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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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Star Trails Over Lake Traverse, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

The Lake Traverse Photographic Workshop wrapped up about a week ago. This late follow-up is the result of being off the grid immediately after the workshop in Ontario`s remote boreal forest in the James Bay Lowlands to scout  a potential workshop offering for 2020. Stay tuned for some incredible photo opportunities from this remote area of the province. I returned a couple of days ago and after getting caught up with submissions and prepping for other upcoming workshops finally have a day or two to breathe.

Photogrpahing the starry night sky at this location is always tons of fun as it is one of the darkest areas within the province. When clear skies prevail there are numerous options for starry night skies and star trails too. Although not visible to us during the creation of the star trail image above, the 45 minute exposure did record faint colours from the aurora borealis.

Petawawa River, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

I was quite pleased to receive this unsolicited email from Lake Traverse workshop participant Geoff:

First and foremost I’d like to thank you for the wonderful weekend up at the Observatory in Algonquin Park. It was nice to spend some time with people whom shared common interests. You put things together really well. It was quite a new experience for me with the astro photograghy. It was the perfect spot to observe the night sky as we were so far into the park and beyond a lot of light pollution. And the trip up the satellite dish, way bigger than I ever thought, was a real surprise. 

      And putting that aside for a moment, what a beautiful place to take landscape photos. The lakes and rivers were so plentiful and in actual fact in our short time up there we only sampled a small amount of what Algonquin Park has to offer. It truly is a nature lovers delight. And where ever we went there were no crowds. 

      As for you personally I just wanted to thank you again. I’ve had you teaching me about macro photography in your Frog Photography workshop. I’ve had you teaching me about my camera, lenses and filters. And of course this latest workshop in Algonquin with a new group of people. The nice thing was the fact that it wasn’t so large a group that you couldn’t spend time with each and every photographer. You were still able to help each person with there specific issues. This is the greatest thing about your workshops. I’ve heard about others that were large numbers of students and time with the instructor was scarce. I will look forward to attending another work shop with you again. I may even do the Algonquin trip should you plan on another next year

Algonquin Radio Observatory Laser Light Painting
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

New for this year`s workshop was having the ability to paint the massive satellite dish with lasers for an other-worldly effect.

Rusty Old Wreck, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

My favourite part of these workshops is visiting the rusty old wreck hidden in the surrounding woodland. The images I created during this year`s workshop I applied a light treatment with Topaz Impression 2 to create an old time feeling.

Stay tuned for the 2019 announcement of the Lake Traverse Photographic Workshop. To be added to the early bird notification list please do shoot me an email by clicking here.

Milky Way, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

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Halfway Log Dump
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

In May of 2016, I made a three day visit to Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula National Park. Today I revisited the folder of images from that trip to optimize several of the photographs that were tucked away due to my backlog in editing the files. Bruce Peninsula National Park can be found at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula near Tobermory, Ontario. It is also on the Niagara Escarpment – an UNESCO World Biosphere site. One section of the park lies on Lake Huron while the remainder of the park is facing beautiful Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay provides landscape photographs with a plethora of stunning vistas with ragged cliffs, cobblestone beaches, and unlimited shoreline details to photograph. A short distance out into Georgian Bay lies the Fathom Five National Marine Park, which is home to the famous Flower Pot Island. If you are a landscape photographer the Bruce Peninsula needs to be one of your bucket list items.

Halfway Log Dump
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Indian Head Cove
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Indian Head Cove
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Flower Pot Island
Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario

 

The Grotto
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

 

Flower Pot Island
Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario

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Rusty Old Wreck Interior
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens

Without a doubt rusty old dilapidated automobiles look great with a touch of grunge processing added to them. On Thursday June 21st I visited a nearby auto wrecker to photograph several old abandoned cars and trucks. I was quite fascinated by the state of decay inside this particular old car.  Using my amazingly wide and razor sharp Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens on my Nikon D800 I set out to create this extreme wide angle, interior view. The above image was created from one RAW image file. In Adobe Camera Raw I made adjustments to the Clarity, Contrast, Shadow, and Highlights slider and also tweaked the Vibrance slider as well. I then opened the image into Photoshop CC and went straight for my Nik Color Efex Filters to apply my simplified grunge processing technique. First a treatment of Detail Extractor was applied, which in Photoshop I reduced the opacity of the layer to roughly 70%. Secondly I applied a touch of Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast filter. I then saved the image as an 8-bit TIFF and created my watermarked low-res JPEG for web use. I spent no more than 10 minutes on optimizing this image using the two NIK filters for a simplified, but incredibly effective grunge look.

 

WORKSHOP NOTES:

I was pleased to sign up 3 additional participants for the Lake Superior Wild & Scenic Photography Retreat in October over the last couple of weeks. There is now only 1 spot available.

