Monthly Archives: January 2016

“Duffins Creek Ice Art II” – near Whitevale

“Duffins Creek Ice Art II” - near Whitevale

Nature is constantly amazing me. The image above is a simple shot of a frozen Duffins Creek. It looks like some marvelous abstract art piece that you would see in an expensive downtown gallery. But, this one’s free and created through the natural freezing process.

If you take the time to really look, you can see how the layers may have built up, how the water ebbed and flowed between the rocks on the creekbed, creating intricate curves, and trapping air bubbles.

I may start a whole series of these and compare different creeks in their ability to create art.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 250

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“Winter Dreams” – Seaton Trail

“Winter Dreams”

To start this out, I’m stealing a wonderful quote from a fellow blogger spanishwoods.

“In my opinion, the most ordinary things, the most common and familiar, if we could see them in their true light, would turn out to be the grandest miracles . . . and the most marvelous examples.”
—Michel de Montaigne

The above statement resonates with me on so many levels. I don’t live in an area with grand vistas, mountains, or oceans. The countryside surrounding my home is, at first appearance, quite bland.

But, if you have the eye to see deeper, and appreciate the fine details, the landscape opens up into a world of light and colour.

Today, after nearly two weeks of not venturing very far afield, I got up, looked at the stunning, clear light, and despite it being -12 degrees celsius outside, headed out with the intention of a much needed walk in the woods (and some photos). I made about 40 photos of forest trails, frozens creeks, and plants along the way. As the quote above states, it’s often the ordinary things, that on further observation, become quite spectacular. On occasion, I’m surprised by some detail I did not notice as I made the photo. After all, I’m limited to what I see through the viewfinder. Along my walk I stopped in a few locations to photograph the tiny seed pods of a plant called Dog Strangling Vine. Apparently, it’s an invasive species, imported deliberately or accidentally from Europe some 150 years ago. I don’t know that a dog has ever actually been strangled by it. The plant’s real name is European Swallow-Wort. These plants often grow in thick tangles, clinging to and climbing up trees, but every now and then a single tendril reaches between trees and those tend to make good subjects for photos where I can isolate a single seed pod or two. They are quite ordinary, but unique in how they grow.

I was very surprised today, in reviewing my photos that, despite it being mid January, my camera picked up the most awesome purples, and pinks as a burst of colour bokeh behind the seed pods. I don’t recall seeing anything pink or purple in the background when I made the photo. So, I’ll take this as a special gift. It adds a real dream-like effect to the image, coupled with the burst effect of a few background branches. If I had planned this, I would have been pleased. But, to have a complete surprise is awesome and keeps me inspired to seek out more of these special moments.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm
1/100 sec, f/5.0 -0.33, ISO 250

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“Centre Eaton” – Montreal

Eaton Centre - Montreal

Never let me say “There’s nothing  to photograph”.

Though my preference is really nature and outdoors images, I also, occasionally,  have a ‘thing’ for patterns and urban scenes. Today, after a day spent in several corporate offices, I took a walk through ‘underground Montreal’. It’s a series of connected shopping complexes that reaches several kilometers under downtown Montreal.

During the day, this is a very busy place, full of commuters on their way to work, students, attending the adjacent McGill University and shoppers, out for a bargain. In the evening, it is essentially vacant, and I find it a nice place to walk and stretch my legs after a day sitting through meetings.

Today, I made my way to the upper level of this section of the complex, the Montreal Eatons Centre, to get a view of the complex from a higher vantage point. The above image is the result. I like the strong lines and flow of the place and added a bit of ‘posterizing’ to accentuate that effect.

iPhone 5s back camera 4.15mm f/2.2
1/40 sec, f/2.2, ISO 40

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“Poplar Stand at Secord”

“Poplar Stand at Secord”

Hearkening back to milder days, as I ride the train through snow filled landscapes to Montreal. This image was made back in mid-October 2015, as I hiked the southern trails of the Secord Forest. I have made many photographs in the area, but as with many of the photos, the light is always a bit different and what seems familiar suddenly transforms into something altogether new and wonderful.

This image is a fine example of that phenomenon. There are many small poplar groves in this forest and I’ve sen and photographed most of them. Primarily because the long, straight trunks lend themselves so well to these painterly effects. As I recall, this was a mild afternoon on a Saturday and the light was soft and warm and the leaves had just started to turn to their bright yellow fall hues. I stood and looked at these familiar trees but there was something a bit different than previous visit because the sun lit up the background nicely so I made a few vertical pans. I was pleasantly surprised at the show of colour layers in the image and the retention of some of the finer details in the tree bark.

