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Archive for the ‘Muskoka’ Category

Summer 2017 Issue of ON Nature Magazine

The Summer 2017 issue of On Nature Magazine has hit the newstand. On the cover of this issue is a starry nightscape created by yours truly. I created this image from the deck of my cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario with a Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens mounted to a Nikon D800 and pointed it straight up at the sky. The wide angle view of the fisheye lens also caught the tree tops as they were silhouetted against the dark starry sky.

Ontario Nature (formerly known as The Federation of Ontario Naturalists) dates back to 1931. They are dedicated to protecting our natural places through conservation and education. To find out more about Ontario Nature and how you too can get involved please click here .

Please click on the photo to see the larger version.

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement about a nightscape workshop in one of Ontario’s absolute best locations for viewing the night sky.

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Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/6 sec

 

In the summer of 2016 Venus Optics released the Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens, the world’s fastest 12mm lens available for full frame cameras. The Zero D designation stands for zero distortion. Recently I purchased one of these lenses for both commercial and landscape photography. The Laowa 12mm lens is a fully manual lens (exposure and focusing). The Exif data recorded for images created with this lens will show no value for f-stop used or focal length of the lens, but that is by no means a deterrent to using this lens. All metal construction give this lens a “built like a tank” feel. It is also a very small lens and light weight at only 609 grams!

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/6 sec

While this is not intended to be a lens review I will mention a few of things I like and dislike about the lens. First of all, light fall off is very acceotable and virtually disappears as the lens is stopped down. Chromatic aberration is also very well controlled and any that does become visible is easily fixed by simply checking the Remove Chromatic Aberration box in ACR. As mentioned the lens is an all metal build and this includes the two lens hoods. Yes I said two lens hoods. The lens has a small built-in lens hood that helps to protect the bulbous front element and there is also a removable petal-style lens hood as well. A disappointing note about the removable lens hood is that it causes slight vignetting. I simply choose to not use the removable lens hood when photographing with this lens, although at some point I will likely modify it so that it can be used with no vignetting.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 0.3 sec

The front element of this lens has what is called a “Frog Eye Coating” for repelling dust and water. What I have noticed with the coating is that water droplets will bead on the front element and can thus be easily wiped off the lens. I love this feature!

Does the lens live up to the claim of zero distortion? Yes! If the camera is square with the world straight lines will be straight. When you point the camera up or down you will notice that trees will have a tendency to lean in or out depending on the angle at which the camera is pointed, but this common to all wide angle lenses so it is not really a downside to the lens.

Oxtongue River, Dwight, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1/8 sec

 

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/13 sec

As mentioned this lens is a manual focus lens. It also has an excellent hyperfocal scale engraved on the lens barrel that can be reliably used for focusing the lens. I simply compose the scene before, dial in my chosen f-stop, set the hyperfocal distance on the lens barrel, and click the shutter – everything from near to far is in sharp focus. To learn more about hyperfocal distance please click here for an excellent article that explains it in depth and how to apply it to your own photography.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontaro
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 50
f16 @ 1/10 sec

The Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens will not accept filters due to the bulbous front element, but there are specialized filter holders available that will permit the use of polarizers and 100mm square or rectangular Graduated ND Filters or ND filters. I am currently awaiting the arrival of the NISI filter holder and will post a review of the functionality of that filter after I have had a chance to  put it to use. Today’s images were all created without a polarizing filter. I would normall prefer to photograph waterfalls and rivers with a polarizing filter.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f11 @ 1/5 sec

 

Oxtongue River, Dwight, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.3 sec

If you are looking for an affordable, extreme wide angle lens for your full frame camera then look no further. The Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens will produce razor sharp imagery at a fraction of the cost of the Canon 11-24mm or Sigma 12-24mm lenses and at a fraction of the weight.

Please do click on each of the images to view the larger, sharper versions.

 

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Lake Superior, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 100, f11 @ 1/60 sec.

With each and every excursion I undertake into natural environs the negative effect of humans on our natural world is sadly noted. From the highly destructive nature of ATVs, to the illegal dumping of garbage, degradation of the environment through vandalism or trampling, and to photographers engaging in unethical practices for personal financial gain have become commonplace within our wild places. It is time for a change.

This is where the ‘League of Landscape Photographers’ comes into place. They are a group of artists that have bound themselves to photograph by a code of ethics. To better protect our wild places, the flora, and the fauna, developing a code of ethics in which we conduct ourselves is of the utmost importance to protect the places we love.

