Posts Tagged ‘tiny marsh’

Tiny Marsh in Winter Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens @ 200mm ISO 400, f22 @ 0.4 sec.

Tiny Marsh in Winter
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens @ 200mm
ISO 400, f22 @ 0.4 sec.


I awoke at 5:00 a.m. this morning to make the drive to Tiny Marsh in Elmvale, Ontario for what I hoped would be some nice winter sunrise scenes over the frozen wetland. As it turned out the cloud cover persisted and eliminated any chance of a sunrise, however, as often happens at Tiny Marsh, there is frequently interesting wind-swept patterns of snow and ice over the frozen marshland. The temperatures were a balmy -3 degrees Celsius and the winds were relatively light – it was a good morning to be at the marsh. In south-central Ontario we have been experiencing unusually warm weather and have just started to get some colder weather settling in to freeze the lakes, rivers, and wetlands. I spent several hours exploring the frozen patterns along the edges of the marshland and located one Snowy Owl but it was too far out across the unstable, newly forming ice to risk approaching it for photos. In fact, for many of the images I created this morning I received no less than half a dozen soakers when I stepped too far off the edge of the shoreline for a better perspective and sank through the ice up to my calfs. By the time I was ready to leave my boots were full of ice cold water and my toes were a tad chilly…hopefully the images were worth the effort 🙂

Please remember to click on each image to view the sharper, larger versions.


Pre-dawn Light Over Tiny Marsh Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 100, f16 @ 20 seconds

Pre-dawn Light Over Tiny Marsh
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 20 seconds


Winter Details at Tiny Marsh Nikon D800, Nikon 200-400mm lens @ 480mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1 second

Winter Details at Tiny Marsh
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm lens @ 480mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1 second


Winter at Tiny Marsh Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm lens @ 68mm ISO 100,  f16 @ 0.3 sec

Winter at Tiny Marsh
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm lens @ 68mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.3 sec

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Sunrise at Tiny Marsh with early sign of the ice starting to break-up

Sunrise at Tiny Marsh with early sign of the ice starting to break-up

Today I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to start my 45 minute drive to the Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area in Elmvale, Ontario. I have never had a disappointing day at Tiny Marsh and I often am rewarded with something I did not quite expect to capture during each visit. Today would be no exception. As usual I like to arrive with plenty of time to walk out along the main dike that extends out into the marsh, as I often find this to be most productive for sunrise imagery. Spring is getting underway a little slower here as the wetlands are still quite frozen over, a result of the extended, brutal cold we endured this winter which in turn created thick ice on the lakes and wetlands. In the image below you can see that things are starting to open up some now.

Tiny Marsh at sunrise in early spring

Tiny Marsh at sunrise in early spring

It was a cold morning with lightly formed ice on the surfaces of the newly open water sections. Along the edges of the marsh I noticed thousands of dead catfish, a result of winter kill, which is a common occurrence and quite simply a part of mother nature. These dead catfish will provide food for numerous wildlife, including racoons, snapping turtles, and many others. Having never encountered such an abundance of dead fish from winter kill I could not help but create a few images of them frozen beneath the ice.

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Tiny Marsh also supports a very large breeding population of Canada Geese and during today’s there were a few pairs hanging out in the open water near the main parking lot. In the distance you could hear the loud cackles of the majority of the marsh’s population.

Canada Geese at Tiny Marsh in early spring

Canada Geese at Tiny Marsh in early spring

Lastly, I wanted to scout out the boardwalk trail to see how things were looking for some of my soon to commence frog photography. The ice has receded completely in this area of the marsh but the water levels are very high this year – a result of the significant snowfall this past winter. I slowly made my way along the boardwalk, which was sinking into the water as I walked along it, and by the time I was done my feet were thoroughly soaked.

