Tag Archives: conservation

“Three Along the Way”

“Three Along the Way”

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” 
― William Blake

As I walk the local trails, I’m often quite aware that, at some point, the trailblazers and foresters had to make choices about what trees remained and what trees needed to be felled. As the trails meander to and fro, it’s clear that conscious decisions were made to avoid having to cut certain trees.

I suppose, being a cluster of three, tightly grouped, makes you less vulnerable to the chainsaw, however well intentioned. There are many such clusters along the trails and the path always gently flexes around them. For me, each of the trees I pass tell a bit of the story about the formation of this trail system, so many years ago. As the story emerges, I am ever grateful to those who had the foresight to set these lands apart for our future enjoyment, one tree at a time.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/4 sec, f/22.0 ISO 400

“The Gentle Way”

“The Gentle Way”

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” 
― Pat Conroy

This image, while slightly darker than some of my prior posts, represents so well my typical experiences on the trail; bright sunshine streams between the branches light above, the canopy has a slight yellow tinge, as the days shorten, there are wonderful shifts in the light, each tree reflecting a slightly different shade of brown gray, or silver; far in the distance, a bright meadow shows through a gap in the trees, my destination, or just a glade along the trail edge?

The path, soft and sandy, littered with leaves, has become my gentle way. I tread these trails in reverence for the beauty they lead me through and am grateful to those early conservationists who had the foresight to set this land apart, so that I and many more could enjoy the wonder of the forest trails .

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70mm
1/4 sec, f/9.0 ISO 200

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“Among the Undergrowth”

“Among the Undergrowth”

“I think it is far more important to save one square mile of wilderness, anywhere, by any means, than to produce another book on the subject.” 
― Edward Abbey

In this image, the pines emerge from a thickening undergrowth. You can also see evidence of deliberate ‘thinning’ of this managed forest. Larger trees are selectively removed, the forest managers careful to remove the branches, lest they become fuel for fires. The trunks cut into manageable pieces, are left to return to the earth, a slow, natural, but controlled cycle.

I chose to make this image because it shows the prevalence of the low underbrush, primarily sedges, bracken ferns, and a few maple, beech, and birch saplings, starting to take hold, as pine canopy thins. The sunlights is quite noticeable in the background, further evidencing this thinning. There is lots of room for growth here and I can only imagine what it will look like in a few short years, as the hardwoods take root “Among the Pines”, eventually becoming the dominant species till the pines become the minority in this evolving forest.

It has been interesting to me, working on this series to take the time to observe the many patterns in a very familiar forest. It’s not till I paused and really considered the elements in each composition that I became more and more aware of the stages and changes this area is going through, some accelerated and others a bit slower, each as it is required to be, an essential part of the life of the living breathing forest.

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

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“Sweet Pea Blossoms”

“Sweet Pea Blossoms”

“Like all sweet dreams, it will be brief, but brevity makes sweetness, doesn’t it?”
― Stephen King

Much of the conservation land surrounding my home, including parks and hiking trails, was, at some not too distant time, farmland. It’s difficult to visualize, as I walk through now forested areas. Every now and then though, evidence of former use makes itself known.

On one particular site, many perennial sweet peas can be found at the perimeter of meadows, especially now that they are beginning to bloom. They are quite lovely and I thought worth sharing.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/320 sec, f/7.1 ISO 400

for more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Wetland Grazing” – Lynde Shores Conservation Area

“Wetland Grazing” - Lynde Shores Conservation Area

“The world is a beautiful place, you just don’t see it all the time.”
― Phil Mitchell

I generally go to Lynde Shores to photograph birds or make lakeshore images. When I approached the viewing platform, I saw a bunch of ducks taking off and surveyed several trees filled with noisy, smelly, cormorants. As I stood there, movement from the corner of my eye attracted my attention. Here’s what I saw: a yearling fawn, winter colours just coming out, wading and grazing along the shore. If you look closer, you will see where it has eaten the tops off of the cat-tails behind it.

I made several images of this one, as well as three other deer that were lurking in the weeds. Of all the images, this one was the best, since it shows almost the entire deer. At no point did it offer me an unobstructed side shot but this one is quite nice, given the circumstances offered. Nature generally does not offer poses.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @300mm

1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

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“Poplar Stand at Secord”

“Poplar Stand at Secord”

Hearkening back to milder days, as I ride the train through snow filled landscapes to Montreal. This image was made back in mid-October 2015, as I hiked the southern trails of the Secord Forest. I have made many photographs in the area, but as with many of the photos, the light is always a bit different and what seems familiar suddenly transforms into something altogether new and wonderful.

This image is a fine example of that phenomenon. There are many small poplar groves in this forest and I’ve sen and photographed most of them. Primarily because the long, straight trunks lend themselves so well to these painterly effects. As I recall, this was a mild afternoon on a Saturday and the light was soft and warm and the leaves had just started to turn to their bright yellow fall hues. I stood and looked at these familiar trees but there was something a bit different than previous visit because the sun lit up the background nicely so I made a few vertical pans. I was pleasantly surprised at the show of colour layers in the image and the retention of some of the finer details in the tree bark.

