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Posts Tagged ‘Parry Sound’

Ice Details, Ontario, Canada

I am pleased to announce that today’s image of newly formed ice crystals photographed on the shore of Ontario’s Georgian Bay last winter has been awarded a Highly Honored designation in the Nature’s Best Photography 2019 Windland Smith Rice International Awards.

This prestigious competition received nearly 25,000 images from photographers in 63 countries. Approximately 1,200 photos made it into the semi-final round of judging to isolate the 123 finalists. The complete collection of awarded images will be published in the 2019 Fall/Winter Special Awards Edition of Nature’s Best Photography magazine. The Category Winners and numerous Highly Honored images will also appear in the Awards exhibition to be displayed at the Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

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Water Lilies in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Water Lilies in Wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

All good things come to an end eventually. On July 31, 2019 I bid farewell to the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario as it was sold to new owners. I will miss the area dearly as it is where my love of nature photography took hold. It is where I began to explore woodlands, beaver ponds, and wetlands to gain the knowledge that has allowed me to photograph many of my most cherished images. It is also the place where I perfected my Bullfrog-scapes

After spending a couple of weeks there prior to the closing date of the sale I was lucky enough to be graced with numerous photographic opportunities, so there will be plenty more images to share in the coming weeks. During these two weeks it felt like all the wildlife I photographed over the years had come to bid farewell as I had so many amazing close-up encounters with many of the species that inhabit the lake, and surrounding forest.

I hope to return to the area at least once a year to continue to document the wildlife in the large wetland near the cottage property and to continue my explorations of the small lakes hidden in the forest, but for now here is a selection of imagery that I created during my last two weeks at the cottage. I do have many, many more unprocessed image files from Horseshoe Lake that I will continue to share as time and temperment allow 🙂

Sadly, after 35 years, this chapter of my life has come to an end. However, as one chapter closes another will open and it only takes one step to start that journey.

Stay tuned

Bullfrog_1847

Bullfrog in wetland habitat, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

 

Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta), Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Eastern Painted Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Horseshoe Lake_4124

Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Green Darner_573

Green Darner Dragonfly, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Tree Swallows_9877

Tree Swallows, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Horseshoe Lake_4081

Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Bullfrog_1782-1

Over-under Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Common Merganser_0364

Common Merganser, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Milky Way, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Milky Way over Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Sunset on Georgian Bay, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

Georgian Bay at Sunset, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

I am pleased to announce, and honored to have been added to the Singh Ray Filters Pro Gallery. I have relied on Singh Ray filters for the last 25 years to get the job done and photograph scenes the way I see them. I never leave home with out taking them along. The above image was created at sunrise on the beautiful shores of Ontario’s Georgian Bay, near Parry Sound, Ontario. To control the dynamic range within this scene I used my Singh Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter. I much prefer to capture scenes such as this, in the field, the way I see it in one frame. This allows me the freedom to quickly process the image file later at the computer. Sure enough you could capture a few frames and blend the exposures in the digital darkroom, but would you not prefer to be photographing moments like instead of being stuck behind a computer blending exposures?

To save 10% on your next purchase of at Singh Ray Filters use the code “Andrew 10” at checkout.

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Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens
Ewa Marine Underwater Housing

After spending several additional days on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario in the provinces Muskoka District I experimented with some additional techniques to creating over/under or split shots of Bullfrogs within their wetland habitat on the lake. During my first attempts at creating these images I was a little frustrated by the amount of time I had to wipe water droplets off the front element of the Ewa Marine housing. This time around I decided to try an old underwater photography trick whereby rubbing a thin film of parafin wax over the element to help repell water droplets. Using an unscented, parafin wax votive candle to rub some wax onto the element and a dedicated micro fibre cleaning cloth that will be reserved for this purpose only I buffed the wax until it was well distributed and no longer visible, however, a very thin film of wax remained. This techinque did help to repell much of the water droplets that I found annoying during my first attempts. I did however, need to perform some minor cleaning of the housing’s element with the micro fibre cleaning cloth to eliminate droplets that would have been problematic for subsequent captures. The best technique still seems to be pre-planning the look of the image and slowly sink the camera below the water’s surface creating images as you to capture that perfect moment. If you raise the camera out of the water to create additional frames, after sinking it, it is most likely that water droplets will become problematic.

