Archive for April, 2013

Rosseau River_816

Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario

The April 30, 2013 deadline to enter the Sigma Canada Scholarship Contest is fast approaching. If you are a student enrolled in an accredited Canadian University or College photography program and photograph with Sigma lenses you still have one day left to enter for your chance to win the grand prize of $3000 towards your tuition or a $1000 gear package from Gentec International, the distributor for Sigma lenses in Canada, for the second prize finalists. To find out more about the contest and how to enter please click here.

Sigma lenses are extremely well made and produce stunning results. The images accompanying this post were photographed with the Sigma 8-16mm f4.5-5.6 DC HSM an ultra wide-angle lens that produces very sharp images with well controlled distortion. Please click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper versions and check out the results.

Best of luck to all who enter the contest 🙂

Rosseau River_833

Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario

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Old Wreck_7202

As I departed Tiny Marsh the other day, due to the heavy rains, I came upon this old truck that was rusting away beside a storage shed with colorful turquoise aluminum siding and an old collection of tires perfectly lined up in front of the truck. Since the rain had slowed to a steady drizzle at this point in my travels home I stopped to create a couple of images of the scene from the side of the road. I knew when I arrived home I would use Topaz Adjust 5 to grunge the old wreck. For this type of rendering I will select one of the ‘Detail’ presets and using heavy-handed slider settings create the grunge-look achieved in the photo above. I find the grunge-look for old wrecks to be most addictive but finding old wrecks like this can be like looking for a needle-in-a-haystack.

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Tniy Marsh_7197-B&W

Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area

Last weekend I made the trek to Tiny Marsh so that I could see how things were shaping up for this season. Tiny Marsh is located near Elmvale, Ontario. This is just one of many great landscape photography locations featured in my eBook ‘The Photographer’s Guide to the Ontario Landscape.’  The day I chose to visit Tiny Marsh was rather dreary as storm skies threatened above a landscape that has yet to show any signs of greening-up due to cold spring weather.  While being presented with these elements my thoughts immediately turned to Black & White photography and scene above represents the only scene photographed on this day. After carefully composing this image, placing the horizon line in the center for the mirror image-like effect, and creating a few frames, the rain began to fall heavily. By the time I had made my way back to the car I was thoroughly soaked. but I think the resulting image was well worth the effort. I did make note of the vast number of Leopard Frogs that were already chorusing during my visit. I will be planning a trip back to Tiny Marsh at night to explore the wetlands for night-time frog photography soon and am considering to offer this as a private one-on-one workshop. More details will follow soon.

The above image was converted to B&W using Nik/Google’s Silver Efex Pro 2 software. Please do remember to click on the photo to see the larger, sharper version. Hope you like it 🙂

Sigma Scholarship Contest Update:

The deadline for the Sigma Scholarship Contest is fast approaching. The contest closes on April 30, 2013. If you are a full-time photography student enrolled in an accredited Canadian College or University and photograph with Sigma lenses you are eligible to enter. To find out more on how to enter and to learn about the killer prizes available click on the Sigma Scholarship Contest logo in the sidebar of the blog or click here. Gentec International is the distributor of Sigma lenses in Canada. Best of luck to all who enter the contest.

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Those of you that have been following along here at the blog know that I have been photographing frogs and toads in vernal ponds found in an abandoned cattle pasture behind my home for a number of years. Vernal ponds are temporary pools of water that are critical habitat relied upon by frogs and toads as breeding sites every spring. Each and every spring chorusing frogs and toads would filled the air with song. Late last fall, the land which was zoned for agriculture was sold to an industrious farmer who promptly cleared every tree that lined the plots of land and then plowed the land. By plowing the land the farmer wiped out much of the frog and toad population in the immediate vicinity of my rural home.

As the temperatures began to warm this spring I would listen intently from my back deck listening for the songs of chorus frogs, which are always the first frogs to emerge from hibernation. A couple of weeks ago I heard the calls of one or two individuals. As the temperatures warmed further, the calls of the chorus frogs should have been incredibly loud, but not so. One or two individuals was all I ever heard. Last week the final nail in the coffin was delivered to this field as a farm drainage company arrived and tiled the field to drain the land, making it suitable for the planting of crops.

No longer will I hear or photograph the seven species of frogs that would breed in these ponds, or the snapping turtle that would come to gorge on the frog’s eggs. No longer will I see the chimney crayfish that would rise from beneath the ground on wet nights, or the bizarre insect larvae that depend on such habitats, and the fairy shrimps will no longer dance through their watery world.

This field had been laying fallow since 1975, but was always zoned for agriculture. I honestly feel that all agricultural lands that are left unattended to for such lengthy periods of time should undergo environmental assessments prior to turning the soil for agricultural purposes again.

Amphibians are the most threatened species on Earth, mostly due to habitat destruction, global warming, and the deadly chytrid fungus. We are responsible for each and every one of these that affect the world’s amphibian population.

Below you will see a selection of photos showing the tile drainage being buried. The field is so wet and soggy that a backhoe was need to pull the tile plow through the muck and frequently it looked as though the backhoe would flip into the soft muck of the field. In the first image below you will see the before and after versions of my favorite pond. The before image was photographed in the spring of 2012 and the after image was taken last night. In both images if you look on the left side you will see the abandoned barn. In the before image the barn is hidden slightly by the tree-line.

