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Crab Spider

Crab Spider on Ox-Daisy Blossom

Over the course of the last several months I have been using a Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO CA Dreamer lens that has been on loan to me from Venus Optics. As you read through this blog post you will learn my thoughts on this lens. In short, I was impressed enough with the lens that I purchased this loaner lens and promptly sold my workhorse Nikon 105mm f2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor.

Each image in this blog post is a single capture. No focus stacking techniques were deployed. Some images were photographed at 4X lifesize and this was accomplished by adding a Raynox DCR-250 Diopter to the front of the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro lens. All images, unless otherwise noted, were photographed handheld using the Meike MK-MT24 Flash Speedlite with 2.4G Wireless Trigger supported by a Wimberley dual arm F-2 Macro Bracket.

Gray Tree Frog (Dryophytes versicolor)

Gray Tree Frog chorusing at night

First and foremost, the full metal construction of the lens is in-line with the build quality of other Laowa lenses I own making them durable and able to stand the test of time. The CA Dreamer designation refers to the apochromatic design that significantly reduces, if not eliminates, chromatic aberration in both in-focus and out-of-focus areas of the image.

Robber Fly species

Robber Fly species with prey

The Laowa 100mm 2X Macro lens is a fully manual lens. There is no autofocus, no image stabilization, and the f-stop is selected by manually rotating the aperture ring to the desired setting. Being fully manual also means that no information will be transmitted to the camera, such as f-stop used. Do note that the Canon mount does not have an aperture ring as the f-stop can be selected by the camera. If you have grown accustomed to relying on autofocus and/or image stabilization you will have a bit of a learning curve on working with a manual macro lens. My first forays into macro photography were in the days of film whereby I used a Minolta X-700 with a Minolta 100mm Macro lens. It took me a couple of days to get back into the swing of manual focusing for macro work, as I had become reliant on autofocus, which can actually be a hindrance to successful macro photography.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper photographed at 4X lifesize with the Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached

The “2X” designation for the lens refers to the ability to achieve twice lifesize at the minimum focusing distance of 9.7” which refers to the distance from the camera sensor to the subject. No other macro lens on the market today, in the 100mm range, offers the ability to achieve 2X magnification. I have often wished my old Nikon macro lens had the ability to focus closer than 1:1 magnification. At a very affordable price the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro lens provides twice lifesize and superb image quality.

Green Bottle Fly

Green Bottle Fly at 2X lifesize

The lens does come with a plastic lens hood, however, at 2X lifesize I recommend removing the lens hood as it will cast heavy shadow over subjects. I seldom use the lens hood because at infinity focus the front element of the lens is recessed in the lens barrel about 3 inches and moves towards the front of the lens barrel as you get closer to 2X lifesize. As a result, the lens barrel often acts as a lens hood.

Thistl-head Weevil (Rhinocyllus conicus)

Thistl-head Weevil (Rhinocyllus conicus) with Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached

There is an optional tripod collar for the lens that can be purchased. I currently do not own the tripod collar, nor do I have any experience with using it. I have read some unfavorable reviews for the optional tripod collar, however, my thought on the tripod collar is that it may be a useful tool to support two flash units on small homemade brackets to keep the set-up compact rather than using brackets to hold flash units. I will provide an update on this after I have had time to test out my theory.

Baby Garden Spiders

Baby Garden Spiders with Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached for 4X magnification

Venus Optics (Laowa) have clearly created another lens that offers superior image quality at a very affordable price point. I shudder to think what Canon, Sony, or Nikon would charge for a 100mm f2.8 2X Macro lens if they took the time to design one. Let’s compare pricing from Vistek and do note that the Laowa is the least expensive lens, offering superior results with the ability to capture subjects at twice lifesize:

  • Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO: $699.99 CAD
  • Sony FE 90mm Macro G OSS: $1499.99 CAD
  • Nikon Micro-Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8: $1129.99 CAD
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro IS USM: $1199.99 CAD
  • Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro: $769.99 CAD
Stink Bug nymph

Stink Bug nymph at 2X lifesize

I am often asked how I am able to manually focus on such tiny critters. It is not as hard as it looks when you practice and perfect good macro techniques. I tend to predetermine the magnification I desire for an intended subject. The next step is to use myself as a human focusing rail and slowly move in and out until sharp focus is achieved. I strongly recommend using inanimate objects placed on the kitchen table as practice subjects.

