Tag Archives: contrast

“Above It All”

“Above It All”

“High above, the raven skims the treetops, gliding silently on wings of dark silk”
– Ed Lehming

After some time in the woods of Secord Forest, a local conservation area, I emerged into the brightness of an overcast sky and watched two ravens circling above me. After awhile they both perched at the top of trees near the forest edge and began ‘talking’ to each other.

Those familiar with ravens will know the broad variety of sounds these interesting birds can make. That is to say, they were not simply ‘cawing’ but were involved in a complex exchange of sounds high above. It almost seemed they were having a conversation about what lay beneath them. I’m not sure if they saw me, as I stood at the forest edge, obscured by low branches.

I watched them and listened for some time, simply enjoying the experience and decided that the raven on the closest treetop would make an interesting photo. The light made the shot feel a bit lackluster, since it was so flat and dull but I proceeded to compose the image anyways.

The first few shots I made were “OK” but not quite what I had envisioned. This soon changed as the one raven took off and the other stirred as well, about to follow the first one. It took this opportunity to compose a shot, anticipating the take-off and managed to snap the shutter at just the right moment in flight to show it with wings fully extended.

This image may appear to be black and white, but it’s full colour, simply the result of the lighting conditions and the stark contrast between the black bird and the bright sky.

What made this even more challenging was the fact that I had gone to the forest to get some close ups of the spring flowers, so only had my 90mm macro lense with me to make this image and my camera was still set at a fairly high ISO for lower light. It all worked out alright, I think.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/2000 sec, f/10.0, ISO 400

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


“It’s a Jungle Out There!”

“It’s a Jungle Out There!”

“Amidst our comfortable habitations, we need to be reminded that nature is always wanting to take back what is hers”
– Ed Lehming

As a photographer, I like contrast, I look for it as I create my images. So, when I’m faced with other contrasts, I take notice.

While on vacation in Cozumel this past January I could not help but notice how the resort had been literally carved out of the surrounding jungle. I hope this was done deliberately, as I have seen many resort properties bulldoze the surrounding lands to make the resort look ‘civilized’. I’m not sure that’s even the right word or their actual intent.

I loved this sharp contrast between developed and undeveloped land as I walked along an outer walkway, the bustling resort on one side and the natural landscape to the other side. A fence acted as a secondary boundary. Judging by its height, it was designed to keep two-legged trespassers out, as the birds, rodents, and lizards hardly seemed to notice it.

The ‘wall’ of the jungle is impressively imposing and seemingly impassable, reminding me of the old Tarzan movies where the guide hacks a passage through the undergrowth with a machete. I stood, transfixed, a few times, simply letting my eyes drift through the tightly interwoven plants, loving the many values of green before me. That, and the wonderful variation in textures. The one element missing, and I am grateful for it, is the swarms of mosquitoes, nicely controlled by regular spraying.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/30 sec; f/1.8; ISO 32

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

Iceland Journal – “Overwhelmed”


“The stars looked down at me from infinite space. We are tiny, they said, but you are insignificant.” 
― Shane Maloney

On the first day of my Iceland trip, something that came to my attention, almost immediately, was the incredible contrast in scale between the land itself and man-made things, particularly houses, which seem so insignificant against the mass of rock and ice that surrounds them.

Here, a farm which has guest cottages, presumably for hikers venturing into the highlands, seems overwhelmed by its grand surroundings. In the background the rock rises ever higher, disappearing into the clouds.

The icecap , far above, covers Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano, which erupted back in 2010, stalling air traffic through most of Europe. Remember that one? The name that nobody could pronounce? It simply became, “That volcano in Iceland.” By the way, I’ve been getting ever better at pronouncing Icelandic places, including this, simply through researching the places I visited and repeating the names, over and over.

Well, that volcano is in this farm’s backyard, and I often found myself wondering what that would be like, having one of nature’s most powerful and dangerous creations so close.

The coastal plain that this farm faces is a vast, flat lava field, created by previous eruptions, and endless streams of meltwater flows through streams lined with black volcanic rock. The farm, occupies a very small place in time and geography. It was only one of many along the way.

