“Above the Conifers”

“Above the Conifers”

“The forest stretched on seemingly forever with the most monotonous predictability, each tree just like the next – trunk, branches, leaves; trunk, branches, leaves. Of course a tree would have taken a different view of the matter. We all tend to see the way others are alike and how we differ, and it’s probably just as well we do, since that prevents a great deal of confusion. But perhaps we should remind ourselves from time to time that ours is a very partial view, and that the world is full of a great deal more variety than we ever manage to take in.” 
― Thomas M. Disch

This image features the trunks of the pine trees higher up, just below the canopy. It yields a much brighter image, as elements of the sky and some high maples reflect the day’s bright sunlight among the rows of darker pines. There’s also an interesting weave of the smaller trees in the background. Among the seeming monotony of planted pines, wonderful patterns emerge and it’s no longer the same monotonous forest.

I enjoyed creating this fairly quick series on my hike this past weekend. I had not intended on a long hike, more focussed on making several connected images for my “Among the Pines” series. But, that Sunday was gorgeous for mid September and I ended up travelling some eight kilometers and exploring areas I had as yet not visited. The expansive trails of the Oak Ridges Trail System offer me so much variety. Even though I have been hiking them extensively for the past several years, there is always something new, some side trail that leads to an unexpected stream or meadow.

I’m blessed to live in an area with such diversity and with so may well maintained trails, literally on my doorstep. That’s why so many of my images feature these forests, I doubt I will ever get tired of them and the hours of solitude they provide me, so I can recharge after a busy day or workweek.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/4 sec, f/20.0, ISO 100 

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Green Dances with Brown” 

“Green Dances with Brown”

“Nothing is static; things always change. The best you can do is change along with them and work with what you have.” 
― Cate Tiernan

I really struggled with the title on this one, but the sweeping, slightly giggled movement of the camera reminded me of a dance. The greens and browns blend together in a waltz of light. The movement is a bit more rigid than I prefer, yet created an interesting effect.

That’s the wonder of these abstractions, every image is different, significantly so. in many cases. I set out with a vision of what I am trying to communicate with the image and often if simply fails. This image nicely captured and separated the individual tones within the forest, showing the bright points of light within the darker areas. My eyes pick up on this when I see the composition initially, and it is usually what prompts me to stop for an image. The technique sounds so simple in concept but there are so many variables that make or break the final shot. Many times I have walked away disappointed that I could not effectively capture the essence of what I see, but there are less and less disappointments the more I shoot.

Here, the pines thin out as I enter the edge of a meadow, deep within the forest. These open areas often surprise me and I wonder how they came to be, in the midst of a thick forest. Fora shot like this, they let in lots of light, which makes for nice contrast, but is a challenge to balance without blowing the image out.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 100 

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Edge of Darkness”

“Edge of Darkness”

“Nature is a haunted house–but Art–is a house that tries to be haunted.” 
― Emily Dickinson

Every now and then the gently winding path leads along or within patches of dark pine forest. These mighty trees rise from the ground and weave their branches into a tight canopy, blocking out most of the light. The space below is an eternal twilight filled with dead branches and a thick carpet of pine needles. Despite this, small green shoots struggle for a patch of sunlight, sheltered from the elements in this dark environment.

Along the edge of these groves of pines, bright sunshine warms the ground and plants flourish, creeping as close to the pines as possible, seeking shelter from the wind yet far enough away to catch the sunshine, like a person walking close to buildings to avoid the rain.

The contrast between the dark pines and the bright path is what inspired this image, the characteristics of the light visibly different once you slide back to the pines, where a golden light predominates.

As the quote above so eloquently puts it: Nature ‘is’ and art attempts to communicate the elements which makes it what it is. Through my abstract photos, I attempt to bring some of those elements of life into the image through deliberate movement.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/4 sec, f/18.0, ISO 100 

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Late Summer Warmth”

“Late Summer Warmth”

“The tremendous pines towering above the dark marshy soil resembled a gathering of severe mute brothers from a forbidden ancient order worshiping forgotten gods no one had ever heard of outside of the world of secret occult visions.” 
― Simona Panova

As I went for a long hike last Sunday, looking for inspiration for my next photo series, I found myself in a large expanse of cultivated red pines. These trees would have been planted in the mid sixties to reclaim farmland as conservation areas were created.

The conservation areas were created not only for recreation but as a strategy to control floodwater flow after hurricane Hazel flooded destroyed areas outside and within the city of Toronto. Given current events in Houston and Florida, I take comfort that people had the foresight to create a flood control measures. By planting forests, ground erosion is greatly reduced and the forests also cool the air, not to mention all the other elements like wildlife habitat and so on.

