Tag Archives: forest

“Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)”

“Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)”

“Tiny hints of purple between the undergrowth draw me in. Wild geraniums are beginning to bloom as the forest darkens under a thickening canopy of leaves.” – Ed Lehming

I still recall vividly the first time I discovered these beautiful little blooms along a forest trail. At first, easy to overlook, but once you see them they seem to be in every nook and cranny. Not knowing what they were, I took a few photos and researched them when I got home.

It turns out that these are wild geraniums. They look nothing like their highly modified domestic and highly hybridized counterparts, but when you look at them side by side, some similarities start to show.

I’ve gotten to the point where I begin to note the foliage in late spring and make a point of going back to the denser patches around blossom time, which began last week. Once you notice them, like many of the other diminutive forest floor blossoms, it’s hard not see more. They do tend to like the shade, thus the unusually high aperture setting on my camera in order to facilitate the narrow aperture, and slightly moist soil but are quite adaptable and are a hint at the many forest wildflowers still to bloom.

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

1/80 sec, f/16, ISO 3200

“Starshine”

“Small white stars dot the deep green carpet of the forest floor, a private constellation of purity.” – Ed Lehming

Starflower (Lysimachia borealis) was what I set out to photograph earlier this week. To my dismay, the hot dry weather had accelerated their blooms and I only found a few still flowering. But it was not a total loss, the few that remained were still in good condition and I was able to make this image.

The more time I spend hiking the more keenly aware I become of my natural surroundings. I’ve seen starflower plants emerging from between dried leaves since early May, making note of where the larger colonies where, so i could return at a later date. I’ve gotten better at identifying plants as tiny sprouts and flowerless greenery.

Part of my routine now is to seek out plants that I am not as familiar with, photograph them, and study them once I get home. That was the case with starflowers only a few years ago. They seemed quite rare at the time but as I became familiar with them, I find them to be quite abundant, which I a good thing, since they are such beautiful flowers, if every so briefly.

They can be a challenge to photograph since the bright white contrasts strongly with the deep green foliage. I tend to underexpose my images and correct in post-processing.

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

1/125 sec, f/16.0, ISO 1600

“Canada Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)”

“Columbines in the lush green forest is a sure sign that summer is on our doorstep.” – Ed Lehming

As I set out for a hike recently, to photograph Starflowers, I was surprised to find an early patch of wild columbines. Most were in the shadow of the forest but a few dangled like faery bells in the sunshine.

These perennial flowers are always a delight and are so different in structure than most of the low-lying wildflowers usually associated with Southern Ontario woodlands. Their colour alone makes them stand out dramatically against the deep greens of the forest.

Of course, with late spring heat, the mosquitoes were also out to welcome me to their home. I was more concerned with blackflies, which are usually still quite active this time of year, but they seem to have burned off early. The abundance of mosquitoes surprised me, since the spring has been cool and dry, limiting their ability to breed, but they seem quite adept at overcoming such adversities and there were still enough to be an annoyance as I crouched low for this shot. Next time, I will bring bug spray, but for now, I’m just happy to have captured a few pleasing images.

For my fellow photographers, I was not particularly challenged by the light, but there was a slight breeze, which forced me to increase my shutter speed to limit the effects of the motion for this tight macro shot, but had to bump the ISO quite a bit to properly expose the image.

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

1/1250 sec, f/15.0, ISO 1600

“North Walker Woods Impressions”

“Words often fail to describe the feelings that our environment brings. How do I adequately share the joy of a spring forest? Art provides a medium to share my world.” – Ed Lehming

There are many time where I see a scene before me that is absolutely raw and emotionally beautiful. I try to share these scenes these scenes through my photographs, but there are times where even this is inadequate. In these cases, what I see and feel is best presented as more traditional art, in the form of a painting. Using software to create this ‘feel’ is generally a last resort as I struggle to pull life from a photo but the resulting image does not suffice. This is the primary reason I often create images with deliberate movement in them. The slight movement brings the scene to life and makes the eye spend more time considering what is being seen.

