Archive for August, 2012


I have been away for the last couple of weeks up in Ontario’s Parry Sound region where I have been photographing a variety of subjects that range from landscapes to environmental issues, avian to amphibian, and an endangered Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. I have tried on several occasions to locate and photograph these remarkable snakes, Ontario’s only venomous snake. I discovered this specimen in Killbear Provincial Park on the shores of Georgian Bay. It was a young snake being only about 12-14 inches in length and a small two segment rattle, however, it’s markings were striking. As I photographed this snake for well over an hour, several folks stopped to see what I was taking photos of and I let them see an enlarged , close-up view of the snake through the Live View feature of the D800. The kids that stopped thought it was pretty awesome to see a close up view and personally the more folks that think these snakes are awesome critters the better chance they will have for survival. I was pleased that the snake had a peaceful pose to it. All to often I see photographs of rattlesnakes that are curled up and in position to strike, a clear indication of a snake that is agitated. And for the record, only one person has ever died in Ontario from an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake bite and that individual never sought treatment. Furthermore, roughly 25% of venomous snake bites are considered to be ‘dry’ bites, that is no venom is injected. The snakes would rather conserve their precious venom for subduing their next meal.

Since the snake was in rather heavy shade I bumped up the ISO to 800 and selected an aperture of f16 to keep as much of the snakes body as possible in focus. Once I composed the images that I wanted I switched the camera to ‘Live View’ mode and zoomed in on the snake’s head and eye and manually focused my tripod mounted Nikon 80-400mm VR lens (VR off). The more I play around with the usefulness of the “Live View’ mode the more I am liking it.

Click on each of the photos to view a larger, sharper version.

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I don’t photograph near as many outdoor lifestyle images as I would like to. This is probably due to the very fact that I tend to arrive at my chosen destinations during inclement weather, while most folks are still tucked in their beds, after peak summer vacation periods when the human presence is almost non-existent, or folks are not wearing clothing with eye-catching colour. On a few occasions I will wear some colourful clothing such as a red t-shirt or jacket while out in the field, so that when I come across a scene that would simply work more effectively with a human being within the photo I can set the self-timer feature on my camera and jump into the photo.

On a recent weekend getaway to the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario while I was sitting down to breakfast with my daughter, my brother Gregg McLachlan, the founder of WorkCabin, Canada’s  Environmental Jobsite was preparing to go for a morning paddle in his kayak. I knew immediately that his yellow kayak and red life-jacket would look stunning against the blues and greens from the sky and forest reflecting in the water’s of the lake. As I carefully framed each of the photos so not to clip Gregg’s reflection, I pressed the shutter for a series of images only when the kayak paddle was approaching the position that I favoured. I was then able to select the photos with just the right position or angle that the kayak paddle was being held. Here are three of my favourite images of Gregg kayaking on the water’s of Horseshoe Lake.

Do remember to click on each photo to see the larger, sharper version. Also note that I have now added a clickable photo in the sidebar to link you directly to Denise Ippolito’s ‘Creative Photography eMini Magazine’ which is a free to subscribe to magazine that is loaded with great info.


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Tamrac Pro Digital Zoom 10

During the last few months I have been using Tamrac’s M.A.S. System (Modular Accessory System) and the Pro Digital Zoom 10 to carry my equipment during photo excursions. The folks that have been following my blog for a while may recall last September I wrote about a mishap I encountered with one of my old Lowepro Street and Field lens cases. For those of you who have recently began to follow my blog here is the short version – while jumping down from a log beside a beaver pond, the velcro fastening system on the Lowepro lens case failed and the case went for a swim in the pond with my Nikon 12-24mm lens inside. I quickly went for a swim in the pond to rescue the lens before it suffered any damage resulting from the dunking.

Fast-forward to this year when the opportunity to become sponsored by Tamrac was presented to me by Gentec International, the supplier to Tamrac products in Canada, I was very eager to try out their M.A.S. System, which stands for Modular Accessory System and their Pro Digital Zoom 10 pack. When the packs arrived I was immediately impressed with the high quality fabric used in their construction. This fabric is called ‘ballistic nylon,’ which is a thick, tough, synthetic nylon material that is very durable. All the zippers have large pull tabs that make opening the packs and lens cases a breeze. I have also noted as I canoe throughout wetlands, when I inadvertently splash water over the packs that the water actually beads on the fabric.

What I love most about modular systems, aside from being able to customize them to your individual needs, is the ability to simply meander about in the field, knowing that everything I need is with me when photographic opportunities are presented. There is no searching for the pack you left laying on the ground while you wandered about or worse, hoping you have time to run back and grab that one piece of gear you need to photograph that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you have been dreaming of. This type of carrying system is also very friendly towards by frequent back problems.

