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Archive for the ‘Muskoka’ Category

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Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm @ 35 mm, ISO 100, f16 @ 2.5 seconds, Singh - Ray 3 - stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

One of my most favorite trails for landscape photography is the Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail located in the town of Parry Sound, Ontario. The trail head can be found at the salt docks. This is a 5km linear trail that offers stunning scenery with each step forward along the rugged granite coastline. I am currently up on Horseshoe Lake and am planning another hike along the trail this week. The image featured in today’s post was created three weeks ago. The hike was rather difficult as I made my way out to this spot very carefully during a severe flare up of lower back pain – no pain no gain they say :)  All I took with me for the hike to ensure the lightest load possible was my tripod, camera body, one lens, and my trusty, never leave home without it, Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter. Now that my back pain has subsided I am good as new and ready for a longer hike along the trail.

Please do click on the image to see the larger sharper version.

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A male Green Frog in wetland Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec

A male Green Frog in wetland
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec (Handheld – 1.5 DX CROP)

In June 2015 Venus Optics announced the release of their Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens. I discovered this lens a few months ago and became quite intrigued by it’s specifications, most notably the ability to focus down to 4.7mm from the front element of the lens. There is currently no other lens on the market that is capable of doing what this lens can do. It is a master at wide-angle macro imagery. I had a hunch that this lens would be deadly for creating my frog-scape style imagery even though the lens requires 100% manual operation, including focusing and setting of the diaphragm as there is no coupling to the camera meter. I had hoped to include within this review the results of how the lens performs for landscape photography but unfortunately I suffered a very painful flare-up of my chronic lower back problems. As a result my mobility has been severely limited for the last week or so. I will do an update to this review at a later date to give my impressions of the lens’ performance for landscape use.

A handheld Nikon D800 was used for each of the images in this review and were photographed using the full frame sensor or the 1.5 DX crop. Notations within the image captions will indicate FULL FRAME or 1.5 DX CROP.

Each of the featured images in today’s blog post were created in my favorite wetland on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka near Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada.

Lens Barrel of the Laowa 15mm f4 Macro Lens The inner ring controls focusing The outer ring controls the diaphram

Lens Barrel of the Laowa 15mm f4 Macro Lens
The inner ring controls focusing
The outer ring controls the diaphragm

The Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens is a well built lens of metal construction. The front lens cap, rear lens cap, and lens hood are of plastic construction. Do note I did not use the lens hood for any of the images within this post as the lens hood would have either shadowed the subject or created unpleasant reflections in the foreground water due to focusing so closely on the subjects. The lens will accept 77mm threaded filters and I was quite pleased to see that my Singh-Ray 77mm Warm-Tone Thin Mount Polarizer did not vignette when used. The lens also incorporates a shift mechanism that allows for 6mm of upward or downward shift, but I did not test this feature as I did not photograph any landscapes as of yet. The focusing and diaphragm rings both have smooth and easy operation. One downfall of the lens is that it does have strong barrel distortion, but since I am primarily using the lens for my frog-scape imagery it is of little concern to me – each of the images featured in today’s post have had no distortion correction applied to them. Chromatic aberration is very well controlled and when present is easily corrected. Center sharpness is excellent but corners do get a little soft, which improves when the lens is stopped down and is seldom worrisome at macro distances such as those in the featured imagery.

In the next series of photos I will illustrate how I go about creating my frog-scape imagery while handholding this set-up.

Arms extended outwards to pull the camera strap tight around my neck for added stability. Live View  and Virtual Horizon activated Thumb is positioned on Zoom Button Index and Middle Finger are positioned on the Focusing Ring

Arms extended outwards to pull the camera strap tight around my neck for added stability.
Live View and Virtual Horizon activated
Thumb of left hand is positioned on Zoom Button
Index and Middle Finger of left hand are positioned on the Focusing Ring

 

While in Live View my left thumb will zoom into the scene. I would then place the frog's eyeball within the area of the red square and using my index and middle-finger on my left hand, rotate the focusing ring until sharp focus is achieved.

While in Live View my left thumb will zoom into the scene. I would then place the frog’s eyeball within the area of the red square and using my index and middle-finger on my left hand, rotate the focusing ring until sharp focus is achieved.

 

Left index finger and middle-finger positioned on the focusing ring to adjust focus

Left index finger and middle-finger positioned on the focusing ring to adjust focus

The Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens is a versatile lens that is capable of producing dramatic wildlife imagery when focused closely on the subject matter. There are many pros to this lens such as:

  • low chromatic aberration
  • excellent center sharpness
  • 1:1 Macro capability
  • Focuses down to 4.7mm from the front element of the lens
  • smooth focusing
  • smooth aperture control
  • shift mechanism
  • inexpensive at approximately $499 US

The only downfalls I  noticed were the barrel distortion and soft corners. When focusing in at macro distances and stopping down to f16 I found the corners to be more than acceptable for my frog-scape style images. The barrel distortion while more noticeable in some images than others again is of little concern to me. In nature we do not encounter perfectly straight lines that often, therefore, I find the distortion to be not too big a deal and can sometimes be used to one’s advantage for creative effect. I will likely not be using this lens for architectural work or for ocean sunrises where the barrel distortion would become very problematic.