Green Burgundy Stink Bug (Banasa dimidiata)

Green Burgundy Stink Bug (Banasa dimidiata)

Another techniques I will often use if the subject is cooperative is to physically hold the leaf or stem the subject is on and move it towards the lens until sharp focus is achieved. By utilizing this technique I often find that I am able to support the front of the lens on my left hand for added support, especially when photographing at 4 times lifesize!

Gray Wall Jumping Spider (Menemerus bivittatus)

Gray Wall Jumping Spider at 2X lifesize

The Gray Wall Jumping Spider above was discovered on the brickwork of my home. I carefully encourage it to climb onto a small twig that I could have more control over and move towards the lens until the spider’s eyes became sharp in the viewfinder. After grabbing a few quick images I let the spider go back to its business on the brickwork of my home.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis)

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle at 2X lifesize

Many of these images were created during self-isolating on my half acre country home. It is quite amazing what can be found hiding in plain sight when we take the time to explore the microcosm

Ambush Bug with prey

Ambush Bug with prey at 2X lifesize

The Ambush Bug above was preoccupied with its prey and the Milkweed Beetles below were preoccupied with each other and this allowed me to use my technique of holding the stem and leaf to take better control of the situation and to focus more easily on the insects.

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

Since many of my images were being photographed at either 2X or 4X lifesize I did select an aperture of f22 for maximum depth of field. I think you would agree that the lens performs very well stopped down 🙂

Lichens

Lichens photographed using ambient light and tripod

Having a lens such as the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro in your gear bag will allow you the luxury of being able to photograph tight details, itty bitty critters, or large animals such as the portrait of the 3 foot Ball Python below.

Royal python (Python regius) - captive bred

Royal Python (Python regius) – captive bred

Below is a single frame at 2X lifesize of a butterfly wing. While photographing the fine details of the butterfly wing, even at f22 it was critical to keep the the sensor plane parallel to the wing to ensure sharp focus throughout the image, otherwise the delete key would have been utilized 🙂

Papilio multicaudata (Mexico)Dead specimen from private collection

Papilio multicaudata (Mexico) Dead specimen from private collection

A couple of nights ago at dusk I lucked out and found a Gray Wall Jumping Spider exploring the lichen encrusted bark of one of my large Silver Maple trees. Rather than go in for the tighter images I deliberately stepped back to create a scene that illustrates the spider’s ability to blend in to its surroundings.

Gray Wall Jumping Spider (Menemerus bivittatus)

Gray Wall Jumping Spider camouflaged on tree trunk

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post I loved the Laowa 100mm f2.8 2X Macro APO lens so much that I purchased it and sold my Nikon 105mm Micro lens. This is my third Laowa lens that I have added to my gear bag. First was the incredible 15mm 1;1 Wide Angle Macro that allows me to capture my signature frog-scapes. The second Laowa lens added was the 12mm Zero D lens, which quickly became my workhorse lens for both landscapes and architectural photography. If you are intrigued by the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro please consider purchasing the lens through my affiliate link by clicking here.

Leafhopper nymph - Coelidia olitoria

Leafhopper nymph with Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached for 4X magnification

Ruby-throated Hummingbird_3204

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Petunia Blossom

During this time of social distancing I have been spending a bit of time perfecting my backyard birdfeeder set-ups. In particular my hummingbird set-up as I have never really devoted much time to it.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only hummingbird species that visit my feeders in south-central Ontario but watching them visit the various flowers in the garden gives me great ideas for creating set-ups for pleasing imagery. I will often use a Wimberley Plamp to hold various perches or flowers. When using small perches I place the the twigs in close proximity to the feeders to give the hummingbirds a spot to land in between feedings. When using flowers as props I will remove the hummingbird feeder and use the Wimberley Plamp to hold the blossom. Spraying the blossom with sugar water from the feeder will get the birds attention and they can easily be photographed at various types of blossoms for variety in your imagery. If you scroll down you will see how I use the Plamp to hold props. When using real flowers I recommend using water tubes to keep the blossom hydrated so that it will last longer.