Here is what I love about the Pro Digital Zoom 10 Pack:

  • large flap on top of the pack provides excellent protection from the elements, although not being used to such an extra large flap did take some getting used too but the extra protection this provides my gear in the field is paramount.
  • inside the large flap is a zippered pocket that I often carry my most frequently used filter – a polarizing filter.
  • easily holds my Nikon D800 with the Nikon 80-400mm VR lens attached.
  • I can carry the pack as a shoulder bag or use the built in belt loop to attach the pack to the M.A.S belt.
  • it is compatible with the M.A.S. system allowing me the convenience of changing the accessory packs around to suit the photographic needs day. In the above photo I have fitted the Pro Digital Zoom 10 with the Lens Case Pro 200 and the Lens Case Pro 50. In the Pro 200 case I have housed two small lenses, a 12-24mm and a 18-70mm lens (separated by a piece of foam padding) and in the Pro 50 case I have housed my 105mm micro lens.
  • a large front pocket to house additional items such as cable release, double bubble level, spare battery, and compact flash cards. Note the batteries and flash cards can be stored in Tamrac’s ‘Battery Management System‘ that is also found inside the large front pocket, however, I do prefer to carry my compact flash cards in water tight protective cases.

My personal M.A.S. set-up

In the above photograph (click on the photo to see a larger version that also shows the weeds and clover growing in my lawn :)) is my personal set-up of M.A.S. packs attached to the accessory belt. On longer hikes I will often remove the lens cases from the Pro Digital Zoom 10 and fasten them to this belt. The image above shows the two medium sized Backpack Side Pockets, the Lens Case Pro 100, and the Filter Belt Pack. Here is what goes in these packs:

  • the first Backpack Side Pocket houses my Wimberely Macro Bracket-single arm set-up and my Nikon SB400 Speedlight that I frequently use for my frog photography.
  • the Lens Case Pro 100 will often house an additional lens or other small accessories that I may carry into the field. This all depends on the needs of the day.
  • the second Backpack Side Pocket contains my Better Beamer Flash Extender and my SB600 Speedlight or alternately I will use this pack for my graduated neutral density filters.
  • the Filter Belt Pack is used for various filters such as my 3 & 10 stop Neutral Density filters, Canon 500D close-up filter, and my Singh Ray Warming Polarizing Filter

One small detail of the M.A.S. system that has impressed me most of all is the method by which they are attached to the accessory belt or the Pro Digital Zoom 10 pack – velcro and snaps. Velcro is often the main choice of camera bag manufactures to fasten such accessory items to the main packs, however, Tamrac have taken the time to add durable metal snaps (see the image below) for added security to ensure the accessories do not fall off. I most often find that velcro tends to lose its effectiveness over time but with these metal snaps I feel very confident that the next time I jump over a log alongside a beaver pond I will not be going for an unanticipated swim to retrieve any lens cases from the pond.

Velcro and metal snap buttons found on M.A.S. system accessories

If you are in need of a new modular carrying system for your photographic forays check out the various accessories that are available for the Tamrac M.A.S. system to see if there is a selection of packs and cases available to suit your individual photographic needs.

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I am pleased to announce the first edition of the Creative Photography eMiniMagazine, published by my good friend, the very talented and highly creative Denise Ippolito. Denise’s artistic rendering of various photographic subjects often leave me in awe. The Creative Photography eMiniMagazine is a free publication where you will be able to learn various techniques to apply to your own imagery to create stunning artistic renderings you can call your own. All you have to do to commence receiving the emag is to head over to Denise Ippolito’s blog post here and follow this link to the emagazine, scroll down the page to subscribe to future editions. The magazine is loaded with tons of great info and articles. I am very pleased and honored to be included with, and to join the great line-up of talented Forum Contributors. If you are heading over to the Creative Photography eMiniMagazine’s August Edition 2012 be sure to checkout my first article on Lower Rosseau Falls and my detailed description / tutorial on how I create my artistic renditions of waterfalls using Topaz Labs Black & White Effects with my custom ‘Waterfall Setting’.

I often find creating artistic renderings of my own nature imagery keep the fun in photography and now with the official release of this great new publication – for free –  folks can acquire many new skills for fresh approaches / ideas to developing their own art.

Sign-up folks and start having fun, but be forewarned that this is highly addictive stuff 🙂

Hope to see you over at the Creative Photography eMiniMagazine soon!


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