Here are a few additional images that I created using the Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens.

Bullfrog in Wetland Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog in Wetland
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60 sec Handheld 1.5 DX CROP

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60 sec
Handheld
1.5 DX CROP

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/20 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/20 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 2500, f16 @ 1/80 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 2500, f16 @ 1/80 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15 mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15 mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 400, f16 1/80 sec Handheld 1.5 DX CROP

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 400, f16 1/80 sec
Handheld
1.5 DX CROP

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Marco Lens ISO 5000, f16 @ 1/25 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Marco Lens
ISO 5000, f16 @ 1/25 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 500, f16 @ 1/160 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 500, f16 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 800, f16 @ 180 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm macro Lens ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/25 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm macro Lens
ISO 4000, f16 @ 1/25 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

And one B-Roll image from the wetland. A very co-operative Northern Watersnake that was found sunning itself on a log within the wetland. The front element of the lens is roughly one inch away from the snake’s head in the photo below. This extreme close focusing capability of the Laowa 15mm f4 1:1 Macro Lens makes it my new go to, never leave home without it lens. It is quite simply to versatile and deadly for creating up-close and personal photos of wildlife subjects within their habitat. Spending my hard-earned money on this amazing lens was a good investment!

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

Northern Watersnake Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens ISO 800, f16 @ 1/160 sec Handheld FULL FRAME

Northern Watersnake
Nikon D800, Laowa 15mm Macro Lens
ISO 800, f16 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld
FULL FRAME

 

 

 

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Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 34mm ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec Handheld

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 34mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec
Handheld from canoe

I spent last week up at the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. On the morning of July 17th we were treated to a rather refreshing break from the heatwave we have been enduring with a morning temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. This drop in temperature created the perfect conditions for autumn-like mist to blanket the entire lake. Seeing these conditions I abandoned my plans of heading off in search of a cow Moose and her calf that I had seen the day before in favor of a paddle on the lake. The mist was so thick at times I could barely see the tip of the canoe as I paddled across the lake to a couple of small islands that the sun would soon be rising behind. This was a very special morning whereby the heavy mist conditions persisted for roughly three hours past sunrise, before the sun had rose high enough in the sky to burn off the mist. Best of all I had the entire lake to myself. It was such a tranquil morning to be out on the water enjoying the beauty of the moment and listening to the sounds of nature with no motor boats to rudely disturb the moment.

Each of these images were created handheld while seated in my canoe with various lenses (see captions for details).

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

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 24mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/160 sec Handheld from canoe

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 24mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld from canoe

 

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 62mm ISO 200, f16 @ 1/160 sec Handheld from canoe

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 62mm
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld from canoe

 

Misty sunrise over forest, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm ISO 400, f16 @ 1/250 sec Handheld from canoe

Misty sunrise over forest, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/250 sec
Handheld from canoe

 

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 24mm ISO 200, f16 @ 1/160 sec Handheld from canoe

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 24mm
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld from canoe

 

Sunrise and Island on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 18mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60 sec Handheld from canoe

Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 18mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60 sec
Handheld from canoe

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Bullfrog in Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 31mm ISO 800, f18 @ 1/100 second Nikon Polarizing Filter

Bullfrog in Wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 31mm
ISO 800, f18 @ 1/100 second
Nikon Polarizing Filter

The recent warm weather that we have been experiencing this week has already got me dreaming of the new Bullfrog images that I will be creating in the wetland on Hosreshoe Lake, near Parry Sound, Ontario. While there are numerous locations throughout the province of Ontario that could easily be named as my favorite places, I do feel most at home on Horseshoe Lake. Of all the Bullfrog images that I create each year in the wetland on the lake, this image that was created last summer is by far my personal favorite. This coming year I am looking forward to trying new things with my frog work, which will include video clips. I am all set with LED lighting and microphones for night-time forays into wetlands. I am also intrigued by a new camera concept / design by LIGHT and hope to be able to give this new camera technology a whirl with the Bullfrogs of Horseshoe Lake.

To create the frog-scape image above I simply positioned my canoe alongside of this large male Bullfrog, sat in the bottom of the canoe for greater stability, and using the Live View feature on my Nikon D800, I reached out over the side of the canoe, placing the camera low to the surface of the water to create an image whereby the frog dominates the foreground yet the habitat in which the frog lives is quite apparent.

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Pre-dawn Light at The Torrance Barrens  Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 22mm ISO 100 f16 @ 1.6 seconds

Pre-dawn Light at The Torrance Barrens / Dark Sky Reserve
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 22mm
ISO 100
f16 @ 1.6 seconds

On Friday February 26th I finally had some free time to get out and spend a day in the field creating some fresh winter landscapes. The first stop on my list was to visit Torrance Barrens / Dark Sky Reserve near Gravenhurst, Ontario. This is one of my favorite locations in summer and fall, but I had never explored it in the dead of winter. It was a very chilly morning with a cloudless sky, which meant there would not be mush of a decent sunrise so I chose to frame these scraggly spruce trees against the western sky and wait for the rising sun to cast a pinkish glow on the western horizon.