On occasion I will place some colorful silk flowers far in the background to provide some added out of focus color.

As you scroll through the imagery here in this post you will notice the last image is VERY much out of focus. This occurred due to the speed at which the hummingbirds fly around and the camera losing focus in the process, but nonetheless it does appear like an intentional in-camera creative blur so I decided to keep the image file 🙂 A happy accident of sorts 🙂

Ruby-throated Hummingbird_3227

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Solomon’s Seal Blossom

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) female

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at rest

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) male

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at rest

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) female

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) female

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird taking flight

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) female

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) female

Hummingbird Feeder Set-up

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird_2854

Hummingbird Feeder Set-up

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Out of focus Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Coomon Loon (Gavia immer) Lake SImcoe, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Common Loon

Here are a few recent images that I have captured during this pandemic. All but the Common Loon were photographed n my backyard. The Common Loon was photographed on Lake Simcoe near Barrie, Ontario at first light. Arriving at first light not only ensured killer light but also meant I would have the location all to myself as most folks do not get out to take advantage of the sweet light at sunrise.

Each of the songbird images were created from my photo blind that is set-up in my backyard at a birdfeeder adorned with attractive perches for natural looking photos.

Every image in this post was photographed using the Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200-500mm VR lens with a wide open aperture of f5.6.

During these times of social distancing and self-isolation consider creating your own backyard birdfeeder set-up to see what you might be able to capture. It can be a great way to practice bird photography skills with common species, try new techniques,, and to just have fun and feel good. To guide you through the process of creating simple set-ups from which to photograph garden birds please take a look at Andy Rouse’s Wild Angle -Episode 2 by clicking here.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Song Sparrow

 

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

White-crowned Sparrow

 

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Male Red-winged Blackbird

 

Cowbird_1620

Female Brown-headed Cowbird

 

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Chipping Sparrow

 

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

Common Grackle

WILD PLACES COVER

Today I am pleased to announce the release of my 3rd eBook; WILD PLACESExploring the Creative Process of Landscape Photography.

WILD PLACES – Exploring the Creative Process of Landscape Photography is not a book about the technical aspects of landscape photography. It is about the thoughts and decisions that were made, in-the-field, to determine what to include or exclude from the frame to convey visual beauty. Slowing down and making conscious decisions to control the visual elements within the environment will assist you in creating photography that entices the minds and emotions of viewers.

Wild Places features a collection of 110 photographs from Ontario and beyond that will inspire you on your next excursion into wild spaces, as you explore the artistry of the land. Extended captions that correspond to each image provide discussions on the composition, applicable filter selections, and many other useful tidbits of information.

I am often complimented after presenting my various programs for being  an engaging speaker who shares inspiring imagery while explaining various tips and techniques in a way that can be understood by all levels of photographers. This eBook is characteristic of attending one of my photographic presentations.

Price: $20 CAD

To purchase your copy of Wild Places please click here.

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Cayman Brac, BWI

Brown Booby in Flight

I returned on March 4th from a two week stay on the remote Caribbean island of Cayman Brac. It was by far a very productive trip with a multitude of great images captured.  As usual the nesting Brown Booby birds put an an awesome show from nesting activities to in flight opportunities.

Sunrise and sunsets were a little trickier to be had this year due to heavy clouds out on the horizon, but nonetheless perseverance paid off. Virtually all of my sunrise and sunset imagery was created using stacked ND and reverse grad filters. The ND filters coupled with the reverse grads allowed me to slow the shutter speed down sufficiently to allow the incoming ocean waves to blur out nice and soft. My choice of filters for these scenes were the Singh-Ray Filters 3-Stop ND Filter, Mor-Slo 5-stop ND FIlter, and the 3_stop Reverse Graduated ND Filter

During my snorkel excursions my Nikon D500 and Nikkor 18-35mm lens inside an Ewa Marine Housing proved perfect for many of the ocean fishes encountered. I had great success with Octopus, Spotted Scorpionfish and many other often difficult to photograph while snorkeling species. I will do a full blog post on the underwater success I had in the near future.

