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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

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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The Niagara Escarpment at Georgian Bay on Bruce Peninsula National Park

Recently I accompanied a couple of past workshop participants an outing to Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, which was well planned as the wintry scenes will come to an abrupt end with the onset of warmer, rainy weather forecasted for this week.

The Bruce Peninsula lies between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. A section of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere, also runs along the Bruce Peninsula. The Niagara Escarpment is known for stunning limestone cliffs and outcrops as well as being home to eastern North America’s oldest trees and forest ecosystem. In winter this region takes on an incredible transformation as the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment are adorned with massive amounts of ice. There are several caves along the base of the cliffs that are only accessible when Georgian Bay freezes over. The interiors of these caves are  incredible to explore as well, especially with a wide angle lens.

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The Niagara Escarpment at Georgian Bay on Bruce Peninsula National Park

My choice of lens to use on this trip turned out to be the amazingly wide and razor sharp Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens on my Nikon D800. The close focusing capabilities of this lens easily allowed me to capture all the amazing icy details in the foregrounds, yet take in the grand landscape before me. The Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens was also extremely useful when entering the small caves along the base of the cliffs as I was easily able to capture a significant portion of the cave’s interior details while peering out through the cave openings.

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The Niagara Escarpment at Georgian Bay on Bruce Peninsula National Park

All in all the outing to this area was short. We spent a mere 4 hours photographing the wintry details of the Georgian Bay coast. We had hoped for another opportunity on Sunday, but our plans were thwarted by significant winds and rain. Nonetheless, I created some of my personal best winter landscape imagery on the outing.

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The Niagara Escarpment at Georgian Bay on Bruce Peninsula National Park

I was so impressed with the winter landscape opportunities along the Georgian bay coast in Bruce Peninsula National Park that I may offer a winter landscape photography workshop to this region in 2020. Folks that may be interested in such an event should contact me by clicking here to be added to my workshop email contact list.

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The Niagara Escarpment at Georgian Bay on Bruce Peninsula National Park

 

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The Niagara Escarpment at Georgian Bay on Bruce Peninsula National Park

 

 

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Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River in winter, Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River, Rosseau, Ontario

The 2nd Annual Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Photographic Workshop wrapped up on Sunday February 10th around 12:00 noon. We began the workshop on Friday February 8th at 1:00 pm after driving through a wicked snow squall in Bracebridge, Ontario with near zero visibility. The snow squall left about 6-8 inches of fresh snow on the ground and coated the surrounding forests with a lovely dusting of snow – a perfect winter wonderland was created for photographing throughout the course of the weekend event.

We had four fabulous and talented participants of which three were repeat clients.

We began with a glorious morning at Hatchery Falls near Rosseau, Ontario. As the sun began to rise it cast beautiful soft light on the distant forest behind the Skeleton River, as can be seen in the opening image. It would appear that this waterfall has been visited very seldom this year as we had to blaze a trail through significant snow depth on the ground, but it was worth the extra effort.

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Potts Creek, Bracebridge, Ontario

We made two trips into Little High Falls on Potts Creek. The first trip in was on Friday afternoon, followed by a second trip on the Sunday morning. Both days were equally good, but totally different. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly waterfalls and rivers can change during the winter months when ice formations take on new shapes overnight. A light dusting of snow on Sunday morning help to accentuate openings in the thin sheets of ice that had formed on Potts Creek overnight. This can be seen in the above image and two images below.

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Potts Creek, Bracebridge, Ontario

 

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Winter River Details, Bracebridge, Ontario

 

Potts Creek in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Potts Creek, Bracebridge, Ontario

During brief breaks in Friday afternoon’s intense snow squalls the fresh fallen snow created beautiful clean winter scenics.

My choice of gear for this trip was kept rather simple. As usual my Laowa 12mm Zero D lens was given a workout. The Nikkor 28-300mm lens was a close second as it is such a versatile lens and great for capturing icy details along the river. When I needed focal lengths in between the 12mm and the 28-300mm lenses I worked with the Nikkor 18-35mm lens. Every image was photographed using a polarizing filter to help reduce or eliminate glare from the scene. Do note that I said “reduce or eliminate” as not every scene will warrant full polarization. There are times when a bit of glare can be used for creative effect within the composition.

Little High Falls in winter, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Little High Falls, Bracebridge, Ontario

On Saturday afternoon we trekked into Skeleton Falls through 3 feet of snow until we reached the forest where the snow on the ground was much easier to walk through as we made our way down the forested slope to the river.

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Winter Details on the Skeleton River, Rosseau, Ontario

 

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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.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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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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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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Hatchery Falls on the Skeleton River, Muskoka, Ontario

On January 27th & 28th we held our first-ever Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Photographic Workshop. We had 5 fabulous clients that made the entire event lots of fun. Our conditions at the waterfalls could have been better but we all made the best of the conditions that we were presented with. The area experienced a real swing in temperatures throughout January from -30 Celsius to +10 Celsius with lots of rain. The rain and warm temps melted away much of the snow that had accumulated early in the month and the rain over the course of the last few weeks created some treacherously, icy conditions. The ice was so made at some locations that it did prevent us from accessing certain vantage points at some waterfalls for safety reasons. On the flip side though there were some really cool ice formations along the river banks that we all took advantage of with our long lenses. To illustrate the effect of the warmer than usual weather and excessive rains the image below of an old weathered boathouse on Lake Rosseau pretty much sums it up.

Lake Rosseau Boathouse in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

In the coming weeks I will share some of the images created by the particiapnts with you here on the blog. From what I have seen so far, you are in for a real treat 🙂

In the photo that opens this blog post you can see the glare ice at Hatchery Falls and this ice extended down to the base of the falls making it impossible to access the lower area for different perspectives. My trusty Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D lens was used to create this extreme wide angle view.

Ice details at Potts Creek, Muskoka, Ontario

The ice detail images that I created were captured with the Nikon 28-300mm VR lens mounted to a Nikon D800. This is a great b-roll lens that produces razor sharp images, which is quite the opposite to what the so-called internet experts have to say. I will do a thorough review of this lens in the coming weeks.

Ice details at Potts Creek, Muskoka, Ontario

The timing of this workshop also coincided with the3rd annual Bracebridge Fire & Ice Festival. After supper a couple of us decided to see what Bracebridge Falls looked like all lit up at night and explore the fireworks display that was to occur later that evening.

 

Bracebridge Falls at Night, Muskoka, Ontario

 

Bracebridge Fire & Ice, Muskoka, Ontario

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