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

Before and After Frog Pond

Before and After

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Backhoe tipping into pond while pulling tile plow through

Habitat Destruction_7125

Tractor driving through pond with weeping tile spool

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View of the pond from the road after tiling – the level has dropped significantly

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Draining Away

Green Frog_9446


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Roadsign after ice storm_7101

Above is one of the roadsigns near my home after today’s lengthy periods of freezing rain. The driving conditions were fine for me however, much of the landscape was coated in thick ice. I spent several hours driving around capturing various scenes from along the roadways. Here are a few of the images I created this afternoon.

For the folks that are in the vicinity of the Burlington Art Gallery in  southern Ontario on Saturday April 13th, don’t forget Mike Grandmaison’s seminar for the Latow Photographers Guild. Click here for further details.

Wetland after ice storm_7002

Wetland after ice storm, Barrie, Ontario

Page wire fence after ice storm_7015

Page-wire fence and ice

Tree after ice storm_6978

Lone tree in field after ice storm, Thornton, Ontario

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Forest coated in ice after the storm, Thornton, Ontario

Rural Scene after ice storm_6963

Rural scene after ice storm, Thornton, Ontario

Winter trees after ice storm_7049

Winter trees after ice storm, Thornton, Ontario


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Port Antonio_Jamaica_6325

Drapers Shoreline, Port Antonio, Jamaica

The Drapers shoreline near Port Antonio, Jamaica is characterized by tranquil coves and rugged peninsulas. Above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea gently lap a rocky section of the coast, adorned with lush, tropical foliage. Below, waves crash into a rugged section of a small peninsula, carved by centuries of waves battering against the rocks. Creating images of waves hitting rugged shorelines can be a little addictive. You never quite know what you will capture and before you know it you have created a hundred or so wave photos. Here are two of my favorite wave blurs created on my 10 day stay in the Port Antonio, Jamaica area in February of this year.

Wave Blur_Port Antonio_Jamaica_6384

Crashing Wave Blur, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Wave Blur_Port Antonio_Jamaica_6395

Radial Wave Blur, Port Antonio, Jamaica

In the final image below an exposure of several seconds was used to capture a series of gentle waves washing over the rocks along this section of shoreline. Often I found myself drawn to these ocean side vistas with their lush tropical foliage cascading over the rocky embankments.

Port Antonio_Jamaica_6155

Drapers Shoreline, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

Time is also running out on the Sigma Scholarship Contest. To find out more about this awesome contest for photography student please click on the Sigma Scholarship Contest logo in the sidebar of the blog. Best of luck to all who enter!

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Bullfrog in Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

For those folks who have been following the blog for some time now you may recall my review of Sigma’s 8-16mm ultra-wide angle zoom lens. For those who are new to the blog and for those who might like to read the review of this great lens again please click here for the complete article with loads of accompanying images photographed with the lens.

In the April issue of Canadian Geographic Magazine the above photo has been used as a double-page spread for the beginning of the article ‘A Frog for the Killing‘ found on pages 46 & 47. Bullfrogs are an invasive species in British Columbia and are a very serious threat to the ecosystem in that province and must be eradicated. The frogs are not to blame – we are! Bullfrogs have actually invaded at least 15 countries as a result of importing them for the farming of frogs legs. Bullfrogs are known carriers of the deadly chytrid fungus which has decimated frog populations throughout the globe. To better understand just how this deadly fungus is affecting frog populations I urge you to please click this link.

The use of the image above as a double-page spread is a testament to the image quality that one can achieve with this amazing lens. I have primarily used the lens for bullfrog images in the wetlands of Horseshoe Lake, located near Parry Sound, Ontario. And because the lens focuses very close I am able to fill a large portion of the foreground with the frog while maintaining the vast expanse of their wetland homes.  I have also used this lens with great success in my waterfall photography as well. If I had to describe this lens in three words I would have to say it is a “ton of fun” to use.

The Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses in Canada is Gentec International. I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Gentec International for loaning me this lens to create specific photographs that will be featured in my eBook on Frog Photography, which is in the writing stage and will be an extensive guide to creating stunning images of these amazing amphibians.

Please do remember to click on the above image to view the larger, sharper version.

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Ghost Crab_5271

Ghost Crab on San San Beach, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Above is an optimized photo of a Ghost Crab captured on San San Beach in Port Antonio, Jamaica. These crabs are relatively easy to photograph but you do need to remain very still. Often they will disappear into their tunnels in the sand if they detect the slightest movement made by a ‘potential predator.’  In this case that was me, but by lying on the sand motionless this crab soon emerged again to forage on the beach for food. As the crab began moving further to my left I found it difficult to contort my position on the sand to suitably follow it and wound up creating the image below with the crab practically walking out of the frame. How did I fix this composition? I used a series of quick masks, layer masks, move tool, and some touch-up work with the clone stamp tool to create the optimized version. I learned how to perform such fixes to such images by reading Robert O’Toole’s APTATS 2. APTATS stands for Advanced Photoshop Tips and Techniques and for $30 is well worth the investment. Final tweaking to the image above was performed by using Nik Software’s (now Google) Viveza 2 and Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor filter.

Ghost Crab_5271_RAW Capture

Original RAW Capture of the Ghost Crab

Sigma Scholarship Contest Note:

Only one month left to enter Sigma’s Scholarship Contest. Please click on the link in the sidebar of the blog for more information on contest rules and how to enter. Best of luck to all entries!

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