Monthly Archives: April 2016

“Against the Odds”

"Against the Odds" - Duffins Creek

“When you do or think or feel something, do it with passion. Let it come from the heart. Put your heart and soul in it. And when you do, you will feel a river flowing sweetly through you and especially through your entire life. Life has much more meaning that way. ”
― Angie Karan

A painterly image I made yesterday, based on a photo of two trout swimming upstream at the Whitevale bridge, north of Pickering, Ontario.

What struck me was how the body of the dark fish flowed with the water, or did the water flow with the fish? As I processed the image, the flow of colour, from warm orange tones and larger river rocks at the bottom to cooler blue tones and multi-coloured pebbles at the top began to become more noticeable, yet the dark body of the fish dominates the scene. The entire image speaks of movement, energy, and overcoming. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

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

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“Mating Pair” – Rainbow Trout in Duffins Creek

“Mating Pair” - Rainbow Trout in Duffins Creek

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock

When time allows, I like to visit Duffins creek and stroll the riverbank, especially at this time of year. The narrow wooded trail follows the shoreline, through grand cedar stands, into deep gullys, along the creek, with its variable structure of rocky sandbanks, deep holes, and fast flowing rapids.

At this time of year, new growth is slowly emerging. Splashes of bright green dot the forest floor. Spring plants such as Coltsfoot, Bloodroot, Trout Lilies, and violets dot the landscape, welcoming the warmth of spring. Fiddleheads, the young growth of ferns, sit in tight knots, not quite ready to open, and the trout start their annual run up the creek to the dam at Whitevale, a small hamlet north of Pickering, Ontario.

At the right time of day, the trout try to leap up the fifteen foot high concrete dam, designed to keep the introduced steelhead trout from migrating further upstream. On this visit, the trout were not jumping yet and were pooled just beneath the dam. Many rested in the shallow pools just above the last set of rapids, including this pair, in full breeding colours. The shallow water allowed me to get a clear image from slightly above. This pair will breed and shortly thereafter, follow the creek back to Lake Ontario, where they will remain till the instinct to migrate up the creek returns next spring.

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

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“Pain in the Butt” – Seaton Trail

“Pain in the Butt” - Seaton Trail

“Such is the condition of organic nature! Whose first law might be expressed in the words ‘Eat or be eaten!’ and which would seem to be one great slaughter-house, one universal scene of rapacity and injustice!”
― Erasmus Darwin

Ever have one of those days where, out of nowhere, something just sneaks up and gets you from behind? You can take small comfort that you are not this Wood Frog. I’d say our troubles are tame compared to his.

I came across this scene a few days ago while on a short hike along Ontario’s Seaton Trail. I heard a rustle of leaves and spotted motion just off the trail. At first all I saw was the large Garter Snake, then I noticed it had caught the frog. The light was awesome, so I sat to watch this process play out and document it with my camera. I’ve seen photos in elementary school textbooks of how snakes eat their prey, but have never witnessed it firsthand. It’s quite the process

How the snake would get this large frog into it’s mouth was beyond me, especially considering the frog’s legs were still free and active, and he had filled himself up with air. Well, after a few mis-timed kicks, the frog’s legs were in the snake’s gullet and the rest was just a matter of time. Twenty minutes, to be precise, from when this image was made to the time the last trace of the frog disappeared. You just never know what you might see when out on the trails.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/100 sec, f/5.6 ISO 200

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“Spring’s First Bloodroot” – Seaton Trail

“Spring’s First Bloodroot” - Seaton Trail

“Come with me into the woods where spring is
advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”
― Mary Oliver

The inevitable cycle of spring continues with its succession of flowering plants. First to bloom is the Coltsfoot, the next, which just started to bloom yesterday, predictably, about a week after the Coltsfoot, is the Bloodroot – Sanguinaria canadensis.

I love this early blooming spring flower, with its bright white blossoms, emerging from a green ‘shawl’ of leaves. They are interesting in how they bloom, with the blossom forming before the leaves have opened up, much like the Coltsfoot. Which has me wondering if this is some sort of protection in case of a late frost? In any case, I welcome these early harbingers of spring and look forward to the next blossoms, that of the Dog-Tooth Violet or Trout Lily, soon to follow.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 175 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0 ISO 200

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“Ancient Oak” – Niagara Lakeshore Cemetery

“Ancient Oak” - Niagara Lakeshore Cemetary

“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”
― Napoleon Hill

Though I saw no markers, my map showed this to be a cemetery, further investigation, this was actually the Old Lakeshore Road and it was lined by some of the most incredible old white oak trees I have seen. It was late afternoon and the light was a soft gold, lighting up the few dried leaves still clinging to the branches and showing the detail of the bark.