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Sachatamia albomaculata

On Tuesday, April 3rd I spent the day testing a new DIY flash diffuser while photographing numerous species of frogs for some of the soon to be announced frog workshops. Most of the species featured in today’s post will be available at the next workshop. I can honestly say that this is the absolute best way to diffuse flash when photographing frogs. I am certain that this method of flash diffusion will also work incredibly well for insects too. Often when using flash to photograph frogs there will be some flash generated spectral highlights. Over the years I have become quite skilled at removing such highlights in Photoshop, but the process is time consuming. In today’s blog post my newly created DIY flash diffuser was used to photograph each of the species that are featured. How much post production did I do to each of these photos? The answer is not much at all. Aside from a few tweaks in Adobe Camera Raw and removing a few dust bunnies in Photoshop these images are essentially as is, straight from the camera. I spent no more than about 5 minutes optimizing each of the images in today’s post. There were no flash generated spectral highlights to be concerned with. I cannot wit to get into the wetlands near my home, with my new DIY flash diffuser, to photograph the frogs and toads during the spring breeding season this year

How much did it cost to make my new DIY flash diffuser? The price of a 1 kilogram plastic jar of Kraft peanut butter! The other items I already had on hand and they included an elastic and polystyrene foam sheeting.

Below are a few photos of my newly created DIY flash diffuser and an explanation of how I constructed it to follow.

DIY Flash Diffuser Set-up

 

Polystyrene Foam Sheeting

 

DIY Flash Diffuser Components

 

Since polystyrene foam sheeting is rather flimsy and you will need the plastic peanut butter jar (or something similar) to support the foam sheets. Polystyrene foam sheeting is typically used as a packaging item to protect various goods from damage during shipping. I cut the bottom off the plastic jar and I also cut the jar lengthwise to spread out the plastic, to form a concave shape. Creating a concave shape will allow the lighting top be equal distance from the subjet providing a more evenly diffused light. I also made one cut to the top of the jar which easily allows me to mount it onto a 77mm lens hood and hold it firmly in place with an elastic. You will also want to have the plastic jar slope upwards away from the lens as it does in the first photo of the DIY flash diffuser. I did this by simply running boiling water over the plastic to soften it and then bend it by hand. I then taped two layers of foam sheeting directly to my old Nikon SB600 and three pieces, cut to shape, onto the main diffuser. I found this quantity of foam sheeting provided me with the perfect amount of diffused light to completely eliminate flash generated spectral highlights. Take a look at the remaining frog images below. I do think the benefit of using such a simple and inexpensive diffuser speaks volumes. Even the catchlight in the frog’s eyes is more pleasing, allowing us to see more of the eye ball details with this DIY flash diffuser. If you have any questions about how to construct your own DIY flash diffuser using the materials mentioned above please do not hesitate to contact me for further assistance.

 

Atelopus sp. Limon

 

Dendrobates auratus “el Cope”

 

Dendrobates auratus “Yellow”

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo”

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “Patricia”

 

Epipedobates anthonyi “Ankas”

 

Megophrys aceras

 

Oophaga sylvatica “Diablo”

 

Phyllobates vittatus

 

Ranitomeya flavovitatta

 

Ranitomeya immitator “Chazuta”

 

Ranitomeya sirensis

 

Ranitomeya ventrimaculata

 

Theloderma asperum

 

Sachatamia albomaculata

 

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On Tuesday March, 27, 2018 I will be presenting my “Ontario & Beyond – Wild Places Wild Faces” program for the Ajax Photography Club at the Ajax Community Centre located at 75 Centennial Road in the HSM Room. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m. Guests are welcome to attend for a $10 admission fee. Mark the date in your calendars and come on out for an enjoyable evening of nature photography and learn the secrets behind how I capture and optimize my my landscape and wildlife imagery.

Hope to see you there 🙂

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Flat Rock Scorpion – captive
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm f2.8D Lens
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

On Thursday, March 8th I drove out to a potential workshop location to scout out some critters for an upcoming workshop. This workshop will feature Scorpions, Tarantulas, Geckos, and a few other very interesting subjects. While we were working with the subjects the handler suggested that we could use an ultraviolet light on the scorpions as they glow under such light. I thought that would be very cool to try, but I did not bring along a tripod as they would need to be photographed under the UV light along and flash could not be used. We gave it a try anyway and dialed the ISO up to 20,000 (that is not a typo!) to permit a hand held capture at f3.2 for 1/100 second. After applying some noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw I was actually quite surprised at the end result. The opening image shows the Flat Rock Scorpion under normal lighting and below is the same scorpion glowing under the ultraviolet light. I was also surprised to see that the sand turns purple under the UV lighting.

For folks that do not want to miss out on their opportunity to attend this soon to be announced photographic workshop please send me a note by clicking here to be added to my workshop contact list.

Flat Rock Scorpion under Ultraviolet Light
ISO 20,000, f3.2 @ 1/100 sec

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