I hope you enjoy it.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 80 mm
1/4 sec, f/32, ISO 250
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“Early Fall Snow in the Pines” – East Duffins Headwaters Trail

"Early Fall Snow in the Pines" - East Duffins Headwaters Trail

I’m finding myself going back to some photos from last year, around this same time. The primary reason for this is we are having a very mild December, the leaves have now come down and we’re in a bit of a mild, yet gray, time. The vibrant colours of November are a recent memory and days are dull and short.

Last year, in mid to late November, we had a few light snowfalls and the days seemed a bit brighter, at least to my recollection.

This photo was made at one of the nearby hiking trails, among planted pines. The area is known as East Duffins Creek Headwaters, though that reference really encompasses a very large area. I have hiked most of the numerous creeks that eventually end up becoming the main Duffins Creek, which flows into Lake Ontario. Because the headwaters cover such a large area, the landscape and scenery is quite diverse. It’s comprised primarily of farmland, and some large gravel pits, with vast tracts of conservation lands, which I often visit: Goodwood Forest, Claremont Conservation Area, Secord Forest, and Durham Forest, to name a few of the larger sites.

I’d categorize specifically East Duffins Creek Headwaters trails as primarily planted pine, interspersed with hardwood forest. The planted pines, with their straight rows and uncluttered bases make ideal subjects for my abstract photography. In this case, I had the straight lines of the trees, some highlights of early snow on the ground, a bit of remaining greenery, and a beautiful late afternoon sun lighting it all up.

There’s a lot going on in this composition and I find myself drawn into the background details. Take some time and enter this space, take a deep breath and imaging the scent of pine in the crisp November air.

Nikon D300
Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8 @ 32mm
1/4 sec @ f/32, ISO 200

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“Golden Poplars”

“Golden Poplars” - Secord Conservation Area

One of the wonders of photography, that I have noted before, is the fact that I can walk past a scene dozens of times and nothing ‘grabs’ me. In this case, there is a nice stand of poplars along one of my favourite hiking trails. I’ve photographed it many times and the results were “average”. I knew it had potential for a great photo, but conditions and lighting were never quite right to capture the photo I envisioned.

That was not the case last Sunday. On this particular hike, all the elements came together; the light, the colour of the leaves, the reflection of the bark, as well as the angle I was photographing from.

I carefully framed the shot to match my vision of the image, checked and double checked my camera setting, and made one single photograph ( a big risk there). I deliberately underexposed it, since I knew the tree bark could blow out some sections (I learned this through previous attempts).

When I got home and downloaded the images from my camera, I knew I had what I’ve been seeking. With only minor adjustments to compensate for the under exposure and a bit of sharpening, the image above emerged. It was all I had dreamt of. I also printed it as a 12×18 print and it now hangs proudly in my home gallery, where I can enjoy it as I work. I hope you enjoy it too!

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm
1/80 sec@ f/4.5 -0.33, ISO 250

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“Into the Forest, Darkly” – Walkers Woods, Uxbridge

“Into the Forest Darkly” - Walkers Woods, Uxbridge

I find myself going back to my photo abstractions frequently. They bring me great pleasure, in that I never know quite how they will turn out. Don’t get me wrong, these are very deliberate photos, and I have a vision in my mind of the outcome. But, the random elements; light, speed, colours, and focus, all add their own unexpected twist to the final composition.

Case in point with the image above, I can see the scene very clearly and it lends itself well to a vertical pan. What I can’t predict, at least not yet, is what the effect of random branches across tree trunks, background reflections, and ambient light might have on the whole photo. I saw the branch across the tree in the forefront, but had no idea how the soft green leaves might play in the whole image.

This image was the result of a quick lunchtime excursion to a local conservation area. I just needed to walk among the trees. Being in nature is the place where I can really experience ‘living in the moment’. For some time, I was not sure what that expression meant. Apparently, this is a rare gift in our fast paced world. In the woods, the outside world melts away, and I am at peace. There is only me and only this place exists to me, at this moment. This place becomes my world and what is beyond is of no consequence. So, I am grateful for the ability to capture those moments that captivate me, while i’m in the moment, and share them. Hopefully, this image will resonate with others.

I called named the image “Into the Woods, Darkly” because  of all the dark spaces I saw below the trees, even thought the sky was bright. The photo technique brings all the dark places into the light, which I found interesting.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/4 sec @ f/16, ISO 250

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“Trout Lily” – Stouffville Reservoir

“Trout Lily” - Stouffville Reservoir

The next in my spring wildflower series. Yesterday I went for a lunchtime stroll to my local nature retreat, namely, the Stouffville Reservoir. This area was created as a water conservation site after Hurricane Hazel roared through the region many years ago, creating floods and taking many lives. So, conservation areas were set up to ‘moderate’ water flow through a series of holding ponds. These areas made wonderful nature preserves and allowed for the preservation of many natural environments.

It is in one of these areas that many of my favourite wildflowers grow. Yesterday morning I checked on this stand of Trout Lilies, also known as ‘Dog Tooth Violets’ locally. They were not quite ready to open. But, a warm day and some sunshine changed that and they were in full bloom at noon today. Above is the photo I made of three beautiful specimens. The name is derived from the colouration of the leaves, which resembles the colour of trout. Many stands of these delicate wildflowers do not bloom for years and then, suddenly, they are full of blossoms. I have yet to figure that one out.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm @ 220 mm
1/1600 sec @ f/6.3, ISO 250