Tag Archives: painterly

“Warm Breezes at Tulum”

"Warm Breezes at Tulum"

“Caribbean warmth rolled from the sea, caressing this ancient land as emerald waves lapped the shore.” – Ed Lehming

Today I really felt a need to retreat back to fond memories. It feels like so long ago but was only months.

Our group set out for a day trip to Mexico’s Tulum ruins along the Yucatan coast. Tulum is a rare Mayan ruin that sits on the coast, rather than inland as most are. There are many theories and histories about this place. One thing that is certain, throughout its life Tulum was a trading port and even had a primitive lighthouse to guide seafaring traders safely through the coral reefs. It was also in its most ancient history believed to have been a sacred site occupied by priests and astronomers.

We found the visit very interesting but what I really loved was the view across the water and the bright colours of the water and foliage as they meet the rocky coastline.

The image above is a digital painting made from one of my photos.

“Inner Glow”

"Inner Glow"

“It would seem from this fact, that man is naturally a wild animal, and that when taken from the woods, he is never happy in his natural state, ’till he returns to them again.”
― Benjamin Rush

A brief post today of a digital painting I recently made of the cedar forest near Whitevale, Ontario. Despite the cold temperatures, warm sunlight glows from within the forest.



“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”
― Mary Oliver

This will be my final post for 2016. My year ends much as it began, on the local trails, camera in hand. Today, I hiked about 6 km on snow packed trails, not meeting another hiker. The trek began bright but hazy and mild and ended two hours later, somewhat cooler with a fairly consistent snowfall, which inspired this final post.

It’s good to have some tools at your disposal. In this case, the ‘concept’ of an image capturing a December snow squall in the pine wood lot behind my house did not quite render my vision as a photo.

That’s where the ‘tools’ come in and running the image through the Topaz Impression plug-in yielded the desired results. It brought out the warm colours of the trees that I saw initially and enhances the nice blur of the heavy snow, a slightly washed-out effect, which is what I was after.

This has become a go-to for me if a photo does not convey the ‘feel’ I was after. My ‘impression’ of the scene. So, since I’m not a painter, I can be a photo-impressionist, and I like that. Wishing you a Happy 2017.

Till then,


“Ablaze with Life” – Two Views

%22ablaze-with-life%22-steady“Ablaze with Life”

“But it is a pipe.”
“No, it’s not,” I said. “It’s a drawing of a pipe. Get it? All representations of a thing are inherently abstract. It’s very clever.”
― John Green

I’ve had a few people comment on the forest abstracts that I create and how I do it. That is something that I have learned through experimentation and though I share my camera settings, the precise method is difficult to describe. I’m afraid if I over thought it, the images may not look the same. It’s really a ‘feel’ thing, the ‘art’ part for me. None of this workis done in Lightroom or Photoshop. It would simply not be satisfying for me.

One thing I did want to share is a before and after view of the same scene. First, I look for bright colours and a strong dark to light contrast, which was the case of this forest edge scene with the dark tree trunks and bright leaves (yellow maple and red oak). If you look carefully at the two images, you will see that the abstract captures most of the details and actually enhances the colours by blurring them together, leaving less dark shadows.

I tend to stick to a 1/4 sec shutter speed, since that has worked best for me. Next ,I do a vertical pan when activating the shutter. I often make multiple images and adjust aperture for exposure. The rest is really just previewing the images and deciding if what I have captured is what I envisioned. There have been instances when I have come across a composition I like and made 20 attempts to get it right with not a single suitable image. Thank goodness for digital cameras.

It’s a technique I learned from another photographer and customized to my own style. It’s also very satisfying, since I am creating something that did not exist before, in its modified form, yet still has natural origins.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 70 mm
1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Dawn Redwood” – Edwards Gardens, Toronto

"Ancient Redwood" - Edwards Gardens, Toronto

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”
― John Steinbeck

This is the second dawn redwood (Metasequoia) I have seen in Ontario recently, both were in a botanical gardens setting. The first was at the Niagara Botanical Gardens and the specimen above was at Edwards Gardens, in Toronto, the home of the Toronto Botanical Gardens. They look like living fossils but are actually fast growing and not as old as you would suspect.