In my own photography I have always maintained a high ethical standard whereby the welfare of my photographic subject rises above any photographic opportunity. For me it is always about the experience first, with resulting images being an extension of the experience. Whenever possible I photograph the degradation of our environment and publish resulting images on social media to help raise awareness of such concerns. I show respect for the environment with each visit and to each individual I encounter along the way, hoping they will exhibit the same level of respect to me, to others, and to the environment. Education is also paramount to the protection of our environment, therefore, informing others on how the negative effects of their behaviour will impact a given situation is brought to their attention whenever it is safe to do so.

Please visit the League of Landscape Photographers by clicking here.

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Daybreak at Marie Louise Lake in Ontario's Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Daybreak, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

 

Looking back over the past year I came to the realization that I created some of my own personal favorites during 2016. As this year comes to a close here is the selection of my most favorite images. From the stunning daybreak display above on Marie Louise Lake in Ontario’s Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, to the Bullfrogs on Horseshoe Lake, to beautiful vistas along the Niagara Escarpment in Bruce Peninsula National Park, to winter scenes close to home, and to the highest cliffs in Ontario at the Top of the Giant Trail over-looking Lake Superior. I arrived just in time to capture nature’s beauty when she was ready to put on a stellar show!

I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of 2017 as I will commence several new ventures with my photography, including a schedule of upcoming workshops that I will announce shortly.

I would like to take a moment to thank you all for your support of my work and to wish you all a very Happy New Year and all the best for the year ahead.

Please do remember to click on each of the images to view the sharper, larger version.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Bullfrog in Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Ontario

Bullfrog in Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Halfway Log Dump, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

Halfway Log Dump, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Winter Stream in Thornton, Ontario

Winter Stream in Thornton, Ontario

 

Daybreak on Horseshoe Lake, Ontario

Daybreak on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Red-eyed Tree Frog - captive

Red-eyed Tree Frog – captive

 

Top of the Giant, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

Top of the Giant, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

 

Interrupted ferns in autumn in woodland setting, Torrance Barrens, Ontario, Canada

Ferns in Autumn Woodland, Torrance Barrens, Ontario

 

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Ontario

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Night Scape on Marie Louise Lake in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Minor crop applied to fix tilted horizon.

Night-scape, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

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Autumn color at Hatchery Falls, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 100, f16 @ 0.8 sec. Singh Ray Thin Mount Warm-Tone Polarizing Filter

Autumn color at Hatchery Falls, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.8 sec.
Singh Ray Thin Mount Warm-Tone Polarizing Filter

Now that the leaves have fallen from the trees I have found time to process some of this year’s newly created autumn scenes. I took the time to photograph a few typical fall color scenes with the brilliant reds and oranges of the sugar maple trees and the surrounding landscape as seen above and below, but mostly I noticed I focused on different elements of the season.

Georgian Bay near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 85mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/10 sec Nikon Neutral Polarizing Filter

Georgian Bay near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 85mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/10 sec
Nikon Neutral Polarizing Filter

 

Georgian Bay, North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens " 18mm ISO 50, f16 @ 1/5 sec. Nikon Neutral POlarizing Filter Sing Ray 2-stop Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Georgian Bay, North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 50, f16 @ 1/5 sec.
Nikon Neutral Polarizing Filter
Singh Ray 2-stop Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Oxtongue River, Dwight, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec Nikon Neutral Polarizing Filter

Oxtongue River, Dwight, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec
Nikon Neutral Polarizing Filter

As I began editing the new image files I noticed that many of the photos had a more intimate view of the season. The cinnamon tones of dying ferns, autumn colors reflecting in flowing rivers, and impressionistic-style blurs of a grander scene reflecting in quiet ponds. Below are a few of these intimate autumn scenes that were newly created this year during several excursions into the autumn woodlands. The autumn fern scene was created on a particularly blustery day that required me to dial in an ISO of 800 and wait for a bit of a lull in the persistent breeze. After a lengthy wait I was rewarded with a moment of stillness.

Interrupted Ferns, Torrance Barrens, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/20 sec.

Interrupted Ferns, Torrance Barrens, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/20 sec.

One afternoon I decided to park beside a small quiet pond to have my lunch when I noticed the interplay of reflected sugar maple trees and paper birch trunks on the surface of the pond. Using my Nikon 200-500mm lens I zoomed in on various sections of the reflection to create several impressionistic blurs of the scene.

Autumn Reflections, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens @ 500mm ISO 100, f16 @ 0.3 sec.

Autumn Reflections, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens @ 500mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.3 sec.

