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The 3rd Annual Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Photographic Workshop wrapped up today. This year we were blessed with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark with no wind whatsoever. It was quite lovely to be able to photograph without the constant need for gloves to keep fingertips warm. We also had mostly overcast conditions which is the best light of all for photographing the woodland waterfalls we were visiting. A relatively shallow bed of snow also made for mostly easy walking along the trails, although the mild weather did create a few sections where we had to be careful of slip and fall due to icy sections. Nonetheless, we succeeded in completing our visits without incident. I always recommend to folks to bring along crampons for added traction along trails that may have icy sections.

Below is a selection of imagery created at each of our stops on this one-of-a-kind workshop in Ontario’s Muskoka region. I used a variety of lenses from my trusty Laowa 12mm Zero D lens, to my Nikkor 28-300mm lens, and also my Nikkor 200-500mm lens, which is very useful for reaching out into rivers to capture icy details on exposed rocks and such. My filter choices for the vast majority of all my winter photography are those created by Singh Ray Filters and my go to filter choices are neutral polarizers and neutral density filters.

Folks that may be interested in attending the 4th Annual Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop or any other events that I have or will announce this year can contact me by clicking here to be added to my workshop contact list 🙂

Potts Creek in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Potts Creek in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Skeleton Creek in winter at Hatchery Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Skeleton Falls Details in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Skeleton River in winter at Skeleton Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Skeleton Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Rosseau River in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Potts Creek in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Potts Creek Details in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Potts Creek in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Little High Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Rosseau River in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Skeleton River in winter at Skeleton Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Skeleton Falls in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Rosseau River Details in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

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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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Snowy Owl_6905

Snowy Owl in Flight (Nikon D500 & Nikon 200-500mm Lens)

Over the last couple of days we have received several inches of heavy, wet snow around my home, which has coated the trees and turned the area into a lovely, winter wonderland. I was excited to get out and explore the surrounding farmland near my home for scenics as well as snowy owls. Every year several snowy owls over-winter on the farmland around my home. They gather to feast on mice and meadow voles that are scavenging the soy beans and corn that is spilled during harvest. Pictured above is the only image I have been able to create of a snowy owl so far this year. I do like the over-the-shoulder stare that the owl is giving me as it flies out over one of the fields.

Pictured below are a few of the scenic images that were created during my search for the snowy owls.  My choice of lenses for these images was the Nikon 200-500mm lens or the Nikon 28-300mm lens on either my Nikon D500 or Nikon D800 body.

Winter Tree_6947

Winter Tree in Snow Storm (Nikon D500 & Nikon 200-500mm Lens)

 

Winter Farm_9041

Winter Farm Scenic (Nikon D800 & Nikon 28-300mm Lens)

 

Winter Tree_6932

Winter Tree (Nikon D500 & Nikon 200-500mm Lens)

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Winter Trees (Nikon D500 & Nikon 200-500mm Lens)

Winter Trees_6941

Winter Trees (Nikon D500 & Nikon 200-500mm Lens)

 

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Saw Whet Owl_5477

Northern Saw Whet Owl, Ontario

Late on the morning of November 12th I finally located my first Northern Saw Whet Owl. I have tried several times over the years to locate and photograph this tiny species of owl, often coming close but never succeeding. After scouring a small cedar grove for about an hour I paused to rethink where I should look next when I noticed two bright yellow eye staring back at me, not more than 3 feet from where I stood. Alas, I had found a Northern Saw Whet Owl. As the owl was roosting within the thick boughs of the cedar trees it was tricky to get a clear photograph so I decided to frame the owl in such a way that also tells a story about its habitat.

My go-to lenses for these images were the Nikon 200-500mm Lens and the Nikon 28-300mm Lens. The Nikon 200-500mm lens was deployed to capture tight portraits of the owl hidden within the branches of the cedar trees. The Nikon 28-300mm lens was the main lens used as I was able to easily capture full body images with minimal foreground clutter. The minimum one foot focusing distance of the Nikon 28-300mm lens makes it a very versatile and functional lens. Often the Nikon 28-300mm lens is trashed by the “so-called” internet experts, but this lens in the right hands, with the right vision, and proper photographic technique yields quality imagery everytime!

Below are a few additional images of the Northern Saw Whet Owl I photographed yesterday.

Saw Whet Owl_5557

Northern Saw Whet Owl, Ontario

Saw Whet Owl_5812

Northern Saw Whet Owl, Ontario

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Northern Saw Whet Owl, Ontario

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Northern Saw Whet Owl, Ontario

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Snowy Owl in a near blinding blizzard near Thornton, Ontario, Canada.

