Archive for December, 2019

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.

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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.


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 🙂

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Ice Cave, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario


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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.

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

Wishing everybody all the very best during the holiday season and a prosperous 2020.

This will be the last blog post for 2019 as folks, myself included, take the time to celebrate with friends and family.

The next blog post will be in early January and will highlight my favorite images created during 2019.

Happy Shooting 🙂

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Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) in tree with cached Meadow Vole, Ontario, Canada

On the morning of December 19th fellow photographer and friend Don Johnston and myself made an early morning trip to a location, near my home, with an over-wintering Northern hawk Owl. It was a bitterly cold morning with temperatures hovering around -21 degrees Celsius. Upon our arrival the owl was sitting high in a tree with no possibility for any successful imagery. We set-up near a small tree along one of the roads to keep an eye on the owl’s movements and chatted while drinking our coffees to stay warm. Soon the forecasted snow flurries began with large fluffy flakes falling. After waiting for over an hour the owl decided to leave its perch high in the tree and descend to a lower perch, which just so happened to be in the tree we were standing in close proximity too. This tree, unknown to us held a previously cached Meadow Vole. Northern Hawk Owls are known for hunting and caching their kills in the crooks of branches, behind tree bark, and even burying them in the snow. They can reserve precious energy this way by returning to cached prey to feed, rather than to go on the hunt again. The owl remained in the tree for about 10 minutes allowing us a wonderful opportunity to capture numerous horizontal and vertical poses amid the beautiful falling snow. Indeed it felt like an early Christmas present 🙂

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Wimberley F-2 Dual Arm Set Up With AP7 Cold Shoes_9950

Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up with AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters Attached

Several years ago I did a review of the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Single Arm Set-up, which can be found by clicking here. I do stand by my comments from 2012 that this is by far the best design and the most user friendly macro flash bracket on the market today! Fast forward to today and Wimberley have created a new lighter version of the F-2 Macro Bracket and it is just a sturdy as the original design. Please do note that the F-2 Macro Brackets configured into the dual arm set-up pictured above are attached to a M-8 Perpendicular Plate. Wimberley have also developed and released the optional AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapter that enables rapid attachment of flashes to the brackets. In nature photography being able to move quickly can mean the difference in getting or missing the shot.

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Wimberley AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters

In the photo below you can see my personal set-up using the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up with the Meike MK-MT24 Dual Flash Speedlight Trigger. Each of the two flashes have a homemade diffuser affixed to them. These diffusers were made from two small Rubbermaid containers, lined with foil and 3 layers of polystyrene foam sheeting to effectively diffuse the light emitted from the flash tubes.

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My Wimberley Dual Arm Set-up using the Meike Dual Macro Flash System

This dual flash set-up is now my go-to system for photographing invertebrates as it provides a beautiful even light around the subjects without any distracting shadows, which is often results when using a single speedlight. I can easily revert this set-up back to a single arm set-up for photographing frogs. The flexibility of the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up allows me to position the speedlights in any manner that I desire, to create the lighting I want. This feature is indispensable when the speedlights may need to be positioned around objects that may otherwise block the light emitted from the flash, or when you may wish to have one flash illuminate the subject while the second flash illuminates more of the background. The possibilities for enhanced creativity are endless with this design. This flexibility is the result of the clamshell locking mechanisms. The clamshell locking design of the F-2 brackets also allows me to ‘fold’ the brackets so that they fit into my gear bag effortlessly. The AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters allow me to quickly attach my wireless flash heads or sync cord by means of the thumbscrew locking mechanism.

Below is a selection of imagery recently created using the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up with the AP-7 Cold Shoe Adpaters to securely hold the Meike MK-MT24 Dual Speedlights. As you can see in the Tan Jumping Spider images there are two catchlights in the eyes, but I find these to be acceptable for invertebrate photography. When photographing frogs however, I do find the presence of two catchlights to be very distracting. As a result, in each of the frog photos below I have evicted one cathclight from each eye for a more pleasing look.

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

La Palma Glass Frog_2667

La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi) – captive

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Argentine Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornata) – captive

Madagascar Rain Frog_2645

Madagascar Rain Frog (Scaphiophryne madagascariensis) – captive

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

The new lightweight design of the Wimberley F-2 Macro Brackets configured into a dual arm set-up is an integral part of my macro photography now and I cannot wait for the invertebrates to emerge from hibernation in the spring so that I can get out and photograph the wealth of subject matter that will be available.

All of today’s featured images were photographed using a Nikon D500 with a Nikkor f2.8 105mm Micro Lens (non-VR version) with the exception of the Tan Jumping Spiders whereby I affixed a Raynox DCR-250 Diopter to the Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens for added magnification. The Meike MK-MT24 Speedlights were affixed to the Wimberley F-2 Macro Brackets configured into the dual arm set-up by means of the AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters.

If you are interested in photographing macro subjects in nature with a dual flash system I highly recommend using the Wimberley F-2 Macro Brackets configured into the dual arm set-up. The sturdy, lightweight design and the simplicity of positioning flash heads allows me to concentrate on my photography and not with the frustrations associated with cheaper, inferior products.

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