Monthly Archives: November 2015

“Alight in Golds”

“Alight in Golds”

One of my favourite abstracts from this past autumn. This photo was made while hiking the Secord Conservation Area trails a few weeks ago. As noted on earlier posts, this year produced beautiful gold tones in the beech trees along the trail and the autumn sunlight filtered down to the forest floor, producing a beautiful soft, warm light.

I used my vertical pan technique to produce the abstract blur effect which has become a bit of my brand. Since it’s done handheld, the results are often surprising and a bit variable. I have a pretty good idea how it will look and carefully select a composition which will yield favourable results.

In this particular composition, the golden beech leaves are in the foreground with maples and pines in the background. There are beech leaves mixed with maple on the ground and some low greenery at the base of the maples. The overall result is a somewhat serene image with soft splashes of gold against a darker background. It’s an image I am often drawn to on busy days and reminds me of the quiet times on the hiking trails.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm
1/4 sec @ f/20.0, ISO 250

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“Who’s There?” – Fraser Lake, Ontario

“Who’s There” - Fraser Lake, Ontario

The title for this photo did not take long to decide.

In pouring rain and heavy wind, at the end of my unsuccessful deer hunt, I was driving back to the cottage and noticed this fine fellow standing in a field next to the road, on private property, near a group of houses and cottages. I had my camera in the back of the car, not expecting any further opportunities because of the bad weather, and carefully pulled off the road, opened my door gently, closed it, ever so quietly, for fear of spooking him, grabbed my camera and walked back to see if he was still there.

Much to my surprise, my stopping and car doors opening did not seem to bother him. In fact, he probably did not hear me clearly due to the wind and rain. And, he would not have scented me, for the same reason. Thus, his senses were limited to sight alone. I suspect that’s why he’s craning his neck like he is. I could see him over a rise in the field and I expect his view was much the same. The pale white lines across the photo are caused by the two strands of barbed wire running through the frame.

I had spent the day photographing with my 70-200, because of the low light and wish I could have switched to my 70-300 to get a closer view, even though I did not use full zoom on this shot, in order to capture more of the background scene. Anyways, despite the conditions and circumstances, I was happy to see, and photograph, this beautiful animal before he bounded back into the forest, uncertain if I was actually a threat to him. Just another of those moments and memories I often talk about.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 165mm
1/60 sec @ f/4.0-.33, ISO 250

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“Red Belt Fungus” – Hermon, Ontario

“Red Belt Fungus” - Hermon, Ontario

Wow, I wonder who came up with this brilliant name?

I came across this rather bright fungus during a recent hunting trip. Well, it was more like walking through the woods with a gun, and a camera. It was certainly not an ideal hunting day, but the subdued light and wet conditions (it had rained for 3 days straight) were ideal for photography. I had my 70-200 f/2.8 with me to make up for the dark conditions in the forest. With this lense I can shoot down to 1/8 second handheld because of the excellent VR. That saves carrying a tripod everywhere, like I used to do.

This photo was made on a wood lot just outside Hermon, Ontario, in the Bancroft area. It’s a beautifully diverse forest with wonderful ancient stands of red pine, cedar, and maple, bisected by steep rocky ridges so typical of the Canadian Shield.

It was hard not to stop and photograph this wonderfully colourful fungus which just glistened in the rain. I was tempted to move the branch lying across the stump, but it adds to the composition, I think.

There is something about mushrooms and fungus that is inexplicably appealing to me, as well as several other photographers I know. They (the mushrooms and fungus) are very diverse in their colour and texture and only last for a short period, so that may be it.

Yet again, this is one of those natural compositions I see on a daily basis and like to share. I hope you enjoy it.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 135mm
1/30 sec @ f/2.8-.33, ISO 250

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“Fallen Oak Leaves on Stump”

“Fallen Oak Leaves on Stump”

Sometimes, with the right light, a simple scene along a roadside or a hiking trail can be a thing of tremendous beauty. It’s something I come across all the time. I tell my friends that this is how my eyes work, and I can’t turn it off, nor, would I want to.

Take as an example, the photo above. It’s just two oak leaves which have fallen and come to rest on a stump. My eyes are, for some inexplicable reason, drawn to these scenes. I look at the simplicity of the composition nature has provided and it brings me joy.

My dilemma, frequently, is how do I capture this moment in time effectively, so others can enjoy it too. Most times nature, and my knowledge of light and my camera, suffice. While, at other times, the elements just don’t align, or I get my camera setting wrong, and the scene becomes, simply a memory. If I go back the next day for a reshoot, the light is rarely the same, or some other element has moved or changed slightly and the magic is gone.

I’m learning, on every shot, what settings need to be made, based on failures and experimentation. Many times now, it’s just instinct, and I like that. There are images I could not have made a few years back and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.

In this case, all the elements aligned and my settings were OK, though I would change aperture if I had to re-shoot. I was drawn by the light on the oak leaves and, as I looked at the composition, I really liked the textures of the old log they were laying on. Oddly enough, in some cases I can’t really articulate what it is about composition that I find appealing till I get back to my computer and really look at the image, then it becomes obvious.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 155mm
1/60 sec @ f/5-.33, ISO 250

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“Trailside Carnival”

“Trailside Carnival”Generally, titles for my photos come fairly easily. Not so in this case. I looked at the photo over and over and nothing seemed appropriate. It’s also a fairly tall composition, which I have stayed away from, unless absolutely necessary. After a while of looking at the elements, I thought, “This looks like a carnival, with all the bright colours mixing together.”

This is a hillside along one of the Secord Conservation Area trails. There are a lot of tall maples, beeches, and oaks in the foreground and some younger beeches (orange leaves) in the background mixed with a few maples which, for some reason, had not changed to their fall colours yet. The way the oranges and greens mixed together was interesting to me, and thus, the photo above was made.

