“Despite its dark veins, the transparency of dragonfly’s wings assures me of a pure, innocent world”
― Munia Khan
Ah, warm weather walks. As plants grow taller and spread across the forest floors, their insect companions abound and show in ever increasing displays of colour and variety. Some are tougher to photograph than others. This female emerald jewelwing, with her distinctive black body and white wing spots, is fairly common around here, but they tend to be a bit skittish with movement. This time she cooperated and posed nicely on a lime green leaf, making her stand out even more.
I have not seen many males yet. They are metallic green in colour and I’m sure they will show up shortly too.
As more wildlife begins to show itself, I’m finding myself gravitating towards it and away from plants. I hope those following my blog aren’t too disappointed?
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @300mm
1/160sec, f/6.3, ISO 200
“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.”
― Sarah Ban Breathnach
As with its yellow blossoms, many people mistake the coltsfoot seed heads for those of the dandelion. That is, until you take the time to look closer.
I’m finding more and more that people are just not taking the time to actively participate in the world around them. If something can’t be observed quickly or looked up on-line, it gets left behind. Our natural world beckons us to be part of it. When I take hikes to make photos, my world slows down, the business of life slips away, and I can be ‘in’ nature, not just a silent observer. The sounds fill my ears, the smells trigger memories, and the ever changing light dances through my vision. Some call this living in the moment, and I like that term, because that ‘moment’ lasts only briefly and then, becomes memory.
One of my greatest satisfactions in making photos is that all the images I make represent ‘moments’ which I have borne witness to. I take that as a gift, especially if I am able to effectively convey the ‘feeling’ of that moment through my art.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200
“See that path in front of you? That path has been laid before you, the one that you’re supposed to take, the one you’re told to take through life…just like everyone else. If you follow that path, you’ll be following all the rules, you’ll always know that you did what everyone wanted you to do and you’ll make it through…
See that path in front of you? I dare you to step off and make your own.”
― Travis Culliton
Looking out my home office window yesterday, as the dark clouds cleared and the sky brightened, I could not help but get outside for a few minutes to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. There is a nice trail system 5 minutes from home. So I took my camera to see what this day offered.
I’ve walked this path hundreds of times and there is always some slight variation in light, foliage, and viewpoint that makes each walk unique. I’ve also photographed these poplars on numerous occasions, including vertical pan shots like this.
However, this day, that slight play of light, new growth, and the bright green grass (including dandelions) made the element s align for this lovely spring image. It seems far too long since I’ve created one of these ‘painterly’ images, which I enjoy so much. Hopefully, this image of a bright spring day brightens someone else’s day.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
― Ernest Hemingway
After a few ‘false starts’ it looks like spring has finally arrived. I awoke yesterday morning to a snow covered, foggy world. The forecast called for mild conditions as the gentle rain began the work of melting off the prior day’s snowfall (barely visible in the background).
As I made my coffee, I noticed the bright water drops on the branches outside my kitchen window and grabbed my camera, knowing (hoping) this would be the last we’ll see of snow for some time.
I’ve made a few similar photos, in various locations. The soft bokeh and colours in the background tend to make the photo a bit dreamy.
Goodbye winter, hello spring, hope you can stay a while!
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/8 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200
“Whenever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God’s speaking from the whirlwind, nature’s old song, and dance…”
― Annie Dillard
Chilly water flows beneath icicles formed by the spray of the creek below. I found this to be an odd sight. April in my area has been ‘confusing’. We had beautiful sunshine and mild temperatures, followed by a deep freeze, snow, freezing rain, and strong winds, all within a few days. This has made it difficult to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
This small chute is located just below the Whitevale dam, north of Pickering, Ontario. It has become a fairly regular destination for me over the past few years. Primarily because I’m drawn to moving water and the serenity I find there, even as the water surges and churns over the rocks below the dam. It’s here that I make many of my winter photos of water flowing beneath the ice, or frozen in great icicles at the dam itself.
In this case, I found a lovely composition created by the tight combination of mist and air temperature. The moderately cold night had created conditions whereby spray from the water had splashed onto an overhanging branch and slowly frozen into these delicate icicle. There was no wind, which provided me an opportunity to do a long exposure, which showed off the icicles and allowed me to put the water in the background into motion, as contrast between stillness and movement. Very much how I feel when I’m at the waterside.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/10 sec, f/20.0, ISO 200
On a particularly nice day in mid-January, I went for a much needed hike along the Seaton Trail, south of Whitevale, Ontario, with my son. The day was an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and make some photos.
The creek was partially frozen over and full of wonderful detail in hues of blue and green. Above is a view of the typical scenery showing ice coverage and flow. The plants are all brown or yellow. You’d expect it to be drab and washed out, but the bright snow lights things up so nicely. Despite the cold air, it was a great day to just be out and about and the light was beautiful.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 110 mm
1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 250
To start this out, I’m stealing a wonderful quote from a fellow blogger spanishwoods.
“In my opinion, the most ordinary things, the most common and familiar, if we could see them in their true light, would turn out to be the grandest miracles . . . and the most marvelous examples.”
—Michel de Montaigne
The above statement resonates with me on so many levels. I don’t live in an area with grand vistas, mountains, or oceans. The countryside surrounding my home is, at first appearance, quite bland.
But, if you have the eye to see deeper, and appreciate the fine details, the landscape opens up into a world of light and colour.
Today, after nearly two weeks of not venturing very far afield, I got up, looked at the stunning, clear light, and despite it being -12 degrees celsius outside, headed out with the intention of a much needed walk in the woods (and some photos). I made about 40 photos of forest trails, frozens creeks, and plants along the way. As the quote above states, it’s often the ordinary things, that on further observation, become quite spectacular. On occasion, I’m surprised by some detail I did not notice as I made the photo. After all, I’m limited to what I see through the viewfinder. Along my walk I stopped in a few locations to photograph the tiny seed pods of a plant called Dog Strangling Vine. Apparently, it’s an invasive species, imported deliberately or accidentally from Europe some 150 years ago. I don’t know that a dog has ever actually been strangled by it. The plant’s real name is European Swallow-Wort. These plants often grow in thick tangles, clinging to and climbing up trees, but every now and then a single tendril reaches between trees and those tend to make good subjects for photos where I can isolate a single seed pod or two. They are quite ordinary, but unique in how they grow.
I was very surprised today, in reviewing my photos that, despite it being mid January, my camera picked up the most awesome purples, and pinks as a burst of colour bokeh behind the seed pods. I don’t recall seeing anything pink or purple in the background when I made the photo. So, I’ll take this as a special gift. It adds a real dream-like effect to the image, coupled with the burst effect of a few background branches. If I had planned this, I would have been pleased. But, to have a complete surprise is awesome and keeps me inspired to seek out more of these special moments.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm
1/100 sec, f/5.0 -0.33, ISO 250
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.
It’s the end of autumn and winter is making its presence known across the country.
This seemed like an appropriate image for the day. On a hike a few weeks ago, I noticed this single maple leaf clinging to a tree. All the other trees in the area had shed their leaves, but this one kept hanging on. I feel that way too. Hanging on to the last moments of fall, knowing the cycle will complete and winter will arrive, at some time.
It has still been mild, but the occasional gust of chilly wind or squall of sleet reminds us that the inevitable is around the corner. But, I’ll hang on to this image, remembering the sweet, extended fall, in all its warmth and splendour.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm
1/2000 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 250