The next stop on my list was to make a first-ever winter trip over to Lower Rosseau Falls. Fortunately the road in was plowed and there was even a clearing plowed to allow a car or two to park near the river. Hiking through the woods down to the base of the falls was a little treacherous as there was significant ice build-up beneath a foot of fresh snow – I fell flat on my butt several times.

Due to the bright conditions on this day, to slow down the exposure times to blur the rushing waters I dialed in an ISO of 50 on my Nikon D800 and also used a Nikon Polarizing Filter to further extend the exposure times. I was in such a rush to get out the door and on my way on this day that I also forgot to take along my cable release. To overcome this I simply framed my compositions as I normally would, then activated the Live View feature, as this will lock up the mirror to allow live viewing on the LCD screen, and then finally I selected the 2 second self-timer to trip the shutter.

 

Lower Rosseau Falls in Winter Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 29mm ISO 50 f22 @ 1/10 sec.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River in Winter
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 29mm
ISO 50
f22 @ 1/10 sec.

 

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm ISO 50 f22 @ 1/5 sec.

Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River in Winter
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm
ISO 50
f22 @ 1/5 sec.

After a successful shoot at Lower Rosseau Falls I made the short drive over to Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River. There was not a lot of interesting ice development at Hatchery Falls mostly due to high water levels in the river not allow any interesting formations to develop. Nonetheless, the hike in to Hatchery Falls was beautiful and I had the entire location all to myself to enjoy🙂

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm ISO 50 f22 @ 1 second

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River in Winter
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 23mm
ISO 50
f22 @ 1 second

 

Frogs of the World Workshop Space Available

For folks that may have missed the announcement for my Frogs of the World Workshop there are still some spaces available should you be interested. The date of the workshop is Saturday, March 5th at 8:00 a.m. with a cost of $85. Please contact me directly at info@andrewmclachlan.ca if you are interested in attending this workshop. For more information about the workshop please click here to see the official announcement.

Frogs of the World Workshop

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Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka near the town of Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Its hard to believe that another year has flown by and that we are now heading into 2016. It is also that time of year when I like to share with you some of my favorite images that I created throughout the past year. One of the highlights of the past year for me was to spend two weeks on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, where I quite literally spent more time in the ocean than I did on land, and while on land I spent much of that time photographing Brown Booby birds at the nest with chicks. The day before I boarded the plane for Cayman Brac I was rewarded with our resident, over-wintering Snowy Owl perching in a dead tree across the road from my home. I also spent quite a bit of time photographing frogs, as I usually do🙂, and created my most favorite Bullfrog-scape to date. My travels throughout much of the year was somewhat limited as I was staying closer to home to assist my elderly parents. I was however able to attend a personal invite to the Algonquin Radio Observatory on Lake Travers in Algonquin Provincial Park and do stay tuned as I will be setting up a workshop at this location during the summer months. In September I finally made the trek up to The Crack in Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park despite a bad flare-up with my lower back and a bad right foot. My foot problem was corrected with a small surgical procedure that prevented me from doing much hiking in October and November, but I am all healed now and ready to hit the trails in 2016.

I hope you enjoy viewing these images again here in this Top 10 for 2015 post and do remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper versions.

See ya in 2016🙂

Happy New Year to all and safe travels to those of you who are traveling during this time.

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Pollard Bay Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Sunrise on Pollard Bay
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Snowy Owl in dead tree Thornton, Ontario, Canada

Snowy Owl in dead tree
Thornton, Ontario, Canada

 

Brown Booby (male) with chick Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Brown Booby (male) with chick
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Octopus Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Octopus
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake LaCloche Mountain Range Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake
LaCloche Mountain Range
Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Lake Travers Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Sunrise on Lake Travers
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

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Winter details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 31mm ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

Winter details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 31mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

 

While I am patiently waiting for winter to arrive I have been reviewing some older winter scenes that I captured a few years ago on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near the town of Rosseau, Ontario. While going through some of these older images I came across a few that I had forgotten about and just now have taken the time to optimize the image files. I often enjoy visiting winter rivers to explore the frozen details that develop, especially during periods of extremely cold weather when the ice really has time to create interesting designs. By Christmas day the forecast is for temperatures of near +12 degrees Celsius and rain😦 Hopefully we will get some decent snowfall and cold temperatures soon so that I can get out for some fresh winter imagery, but for now it looks like we are going to be having a green Christmas.

Please remember to click on each image to see the larger, sharper version.

Skeleton River in Winter, in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18035mm lens @ 35mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec

Skeleton River in Winter, in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Winter Details Along the Skeleton River Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 100mm ISO 100, f32 @ 0.6 sec

Winter Details Along the Skeleton River
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 100mm
ISO 100, f32 @ 0.6 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 180mm ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 180mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 185mm ISO 100, f16 @ 0.5 sec

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 185mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.5 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Skeleton River in Winter in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm lens @ 62mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec

Skeleton River in Winter in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm lens @ 62mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec, Polarizing Filter

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