I was also quite ecstatic with finding a very co-operative, female Sister Islands Rock Iguana. These iguanas are sadly critically endangered now, but efforts are underway to lend a helping hand, which entails eradicating  invasive Green Iguanas.

As you scroll down through the images you will see a host of wonderful opportunities that were to be found during this trip. Stay tuned for announcements for the 2021 trip very soon.

Pre-dawn light on Cayman Brac, British West Indies

Daybreak on Cayman Brac

 

Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)

Spotted Scorpionfish

 

Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis)

Sister Island Rock Iguana

 

Daybreak on the Caribbean Sea at Cayman Brac, BWI

Daybreak on Cayman Brac

 

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Cayman Brac, BWI

Brown Booby Preening

 

West Indian Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna arborea), Cayman Brac, BWI

West Indian Whistling Ducks

 

Nesting Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Cayman Brac, BWI

Brown Booby Family

 

Yellow Stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis), Cayman Brac, BWI

Yellow Stingray

 

Daybreak at Pollard Bay on Cayman Brac, British West Indies

Sunrise at Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac

 

Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Octopus

 

Green Heron (Butorides virescens), Cayman Brac, BWI

Green Heron

 

Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), Cayman Brac, BWI

Willet

 

White-spotted Filefish_7754

White-spotted File Fish

 

Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), Cayman Brac, BWI

Cuban Tree Frog (invasive on Cayman Brac)

Muskoka Fall Colour Spectacular_2020

Join Andrew McLachlan in Ontario’s Muskoka District on October 5th, 6th, & 7th 2020 for 2 ½ days of in-depth photographic exploration of the finest waterfalls, rivers, forests and wetlands of the region. Embrace the beauty of Muskoka and learn the skills of landscape photography amid the palette of autumn.

Maximum number of participants is 8.

Why worry about dealing with unrelenting crowds in Algonquin Provincial Park when you can enjoy photographing fall colour in Ontario’s Muskoka District without crowds and with better scenery!

Do note that there will be some walking involved on woodland trails over 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. Most of the locations selected are within very close proximity to where we will park our vehicles.

New for all landscape workshop participants is the availability to use the same Singh Ray Filters that I personally use, in-the-field, to explore my creative vision. Find out first-hand why I trust Singh Ray Filters to capture the scene in one frame without the need to spend hours at the computer blending multiple images.

Itinerary:

Monday, October 5th:

• Meet in the parking lot of Brooks Falls (Huntsville area) at 7:00 a.m. for waterfall photo session

• Stop for lunch at 1:00 p.m.

• Oxtongue Rapids & Ragged Falls (Huntsville area) photo session

• Dinner at local restaurant at 7:00 p.m.

• Get some rested for early start on Tuesday

Tuesday, October 6th:

• Meet at 6:00 a.m. at the Sleep Inn Bracebridge and carpool to waterfall for photo sessions

• Stop for lunch at 1:00 p.m.

• Additional waterfall / river sessions

• Sunset photo session – weather permitting

• Complimentary dinner at local restaurant

Wednesday, October 7th:

• Meet at 6:00 a.m. at Sleep Inn 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 session with LCD review

• Use of various Singh Ray Filters to explore and capture your creative vision

• Complimentary dinner at nearby restaurant on Tuesday October 6th

What’s Not Included:

• Accommodations (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

• Breakfasts, lunches, and Monday night dinner

• Alcoholic Beverages

Workshop Fee:

$350.00 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:

