Tag Archives: December

Monochrome Monday – “Awash in a Sea of White”

“Awash, In a Sea of White”

This was a bit of a theme for me last week as I was out making photos. Soft, pure, snow blanketed the fields and open spaces during my extended hikes. The low angle of the sun in the winter sky accentuated the shadows.

As I reviewed the many images I realized that as mono images and without context these images could be of almost anything: water, sand, cloth, foam, or soft clouds. What I liked most about this particular image was the gentle flow punctuated by a few coarser areas.

In reality, I am just happy to be able to capture accurately what I’m seeing. Snow is a real challenge and I have to fool my camera on exposure, especially on bright days.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 105 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Winter Sumac”

“Winter Sumac”

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
― John Ruskin

The last week of December, 2016 was simply stunning. A soft, continuous snowfall had blanketed the world around me in pure white. Snow stacked up on objects that, surprisingly, bore its weight. Such was the case with this Staghorn Sumac in the meadow just north of my home. I decided a mid-morning walk with my camera was in order. The light was soft and bright, reflecting from the snow-covered ground, providing nice shadow fill. This reflected light, made the sumac berries glow in bright reds, which contrasted wonderfully with the purity of the snow that formed caps on each cluster. All that’s missing here is a perching bird of some sort.

As I consider the image, I’m also pleased with the background colours: the pinky-reds of the Red-Osier Dogwoods in the at the bottom of the frame and the darker greens of the pines at the top, both slightly muted by the snow.

Today, we’re in a post thaw cold snap. All the soft snow in this image has melted down to a gray crust. I’m looking forward to the next snowfall to cover that up and brighten the winter once more.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 110 mm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Winter Keys”

“Winter Keys”

“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

This is one of my images made the last week of December. Conditions were ideal to be out on the trails, light was soft and warm, and the temperatures were comfortable. As I was on a few week’s vacation, I spent a lot of time on the trails, enjoying the wonderful sights and sounds, making images along the way.

We’d also been blessed with what I can only refer to as “Christmas Snow”. You know, the kind of snow that falls gently and sticks to everything? Generally, this kind of snow soon melts off as the temperatures increase slightly, or get blown off the branches by wind. However, this December, the snow stuck around and remained relatively pristine.

If you follow this blog on a regular basis, you will have noticed a lot of images with white and orange subjects. This post is no exception. It’s a combination that I suppose I had not noticed before. Perhaps the unique conditions late last year made it more pronounced? Perhaps my ability to see it shifted? I’m not sure, but I am happy to see this and be able to capture it to share with you.

The image above is a bunch of maples keys, still attached to the tree. I’m not 100% sure, but given this trait, I would expect it to be a Manitoba Maple, a local variety of quick-growing, soft maples, deemed ‘weed’ trees by some. You can see the snow clinging to the delicate branches, the keys shining in the soft sunlight. It just felt very peaceful, that quiet morning not so long ago.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 180 mm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Conflict” – Point Clarke

“Conflict” - Point Clarke, Ontario

I could not think of a better title for this photo. To me, it speaks conflict in so many forms. This day in late December was the transition from an extended mild fall to a bitter, biting winter. The crepuscular rays (yes, that’s what they are actually called), offer a sense of peace in contrast to the tumult of the icy waters below. Crepuscular rays are colloquially known as a Jacob’s Ladder, Gateways to Heaven, Buddha’s Fingers, Jesus Beams, God’s Rays, sunbeams, cloud breaks and many other names. It is not surprising that many of the names have religious connotations as crepuscular rays seem to be a message from the gods. What message is being expressed here? “Winter is coming?”

The very waters are churning in conflict, rising in sharp peaks and churning over each other, urgent for the shore.

