Monthly Archives: June 2016

“Daisy and the Darkness”- Secord Forest

“Daisy and the Darkness” - Secord Forest

“Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.”
― Hazrat Ali Ibn Abu-Talib A.S

Hmm, this sounds like the title for a love story involving some damsel and some adversary.

This single daisy shone like a beacon in the distance, against the dark forest, as I turned a bend in the trail a few days ago. It was so singularly bright that nothing else registered to me. As I neared, a few background details started to emerge in my vision, but it was still that single, brilliant daisy that dominated.

I was hoping to capture that brilliance and singularity in this photo and I believe I have. My camera allows me to set ‘center-weighted exposure’ to an 8mm diameter, though it’s not a go-to setting for me. I do, however, have it set in my camera menu for the odd time I use it, as in this image. This allowed me to set exposure correctly for the bright white petals, while keeping the background near black, still showing some of the green stem.

In reflecting back on the image, it looks like a rend in the forest’s cloth of darkness.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

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Thursday Doors – June 23, 2016

“Call from Above?” - Bloor Street, Toronto

This week’s submission to Norm 2.0‘s Thursday Doors.

I was out a few weeks ago, walking Toronto’s Bloor Street West, looking for photo opportunities. The doors pictured above belong to St. Paul’s Church and I had stopped to photograph just the door earlier in the day.

As I was walking back to my car, I noticed this gentleman standing outside the church, very focussed on his cell phone. The title “Call from Above?” just struck me as funny and somehow appropriate.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200 mm
1/60 sec, f/4.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Garden Boots”

“Garden Boots”

“If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.”
― Russell Page

Are they boots for the garden or boots as a garden? These retired boots are part of a whimsical garden display at Burlington’s Royal Botanical Gardens. They caught my attention as a bit of a play on words and pictured them on a greeting card for a gardener, which is most likely where this image will end up.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 145mm
1/60 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Showy Lady’s Slipper” – Secord Forest

"Showy Lady's Slipper" - Secord Forest

“Many collectors died in the process of searching for new species, and despite persistent reports that the men died from drowning, gunshot and knife wounds, snakebite, trampling by cattle, or blows in the head with blunt instruments, it is generally accepted that in each case the primary cause of death was orchid fever.”
― Eric Hansen

Perhaps I got a touch of the aforementioned ‘orchid fever’. I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for this shot for a few weeks now and was thrilled when I came across this beautiful flower, next to a rotting log, in a swampy forest, at Secord Forest this week. Not a new species, but new to me.

Through most seasons, I’ve hiked these trails, enjoyed the wonderfully diverse flora and fauna, and even came across a bear last fall. Along this 4.7km forest trail, there is a section with a wooden sign, designating it as the “Orchid Trail”. This has intrigued me for some time, since I tend to favour these trails in the ‘no-mosquito’ seasons and really had no idea what to look for and when to look for them.

This year has been an exception, I began on the trails just as the snow was melting, hoping to document the natural cycle of this forest through my photos. I was determined that orchids would be on my photographic bucket list and set out learning about them and identifying them. The unfortunate thing with my research was that most books listed blooming season from April to August. That was not much help. So, as I set out each week, I started to look deliberately for plant leaves that fit the description of orchids. I did not even know what species are native to this particular forest and there are several possibilities.

Eventually, a few weeks ago, a few banded leaves emerged from the moist forest floor. Perhaps these were the elusive orchids I sought? Steadily, they grew taller and taller to rise some sixty centimeters (two feet) above the mossy ground. They sure looked like orchids, but they seemed taller than I expected. Back to the books, to find that yes, several species fit the description. More days of just foliage followed, till last week, small green buds formed, offering the promise of flowers. What colour would they be? How long would they last? So many questions, few firm facts.

My weekend plans prevented me from checking back on the buds. What if somebody saw the open flowers on the weekend? The trails are filled with people who may not realize how delicate these plants could be, damage them, and deprive me of my prize.