It was also one of those days of soft, warm light that lit up the forest floor in patches and brought out some of the finer details of the tree trunks in the foreground. For me, just another glimpse into this serene place that I like to visit frequently.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 80mm
1/125 sec @ f/5.6 -.33, ISO 250

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“Glowing Beech Leaves”

“Glowing Beech Leaves” Durham Forest, Uxbridge

Did I mention I love the light in the fall?

During one of my hikes this fall, I was covered with a glowing canopy of golden beech leaves, brightly lit by the sun. All the light around me was this beautiful, warm yellow/orange and the entire forest just glowed.

Amid all this warmth, it was difficult to isolate a single image that showed the source of this wonderful light. This image is probably the best representation of what I saw. Multiply this image by thousands and that would give a good idea of just how glorious the light was. The leaves literally looked like they were made of gold. Granted, some had some decay and did not look their best, but that was not noticeable till you got up close.

This particular cluster showed its finery the best, with nice structure and clean lines, against the darker  pine forest in the background.

Whenever I look at this photo, it brings me back to the place and time when I made it and fills me with a warmth and longing to return, knowing it was just one of those fleeting moments that we can only return to in memory, but I’ll hold onto it, nonetheless and look forward to the next season with hopes that nature repeats her show once more.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 165mm
1/250 sec @ f/9.0 -.33, ISO 250

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“Another Bend in the Path”

“Another Bend in the Path”

This photo is pretty much a summary of how autumn has played out for me. We have had an extended season, with mild weather, sunny skies, and leaves that seemed to cling to the trees for weeks, despite frosty nights, rain, and wind.

Unlike a typical fall, where I’m looking out the window, anxious to get out and make photos before the conditions fade, this year yielded day after glorious day of great light, incredible colour, and beautiful weather to just ‘be’ in nature.

The photo above was made on one of our abundant local trails at the Secord Conservation area. This trail system is incredibly variable and switches from cedar swamp, to meadow, to hardwood forest in the span of a few kilometers. There are a few patches of large birch trees, which is the case above. Here the bright white of the bark of the birches contrasts nicely against the oranges of the beech and oak trees againsts the dark backdrop of pine forest.

I titled it “Another Bend in the Path” because that is exactly what it is. Every bend, every rise in the path, yields wonderful new view.

There have been some interesting conversations lately about my subject matter. People seem shocked when I tell them these photos are local and not in some far off, remote, location. I hold to the notion that great images are everywhere, but you have to get out and move around to find them and be there when the light is right. Those who spend time in nature frequently will know what I mean. A frequently viewed grove of trees will suddenly glow with light, for a brief moment, the light will hit a patch of forest floor and reveal details you never noticed before, and then, the moment is gone, other than the memory . This awareness of the beauty, variability, and complexity of nature is my sanctuary. It’s a place and time where I can recharge, renew, and just ‘be’. The added bonus is that I can capture some of these moments and be able to share them with others, who may not be able to get out and experience it for themselves.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/125 sec @ f/5.6 -.33, ISO 250

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“Bejewelled in Raindrops”

“Bejewelled in Raindrops” - Fraser Lake

The final installment of my raindrops in fall series, for this year.

This photo was made a few seconds before my “Unexpected Beauty” image. The difference is really the background. This one is a bit darker and lacking the blue background of the forest.

It does show more of the raindrops, which is what initially drew my attention. I did not want to open close the aperture too much because I wanted to retain some of the soft bokeh in the subsequent layers. This one highlights more of the droplets on the branches, which really look like tiny glowing jewels against the greens and oranges of autumn.

Of the three images, this one is my favourite, because of the layers and how it really captured my viewpoint effectively. It is important for me, creatively, to portray things, as I see them, and I’m learning daily just how to do that, though the lense and through my words.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/13 sec @ f/2.8 -.33, ISO 250

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“Golden Fingers”

“Golden Fingers” - Beech and Raindrops

This photo was made the morning after my prior post. It was also a dull rainy day near Bancroft and the sky brightened ever so slightly. The effect is very visible in the raindrops that clung to the branches surrounding me.

It really shows just how different the light is at different times of day, even when the sky is overcast. While the previous image is quite cool and blue, this one is bright and warm. The location is not the same either, but the effect of the water droplets and branches was the same. Like tiny jewels hanging from the branch.

Walking through the woods that day, despite the rain, was a real pleasure and yielded many nice photos, which I will share over the next few days.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/50 sec @ f/3.5 -.33, ISO 250

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“Unexpected Beauty”

“Unexpected Beauty” - Water Drops on Branches, Fraser Lake,

Nature is a glorious thing. Last week I took to the forest for my annual deer hunt, with camera in tow.

It was not an ideal year for hunting. A slow moving low pressure system had set in and I was faced with three solid days of rain, cold, and wind. This should not come as a surprise in November in Canada.

My real purpose to hunting has always been more about simply being out in nature and observing. A bonus, some years, is a freezer full of meat.

You often hear people bemoan bad weather. “It’s too dark, too rainy, too windy, for any good photos. Well, to me, the above photo proves that all wrong. If your eyes are looking for beauty, you see it, even on an overcast, rainy day. In this case, the rain had eased up a bit and some brightness in the sky lit up the drops of rain clinging to the beech trees. It was near dusk, so the background forest had just taken on a blue cast. The farm field in the foreground had hints of green from the grass that had not yet been heavily frosted. I was really trying to capture the bejewelled look of the branch in the foreground and the contrast of the orange beech leaves against the blue background. I think it turned out rather nicely. It put some brightness into a dull day.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/25 sec @ f/2.8 -.33, ISO 250

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