I really enjoy impressionist painting because of its ability to communicate a feeling through brush strokes, colour, and composition. My photos already offer the colour and composition but there is something in the brush strokes, a sense of depth, movement, and energy that a flat image just can’t do. Because impressionism resonates with me, I often find that converting my images into digital art gives me the satisfaction of elevating some of my images to a place a photograph sometimes can’t achieve. That was the case with this spring scene in Ontario’s North Walker Woods, a conservation area close to my home.

Here the spring forest is just starting to leaf out and the ground is filled with the white purity of trilliums. Presenting it as a digital painting brings out the soft serenity of the scene very nicely, in my opinion, and leaves me with something that was created by me, with a little bit of help.

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

1/200 sec, f/20.0, ISO 640
(Rendered with Topaz Impressions plug-in)

“Beech Returns (and a bug)”

“The forest fills with fresh green growth, as the cycle of growth begins anew, and with it, the inevitable return of insects.” – Ed Lehming

This image is now approaching a week old and represents the first solid growth of beech leaves in my area. On previous posts I have commented on the cool and dry spring we’ve had. Two weeks ago it snowed. Then seemingly overnight the temperature climbed into the high 20’s (celcius) and the forest literally exploded into life.

I’ve been waiting for a bit of warmth to bring on growth and add some colour back to the landscape, but along with the warmth come the stinging and biting insects. In this area, a particularly nasty critter known as a blackfly dominates May to early June. They are about the size of fruit flies but in their quest for a meal leave small itchy punctures which tend to bleed due to the anticoagulant in their saliva. The saliva also causes them to itch terribly in most people, leaving large red welts with a predominant puncture wound in the centre. You don’t feel them when they bite but you sure feel the itch afterwards.

I have not ventured into the woods since I made this image. I’m hoping the heat will ‘burn off’ some of the swarms of blackflies, yes there are literally clouds of them, before my next visit but I may not be able to wait that long. I know these leaves will be fully opened on my next visit and the delicate fuzz which protects them from late frosts will have been shed, leaving shiny, deep-green leaves to drink in the sun’s energy.

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

1/500 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200

“Spring Glides In”

“Spring Glides In”

“Like a deep exhale, a flush of bright green, dotted with trilliums sweeps over the forest floor” – Ed Lehming

It’s a remarkable event to see unfold, even over the span of a few days. A mere two weeks ago snow was falling in the forest, the air was chill and only a few hearty plants poked from the cold ground.

Now the air has changed, the snow is a memory and the forest world is transformed. Around me trilliums flourish and fill the fill the scene as far as I can see. New growth emerges in the forest background as trees eagerly leaf out, creating a greenish mist between the limbs. It’s difficult to capture just how beautiful this is in a single still photo so I added some movement to bring some life to the scene and try to portray the feeling of this event.

Those who spend time in nature regularly will understand. There are things that are so difficult to convey accurately. The forest is not a still thing, it’s alive with movement and an energy that’s had to describe. I hope this image does that some justice.

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

1/4 sec, f/32, ISO 160

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

“Spring Beckons”

“Spring Beckons”

“The days warm and forest paths call me into the depths of nature, I am home again.” – Ed Lehming 

The forest floor is now flush with green and visible life returns once more. Thought the trees are still bare I can see a fine haze od green and yellow high above me. It will be mere days till the canopy forms anew.

Narrow paths draw me forward to explore new places and my eyes see familiar things like Trout Lilies, Trilliums, and Lily of the Valley. Bright and healthy green with splashes of pink, yellow, and white blossoms stretch into the woods before me. This is like taking a fresh breath for me, it’s a balm for my spirit as I once more connect deeply with my beloved forest.

