe Camera Raw I made adjustments to the Clarity, Contrast, Shadow, and Highlights slider and also tweaked the Vibrance slider as well. I then opened the image into Photoshop CC and went straight for my Nik Color Efex Filters to apply my simplified grunge processing technique. First a treatment of Detail Extractor was applied, which in Photoshop I reduced the opacity of the layer to roughly 70%. Secondly I applied a touch of Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast filter. I then saved the image as an 8-bit TIFF and created my watermarked low-res JPEG for web use. I spent no more than 10 minutes on optimizing this image using the two NIK filters for a simplified, but incredibly effective grunge look.

 

WORKSHOP NOTES:

I was pleased to sign up 3 additional participants for the Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat in October over the last couple of weeks. There is now only 1 spot available.

Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 Camera Backpack

For the last few months I have been using a new camera backpack for my nature excursions as well as my commercial photography assignments. Enter the Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 Camera Backpack. When I head out on a commercial shoot or into the wilderness it is of the utmost importance to me to have two camera bodies and a wide assortment of lenses on hand and ready at a moments notice. The Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 camera backpack allows me to do just that.

I do not normally carry a laptop or tablet with me on single day commercial assignments, but the Redbee-210’s back panel is designed to accommodate both for extended assignment work whereby I would need to carry such devices.  Not only have I found the Redbee-210 to be very versatile but it also provides me with the peace of mind that my gear is protected during periods of inclement weather due to the water repellent nature of the specially coated fabric and included rain protector. The flexible dividers to separate and protect the gear are easily changeable to suit the needs of any assignment. The Redbee-210 is also designed to be compliant with standard carry-on luggage requirements (as airline restrictions change this may also change).

I am able to easily pack the following gear for a typical nature excursion inside the bag:

  • Nikon D800
  • Nikon D500
  • Nikkor 200-500mm Lens (attached to the Nikon D500)
  • Nikkor 18-35mm Lens
  • Nikkor 28-300mm Lens
  • Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
  • Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
  • Filters, memory cards, cable release, camera batteries are stored inside the customized back panel

The main access to the gear bag is accomplished by unzipping the back panel, which in my honest opinion is a design I wish had been thought of sooner. I cannot recall how many I have had to set my bags down in wet, mucky soils. With this new design the back panel stays relatively clean and dry so that it is comfortable to put on again after setting it down. After unzipping the main back panel you will then see that your camera gear is protected by a second zippered mesh system. This is a very nice feature that I have found helps to protect gear from debris during blustery conditions.

Redbee-210 Showing Back Panel Opened and Zippered Mesh System

 

Redbee-210 Showing Both Back Panel and Zippered Mesh System Opened

The shoulder straps are large and well padded for superior comfort and offer a sternum strap which I find invaluable on long hikes for the added comfort it provides. There is also a waist strap that is wide enough to be comfortable.

Redbee-210 Shoulder Straps

When the need to access gear must be swift there are also three external openings that will allow you to grab your your camera and lens combo very quickly. I have optimized my Redbee-210 to allow me to grab my Nikon D500 with the attached Nikkor 200-500mm lens through the top access opening. When one of those fleeting moments in nature occur I can simply unzip the top opening and pull out the camera and lens combo and am ready for the action.

Redbee-210 Top Opening Zipped Shut

 

Redbee-210 Top Opening Unzipped

The other two quick access openings are located on each side of the bag, near the bottom. Depending on how you customize the interior of your pack it is possible to have two camera bodies with lenses attached and positioned at a quick access opening giving you speedy access to two separate cameras when the need may arise.

Redbee-210 Quick Access Side Opening

The side, quick access opening have both zipperes and quick connect snaps for added security. All zippers on the Redbee-210 also have a pull tab which makes closing the zippers very quick and efficient.

Redbee-210 Zipper Tab and Quick Connect Safety Clip

In my honest opinion the Manfrotto Pro Light Redbee-210 Camera Backpack is a prime example of quality, durability and efficiency being well thought out and implemented during the design phase of this pack. I am able to carry my gear in total comfort down remote wilderness trails knowing that I am ready for anything at the spur of the moment.

 

Newly Emerging Leaves in Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens

Spring arrived very slowly to the Muskoka area this year, but nonetheless it has arrived in all it’s splendor. I am often drawn to the newly emerging leaves within the forest but on a bright sunny and cloudless day there is often too much contrast within the forest however, looking up changes the perspective to one that is quite photogenic and even allows the opportunity to incorporate the sun into the composition as I did with the above image using the Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens.

My most favourite past-time in spring includes getting out into the vernal ponds to photograph the various frogs that show up in vast numbers to breed. Although the frogs have been chorusing for a number of weeks I was unable to find time in my schedule to get out into the ponds until this past weekend. I was excited to finally get out and try my new home-made flash diffuser mentioned in the This Might Just Be The Best Flash Diffuser Ever! blog post. As I expected I was more than thrilled with the performance of the flash diffuser in the field. Due to the larger size of the diffuser I did have to be cautious with my approach to the frogs and be careful that the diffuser did not bump any corresponding branches or foliage that may disturb the frogs, thus interrupting their singing. Below are a few of the images I captured over the course of the weekend exploring the vernal ponds. During these excursions I was delighted to encounter a Wood Frog at one of the ponds. It has been a great number of years since I have seen a Wood Frog in the woodlands of Muskoka.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the chorusing Spring Peeper was particularly challenging to photograph as he was singing beside a rather fresh pile of Moose scat. Positioning myself as I would normally do would have seen me laying in the scat, therefore, a different approach was much needed. To gain a low perspective and avoid the moose scat I utilized the Nikon D500’s tilting LCD screen so that I could hold the camera at ground level using LIve View to compose and capture the image.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

 

Wood Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the Green Frog among Hair-cap Moss really illustrates the usefulness of the home-made diffuser. Under normal flash conditions there would be many unpleasant shadows created by a bare flash. The polystyrene diffuser softens the light, eliminating any and all harsh shadows.

Green Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

%d bloggers like this: