Category Archives: Art

“Balsam Sunlight”

“Balsam Sunlight”

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” 
― Martha Graham

Welcome to the spruce bog. Though it may not sound exotic, the light and imagery that I experienced on this usually familiar hike was stunning, causing me to start this new series titled “Spirit of the Spruce”. The entire series was photographed in a small stretch of trail no longer than a few hundred meters. One dominated by spruce and balsam fir.

As I set out last Saturday, I had no idea what the day might bring, only that the light was wondrous, and with wondrous light, anything is possible.

I’ve hiked this stretch of the Secord Forest hundreds of times, usually favouring it in mid June, when the orchids are blooming and the mosquitoes are swarming. Otherwise, it’s just an area that I pass through to get to another destination.

I could not believe my eyes as I gazed upon the familiar sight of tightly packed spuce, mosses, and tangled underbrush, beautiful warm sunlight streaming from above. The sunlight was the only thing warm that day, as the air was crisp and cold, but very clear.

The way the sun lit the scene up was spectacular, bringing light to a forest floor usually locked in darkness, the realm of mushrooms and mosquitoes. Not that day, sunlight reflected throughout this tangle of trees, revealing details often missed in the shadows.

So join me once more as I explore yet another often ignored environment, the spruce bog on Southern Ontario.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@78mm

1/4 sec, f/9.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Three?”

“Three?”

“You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear thorough the search.” 
― Rick Riordan

And this search goes on., as I embark on another series of photographic abstracts. Yet, despite the quote, I believe I am able to explain my art. I take great satisfaction in these ‘light paintings’.

I find that by adding the slight movement it disturbs the viewer just enough that they begin to pay attention to details that are often missed. As I study my own photos of the same scene, one, a still photo and the other, a slight pan, colours that are lost or subdued on the static photo seem more vibrant, more alive. I find the movement adds a dynamic that is not there in a still image.

Perhaps it’s just how I see things and this is a way for me to ‘realize’ them. It’s also a way for me to create art, using light and movement rather than a brush. It is very satisfying because I am creating something new, something that was not there before. It the creation that drives me, that combined with the fact that the images seem to resonate with the viewer.

It’s been interesting for me, since I started creating these images, that not once, has anybody said to me, “That’s just a blurry picture”. Most viewers are intrigued with the images, and I find them drawn deeper into the scene than with crisp, clean shots, which seem to briefly satisfy.

As yet, this new series remains unnamed, but that will come to me shortly. In the meantime, enjoy.

This particular image is named “Three?” because there are three dominant trees, but there is more to it, isn’t there? There are more than just the three trees, there are others in the periphery that count too, do they not?

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@75mm

1/4 sec, f/10.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Line Up”

“Line Up”

“To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” 
― Aldo Leopold

This part of the world looks like nothingness on a map. While there is a town close by, it really is a wilderness area. A land of steep, nearly unnavigable hillsides, dense forest, and swampy wetlands. To me, it’s paradise, a place to unwind and just enjoy an unblemished space in this world.

It’s also a place to look around and let the imagination run. I see beauty everywhere, in the curve of the path, the marvelous variety and diversity of life, and endless patterns.

In this image I saw lines. I saw the way the trees, maple, yellow birch, and hemlock lined up. I also noticed the one darker, narrow tree that runs vertically up the photo. It is literally, a line upwards, yet I could not get the composition and lighting right without including it, so here it is, as I saw it.

This ‘place’, is one of an endless series of ‘places’, each slightly different, which make up the Boreal forest in this area. I see the entire forest before me, but my eye breaks it up into components. Each part, though an element of the whole, is a so unique. I could go back to this expanse of forest and go back to this exact spot with little effort. Even now, as I write, I can place myself along the trail, to this exact spot and the moment in which the photo was made. Except now, my fingers are warmer than on that chilly November day, enjoying the “Boreal Trails”.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@75mm

1/4 sec, f/10.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Birches, Beech, and Balsam”

“Birch, Beech, and Balsam”

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.” 
― Wallace Stegner

Here’s a familiar sight along the “Boreal Trails”, an interspersing of the dominant species of trees, namely:  Birch, Beech, and Balsam. All three are seen in this image with a few maples, oak, and poplar, in the background.