 

I am pleased to announce that my Snowy Owl image has been awarded an Honourable Mention in the “Animals In Their Environment” category of the 2018 Siena International Photo Awards, which received the highest international participation ever with close to 48.000 images submitted from amateur and professional photographers from 156 countries worldwide.

To view the gallery of amazing and inspiring, winning images please click here.

I am always fond of creating animate landscape imagery. When I discovered this Snowy Owl roosting on the ground, in a field near my home, during a near blinding snow blizzard I immediately chose to create this small in the frame image of the owl within its habitat during the inclement weather.

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Sunrise on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
Singh Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
ISO 50
f16 @ 0.6 sec

 

The recently concluded, inaugural, Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat was a fantastic success. A very BIG thank-you to Don Johnston for his hard work and assistance with this event. We had 10 fabulous participants that were eager to explore the landscape amid wind, snow, and rain. Our efforts were not only to photograph the grand, magnificent scenes before us, but to also concentrate on the smaller details at our feet as they can often tell an important part of the story as well. We were grateful that the first two days presented beautiful sunrises and sunsets. On the third day we had a lovely sunrise at the onset of what turned out to be a very windy and rainy day, which allowed folks time to rest after a busy first two days and to process some of their imagery from the first two days as well. On the fourth and final full day of photography we enjoyed many areas of Lake Superior Provincial Park from the Sand River area to the Old Woman Bay area under mush calmer conditions although it was chilly with the air temperatures hovering around 2 degrees Celsius.

Lake Superior has long been my favourite location within Ontario for landscape photography. The possibilities are endless. During this retreat I enjoyed composing scenes with my Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens as it was my first trip to the region with this extreme wide angle lens in my gear bag.

Below are a series of my initial edits from the retreat…stay tuned for more imagery soon.

I will be planning a second annual Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat. For those that are interested in registering for the event please do send along your contact info to me, by clicking here, if you are not already on my contact list. Don Johnston and yours truly are very well travelled along the Lake Superior coast and know where to be during the given weather conditions to maximize the photographic efforts.

 

Sunrise on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
Singh Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
ISO 50
f16 @ 0.8 sec

 

Sunset on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
Singh Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
ISO 100
f16 @ 13 sec

 

Sunrise on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1.3 sec

 

Sunset on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens at 29mm
Singh Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
ISO 50
f16 @ 5 sec

 

Wave Polished Stones on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm lens at 170mm
ISO 50
f18 @ 1/8 sec

 

In-camera Wave Blur, Old Woman Bay, Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens
ISO 50
f32 @ 1/5 sec

 

Crashing Wave on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
ISO 50
f16 @ 1/60 sec

 

Moonlit Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens at 31mm
ISO 3200
f11 @ 13 seconds

 

Sunset on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
Singh Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
ISO 50
f16 @ 1.3 sec

 

Sunset on Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
Singh Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
ISO 100
f16 @ 5 sec

 

Rugged Lake Superior Shoreline
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.8 sec

 

Wave Breaking at Katherine Cove, Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens at 35mm
ISO 50
f22 @ 0.5 sec

 

Wave Polished Stones, Lake Superior
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm Lens at 125mm
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.6 sec

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Lower Rosseau Falls
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens

The Muskoka Autumn Colour Spectacular Photographic Workshop wrapped up on October 3rd. I am just getting around to the follow-up reort now. I have been swamped prepping for my Lake Superior Retreat as well as organizing new events for 2019.

Although the fall colours were slow in their progression this year we were able to find some lovely colour at a few of our destinations. We had two long days of photography as we visited numerous waterfalls and rivers through the Muskoka District, from Huntsville to Dwight to Rosseau.

Wilson’s Falls
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens

Although the water levels at Wilson’s Falls were very low it turned out this provided wonderful opportunities to capture some autumn colour and the red granite river bed while the river defined the foreground elements. The Oxtongue River near Dwight is often a busy location during fall colour, but I ensured that the workshop group arrived early to have several hours of the river to ourselves. By the time we were wrapping up here there were many people starting to arrive.

Oxtongue River
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D lens

Ragged Falls on the Oxtongur River in Ragged Falls Provincial Park is another very popular destination however, the surrounding cedar forest is not conducive to autumn colour/ Nonetheless, we arrived shortly before sunset and were greeted with wonderful light!

Ragged Falls, Oxtongue River
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D lens

Throughout the workshop we experienced much light rain. It often rained heaviest when we would took our lunch breaks. The rainy weather did provide us with the absolute best conditions possible for our intended subject matter. The rain also allowed us ample opportunity to explore intimate forest details sue to the wonderful even lighting from the overcast cloud cover.

Old Growth White Pine Roots
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D lens

 

Forest Details
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D lens

 

Granite Details
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm lens

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