On another afternoon I found myself at McCutcheon’s Falls on the Black River in the village of Vankoughnet. After creating a few various compositions of the waterfall and surrounding autumn color I became drawn to a small section of the river where a sunlit sugar maple tree was reflecting off the river’s surface. Once again using my Nikon 200-500mm lens I zoomed the lens out to this section of the river to create this intimate view of the flowing water with stunning, blazing color as it reflected on the water.

Autumn Reflections, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens @ 450mm ISO 100, 16 @ 0.3 sec.

Autumn Reflections, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens @ 450mm
ISO 100, 16 @ 0.3 sec.

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Hattie Cove on Lake Superior in Pukaskwa National Park Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Hattie Cove on Lake Superior in Ontario’s Pukaskwa National Park
Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

 

Recently I was given the opportunity to try some overlays by Sleeklens on my landscape imagery. I was drawn to the Light Leaks and Light Rays overlays for their effectiveness in regards to enhancing the sun for a “natural” creative look. When the right image is chosen to apply one of these overlays the result can be pleasing and not over-the-top in terms of it’s creative effect.

In the fisheye scene above of Hattie Cove on Lake Superior in Ontario’s Pukaskwa National Park I composed the early morning scene to catch a sunburst effect with the fisheye lens. By applying a Light Rays overlay I was able to give the sunburst a more pronounced and dramatic appearance within the scene. Converting the image to black & white was not my initial intention but I felt it brought the image together for a natural look.

In the below photograph of a misty morning on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario I chose to apply the same Light Rays overlay that was used in the Hattie Cove image above. Once the overlay is brought into Photoshop I can easily maneuver the rays around using the Move Tool or the Transform Tool. Since the overlay is on its own layer the Opacity of that layer can be adjusted to taste easily as well. Here I chose to reduce the opacity significantly so that the rays of light were just becoming visible through the misty conditions of the morning.

Misty Morning Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake. Parry SOund, Ontario Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Misty Morning Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake. Parry Sound, Ontario
Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Below is a photo created along the Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail in the town of Parry Sound, Ontario with a Light Leaks overlay applied. This image would express the most creative use I applied, but I do like the added interest it gives to this mid-day scene. To created the desaturated look to this image I originally was creating a B&W conversion in Nik’s Silver Effects 2 but later decided to reduce the opacity of the Silver Effects to bring back a touch of colour to the image.

Georgian Bay Rugger Hiking Trail. Parry Sound, Ontario Sleeklens Light Leaks Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail. Parry Sound, Ontario
Sleeklens Light Leaks Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

While these Light Rays and Light Leaks overlays may not be everybody’s cup of tea, they do work for me when applied to the right situation. I often create artistic renderings of many of my landscape and wildlife imagery and the Sleeklens overlays now give me another option in my toolkit to utilize along the creative pathway. If you also like to explore the artistic / creative rendering side of your imagery, then you may also find the Sleeklens Photoshop Overlays to be a useful tool and rewarding option too.

 

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Bullfrog in Wetland Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec.

Bullfrog in Wetland
Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec.

This post is intended to be a cautionary note on photographing from canoes. My frog-scape imagery is always created from a seated position within my canoe, while I lean over the edge of the canoe’s gunwale. I have done this thousands of times however, on the day of August 27th while doing so my left hand went to sleep. I shook it off and was good to go. Later that evening my left shoulder began to ache. By the next morning the pain was worsening and by the following day my left hand began going numb. I figured a visit to the emergency ward of my local hospital was in order. I was told I had a swollen rotator cuff and that I would be all better in one week. This was not to be and in fact my left arm is still sore and my left thumb, left index finger are still numb, and my tricep muscle will not flex. After 5 weeks I do believe I finally have an accurate diagnosis as to what happened. While leaning over the edge of the canoe, I was leaning in such a way that my underarm was directly over the gunwale putting too much pressure on the brachial plexus, which is the network of nerves that control the shoulder, arm, and hand. The resulting pressure has bruised or damaged my brachial plexus and now I require a referral to a neurologist for a nerve conduction test and to determine the extent of the injury. Hopefully there will be a full recovery but it will take a very long time as nerves regenerate at a very slow pace. Fortunately I do have full movement of my arm with the discomfort subsiding to a very tolerable level however, the arm is weak due to the inactive tricep muscle and the thumb and index finger numbness is rather annoying at times…time will tell if these issues will resolve themselves. Here are some of my most recent frog-scape images that I created prior to this injury.

Bullfrog in Wetland Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens ISO 1000, f16 @ 1/30 sec.

Bullfrog in Wetland
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 1000, f16 @ 1/30 sec.

 

Bullfrog in Wetland Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens ISO 800, f16 @ 1/100 sec.

Bullfrog in Wetland
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 800, f16 @ 1/100 sec.

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