Beech is easy to identify by its bark, which resembles a gray elephant hide. At this time of year, its about the only tree still hanging on to its leaves, which have turned a beautiful coppery orange. Birch, of course is known for it’s white, papery bark, though there are several species in this area: paper birch, which is seen here, and yellow birch, which has more of a silvery, tattered bark. Finally, there is the deep green balsam, an evergreen that grows as a shrub along trails but can grow into quite a large tree, over time.

The balsams tend to enjoy the ample light available along the trails and pathways and form thick clusters between the hardwoods that grow alongside them. They offer cover for larger ground birds, like ruffed grouse, which is quite common here. Often you can hear the grouse ‘cooing’ along the trails but can’t see them in the thick green balsams whose branches nearly touch the ground.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@112mm

1/4 sec, f/16.0, ISO 400

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“The Crossing”

The Crossing”

“… there’s a silent voice in the wilderness that we hear only when no one else is around. When you go far, far beyond, out across the netherlands of the Known, the din of human static slowly fades away, over and out.” 
― Rob Schultheis

I titled this ‘Crossing’ because it illustrates my point in a prior post about the lack of straight paths in the Boreal forest. A large tree has fallen across the path in front of me, ‘crossing’ my path.

It the way of trekking cross-country, and changing my way, slightly to get to my next destination. Here, I chose to go right and slightly up hill, to get to my destination, which is nearly unseen beaver pond just past the crest of the hill. Though, you can see a bit of a reflection between the trees at the centre, just below the shining beech leaves. By destination is straight ahead, but my path is far for straight. A true “Boreal Path”.

You’ll notice another ‘snag’, or pile of dead brush along that path as well. Like I said, there are no straight paths through this forest. I’m also ‘crossing’ the hill to get there and two of the Hemlocks in the foreground are ‘crossing’ over each other, almost weaving together.

This is a place of peace and quiet, and circuitous paths and a place so different from the human world I have escaped from. There are no clear paths, plans must flex situationally, and only the chatter of the ever-present Red Squirrels to replace the noise and busyness of the world outside the refuge.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@70mm

1/4 sec, f/7.1, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Hilltop Hemlocks”

“Hilltop Hemlocks”

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

At the crest of a hill, the trail drops sharply in front of me. In this region of wilderness, near Bancroft, Ontario, there are very few flat places. The landscape is dominated by steep, folded hills. The valleys are the realm of spring fed creeks and beaver ponds.

The walking in the high ridges is a bit easier, as the dominant hemlocks are fairly well spaced, yet it only takes one which has fallen to make for a long detour. There are few straight paths between the hills and valleys of the “Boreal Trails” and the only markers along the way are the trees themselves.

When I was younger, I used to have a fear of getting lost in the forest. My father, an avid outdoorsman, never balked at heading into the densest bush. I’m not sure when things changed for me, but I have acquired that same sense of direction that he had. But, I always have a compass with me, no matter how familiar the forest may be, as I have found myself turned around a few times.

In this forest, I tend towards the high ground, following the parallel ridges north and south. Trekking in the valleys, strewn with debris of slash and boulders, and choked with balsams, is tough walking.

Besides, the view from the ridges is much more appealing than the darkness of a tangled spruce bog.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@70mm
1/4 sec, f/11.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Birches at the Bend”

“Birches at the Bend”

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.” 
― George R.R. Martin

Welcome to “Boreal Trails”. I thought I’d start the series off with this image of a clump of birches at the bend in a trail. Figuratively, a turn in the seasons.

You will notice, as this series continues, a few splashes of colour against a duller green background. Gone now are the warm days of Indian Summer its bright colours. The Boreal forest is dominated by hemlock, spruce, cedar, and, pine. Small groves of maple and oak exist as well, but it’s a green cold forest at this time of year, with traces of snow in the air, falling from leaden skies.

As you can see in this image, the birches bring light to the gloom and a few hearty beech trees, add splashes of colour to the muted canvas and will continue to do so for some time, as the final bearers of colour.

It sounds a bit somber, but there is incredible beauty here. A beauty I intend to share over the next several days.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@75mm
1/4 sec, f/11.0, ISO 400

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