Monthly Archives: February 2016

“Reaching for Spring”

“Reaaching for Spring”

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    “Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne

My favourite, for now, patch of Elecampane. Lit by the warm afternoon sun along the Seaton Trail. There is something appealing in the orange remnants of the blossom in contrast to the gray, dried steps. The vestiges of the former blossoms glow brightly in the sun while the dry steps remind me that it’s still winter. But, as they tilt to the east, locked in time, they remind me, through their glow, that the sun always rises and spring will come, in its time. It’s just a matter of waiting for it.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250

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“The Cauldron” – Duffins Creek

“The Chauldron” - Duffins Creek

“Let us simmer over our incalculable cauldron, our enthralling confusion, our hotchpotch of impulses, our perpetual miracle – for the soul throws up wonders every second. Movement and change are the essence of our being; rigidity is death; conformity is death; let us say what comes into our heads, repeat ourselves, contradict ourselves, fling out the wildest nonsense, and follow the most fantastic fancies without caring what the world does or thinks or says. For nothing matters except life.” – Virginia Woolf

The title came to me instantly, as I watched this natural cauldron with fascination, as the water boiled and seethed, like a living being, clawing upwards, through a fissure in the surrounding ice, it’s only escape from the pressure below.
You see, the rapid thaw generally ran across the ice of Duffins Creek, this February afternoon, but in some places, the water was forced beneath heavy sheets of ice, with nowhere to go. The pressure built and built till a small imperfection the ice offered an escape. This hole became that escape. It was the only opening in the ice for several hundred yards and the water seemed to literally boil forth. The hole must have been there for a while, as a frozen ‘lip’ or ‘fringe’ formed around the edges, catching the sunlight and glowing from within, making the scene that much more captivating. The surrounding ice looks like it’s loosing structure and I’m sure the phenomenon did not last long, but I did not have the opportunity to return later in the day.
This is yet another of those temporary moments where nature reveals a small part of her wonder in the most ordinary places. Nature throws up her wonders by the second and I’m happy to partake as often as I can.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135mm
1/8 sec, f/32, ISO 250

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“February Thaw” – Seaton Trail

“February Thaw”

“One must know the so-called ‘lesson of a downpour.’ A man, caught in a sudden rain en route, dashes along the road not to get wet or drenched. Once one takes it for granted that in rain he naturally gets wet, he can be in a tranquil frame of mind even when soaked to the skin. This lesson applies to everything. ” – Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Above is a photo from the past weekend. As I said in a previous post, this past mid-February Saturday was a glorious day. I have no other words to describe it. Having come from temperatures of -30° C to 12° C in the span of a few days, sure brightens the spirit. This day went from mixed clouds, to bright sunshine, to a warm shower, back to sunshine.

I did not even realize that it was raining, as the air was filled with the sounds of meltwater everywhere. It was not till I looked up from photographing water running over the ice that I noticed the raindrops on the puddles which filled the outlines of where the trails are. Many sections of trail had turned to small rivers of ice water, trying to find their way downhill. Since the ground is still frozen, all the water was flowing on the surface, rather than being absorbed into the soil. This also created puddles with icy bottoms, which made hiking safely a challenge.

I stood for a while watching the raindrops falling into the puddles and watching the patterns of the ripples play across the surface. The surrounding trees were being reflected in the puddles and offered, what I thought, was an interesting composition, combining the elements of the path, the puddle, the rain, and the trees, in a single image. I will remember this moment for some time.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 180mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250

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“The Maddening Rush”

“The Maddening Rush” - Duffins Creek Thaw

“No reason for a feverish rush
For we will all arrive in the same place
At the right time. Justice will be served.
There will be no better or worse,
No big and small, no rewards, no punishment,
No guilt, no judges, no hierarchies;
Only silent equality.”
― Dejan Stojanovic

The image above could be a churning ocean or a stormy beach, but it’s a small section of creek below the falls at Whitevale, Ontario. I enjoyed the way the light played through water creating the glow from within the  wave. There’s an element to fast flowing water that I am drawn to. I like to play with my shutter speed, matching it to the flow of the water to convey this movement in my photos and I like how this one turned out because it shows the speed and surge of the water the way it appeared to me. A lot of water rushes through the rocks in this area just below the dam, creating a small section of low, but active set of rapids.

And after a short span in the tumult, the creek calms once more, around a gentle bend.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm
1/15 sec, f/32, ISO 250

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Locked in Ice” – Duffins Creek

"Locked in Ice" - Duffins Creek

“By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run and the world would wake into itself again. ― Neil Gaiman

Bubbles, trapped in ice, glow beneath the icy waters of the spring thaw, like a wraith, lit by some inner glow. Mid-February this year brings an early and rapid thaw. Cold water flows with life over frozen creeks, softening the shapes trapped below, beckoning them to join in welcoming the warmth above.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 165 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250

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“Junction” – Duffins Creek

“Junction” - Duffins Creek

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”
― Elizabeth Lesser

I was considering numerous titles for this images. There is a lot happening here. I was considering “Transitions”, “Undercurrent”, and “Headlong”, but the title that stuck was “Junction”. In this image, there is a junction of two clear and distinct parts of the same creek. To the left, brownish water, tinted from sediment from the creek bed, and to the right, cool, blue-white melt-water, flowing quickly over sheets of ice on the still frozen bottom.