The temperatures had dropped from a wondrous 13 degrees celsius mere days ago to a blustery minus 6 with a 60km/h wind that literally sucked the breath from my lungs and froze my fingers numb in minutes. While I love being outdoors whenever possible, this instance may be an exception, as it was truly unpleasant, except for the scene unfolding in front to me. From the comfort of a warm car or house, this may have been a vista I could have revelled at for hours.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 82mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250

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“Frosted Shoreline” – Paudash Lake, Bancroft, Ontario

“Frosted Shoreline” - Paudash Lake, Bancroft, Ontario

Winter can be such a thing of wonderment. The photo above was made in December of 2014 while on a trip to A Place for The Arts, an artist cooperative in Bancroft, which I am a member of. The drive was generally uneventful, with the occasional blowing snow and a few drifts over the road. There had been a slight warming the day before and a quick cooling down which created a marvelous, almost magical, frosting on the tree branches along the road. It was beautiful to see the frost shining and twinkling in the trees along the road but it was not till we got into open areas with higher elevation that this effect really revealed itself. Along the far shores of Paudash Lake there are several high ridges and all the trees on these ridges were completely encrusted in a thick, pure white, layer of frost. I have rarely seen a scene of such intense purity as it dazzled in the mid-morning sunlight.

This is like a scene from Narnia where the White Queen has made her presence known in ice and snow. The frosted pines along the shore just accent the effect. A photo can hardly convey this type of scene, but this one come as close as I could have wished for. By early afternoon the frost had melted, or been disturbed by the wind, and the drive home was nowhere near as beautiful.

Now, when I drive along this lakeshore, even in summertime, and look at this shoreline, I will always be reminded of this particular moment in time, when winter came visiting the Paudash shores.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 78mm
1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

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“Pondside Maple” – Hwy 7, near Kaladar, Ontario

“Beaver Pond Maple” - Hwy 7 near Kaladar, Ontario

There is an interesting stretch of highway in eastern Ontario, where the road follows the unusual topography, consisting of many long ponds between low strips of granite. When viewed from above, it’s like a large series of wrinkles in the earth’s crust. The bare rock and water filled valleys are so different from anything else along that road that it made me pay attention to it. Among those rocks and ponds are numerous ‘solitaires’, as I have begun to call them. That is, trees that stand apart from others for any number of reasons.

This maple looks to have had a companion at one time, but that one, lying along the shore, has not faired as well. It’s amazing this tree has reached the size and age it has, given the scant soil it has grown in. There were a few of these solitaires visible from the road but this one was in a location where I could safely pull over and compose a photo as the highway snakes along the edge of the pond.

The photo nicely captures the cool mid-December feeling. It will be winter in a few days, yet there is no snow and the water remains unfrozen. It was a bit dull and the sky was filled with variable clouds, yet the diffused light still lit up the pale yellow grasses along the shore. I’m hoping that the mood is conveyed adequately without making it depressing, which it was not.

Nikon D300
Tamron  70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250

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“Crimson Bramble Leaves”

“Crimson Bramble Leaves”

Every now and then, a splash of colour catches you, unexpectedly. That was the case a few days back when I was hiking the Seaton Trail, near Whitevale.

Let’s keep in mind that was the first week of December. Last year we had already experienced a few substantial snowfalls and cold temperatures, well below freezing. This year, we are still well above freezing but everything has had a good frosting. So, with the exception of evergreens and  a few frost resistant shrubs and grasses, almost everything had turned a mottled tone of late-fall brown-gray. The sun was shining this day, but the forest and fields were generally quite muted. Across a rise, I spotted this patch of intense red and had no idea what plant could still be in fall colours. As I drew nearer, I found it was a small patch of brambles, or blackberry bushes (bramble is a general term for the blackberry family of thorny fruit-bearing shrubs).

Not only were the leaves still colourful, if you look carefully, you will see they have started to bud into leaf again. A strange year indeed. I imagine this will be the last we see of bright reds for some time, with the exception of some winter-hearty berries that the birds don’t like. The forecast is for cooler temperatures for next week, but still not typical for December. Part of me likes it, but another part wants some snow, simply for a change from brown and to brighten the days that start off dark and turn dark far too soon.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/40 sec, @ f/3.2 -0.33, ISO 250

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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