Monthly Archives: February 2016

“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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“…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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“Big Dipper over Fraser Lake”

Big Dipper over Fraser Lake 2013

“Constellations shine with light that was emitted aeons ago, and I wait for something to come to me, words that a poet might use to illuminate life’s mysteries. But there is nothing.”
― Nicholas Sparks

My first foray into astrophotography. Wow! There’s a heady handle!

I’ve seen so many spectacular images of the Milky Way and constellations that I was determined to try my hand at this. So, with tripod in hand, and some sage advice from the internet, I set out to capture an icon of the north, the Big Dipper, Ursa Major.

My first impression was “Man, it’s dark!”, I have to find my way down to the waterfront in the dark, try to retain as much of my night vision as possible, set up my camera without falling in the drink, and hope for the best, based on a few dubious night photography articles, not knowing what my camera was capable of.

In a nutshell, star shots require a fast lens, like my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, fully open to let as much light in as possible, a steady tripod, and a long exposure of no more than 30 seconds, because anything longer will show visible star trails. Yes, the earth turns quickly enough to show that movement in a long exposure photo. Still sticking to my maximum 200 ISO discipline, as side benefit of which is reduced noise.

Well, here goes. All set up, according to untested instructions. Frame composition, without being able to really see it…set aperture…focus…click…..wait, for longer than expected…don’t move…hope….click…look…hey, not bad! An image, vaguely resembling my intent appears as a preview on my teeny,tiny, screen. Make a few more images, just in case. Mission accomplished. More waiting. Overall , a process of hope and anticipation of what might be.

Now, back to the computer, download images, adjust in Camera Raw…smile! Images turned out, success on the first try! The Big Dipper reveals itself from the background, exactly as expected (and hoped for with crossed fingers). Unexpected surprises: there is still residual light from a sunset long since passed, lights from cottages across the lake shine brightly, and the Big Dipper dominates the frame, exactly as hoped for. Deep sigh of relief, this stuff actually works!

I’m so happy to have been able to capture this scene, which is not only familiar, but such a big part of my outdoors experience in a place which I love. It’s the first recognizable constellation to reveal itself and show itself in such a wonderful way, hovering over Fraser Lake, floating over the remains of the day. I am at peace.

Nikon D300
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ 17mm
30 sec, F/2.8, ISo 200

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“Roadside Cascade near Gravenhurst”

Roadside Cascade near Gravenhurst 2012

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Simple beauty, oft passed by. This little cascade is right next to the highway outside of Gravenhurst, a small town in Ontario, Canada. I noticed it on my way to the cranberry marshes in Bala and decided to stop there on my way home. How many people speed by this place without even seeing it? Friends have asked where the photo was made and are surprised that it even exists, having passed it many times.

By the time I came back to check it out, the weather had turned to a steady rain. The rain actually enhanced the images, as it brought out the colours from the rock and leaves and allowed me to do a longer exposure to blur the flowing water. The cascade is fairly simple and accessible. It’s the kind of place I could sit and relax for hours on a more pleasant day. So, in a way, I’m happy that other people don’t notice it.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm
1 sec, f/32, ISO 1,000

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“Dead Maple on Reesor Road?” – Markham , Ontario

Dead Maple on Reesor Road

“Look at all the things around you, the immediate world around you. If you are alive, it will mean something to you, and if you care enough about photography, and if you know how to use it, you will want to photograph that meaningness.” – Paul Strand

I am reminded daily that I live in a living world. That world envelops me, nourishes me, sustains me. My eye picks up on subtle colours, a movement, some minor thing that stands out and gets my attention. As the quote above states so eloquently, these things mean something to me. These everyday scenes that fill our days which most people seem to pass by with some ingrained disregard.

In our ever busy world, I feel blessed that those moments do have meaning to me and that I can see them as a critical part of my world and experience. I’ve deliberately set out to share that meaning as best I can, through learning to become a better photographer, to convey meaningness by sharing those experiences here through images and words. My goal is to improve my ability and skills as a photographer, artist, and writer so that some of the meaning, richness, and joy that I take for my experiences can have similar meaning to others.

The image above was made a few years ago as I was driving home from an errand in a nearby town. It was a cold day in early January and the wind-whipped snow swirled in the fields like it was a living thing trying to escape the confines of the snowbanks.Most of the roadside grasses were already encased in a thick winter blanket, while a few hearty reeds bent in the wind. Among all this movement, a solitary maple, more dead than living, stood firmly and weathered the onslaught. Once more, when looking closely at what appeared to me, and was titled that way, as a dead tree, is still showing signs of life in a few of its branches, reminding me to be a better observer by slowing down and really understanding what I’m looking at.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 112 mm
1/200 sec, F/7.1, ISO 200

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“View from the Bottom”

View from the Bottom (sm)

You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality. – Pablo Picasso

Light offers surprises and daily I see where many artists get their images from; daily scenes that reveal themselves when viewed for an unique perspective. In this case, the bottom of a beer glass, viewing a television screen on my wall. The blue light of the television floats against the sand coloured walls, distorted by the ripples in the base of the glass and traces of foam. The ‘art’ in this image does not reveal itself till you isolate the image and remove the reference to a glass.

iPhone 5s back camera @29mm
1/130 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200

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