So, I ventured into the forest at lunch, wondering what state this group of five or six plants would be in. I slowed as I approached, looking for a sign of flower. Then, WOW!, the delicate green plants were topped by the most beautiful pink and white slippers. The mystery plant turned out to be a Showy Lady’s Slipper (cypripedium reginae). I had no idea how large they would be, the blossoms were about 5-8 centimeters (2 inches) long, and perfect. Nobody had disturbed them. I sat on a nearby log for some fifteen minutes just revelling in this wonderful creation, then set out to capture this in photographs, hoping to do them justice, checking and double checking my camera settings, not knowing how long these gems will last or when my next visit might be.

The photo above is the culmination of this quest for orchids. Now I know what to look for, where, and when. During this quest, I also found another interesting orchid, which I am currently researching.

Nikon D800
Nikkor AF 28-70mm f/3.5~F/4.5D
@ 45mm
1/60 sec, f/4.0, ISO 450

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Baptismal Elements” – St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York

“Baptismal Elements” - St. Patricks, Cathedral New York

“The Church does not dispense the sacrament of baptism in order to acquire for herself an increase in membership but in order to consecrate a human being to God and to communicate to that person the divine gift of birth from God.”
― Hans Urs von Balthasar

I can’t fully explain what it was that attracted me to this composition. Yet, I find myself processing that very though in this post.

The golden urn and bowl seemed to stand out from other elements around them. The soft, natural light playing on the mottled gray walls further enhanced the image by isolating the table in the foreground.

It’s a simple scene really, and reminds me a bit of the still life paintings in the Dutch Golden Age style, with their bright golden tones and simple depictions of everyday items.

I also thought this composition might make a nice church bulletin cover, celebrating baptism, which is something I used to produce regularly a few years back. The table seems to be ready and waiting, prepared for something to happen.

Nikon D300
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 70 mm
1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1000

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Rock Garden Waterfall” – Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington

“Rock Garden Waterfall” - Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlingto

“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.”
― Michael Pollan

A change of pace from all my recent flower and butterfly photos, though if you look closely, there are still flowers present. Can you find them?

I did set out to photograph flowers this day and have plenty to share at a later date, but I do like a good waterfall and the serenity small cascades like this create for me, even knowing it is man made. I used a slow shutter at 1/10 of a second to slightly blur the movement and had to go hand-held because I did not want to carry a tripod all day. That did pose a challenge because it was very bright and I had to shoot at f/32 to keep the water from being blown out.

This stepped cascade can be found at the rock gardens, which are part of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. The rock garden is one of several gardens within this large complex of garden exhibits and is nestled in the base of a valley, forming a bit of a bowl. Much of the stone is native limestone and some material has been moved into place to create a garden with large limestone boulders and many stepped paths which run up and down the hillside. I enjoyed the inclusion of many native plant species, which those who are not hiking the backwoods trails would never experience otherwise. Including Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum), which are the small pink flowers visible near the base of the higher cascade. They are a native plant and are members of the geranium family. The crushed leaves can be used as a mosquito repellant, handy at this time of year).

The waterfall pictured here, feeds into some smaller stepped cascades and eventually winds through the lower gardens as a meandering creek which flows beneath bridges and around some wonderful large trees.

At this time of year, the garden also features some exquisite blooming dogwoods, which I have a real attraction to (more photos of those to come).

If you happen to be in the Burlington area and like plants, I would highly recommend this as a destination, but plan on a day, since it is a large complex that spreads over several properties.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 70 mm
1/10 sec, f/32.0, ISO 500

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“Pink Peony” – Stouffville

“Pink Peony” - Stouffville

“Someone was playing piano nearby and the music drifted slowly in and out of my mind like the ebb and flow of ocean surf. I almost recognized the melody, but I could not be sure, it slipped like a cool and silken wind from my grasp.”
― Chaim Potok

Today’s image is another foray into the world of macro photography and I’m loving the effects and subtle details the naked eye misses. In this case, I think the narrow aperture and gradual fade to the distance give the image a dreamy feel.

There is a wonderful softness in the frills of the peony, the petals fading from deep pink to a faded, papery white. The photo, of course, cannot capture the exquisite scent, yet looking at the photo now brings forth those sweet memories and I hope to carry them into the summer, long after the blossoms have faded.

Nikon D800
Nikkor AF 28-70mm f/3.5~F/4.5D
@ 70mm
1/125 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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or my website (some images available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com