As with the previous post each of today’s featured images were created using the Nikon D500 with the Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens in an Ewa Marine Underwtaer Housing. Utilizing the Nikon D500’s Live View feature was indispensible to composing and focusing each of the scenes.

 

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens
Ewa Marine Underwater Housing

 

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens
Ewa Marine Underwater Housing

 

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens
Ewa Marine Underwater Housing

 

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens
Ewa Marine Underwater Housing

 

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Wide Angle Macro Lens
Ewa Marine Underwater Housing

 

 

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Bullfrog in wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 1000
f16 @ 1/50 sec

I have long wanted to experiment with over-under, or also known as split shots, of Bullfrogs in their watery worlds. Several days ago I gave it a whirl for the first time and cannot wait to get back up to Horseshoe Lake to create more of these images. Each of these over-under images was created handheld from the canoe using the Nikon D500 and the Laowa 15mm 1:1 Macro Lens in an Ewa Marine Housing. Why did I use a crop sensor camera to create these images with the Laowa 15mm Wide Angle Macro, quite simply because the 15mm focal length will vignette horribly with a full frame camera inside the Ewa Marine bag. The 15mm focal length on a crop sensor camera works perfectly though. The Live View feature was activated to assist with composing and focusing each of the scenes. I was unsure how the Laowa lens would perform inside the Ewa Marine housing, but was more than pleased with the results, considering that the Laowa lens is a fully manual lens. The easiest was I found to capture these photos was to place the camera and lens inside the Ewa Marine housing but to not use the rail clamp to close the housing. This allows the top of the housing to remain open allowing my hand to easily focus the manual lens. The easiest way to ensure sharp focus while using the Laowa lens and Live View is to enlarge the view to 100% on the LCD screen and focus on the frog’s eyeball. To quickly enlarge the view to 100% over the frog’s eyeball I pre-position the Live View focusing sensor over where I want the frog’s eye to be positioned within the composition. I then press the center button on the Nikon D500’s multi selector to immediately attain a 100% view, allowing me to accurately focus on the frog’s eyeball and capture the intended frame.

I am often asked “How do I get so close to these frogs?” The answer – large bullfrogs tend to be more tolerant than the juveniles. A slow approach works best as do slow movements inside the canoe. Any sudden movement triggers a flight response. Once the canoe is in position beside a chosen subject I kneel down in the canoe and slowly move the camera into position. For many of these images the front of the lens is only about 2-3 inches away from the subject.

Bullfrog in wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/320 sec

 

Bullfrog in wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/640 sec

 

Bullfrog in wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/640 sec

 

Bullfrog in wetland at dusk, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 320
f16 @ 1/50 sec

 

Bullfrog in wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Laowa 15mm 1:1 Macro Lens
ISO 800
f16 @ 1/500 sec

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Brown Booby in flight, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 90mm
ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/5000 sec.

Originally released in August of 2010 the Nikon 28-300mm VR lens has to be one the most versatile lenses available. Often you can find this lens in the used gear department for approximately $700 CDN. Like most folks, before I purchased this lens for my own gear bag I read several on-line reviews. I did not believe that the lens could really be as bad as folks were leading on. Here is a selection of some items that I noted during my internet readings:

  • softness in the center, sharpening up out towards the corners, and the some more corner softness
  • stopped-down results are downright blurry at the telephoto end of 300mm @ ƒ/36)
  • the 28-300 isn’t a really sharp lens and the corners are mush
  • zoom range exhibited shockingly poor off-axis image quality
  • is not a pro level lens nor one I’d use for critical shoots
  • I’m assuming this lens was defective as I couldn’t get a sharp picture no matter how hard I tried

I determined that in order to find out for myself I would need to add this lens to my gear bag. Right before I boarded the plane for my Cayman Brac Photo Tour in February I did just that. It is now one of my most favorite lenses. The lens does have one annoying habit, or at least my copy does. When the lens is pointed downward the zoom creep is very evident. Nonetheless, my honest opinion is that this lens does produce stellar results when good technique and creative vision is applied. Often I can be found in-the-field with my 28-300mm lens attached to one of my Nikons ready to capture those fleeting moments where changing lenses is not an option. The 28-300mm range is perfect for such circumstances.