Tiny Marsh Boardwalk Trail submerged due to high water levels

Tiny Marsh Boardwalk Trail submerged due to high water levels

For folks that have never visited Tiny Marsh before I urge you to add it to your list of must see destinations, as it never disappoints. For private in-the-field photographic instruction please be sure to check out my newly added Workshops page on the blog by clicking here.

Long Point Workshop

For folks that are interested in a photographic workshop / tour to the tip of the Long Point Peninsula on Lake Erie, a destination that is only accessible by boat be sure to follow this link for further information. This workshop will take place on Saturday, May 31st.

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Tniy Marsh_7197-B&W

Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area

Last weekend I made the trek to Tiny Marsh so that I could see how things were shaping up for this season. Tiny Marsh is located near Elmvale, Ontario. This is just one of many great landscape photography locations featured in my eBook ‘The Photographer’s Guide to the Ontario Landscape.’  The day I chose to visit Tiny Marsh was rather dreary as storm skies threatened above a landscape that has yet to show any signs of greening-up due to cold spring weather.  While being presented with these elements my thoughts immediately turned to Black & White photography and scene above represents the only scene photographed on this day. After carefully composing this image, placing the horizon line in the center for the mirror image-like effect, and creating a few frames, the rain began to fall heavily. By the time I had made my way back to the car I was thoroughly soaked. but I think the resulting image was well worth the effort. I did make note of the vast number of Leopard Frogs that were already chorusing during my visit. I will be planning a trip back to Tiny Marsh at night to explore the wetlands for night-time frog photography soon and am considering to offer this as a private one-on-one workshop. More details will follow soon.

The above image was converted to B&W using Nik/Google’s Silver Efex Pro 2 software. Please do remember to click on the photo to see the larger, sharper version. Hope you like it 🙂

Sigma Scholarship Contest Update:

The deadline for the Sigma Scholarship Contest is fast approaching. The contest closes on April 30, 2013. If you are a full-time photography student enrolled in an accredited Canadian College or University and photograph with Sigma lenses you are eligible to enter. To find out more on how to enter and to learn about the killer prizes available click on the Sigma Scholarship Contest logo in the sidebar of the blog or click here. Gentec International is the distributor of Sigma lenses in Canada. Best of luck to all who enter the contest.

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The photographs accompanying today’s post mark the some of the last photos taken with my Nikon D200 and the last post for a couple of weeks. After a very long wait my newly purchased Nikon D800 has finally arrived and I will be heading out the door to have some fun with the new camera. Why did I upgrade? Certainly not because the D200 was not taking great images but quite simply, I require a new tool to capture the images I want, and I believe that the Nikon D800 will allow me to do just that. In the coming weeks we will see 🙂  The two images in today’s post are from Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area located neat Elmvale, Ontario. Do note in the last image I should have captured this photo a few seconds earlier when the highest part of the cloud formation was directly above the tallest tree on the right side of the image.

I hope everybody has a safe, fun-filled Canada Day weekend and to my friends south of the border, all the best on July 4 🙂

Please click on each image to view a much larger version of the photos.

See you soon!

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On a recent early morning trip to Ontario’s Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area for some sunrise photography (more on that shortly), I also made my way over to the boardwalk trail for some frog photography. I was hoping for lots of Leopard Frogs but none were to be found, however, there were many Green Frogs. The wetland surrounding the boardwalk at Tiny Marsh has lots of duckweed growing in the water now and this makes for some lovely images of frogs, as they poke their heads above the water’s surface.

