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Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/2000 sec

I spent much of last week on Horseshoe Lake enjoying the last week of my daughter’s summer break from school. We were treated on more than one occasion to the resident Common Loons bringing their late season chick into our bay to feed. Each time they arrived I paddled out into the bay in my canoe with my Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm VR lens to create some fresh, handheld, imagery. I much prefer using a canoe over a motor boat for photographing loons as it allows for a peaceful approach that does not cause any distress to the birds.

This year the loons have what appears to be a late season chick that has only recently began to molt. Why late season? We had a very cool spring and early summer and Horseshoe Lake has experienced extremely high water levels all summer with the lake level sitting at roughly two feet higher than normal – the highest I have ever witnessed in 35 years on the lake. This high water level negatively impacted nesting sites on the lake. I have never before seen an adult Common Loon coming into winter plumage with a chick of this size, at this time of year.

Here are a few newly processed images from my time with the Common Loons last week. My favorite is the tender moment shared between adult and chick. It was fun watching the chick diving and swimming while following the parent underwater. Each time the chick surfaced a wing flap would occur. The adult was having great success catching crawfish for the chick to eat. If the parent surfaced without any food the chick would bite the adults neck gently – perhaps to say “I am hungry, you need to do better than that”

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger versions.

Common Loon with chick, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f11 @ 1/800 sec

 

Common Loon juvenile, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 240mm (35mm equivalent = 360mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

Common Loon juvenile, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/640 sec

 

Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 800
f11 @ 1/1250 sec

 

Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikon 200-500mm VR lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 500
f8 @ 1/1000 sec

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Reflected Sky and Clouds on Horseshoe Lake. Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens @ 440mm (35 Equivalent = 660mm)
ISO 400
f16 @ 1/125 sec

 

Earlier this month while relaxing by the water of Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario I took notice of the patterns created by the gentle, undulating surface of the lake. The weather conditions at the time was mostly sunny with numerous puffy white, cotton clouds in the sky. In the sections of water that were cast in shade, the reflected sky and clouds were creating ever-changing patterns of white and blue. Using my Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens I zoomed in on different sections of the water to record several images of these patterns as they evolved. I found it best to set the Nikon D500 to record the images at 10 frames per second so I would not miss any of the subtle changes in the patterns. After creating a rather ridiculous number of these images I narrowed down the keepers to these three images. Each of the images in this post are straight out of the camera with only minor adjustments to contrast and some cloning of debris floating on the surface of the water.

Please do remember to click on the photos to see the larger versions.

 

Reflected Sky and Clouds on Horseshoe Lake. Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens @ 200mm (35 Equivalent = 300mm)
ISO 400
f16 @ 1/125 sec

 

Reflected Sky and Clouds on Horseshoe Lake. Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens @ 440mm (35 Equivalent = 660mm)
ISO 400
f16 @ 1/125 sec

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Juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens at 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Try as I may I have yet to find any Bullfrogs within the wetland at my cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. To date I have heard all but one male Bullfrog chorusing so far this season but locating him is another matter altogether. I believe the difficulty in finding the Bullfrogs may have something to do with the very cool and late start of the growing season as the waterlilies are well behind schedule in terms of water surface coverage and blooming. The lake level is also considerably higher this year, by as much as one foot. It is possible that the Bullfrogs are seeking refuge in the dense thickets of leatherleaf that surround the wetland edges and will emerge out into the more open areas of the wetland when the waterlilies provide more coverage.

On a recent exploration of the wetland I did however have the good fortune of locating some very co-operative turtles and water snakes. On one outing I located 12 Northern Water Snakes basking on a beaver lodge! The highlight of my excursions was finding a juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle that was small enough to be sunning on a yellow pond lily leaf. To create the opening photo I chose a low perspective by seating myself in the bottom of the canoe and carefully framed the scene to ensure I maintained the turtle’s reflection in the slice of open water between two lily pad leaves. By resting the lens on the gunwale of the canoe I was able to gain the additional support for this handheld capture. A polarizing filter is pretty much a necessity when photographing basking turtles to eliminate the unwanted glare from the vegetation and the turtle’s carapace, they are also very useful for eliminating the undesirable glare from the scales of snakes. My choice of polarizing filter for use on the Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens is the B&W 95mm F-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizing MRC Filter.

Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 340mm (35mm equivalent = 540mm)
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/125 sec.
B&W Polarizing Filter

The Common Snapping Turtle above was photographed in the exact same manner as the juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle although a passing cloud thankfully provided some temporary over-cast conditions, which eliminated the harsh shadows that were being cast from upward pointing branches on the log. Whenever I locate an overly co-operative subject such as this large snapping turtle I put away my long lens after creating a few images and reach for my wide angle lenses for an unique perspective as shown below.

Snapping Turtle-scape, Horseshoe Lake Wetland, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 800, f16 @ 1/50 sec
Nikon Polarizing Filter

 

Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-85mm lens @ 78mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec

Below are two Northern Water Snake images that were captured over the course of the last two weekends. The first water snake was discovered within the wetland complex at rest among the branches of a beaver lodge while the second was found resting on a rock beside my dock in late evening light. Each of these images makes use of killer features found on the Nikon D500. In the first image I could not get in as close I was wanted to due to the branches extending out into the water. The work around was to select the Nikon D500’s 1.3X sensor crop and presto – I had the composition I desired. Once again, seating myself in the canoe and using the gunwale to provide additional support and activating the Vibration Reduction on the Nikkor 200-500mm lens I was able to handhold the shot at the 35mm equivalent of a 1,000mm lens!

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500 (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/160 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Often I will venture down to the dock in the evening to see what critters have begun to emerge and was delighted to find the water snake at rest on the rock beside the dock. The only way to effectively photograph the snake was to get into the water. Due to the fading light, hand-holding the image was going to be impossible so I set-up my tripod in the lake allowing me to mount my camera and lens just above the water’s surface. Once again I was wanting to create a slight tighter composition so I set the 1.3X sensor crop. To deal with the low light and slow shutter speed I set my self-timer to 2 seconds, activated the Live View feature, and since the Nikon D500’s LCD screen is a touch screen you can actually touch the screen where you want it to focus. Once focus is achieved an image will be captured. In this case, I touched the LCD screen where the snake’s right eye is and two seconds later the camera recorded the image you see below.

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f11 @ 1/15 sec

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

 

 

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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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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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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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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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