I have never been one to trust the so-called internet experts. I much prefer to take gear out into the field and put it to the test. A real world review illustrating the quality of the lens with photographic examples.

Having the ability to zoom from 28mm to 300mm is a definite plus. On Cayman Brac I was able to photograph nesting Brown Boobies at close range and then quickly zoom out to 300mm to capture Brown Boobies in flight as they approached the cliff edge on their return to their nests.

Brown Booby pair at the nest, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 55mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

I also find the lens to be a powerful tool for my landscape work as illustrated in the below image of a winter wheat field at sunset near my rural home in Thornton, Ontario. A Singh Ray 3-stop reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter was also used in the capture of the sunset scene below.

Winter Wheat at Sunset, Thornton, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 82mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 3 seconds.

Having a minimum focusing distance of a mere 1.6 feet throughout the entire zoom range is also a huge bonus to my frog photography. In the past I would have to switch lenses to create my signature frog-scapes and close-up portraits. With the Nikon 28-300 I can simply zoom the lens from wide to telephoto and create both scenarios in mere seconds, as illustrated in the two Bullfrog images below.

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 48mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

 

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

While photographing Wood Ducks in Toronto, Ontario I am also able to create stunning portraits and close-up feather details due to the short, minimum focusing distance. While I was photographing feather details of a Wood Duck hen that had chose to sit beside me on a particular outing I had noticed that a lovely drake Wood Duck had also come into close proximity allowing me to zoom out and create a tight head shot of him. The versatility of the Nikon 28-300mm lens allowed me the opportunity to create both these images without the need to switch lenses , which would likely had caused one of the two birds, or both, to move further away.

Drake Wood Duck, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 2000, f5.6 @ 1/250 sec.

 

Hen Wood Duck Feather Details, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 1000, f11 @ 1/80 sec.

While walking along the shoreline of the Caribbean Ocean in Cayman Brac I came upon a dead crab. The shell of the dea crab was beautifully colored with interesting details too. To create the below macro shot of the crab shell details I used my Canon 500D Close-up Filter on the Nikon 28-300mm lens and stopped down to f22. There is some minor softness in the extreme corners of the image but this is due to the curvature of the shell. Ideally I should have used the focus stacking method to gain perfect sharpness in the corners.

Crab Shell Details, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/40 sec.

For those of us longing for some cooler temperatures in this heat wave, I have included a winter river detail image from my Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop this past January 🙂

Winter River Details, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1.6 sec.

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Newly Emerging Leaves in Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens

Spring arrived very slowly to the Muskoka area this year, but nonetheless it has arrived in all it’s splendor. I am often drawn to the newly emerging leaves within the forest but on a bright sunny and cloudless day there is often too much contrast within the forest however, looking up changes the perspective to one that is quite photogenic and even allows the opportunity to incorporate the sun into the composition as I did with the above image using the Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens.

My most favourite past-time in spring includes getting out into the vernal ponds to photograph the various frogs that show up in vast numbers to breed. Although the frogs have been chorusing for a number of weeks I was unable to find time in my schedule to get out into the ponds until this past weekend. I was excited to finally get out and try my new home-made flash diffuser mentioned in the This Might Just Be The Best Flash Diffuser Ever! blog post. As I expected I was more than thrilled with the performance of the flash diffuser in the field. Due to the larger size of the diffuser I did have to be cautious with my approach to the frogs and be careful that the diffuser did not bump any corresponding branches or foliage that may disturb the frogs, thus interrupting their singing. Below are a few of the images I captured over the course of the weekend exploring the vernal ponds. During these excursions I was delighted to encounter a Wood Frog at one of the ponds. It has been a great number of years since I have seen a Wood Frog in the woodlands of Muskoka.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the chorusing Spring Peeper was particularly challenging to photograph as he was singing beside a rather fresh pile of Moose scat. Positioning myself as I would normally do would have seen me laying in the scat, therefore, a different approach was much needed. To gain a low perspective and avoid the moose scat I utilized the Nikon D500’s tilting LCD screen so that I could hold the camera at ground level using LIve View to compose and capture the image.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

 

Wood Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the Green Frog among Hair-cap Moss really illustrates the usefulness of the home-made diffuser. Under normal flash conditions there would be many unpleasant shadows created by a bare flash. The polystyrene diffuser softens the light, eliminating any and all harsh shadows.

Green Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

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