61 Days or greater – full refund less $75 administration fee

60 Days or less – No Refunds

Lake Traverse Photography Retreat_2020

Join Andrew McLachlan for an exclusive, weekend workshop deep in the heart of Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park on scenic Lake Traverse for an opportunity to create stunning imagery from this remote, pristine landscape. This event will be held on September 25, 26, & 27, 2020. Lake Traverse is situated in a remote area of the park and is rich in both history and scenery. To reach this remote destination in Algonquin Provincial Park you must enter the park at the Sand Lake Gate. In the early 1900’s lumber baron J.R. Booth established a private lodge – The Booth Turtle Club on the shores of Lake Traverse. Today remnants of this lodge can be found in the woodlands such as impressive stone fireplaces and a rusted old wreck decaying in the forest. The timing of this event will allow for misty sunrises over Lake Traverse and assuming weather conditions co-operate we are in one of the best locations in all of Ontario to photograph the night sky and possibly the aurora borealis. Furthermore, we are situated a short walking distance from picturesque waterfalls on the Petawawa River.

Our accommodations for this event will be at the Algonquin Radio Observatory, located on the shores of Lake Traverse. The Algonquin Radio Observatory is closed to the public and inaccessible. However, exclusive access has been granted to our workshop group for this event. A tour of the immense satellite has been arranged during the mid-day hours on Saturday, when lighting for photography is generally at its worst. Also available to participants is the use of canoes and kayaks during the mid-day hours to explore the lake on your own.

A quick note about the Algonquin Radio Observatory:

The Algonquin Radio Observatory (ARO) is Canada’s national radio observatory featuring Canada’s premiere Earth station facility. ARO is a division of space technology company Thoth Technology Inc.

Completed and commissioned in the 1965, ARO’s 46m antenna is the largest antenna in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The observatory is situated on a 100 acre wild and breathtakingly beautiful site in the North of Algonquin Provincial Park on Lake Traverse, deep inside the park. The observatory hosts a suite of state-of-the-art scientific equipment including its own atomic clock and still operates with a state-of-the-art technical capability.

ARO is the official ground station for Northern Light, Canada’s mission to Mars.

Itinerary:

Friday September 25:

Meet & Greet Dinner at 6:00 p.m. follow by photographic presentation and a nightscape photo session (assuming weather conditions co-operate)

Saturday September 26:

Morning Photo Session (6am – 10am followed by breakfast, tour of satellite, Petawawa River Session, Rusty Old Wreck Session, Evening Photo Session, Nightscape Session (assuming weather conditions co-operate)

Sunday September 27:

Morning photo session (6am – 10am) followed by breakfast. Checkout is at 11:00 a.m. however, participants are permitted to explore other areas of the park at their leisure for the remainder of the day.

Do Note: Each location we will be photographing at is a short walking distance from our home base at the Algonquin Radio Observatory.

What’s Included:

• In-depth landscape photography instruction by yours truly

• Vast selection of Singh Ray Filters to try out

• Lodging at Algonquin Radio Observatory (included with payment to lodge)

• Friday – dinner (included with payment to lodge)

• Saturday – breakfast, lunch, & dinner (included with payment to lodge)

• Sunday – breakfast (included with payment to lodge)

What’s not included:

• Transportation to the Algonquin Radio Observatory

• A 3 day, daily vehicle permit fee must be purchased at the Sand Lake Gate to enter the park. This vehicle permit will allow participants to remain in the park until 10:00 pm on Sunday.

• Snacks

• Alcoholic Beverages

Workshop Fee:

Important note: The fees for this year’s event are broken down into two stages. One to Andrew McLachlan for the workshop and the other payment direct to the lodge for meals and accommodation.

The workshop fee is $350 + HST. Payable by cheque or e-mail transfer. In order to register for this workshop payment of this fee is due now.

By July 1, 2020 the accommodation and meal fee must be paid directly to the Algonquin Radio Observatory by email transfer. Details will be provided to registrants at the time of booking. The fees for meals and accommodation are as follows:

Double occupancy = $285 + HST per person

Single Occupancy = $325+HST per person

Waiver of Liability forms will be signed by registrants at the meet and greet dinner on Friday September 25th.

This workshop is open to a maximum of 15 participants.

To reserve your spot in this exclusive workshop please contact me by clicking here.

Cancellation Policy:

Prior to July 1, 2020 workshop fee refunded less $75 administration fee.