The Green Frog in this post was located rather close to the edge of the boardwalk and very cooperative too. The problem here was that the light was too dark to handhold my Nikon 105mm Micro lens, at the desired aperture of f-16, for a decent image and using my trusty Nikon SB400 Speedlight was ruining this scene as it was creating numerous unpleasant highlights throughout the duckweed. The solution to photographing this frog was to use my tripod mounted Nikon 80-400mm VR lens, but the minimum focusing distance of this lens is roughly 7 feet and this frog was only about 2 inches in length – how would I do that? Well this is where I have to breakdown and admit that I was forced to make a switch to Canon 🙂 A Canon 500D Close-up lens to be exact. This close-up lens, with 77mm threads, is essentially a double element filter that simply screws onto the front of the lens as any filter would normally do, but it reduces the focusing distance of the lens drastically, allowing the 80-400mm VR lens to be used as a macro lens whenever I need it to, at a fraction of the weight and price of carrying an additional lens into the field. A polarizing filter was also attached to the front of the Canon close-up filter to reduce much of the undesirable glare from the duckweed.

Alternately, as I sit here writing this blog post I am charging the battery for my newly purchased Nikon D800. If I had this camera in my hands last week when I visited Tiny Marsh, I most likely would have cranked up the ISO and fired away with the handheld 105mm micro lens. Ain’t technology grand 🙂

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Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area at sunrise

Several days ago I drove over to Tiny Marsh for sunrise. I was greeted with a cloudless sky, not the most pleasing of situations for sunrise imagery. However, I ventured out across the wetland trails to see what might develop. As the sun rose above the horizon I captured a few images, minimizing the cloudless sky and allowing the wetland vegetation to dominate much of the image. Shortly after this I decided to walk out along the boardwalk trail to search for my favorite wildlife subjects – frogs. The boardwalk goes through a forested swampy section of  Tiny Marsh. My timing for this was perfect as there were many young Leopard Frogs at rest on fallen branches and resting among the duckweed in the water. I spent the next three or four hours shooting frogs. Since the frogs were in rather unpleasant lighting situations with the blazing sun casting harsh shadows as it streamed through the surrounding forest I decided to use my Nikon SB-400 on a home-made flash bracket to illuminate the scene. When I shoot frogs I always try to get down to their level if possible, so in this situation I lay down on the boardwalk to get as low as possible. The use of the flash solved the harsh, contrasting lighting, but it created another problem that I dislike very much – flash generated specular highlights. So began the task of eliminating these from the images. Often I will work on a photo very large (500-800%) to evict the highlights. I often use a variety of quick masks and clone stamp to complete this task. Due to the glossy, wet look of the amphibian`s skin this can sometimes be a time consuming task, taking 1-2 hours per image on occasion. I do find the extra effort is well worth the end result and when I complete the task why not try running through the photoshop plugin Fractalius.

Below you will see one of my Leopard Frog images from this day showing the original capture, the optimized file and of course the Fractalius rendering.

On another note, I have started a Facebook fan page today, still lots of work to do on it, but you may check it out here .

Original Capture

Optimized Image

Fractalius Version

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Tiny Marsh at sunrise (3-stop reverse graduated filter)

On Friday morning I made a quick trip up to Tiny Marsh for some sunrise photography. Tiny Marsh, located just west of Barrie, Ontario, is one of my favorite destinations for sunrise photography and wetland wildlife images too. Don’t let the name fool you, this is a very large wetland. The wetland section of this location is 600 hectares in size and is surrounded by 300 hectares of forest and fields. It is managed, in part, by Ducks Unlimited Canada. This was my first visit to the marsh this year as I have been too busy to get here sooner. I often arrive long before sunrise to allow time to walk out across the wetland trails to be where I want to be when the show begins. It is always a pleasure to listen to the sounds of the marsh as it awakens with the new day. Black Terns, Pied-billed Grebe, Osprey, Trumpeter Swans, Least Bitterns, Otters and many other critters abound here.

I have begun to use a Singh Ray 3-stop reverse graduated filter for sunrise photos where the sun is just above the horizon. The reverse graduated filter does a wonderful job at holding back the bright sun as it rises above the horizon. This filter yields more pleasing results for these type of images as opposed to using an ordinary graduated filter.