As I reflect back to the quote, there is an inevitable change: the water must flow forward, from one zone to the next. The creek is meant to flow, and not be locked in ice forever. It must flow, or it’s a sheet of ice and not a creek.

It’s interesting also, to note, that this junction is not smooth, it’s jagged, because of the nature of the ice, the creekbed, and the overall flow of the water. A straight line transition would seem unnatural and would certainly not have gotten my attention like this intricate “zigzag” zone.

The change of seasons creates some interesting times, all of which I look forward to, knowing that everything in nature is temporary and will eventually repeat the cycle. No two scenes are quite the same twice and I can be there to bear witness that small moment in time where things are just as they are, before the next junction.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 98 mm
1/8 sec, f/32.0, ISO 250

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“Pebbles in Melting Ice” – Duffins Creek

“Pebbles in Melting Ice” - Duffins Creek

“Ice contains no future,  just the past, sealed away. As if they’re alive, everything in the world is sealed up inside, clear and distinct. Ice can preserve all kinds of things that way- cleanly, clearly. That’s the essence of ice, the role it plays.”
― Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

A temporary reprieve from the cold of winter, hinting at a more prolonged thaw and the promise of spring ahead. Ice can preserve but the inevitable cycles of nature will eventually free those things locked away for winter.

In the image above, thawing ice reveals its treasures, slowly and wonderfully. The pebble tops emerge and just enough of the structure below is visible, yet the presence of the surrounding ice is undeniable. More could be revealed by breaking the ice, but that would affect the underlying order below. So, it’s best to leave it to emerge in time. Surely, this scene will re-freeze before spring comes to last but the glimpse into the promised warmth is welcomed.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 125 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 250

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“Maple On Ice” – Seaton Trail

“Maple on Ice” - Seaton Trail

“The magical way the wintertime warms you up is through its frozen beauties!”
― Mehmet Murat Ildan

Yesterday, was a spectacular day! Here we are in mid February and the temperatures hit
12° C. The light was glorious and the outdoors beckoned me. So, with camera bag in hand, I set out to enjoy the day and see what it would reveal to me.

Since the temperatures last week were around -30° C, with a lack of snow, the local creeks had frozen solid to the bottom and the melt water flowed over sheets of pristine ice. On my journey, I came across these two maple leaves, wedged between two rocks and frozen to the creek bed. Clear cold water now ran across the surface, enhancing the colour of the leaves and creating an interesting distortion in the background. This is one of many images I made on my 9 kilometer hike and I’ll be sharing more over the next few days. Get ready for a brief ice and water theme.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 95 mm
1/40 sec, f/3.2, ISO 250

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“Frozen Fingers”

“Frozen Fingers”

“We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away.”
― Alan Moore

Winter wears on, some days are bright and clear and others dark and dreary. Yet, through it all, nature lives on and builds crystal sculptures on frames of wood, grass, and stone. At the right time of day, the sun shines through, lighting them from within.

The image above is a lilac tree next to my house. With the rapid melt, the eavestroughs overflowed, splashing water on the cold lilacs in the shade. That slight difference in temperature was enough to re-freeze the water, encasing the slender branches and seed heads with a thick coat of ice. Water running over this base formed ripples which froze as subsequent layers. The effects of a slight breeze are also visible in the slightly bent ‘fingers’ of ice.

As a side note, though it was warm enough to melt the ice, the temperatures were cool enough to give me frozen fingers of my own.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 250

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“Splash”

Splash

“…I hear the sounds of melting snow outside my window every night and with the first faint scent of spring, I remember life exists…” ― John Geddes

It’s mid-February and our first significant snow has fallen and begun to melt within a few short days. Beneath the thinning blanket of ice and snow, water writhes, flows, and drips, only to be frozen briefly by the chill of night and released once more by the morning sun.

It’s interesting to awaken to a world white with ice and blowing snow one morning, followed by a steady drip, drip, drip the next. Thanks to the effects of El Niño, this has been, at best, a year of unpredictable weather. In the past few days the temperatures have fluctuated  by close to 40 degrees, from a bone chilling -30 ° C to 6 ° C for our weekend forecast. It snows, I shovel, it melts, …repeat. Fortunately, snowfall has been limited to only  a few centimeters on any given day.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to a warm dry spring.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 210mm
1/8 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200

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