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Archive for the ‘Muskoka’ Category

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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image

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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