I have anticipated this “awakening” even more this year. With all the uncertainty in our world as we learn to deal with the evolving realities of  COVID-19, there is nothing uncertain about the forest and that offers me hope and encouragement, as well as a place where I can be with my thoughts and emotions and simply ‘be’. It’s a real blessing to have this so close to me.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/1600 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20

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

 

“Early Spring Companions”

“Early Spring Companions”

“Nature’s gatherings; nothing by chance; each with purpose” – Ed Lehming

As I spend more time on the trails, more and more patterns become noticeable to me, what once seemed random, begins to fit into patterns. Such is the case with early spring blossoms, one follows the next in a steady, often cautious progression.

It begins with the first few leaves unfurling from the forest litter of leaves, each plant slowly reaching out for the energy of the sun, gradually warming. Then the first few flowers open, bringing a splash of colour to the dull grays and browns of the forest floor.

Amonth the first of these are Spring Beauties, their tiny size and low profile protects them from spring frosts. They may be small and delicate but the do provide among the first nutrients to flying insect like bees and wasps. Notice the bee happily feeding on one in the lower right corner? I didn’t see it as I composed the photo, but it was a pleasant surprise when I reviewed it later in the day.

Next are the Trout Lilies. They first show as a bright green carpet of green and brown mottled leaves which resemble trout skin, thus the name. They also stay low to the ground for some time before putting up blossoms, but once they do, they fill the forest with wonderful splashes of bright yellow, complimented by the pinks and purples of the Spring Beauties, their early spring companions.

I’m hoping to get back out in the next day or two to see the trilliums, as I have now exhausted all my recent photos.

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

1/500 sec, f/11.0, ISO 200

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

“Dry Ground and Spring Warmth”

“Dry Ground and Spring Warmth”

“The cycle continues, winter leads to spring and the ground drinks in the warmth of the brightening sunshine. Traces of winter remain as distant memories” – Ed Lehming

Nowadays I’m even more appreciative of the beautiful outdoor spaces so close to home. It also helps that the snow and ice is gradually receding. Not gone,as there were some quite treacherous stretches that made me happy to have my ‘icers’ on.

But, there were several clear stretches of open, leaf-covered ground and even a few hearty sedges beginning to peer through. It won’t be long till spring is in full swing.

It is so different this year though. With all the focus on COVID-19 and “social distancing” some of the anticipated joy of spring is missing. On reflection, the only real difference is in my perception. Driving to the trailhead, I’m feeling a bit apprehensive. Am I doing the right thing by venturing out? I get to the trailhead and there are a disproportionate number of cars for this time of year. Clearly, I’m not the only one who needed to get outdoors. As I start my hike, I notice very few tracks and when I get to the first icy section, the sparse footprint turn back; I realize that these are not the true ‘hikers’, simply people wanting to be outside, with no intention of entering the formal trail system. They are just looking around, likely unfamiliar with this area.

During my five kilometer hike, I meet one other person, heading the other direction. WE exchange a brief hello in passing and continue on our way. Each enjoying some quiet time in nature and watching the earth continue it’s cycles, oblivious to what’s happening in the human world.

As I emerge from the trail, refreshed and a few new photos on my camera, the trailhead is still crammed with cars, but nobody in sight. A good day to recharge.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/4 sec, f/32, ISO 400

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

“Up and Over”

“Up and Over”

“What lies ahead? We seldom know the details, but we anticipate, hoping for the best.” – Ed Lehming

As February transitions to March, I am keenly aware of the subtle changes in the forest. The light is a bit warmer and softer than it has been for far too long, there are more birds flitting about in the branches high above. There is more movement and the sounds are different. Even the air has a new feel.

There is a change just ahead and just like the forest trails as they rise and dip, so do the seasons, but it’s never quite the same, there is always some slight variation beyond the next hill.

It’s those subtle changes that I enjoy the most, not anxiously, but with glad anticipation. That barely noticable change may be the inspiration for my next favourite photo, though I have tread these paths so many times before.

There is also a change in me, how I see things, how I perceive them, as well as my many experiences lead me on, always knowing that what lies ahead will not be the same as what I have become accustomed to and I hope that my journey thus far has prepared me to fully enjoy them.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/4 sec, f/32, ISO 200

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