The species was discovered in Lichuan county in the Hubei province of China in 1944 and was soon adopted in North America as a popular ornamental. That would explain why they are found in various botanical gardens. Also, because they get so large, they would not be suitable for residential properties.

This one is said to have been planted in 1960, on a site chosen to ensure it would would be bathed in the early morning sunlight on June 20 each year, the birthday of the wife of the gardener who planted it.

I felt this would look nice as a painted piece, so took some artistic liberty with Photoshop, mainly to hide the ugly chain link fence directly behind the tree and to enhance the texture of the bark.

As John Steinbeck states so well above, there is a ‘feel’ to redwoods that is difficult to communicate.

Nikon D800
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 82 mm
1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 220

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Spring Poplars on the Bend” – Stouffville

“Spring Poplars on the Bend”

“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.

Nikon D800
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
or my website (some images available for purchase)

“Spring’s First Daffodils” – Niagara-on-the Lake

“Spring’s First Daffodils”  -Niagara-on-the-Lake

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
― William Wordsworth

At long last, I feel I might be able to say that spring and warmer weather are here to stay? I’ve posted about ‘false starts‘ and the change of seasons, the endless repeating cycles, yet consistent warm days elude me. This image was made nearly two weeks ago, a mere 50 kilometers south of my home, yet my own daffodils are reluctant to bloom.

Daffodils, like peonies, are one of those marvelous plants that keep spreading every year. I often see large patches and imagine them being planted many years ago and just spreading out, covering larger areas over time.

Judging the forecast and their current state, I’d say they will open in the next day and it ‘should’ be warmer every day next week. Here’s hoping.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 98 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Coltsfoot” – Whitevale Dam

"Coltsfoot by Boulder"

“Little yellow flower
Like a dandelion shrunk
Yet she’s not its kin at all
She blooms there without leaves

Shows her face in early spring
Shines brightly like the sun
In my childhood, she was dear
Quite precious to be true 

She it was who truly said
That spring had just arrived
I picked bouquets in my small hands
And brought them home to mom 

Even now, quite old and grown
Coltsfoot is still quite dear
In early springtime it’s of her
That I try to catch a glimpse”

Coltsfoot is a pleasant little flower that I look forward to each spring. It’s the first to bloom and many people mistake them for dandelions. When the coltsfoot blooms, spring is just around the corner.

I found the beautiful poem above while looking for a quote suitable for this photo, which I touched up to look like a painting, Something I am quite fond of doing with some of my photos simply because I like the painterly look in some cases.

That a poem about coltsfoot exists is quite delightful and I’m surprised more is not written about it, as it was and is considered a key medicinal plant for treating lung aliments. To the point where the coltsfoot symbol was used to designate a pharmacy not too many years ago. The latin name Tussilago farfara is derived from latin tussis, meaning cough, and ago, meaning to cast or to act on.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
or my website (some images available for purchase)


“Springtime Forest Walk”

"Spring Forest Walk"

“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.”
― Susan Polis Schutz

If we were having a coffee…

I’d tell you about how beautiful the past week has been. Temperatures, though up and down, have been getting milder, my favourite wildflowers are beginning to bloom, and the trout are running up Duffins Creek. The annual cycle of spring is in full swing.

These are the days I can barely stand to sit inside working, but work  has to get done. Yet, I’m fortunate to live very close to many hiking trails and creeks that I can enjoy during my lunch time. And then, there are weekends where the trails beckon for longer visits, weather permitting.

Today, I went for a hike with my son, who also enjoys the outdoors and photography. We visited the dam at Whitevale, hoping to capture some migrating trout jumping. It’s been a strange season and the water is still quite cold, so, no luck there. On top of that, the fishing season just opened and the usually quiet shores were lined with a continuous row of fishermen, some friendly and welcoming, others, not so much. I know this is but a brief moment in time and soon calm will return once more.

We left the creek and drove a few miles north to the East Duffins Creek Headwaters trail, for peaceful walk in the woods, pictured above. The trails are lined with red pine and a mix of hardwoods. This area is at a slightly higher elevation and wildflowers were a bit more sparse. Despite that, we had a great time walking and catching up. How’s your week been?

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
or my website (some images available for purchase)