I hope you enjoy it.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 80 mm
1/4 sec, f/32, ISO 250
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“Frozen Falls in Altona” – Altona, Ontario

Icicles in Frozen Fall near Altona Ontario

Many years ago, just north of Pickering, Ontario, was a flourishing hamlet called Altona. There was a school, a couple of churches, a hotel and many beautiful farms, as well as a mill. In the 70’s the lands were expropriated by the Canadian government to build an airport. Well, the airport seems to have become a distant memory and the lands sat, essentially abandoned. The mill, and several other historical buildings, along Altona Road, were demolished a few years ago, as they sat decaying and neglected. The mill pont silted over to become a weedy meadow, indistinguishable for the surrounding fields. However, Duffins creek, the source of the former pond, continues to flow through and beneath the remnants of the pond and eventually, spills out over a small waterfall at the the end of the man-made pond. It’s quite interesting to find a waterfall in the middle of nowhere.

These ‘small falls’ have offered me  many photo opportunities over the years. I happened to visit them in the winter a few years back and they had frozen almost solid, over a few particularly cold days. The resulting ice sculptures were beautiful and the cool winter light made for some interesting effects and colours.

Above is a view of a small section of the falls which had frozen into a multi-layered formation of icicles. The day I made the photo was particularly cold and the photo captures this feeling quite well.

It’s sad that all that is left of Altona is a few shells of buildings and hints of things that once were, but there is still some beauty left in this mostly abandoned space and I can see why early settlers were drawn to the area.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 185 mm
1/60 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200

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“Conflict” – Point Clarke

“Conflict” - Point Clarke, Ontario

I could not think of a better title for this photo. To me, it speaks conflict in so many forms. This day in late December was the transition from an extended mild fall to a bitter, biting winter. The crepuscular rays (yes, that’s what they are actually called), offer a sense of peace in contrast to the tumult of the icy waters below. Crepuscular rays are colloquially known as a Jacob’s Ladder, Gateways to Heaven, Buddha’s Fingers, Jesus Beams, God’s Rays, sunbeams, cloud breaks and many other names. It is not surprising that many of the names have religious connotations as crepuscular rays seem to be a message from the gods. What message is being expressed here? “Winter is coming?”

The very waters are churning in conflict, rising in sharp peaks and churning over each other, urgent for the shore.

The temperatures had dropped from a wondrous 13 degrees celsius mere days ago to a blustery minus 6 with a 60km/h wind that literally sucked the breath from my lungs and froze my fingers numb in minutes. While I love being outdoors whenever possible, this instance may be an exception, as it was truly unpleasant, except for the scene unfolding in front to me. From the comfort of a warm car or house, this may have been a vista I could have revelled at for hours.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 82mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250

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“Granite and Water” – Burleigh Falls

"Granite & Water' Burleigh Falls

On a cold, dull November afternoon in 2014, I stopped for a few minutes at Burliegh Falls, a set of fairly intense rapids just off Highway#28 in the Kawartha Lakes region of Central Ontario, between Lower Buckhorn Lake, above and Stoney Lake, below.

It’s a very scenic location, easily accessible from the road, and therefore, very busy in the summer and early autumn. The rapids, adjacent shoreline, and calm pools below, are a destination for tourists, photographers, painters, swimmers, and fishermen.

The intensity of the rapids is dependant on the flow of water through a dam above them, designed to regulate water levels on the Trent-Severn canal system, parallel to the rapids. That November the flow was quite intense. This particular day was cold, windy, and overcast. Not ideal sightseeing conditions but, with the exception of the cold and wind, very nice for photography. The dull skies allowed me to make several long exposure images of the falls/rapids, including the one above, which I manipulated in Photoshop to look like a painting to get the effect I wanted to show. Again, for me it’s about how I see and experience things, rather than being simply an image in time. Don’t get me wrong, the original image is very nice as a photo, but did not communicate ‘how’ this scene unfolded for me at the time.

I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I can’t paint, but would love too. I like to look of the long brush strokes, the intense whites with hints of green and purple, and how it imparts so well the power of the water as it rushes by the far shore. The ‘painterly’ style, also intensifies the texture of the granite in the background. In my mind, this image captures the raw beauty of the province I live in and have the opportunity to enjoy and share.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 75 mm
1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

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