Once more, I’m adding the Google Street View link for perspective:


Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 92mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

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

“Pink Blush – Part II”

“Pink Blush - Part II”

“The truth is that everyday and everyone is different. We just like to think that they aren’t.” 
― Anthony T. Hincks

As promised, yesterday’s flower, with a light background. Keep in mind, this is the exact same shot, with the same settings and lighting. The only difference is that I removed the black velvet background that I use for my studio shots, revealing the white card-stock panel that holds it up in my portable setup.

I still prefer the black backdrop, as I feel it makes the image more dramatic, but the light background has its appeal too.

It’s very interesting, on several levels, how this works. What I’m looking at is so dramatically altered by the surroundings. Something to consider?

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm

3 sec, f/29.0, ISO 100 

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

“One of these Things”

“One of these Things...”

“Because you don’t notice the light without a bit of shadow. Everything has both dark and light. You have to play with it till you get it exactly right.” 
― Libba Bray

As I’ve said many times this past year, it’s amazing what we see and don’t see, or rather notice. In the case of these poplar trees, which I have passed through immeasurable times, the camera picks up on light changes that our eyes simply ‘flatten’ out.

I never noticed the nearly black tree that appears in the image, as it is ‘eclipsed’ i the shadow of another tree. My eyes would have perceived this as merely a tree that’s shaded, yet the difference in brightness in the photo is significant. It’s darker than I can recall.

How many time have we made a photo in a forest and then ben surprised at just how intense the shadows are? They didn’t seem that significant as we peered through the viewfinder. Such is the nature of light and how dynamic our brain’s ability to balance that light. Which can prove a challenge to the photographer, as we try to make an image look as much as possible to what we saw. It can prove quite difficult.

By the way, the title of the image hearkens me back to childhood, Sesame Street days, and the game of “One of these Things is Not like the Other”. In this case, One of these Trees.

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

1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 400

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“In the end there is only light and dark. And the two are not so far apart.”
― Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Yesterday it was the roses putting on their show, today, a single lily decided to open fully. Until that point, I had no idea what colour it might be, other than something pale. This one, as you can see from the photo is white with a pinky-cream tone and even some notes of pale yellow, depending on how the light hits it.

Despite the scar on its stem, this lily is, in my opinion, nearly perfect. Fresh to the world, the blossom is pure and unblemished. I suppose I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for lilies, with their large but delicate petals.

Strangely, growing up with a German family, lilies represented death, which always confounded me. How can such a beautiful flower represent an ending, when to me, it symbolises birth or a beginning?

Well, our lives do travel in circles, and as I write these words, I’m reminded that though this flower bloomed today, it’s also eight years ago that my adopted mother passed away. I’m not one to remember the exact dates for such events but hers stuck with me, since she passed on Friday the thirteenth, eight years ago, and it was not till I looked at a calendar, that the significance of this day registered with me. So, in a way, the German tradition lives on, and today, the lily reminds me of one particular death.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
0.6sec, f/25.0, ISO 100

High Resolution image on 500px

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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Thursday Doors – January 19, 2017

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto

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

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world.

Front doors of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Canada

I still find it odd, having lived just outside of Toronto most of my life, in Scarborough as a youngster, and just north of the city as an adult, that I have not fully explored the marvelous architecture (what remains of it) of Toronto more fully. I say, “what remains of it.” because, for an extended period, from the 60’s to 80’s ,Toronto had a policy of “Urban Renewal”, during which time, many wonderful historical buildings were torn down to make way for more modern buildings, and parking lots (because the people working in these buildings would have to park their somewhere). Back in the day, the car was the transport of choice. My how the city has changed on that front, for the better, though there is still an excess of cars, do to the poor rural/urban transit infrastructure. I could write at length on that evolution.

But, in honour of brevity, I’ll include a Google Streetview link, as I often do, so you can witness firsthand the extreme contrast between this grand old place of worship and the surrounding world of glass and steel.