As of July 1, 2020 no refunds

Dednrobates tinctorius - captive

The next Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop will be held on Saturday March 14, 2020 at Lifelike Imaging in Mississauga, Ontario (10:00 am to 3:00 pm)

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 in Canada whereby you will be able to capture stunning imagery of 15 – 20 different species of frogs and toads from all over the world. We will be photographing numerous varieties of dart frogs endemic to the Amazon rainforest, and several other species of frogs from Costa Rica, South America, and Madagascar. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to explore the jungles of the world, with hired guides, 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, pleasing studio set-ups.

Epipedobates tricolor

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. A note about flash use; you should possess a basic understanding of how to operate your flash and make +/- adjustments to flash output.

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

La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinbatrachium valerioi) - captive

To register for this workshop contact me by clicking here .

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

Hope to see you there!

The one day cost of the workshop is $195 CDN plus applicable taxes ($195 +$25.35 HST = $220.35 CDN).

Cancellation Policy:

31 days prior to workshop date 50% refund

30 days prior to workshop date no refund

Ranitomeya imitator 'nominal' - captive

The 3rd Annual Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Photographic Workshop wrapped up today. This year we were blessed with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark with no wind whatsoever. It was quite lovely to be able to photograph without the constant need for gloves to keep fingertips warm. We also had mostly overcast conditions which is the best light of all for photographing the woodland waterfalls we were visiting. A relatively shallow bed of snow also made for mostly easy walking along the trails, although the mild weather did create a few sections where we had to be careful of slip and fall due to icy sections. Nonetheless, we succeeded in completing our visits without incident. I always recommend to folks to bring along crampons for added traction along trails that may have icy sections.

Below is a selection of imagery created at each of our stops on this one-of-a-kind workshop in Ontario’s Muskoka region. I used a variety of lenses from my trusty Laowa 12mm Zero D lens, to my Nikkor 28-300mm lens, and also my Nikkor 200-500mm lens, which is very useful for reaching out into rivers to capture icy details on exposed rocks and such. My filter choices for the vast majority of all my winter photography are those created by Singh Ray Filters and my go to filter choices are neutral polarizers and neutral density filters.

Folks that may be interested in attending the 4th Annual Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop or any other events that I have or will announce this year can contact me by clicking here to be added to my workshop contact list 🙂

Potts Creek in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Potts Creek in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Skeleton Creek in winter at Hatchery Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Skeleton Falls Details in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Skeleton River in winter at Skeleton Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Skeleton Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Rosseau River in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Potts Creek in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Potts Creek Details in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Potts Creek in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Little High Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Rosseau River in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Skeleton River in winter at Skeleton Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Skeleton Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Rosseau River Details in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

Algonquin Radio Observatory_5792

Milky Way Night-scape at the Algonquin Radio Observatory

I decided not to wait until January to share with you my personal 20 favorite images that I captured during 2019. Many of the selected images were created during several of my workshops this past year. I always teach by example and capture various images to share with participants, in-the-field, so they too can create similar photos. The first image in this post was created during the Lake Traverse Photography Retreat with night-scape scenes of the massive satellite being the highlight of the trip. We have been blessed with clear skies every year for this workshop and hopefully 2020 we will be blessed with the same conditions.

Birch Forest Blur_7734

In-camera Pan Blur of Birch Trees, Wawa, Ontario

Even when photography conditions seem to be less than ideal there is always something to photograph, which is what I demonstrated during my Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat when I created the above in-camera vertical pan blur of birch trees in late day light.

Bullfrog_1782-1

Over-Under Bullfrog, Parry Sound, Ontario

During some my personal photography days I made good use of my final days with the family cottage to create my all-time favorite frog-scape scenes as can be seen in the above and below images of a large male Bullfrog in it’s watery home within the wetland on Horseshoe lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. These two frog-scapes were created using the Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens on a Nikon D500.