In the Niagara Region, winter had been mild till April as well, then they experienced the same deep freeze as the rest of the province. So, I found everything delayed. Trees were just beginning to bud and only a few hearty daffodils added colour to the landscape. But, it sure looked beautiful and I enjoyed the magnificent old growth trees in this roadside grove, especially this giant, as it spread its branches far and wide, greeting the spring sunlight and warmer days ahead.

Nikon D300
Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm
1/125 sec, f/8.0 ISO 200

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“Across the Lake” – Niagara-on-the-Lake

“Across the Lake” - Niagara-on-the-Lake

“We live in a world of contrast and it’s sad we are among people who can’t seem to grasp the differences surrounding them.”
― Dominic Riccitello

An interesting view, looking between the vineyards at Konzelmann Wineries. As I drove down the appropriately named Lakeshore Drive, I looked to my left and noticed the CN Tower and skyscrapers of Toronto, some 32 miles distant, on the horizon, between the orderly rows of grapevines.

I had to stop and capture this unique view. As I stood at the edge of the fields a local resident pulled into their driveway across the road. I told her she had a beautiful view and she agreed, wholeheartedly, but also reminded me how cold it can be here in the winter, as the northern winds blow across Lake Ontario.

The surreal contrast between this rural scene of farmland stretching to the lake and the bright, modern city on horizon really struck me and prompted this photo. It also struck me, that as I drove around the area, we often forget what really lies across the horizon. It could be home, or another land altogether.

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

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“Across the Niagara” – Youngstown, New York

“Across the Niagara” - Youngstown, New York.jpg

A very brief post for today, as I write from my hotel room in Niagara-on-the-Lake, sifting through all my photos and doing a quick edit.

The image above was made from the Canadian side of the Niagara River, looking east towards Fort Niagara, on the American side. Beyond Fort Niagara, Lake Ontario stretches beyond the horizon, bright green in the sunshine.

It’s hard to believe that just over 100 years ago, the two countries were at war, in the War of 1812, and this was a live battle zone. Now both side are filled with tourists, taking in the sites and recalling their country’s  history. Actually, it was Upper Canada, at the time, which was ruled by Britain, and America were at war. Both Youngstown and Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was named Newark at the time and was the capital of Upper Canada, have well preserved forts. Fort Niagara in New York and Fort George on the Canadian side. There is lots of history to take in.

Nikon D200
Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8 @ 29 mm
1/160 sec, f/9.0, ISO 200

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“Low Cloud at Tunnel View” – Yosemite National Park

Low Cloud at Tunnel View - Yosemeite National Park

“Did you not look upon the world this morning and imagine it as the boy might see it? And did you not recognize the mist and the dew and the birdsong as elements not of a place or a time but of a spirit? And did you not envy the boy his spirit? ” – Jamie O’Neill

Another image from my 2013 visit to one of my ‘sacred places’. The experience of spring in Yosemite, especially after a storm is something surreal. The mists twist and writhe among the peaks like something living. Scenes are fleeting, never to be repeated again. I stand in awe, at the movement and the changes in light, every moment a new frame in an endless play of wonders.

This image was made from the Tunnel View area and looks to a group of granite cliffs, just beside Bridalveil Falls. It looked to me like a chinese painting. And then it was gone again, lost in the mist, till new new scene was ready to play out.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @200 mm
1/200 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

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“Sierra Dogwood” – Yosemite National Park

Dogwood Blossoms - Mirrror Lake Loop 2013

“The whole tree when in flower looks as if covered with snow. In the spring when the streams are in flood it is the whitest of trees. In Indian summer the leaves become bright crimson, making a still grander show than the flowers.” – John Muir

Recent reports from Yosemite are informing me, in my absence, that the Sierra Dogwoods have begun to bloom. A clear indication that spring is here and I long to be there once more.

I’ve seen many images of these beautiful, delicate, spring blossoms, in photography books, websites, and my Facebook feed. For many years I determined to time a visit to Yosemite in the April-May timeframe to see them for myself. Driving into the park from Oakhurst, I spotted the first few dogwood trees among the pines, bright white flowers, against the dark forest. It was raining and dull, yet they shone in the mist. Of course, having never seen them close up myself, I pulled over and made a photo at the first convenient pull-out.

What I did not realize at the time was that many better opportunities would present themselves; nicer, bigger blossoms, better light, more interesting backgrounds. Nothing had prepared me for how glorious the peak bloom is in the park. Blossoms were everywhere and I must have taken hundreds of photos, in every conceivable composition, trying to get something unique, that captured my vision. The image above was made while hiking the Mirror Lake Loop, which presented many wonderful specimens for my enjoyment. The gentle, off and on, rain enhanced the photo by bringing out the shine of the leaves and softening the light.

It’s feeling like a Yosemite week, more to follow.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

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