Tag Archives: storm

“Hydrangea on Ice”

“Hydrangeas on Ice”

“What is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?”
― Kahlil Gibran

This year, I left a few dried hydrangea blooms in my garden. My usual ritual is to trim them all down in the fall. I’m glad I left them, they added some interest in this past, dull, nearly snowless winter, and created a nice franewirk for our recent freezing rain event.

For those who have never experienced freezing rain, I’ll include a brief description here:
Freezing rain occurs when the ground temperature is below freezing while the air layers above are warmer. The precipitation falls as rain and freezes on contact with the ground. The end effect is that everything is coated with an ever increasing layer of clear ice. If conditions are right, this accumulation can be over an inch thick and cause major damage to trees and powerlines. Because it is a gradual accumulation, delicate plants, which would collapse in snow, are held rigid by the ice that encases them.

This was the case with the hydrangeas pictured above. A thin coating of clear ice built up over a period of a few hours, making them look like the are coated in clear glass.

It’s a beautiful effect, unless you are driving and have to chisel the ice from your car, or try to walk, since the ice is usually covered in a thin layer of semi-frozen water, making it extremely slippery. This is not a good feature when you are trying to walk around with your camera. The other thing with freezing rain is that it tends to be a very brief, beautiful event, which generally melts away within a few hours, as the temperatures rise.

I find it to be a challenging time photographically, since everything is beautiful and it’s difficult to isolate a particular composition within all that beauty.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 130 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0 -0.33, ISO 200

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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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“Tree Line” – Fraser Lake, Ontario

"Tree Line" - Fraser Lake (abstract)

In November 2014, I was walking along a ridge on the Fraser Lake Camp property, near Bancroft, Ontario and became fascinated with this line of leafless trees on the top of an adjacent ridge. They stood silloetted against the slate-gray November skies, as a narrow beam of bright sunlight lit up the yellow hay stubble just in front of them. The result was a layering of cold blues in stark contrast to the warm yellows with small patches of brown-green grass and a thin dusting of snow.

As a photo, it did not appeal much to me. But, when I manipulated it with Photoshop, to look like a painting, I was very pleased with the results and the ‘feel’ it had. I think the slight sense of obscurity in this image makes it more powerful than the photo, with it’s clean lines and sharp edges. The  Photoshopped version seems to allow for better separation of colours and what was fine details now show through in the splashes of red among the tree branches, which was not the case in the photo.

As I’ve said a few times before, I wish I could paint, but since I can’t, I can paint with light within my photos and editing software and I can turn what is an average photo into something I can really enjoy looking at.

Nikon D200
Nikor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 127 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 200

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“Storm Front over Lake Huron”

“Storm Front over Lake Huron”

A revisit to what started as a beautiful mid August day at Sauble Beach this past August.

We had heard forecasts of rain all day, but the day started out sunny and windy. Since it was too windy for a good game of volleyball, we all headed to town for a bit to shop. Shortly thereafter, the clouds, which had been hanging far out on the lake started to roll in and thicken. From town, I could see the thin gray clouds start to thicken and take on strong structures and definition. So, I headed back to the cottage to retrieve my camera and head across the road to the beach.

This is what greeted me. A solid wall of black cloud with clearly defined shear zones. The wonder of Lake Huron is that it is so big and scenes like this may be taking place at a fairly long distance. As I stood and watched, a secondary dark cloud formed at the frontal boundary and began to roll like a wave against the other cloud at this ‘transition’ line. It was very dramatic and I was happy to be able to capture it while staying dry. This cloud movement went on for a long time over the water before it gradually moved to shore and started to rain. All the while, many people carried on watching the drama unfold in front of them and still swimming in the surf caused by the storm.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm @ 86mm
1/60 sec @ f/10, ISO 280

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“Out of the Storm” – Sauble Beach, Ontario

“Out of the Storm” - Sauble Beach, Ontario

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with family and friends at Ontario’s Sauble Beach, on Lake Huron. It began as a wonderful hot summer day splashing in the surf and playing hours of volleyball. The forecast was for thunderstorms late in the day. We watched across the water as the sky gradually darkened. The storm approached over the lake like a black wall, slowly creeping our way.

I took this as a wonderful opportunity to get some powerful storm photographs. As I stood on the shore making photos of the storm, I was struck by just how bright the circling seagulls were, in strong contrast to the dark skies.

This one kept circling me at just the right distance to make some good images. I’m really pleased at how it turned out. The biggest challenge was trying to keep him focused and framed properly.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm @ 210 mm
1/60 sec @ f/10.0, ISO 450

“Washed Out” – Sand Patterns in Bancroft

"Washed Out" - Sand Patterns, Bancroft, Ontario

I can’t turn it off. I see patterns and photos everywhere. Last weekend I was volunteering at A Place for the Arts in Bancroft, looked out the back window and saw these beautiful patterns in the sand in the back parking area.

There had just been a big storm with torrential downpours the day before (which seems to be the norm for Bancroft lately). The deluge of rain created a wide band of water in the parking lot, sorting the sand and making these wonderful patterns.

It may not seem interesting to some, but I thought you’d enjoy this artwork that nature creates, on a fairly regular basis for those who take the time to notice and appreciate it.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300mm @ 135mm
1/60 sec @ f/9.0 ISO1000

“Golden Hour”

"Golden Hour" - Markham, Ontario

I think everyone has, or knows of, one of these iconic ‘lone trees’. My friends and family will certainly be familiar with this one, which stands on the top of a hill at Elgin Mills and McCowan Road in Markham, Ontario, across from the Markham Fairgrounds. I have seen many photos of this beautiful maple tree and it’s not so perfect twin.

On this particular day in mid-December 2014, a storm was clearing, leaving fragments of cloud drifting quickly in the sky. The sun was setting in the most beautiful yellow and gold tones, which eventually turned deep orange and red.

In this photo, I was struck by the bright golden band just at ground level and how sharp the shadows of the weeds were, as well as the way the small clouds glowed yellow against the darker background clouds. It was just one of those moments where everything comes together and you get ‘the magic’.

Another funny aspect of this moment is that this is also popular spot for the police to set up radar traps. I think I freaked the cop out a bit when I pulled up next to him and started taking photos of the tree, but his cruiser was in one of the pull-outs that offers a good angle to photograph the tree. Generally, the shoulders along this stretch of road are too narrow to pull over safely. In the end, he did not seem to mind too much, because he was still able to pull over a driver who was speeding past.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 f/5.6 at 170mm
160 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 200