Bullfrog (lithobates catesbeiana) on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Bullfrog-scape, Parry Sound, Ontario

The following two photographs were created in March on a personal excursion with two past workshop participants. We had an incredible afternoon exploring the icy shoreline and caves of Georgian Bay on the Bruce Peninsula. In fact we loved it so much we will likely be going back again this winter 🙂

Georgian Bay_396

Ice Cave, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

 

Georgian Bay_586

Halfway Rock Point, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

My first-ever Bruce Peninsula Workshop was a great success with many wonderful opportunities, especially those we encountered on two separate mornings at Half Way Log Dump on Georgian Bay. The image below was created during a foggy morning with the Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens. Stay tuned for the 2020 Bruce Peninsula Workshop announcement in the new year.

Georgian Bay_2577

Halfway Log Dump, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

Personal trips to the North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail in Parry Sound always yields impressive vistas. Watch for single day workshops at this location to be announced for the 2020 season.

Georgian Bay at sunset, Parry Sound, Ontario

Sunset on Georgian Bay, Parry Sound, Ontario

Late October found me on the shores of Lake Superior with two back to back events and some of the absolute best landscape photography conditions I have encountered in the area to date. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to photograph this impressive area of the province. Registration is open for the 3rd Annual Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat.

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Afternoon Light on Lake Superior in Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

 

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Sunset on Lake Superior, Wawa, Ontario

In July I bid farewell to 35 years at the family cottage and will miss exploring the wetland on the lake as it is where I created a significant number of memorable imagery over the years. Below are two photos that were created in the weeks leading up the departure.

Water Lilies in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Fragrant White Waterlilies on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

Storm Clouds at Dusk in Wetland, Parry Sound, Ontario

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River is a highlight of the Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop and I am really looking forward to being back in the area this coming weekend for the 3rd annual event. If you are looking for a last minute photography workshop in beautiful Muskoka there are still a couple of spaces available. Please contact me by clicking here if interested.

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River in winter, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Hatchery Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

When I discovered the newly emerging Green Darner Dragonfly this summer it was a perfect opportunity to test out my dual flash system for macro photography. More to come on that later 🙂

Green Darner Dragonfly, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

Green Darner Dragonfly, Parry Sound, Ontario

The Lake Superior coast in Pukaskwa National Park near Marathon, Ontario as long been a favorite of mine. When I had a couple of personal days in between my two Lake Superior events I made the trek further north to explore the impressive ruggedness of the area.

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Lake Superior, Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario

I do not particularity do a lot of bird photography but when a rare visitor of Ontario’s boreal forest over-winters 20 minutes from home it is worth every effort to capture it. My favorite image of the Northern Hawk Owl was created during a light snow flurry on a bitterly cold day. It was not until after the owl landed in this tree that I became aware of the meadow vole it had cached in the tree earlier.

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owl, Schomberg, Ontario

In April I hosted an Ohio State Reformatory Workshop with Sherry Butts. It was a great success and we look forward to meeting the new participants for the 2020 event. If you wish to sign up for the 2020 Ohio State Reformatory Photo Tour please reach out to me by clicking here. The image below with the red chair was created in the library and the sunrays were added using Luminar for a creative effect.

Ohio State Reformatory, Manfield, Ohio, U.S.A.

Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

The Tan Jumping Spider below was my first attempt at photographing very small subjects using a 105mm macro lens with a Raynox DCR-250 diopter and dual flash tubes. My wife had informed me of a spider on the ceiling in the kitchen. I said I would get me camera ready 🙂  I carefully moved the spider onto a small piece of bark for a natural setting. In 2020, once insects emerge from hibernation please watch for many posts about extreme macro photography.

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

Tan Jumping Spider, Thornton, Ontario

The final two images that are among my personal favorites for 2019 were created in the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve in Muskoka, Ontario on a glorious morning with clear skies and cool temperatures. These conditions were perfect for creating a significant amount of mist rising from the surrounding wetlands, that began to glow a fiery orange when the sun rose over the horizon. A Nikkor 200-500mm lens was used to create each of these images.

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Daybreak in the Torrance Barrens, Muskoka, Ontario

 

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Red Maple in the Mist, Muskoka, Ontario

As 2020 approaches I am looking forward to the new opportunities that will arise, and to meeting new and past workshop participants.

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