Tiny Marsh at sunrise (3-stop reverse graduated filter)

While waiting for the sun to rise don’t forget to look over your shoulder. Often you will find some rather pleasing colors in the sky. For the image below I used a combination of a Singh Ray 2-stop soft edge graduated filter with a Singh Ray Color Intensifier. The original image was composed with some wild rice poking into the foreground. To include the cloud formation reflections I was forced to include them in the composition and then evict them later in post processing.

Tiny Marsh (Singh Ray 2-stop grad filter & Color Intensifier)

As I was walking out along the wetland trail towards my car, the sun was much higher in the sky and broke through an opening in the cloud cover producing rays of light that shone down on the wetland. For the image below I used a 2-stop graduated filter and a Cokin Blue and Yellow Polarizing Filter. I don’t particularly like using the blue and yellow filter, but do find that it has its place when used sparingly. Often when using this type of filter with digital capture some adjustment to white balance and color temperature is required. If you are interested in using this type of filter I would suggest you purchase the Singh Ray version (I keep putting it off, but need to replace the Cokin one with this one) which is called ‘Gold-N-Blue” and to use if effectively refer to Darwin Wiggett’s blog entry at Focus on Singh Ray Filters.

Tiny Marsh (2-stop grad filter & Cokin Blue & Yellow polarizer)

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One of my favorite photo destinations is Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area near Elmvale, Ontario. It is designated as an “Important Birding Area” (IBA) in Canada and is managed by Ducks Unlimited Canada. Many years ago I decided that this would become one location I would use for a personal project- shooting in-depth coverage. Being located only 40 minutes from my home makes it a relatively easy destination in all seasons regardless of weather conditions. I leave my house at such a time that I can be on location well before sunrise. Arriving for work early you might say. After capturing a few sunrise images I begin to work on my wildlife photography. Tiny Marsh has a large breeding population of Canada Geese and Black Terns as well as a few breeding pairs of Trumpeter Swans. This, however, only scratches the surface as to the wildlife inhabiting this wetland. This project will be ongoing for me. Tiny Marsh, despite its name, is very large in size. It gets its name from Tiny Township, the township in which it is located.

Shooting in-depth coverage will help you tell the story of a location should you wish to publish an article on a given subject and also improve your odds at image sales to publications should they run a feature on such a place too. Below are a few of my favorite images from time spent at Tiny Marsh throughout the years. I hope you enjoy them.

The above image was captured one autumn while waiting for sunrise. As it turned out, sunrise on this day was uneventful, however, I learned a valuable lesson on this day – always look behind you when shooting sunrise images.

Above is another reason to look behind yourself when shooting early in the morning. Most wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk and you never know who might be watching you. On this day, I heard grunting noises behind myself and turned around to see this curious otter family checking the new guy out.

The male Canada Goose above was less than impressed with my presence on the pathway where he and his mate decided to build their nest. Here he stands with his “hackles” raised as he threatens me should I move any closer.

A few years ago the marsh was drained by Ducks Unlimited Canada to improve the wetland and slowly water was re-introduced. This controlled drainage was to mimic what occurs naturally to wetlands. This image helps to tell the story of how Tiny Marsh was originally drained for agricultural purposes many, many years ago. Those attempts failed and eventually it was restored to its natural state.

A full moon setting at dawn in early spring.

One of the many beautiful Trumpeter swans that inhabit the wetlands at Tiny Marsh

One of my favorite seasons for photography is winter. Here a strong wind the day before had blown away enough snow to reveal the icy surface of the wetland, creating some foreground interest to this image. The dried plant life protruding from the ice and snow is wild rice.

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Here is a recent sunrise image from Tiny Marsh near Elmvale, Ontario. Tiny Marsh is one of my favorite wetlands to shoot at sunrise. Despite its name, Tiny Marsh is quite large at approximately 600 hectares making it an important wetland in south-central Ontario for migrating waterfowl. It was once drained for agriculture, but through the efforts of conservation organizations it is now a flourishing wetland once again and a popular spot for birding, naturalists and duck hunting when in season.

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