I’ve stood among these pines before, and made a few images, but decided that late summer would be a nice time to start a series of pine forest images titled “Among the Pines”. My first few shots featured a lot of golden brown, like the one above, but as I proceeded to hike and photograph, a surprising amount of green plays into the images as well. Since this is a planted forest, it is also managed, and so, the forest is ‘thinned’ out every few years, to encourage growth in the trees and allow light to shine between the trees, which brings on growth of ground cover and an array of colours and textures.

There are a lot of maple and beech saplings growing between the pines, which is a natural progression. It turns out, you can’t plant a maple forest. You have to plant pines first and the maples grow between them. Once you clear out the pines, after several years, the maples are established and take over. Something I did not know before.

So, here it is, image number one of the “Among the Pines” series. I hope you enjoy it.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/4 sec, f/14.0, ISO 400 

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“Golden Moments”

“Golden Moments”

“Do you know how there are moments when the world moves so slowly you can feel your bones shifting, your mind tumbling? When you think that no matter what happens to you for the rest of your life, you will remember every last detail of that one minute forever?” 
― Jodi Picoult

While on an extended hike yesterday, making photos for my next series, I entered a large meadow, filled with bright yellow Goldenrod. The plants were in peak condition, having just started blooming a few days ago. The entire field in which I stood, from treeline to treeline, was alight with gold. As I stood looking across the expanse of flowers, my ears became aware of an incredible buzzing sound. Upon looking closer, I noticed thousands of honeybees at work, extracting nectar and collecting pollen. I was literally engulfed in a sea of flowers and bees. Wow!

For a few moments, I stood there, eyes closed, the sun shining warmly on my face, savouring the moment, thrilling in the warmth and listening to the thrum of the bees. Everything else melted into the background as my senses drank in the sounds of life. I was blessed to be part of this moment, also thinking how awesome it was to see a significant population of honeybees, which have been on the decline for the past few years.

After pausing to enjoy this experience, I set out to make a few images to remember it by. It did not take long, as every flower has at least two bees on it. That is how many there were. As I said in previous posts, I used to have a fear of bees. What I have experienced lately is that honeybees are very gentle and could care less about me as I lean in close for a photo. I also noticed that as I pushed though the bee laden goldenrod, they simply flew into the air and landed back on the plants after I had passed. They bounced off my arms and chest as I waded through the flowers, simply another participant in the life of the meadow. By the way, for those not familiar with goldenrod, it grows on tall stalks and the flowers are at face level to me. I’m six foot one. So, the bees are right in front of me as well.

So, here it is, a “Golden Moment” to remind me of my time with the bees and the joy of that moment, in the flowers.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/640 sec, f/13.0, ISO 400 

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“Fire-Pit Fun”

“Fire-Pit Fun”

“The very life of any creature is a quick-fading spark in fathomless darkness.” 
― Anthony Doerr

As I have completed my “Into Green Veil” Series, I am pausing to consider my next project, which will also be a short series of some sort. As I pause, I have the opportunity to go back over the past month’s photos and consider some of them to share.

The above image is a bit of playing with long exposure and the fire-pit at my camper. It is truly amazing what a different view, such as long exposure, can do. In this case, I did a one second exposure to reveal the intricate play of the sparks within the fire. Just a bit of fun, worth sharing here.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1sec; f/1.8; ISO 250

 

“Beckoning”

“Beckoning”

“All of us have had the experience of a sudden joy that came when nothing in the world had forewarned us of its coming – a joy so thrilling that if it was born of misery we remembered even the misery with tenderness”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As I have worked on this latest series of images, it has become clear to me that I must be ‘in’ the forest, a participant in its life. To merely stand along the edges and gaze in, does not satisfy the need to immerse myself under the enchantment of its Green Veil. I need to be engulfed, to fully experience it.

By being in the forest, there is a ‘feel’, an energy, which is difficult to convey to someone who has not felt this life force personally. As I step onto the trails, even briefly, there is a rush of joy which is inexplicable. To be surrounded by such vibrancy is a blessing which I wish everyone could feel at some point. It’s a connectedness, a ‘oneness’ that is experienced within the woods.

So, as I close this series off, I chose this image. The image which beckons me to step in, or conversely, beckons me to return, as I look back on it on parting. In either case, it’s an invitation that I am glad for and which I will eagerly accept, the next time the forest beckons me.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/4 sec, f/16.0, ISO 200 

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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or my website (images are available for purchase)
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