Tag Archives: wetlands

“Ramer Farm – Late August”

“Ramer Farm - Late August”

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” 
― Aldo Leopold

I instantly fell in love with this quote. Spending any time at all on a working farm makes you realize just how precarious our food supply can be, that it requires constant work to yield any kind of crop, and that deep green fields can be among the most deceptively hot places you will ever experience.

Earlier this week I stood in this place looking at my wife’s late cousin Paul’s farm from a new angle. We were meeting with staff from Park Canada and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority to discuss a wetland restoration project that was planned in a parcel of low pasture land, which is seen here as the tall grass area just behind the tree stump. This area is fed by several springs just north of the property and, in the past,  provided a water source for Paul’s dairy cattle. Some time prior to his passing, Paul gave up his cattle herd and focussed on grain crops and the pasture sat generally idle, with the exception of a few cattle he allowed a friend to pasture there.

Standing here and reviewing the restoration plan and surveying the idyllic scene before me gave me a whole new appreciation for just how tightly interwoven our natural surroundings can be, even in a developed area like a farm. From here I see layer after layer of different environments unfold before me, from the bright green hay field, to the wetlands; the feed corn that grows on the flowing hillsides, till they meet the summer sky, with its billowing clouds. Among this multi-layered landscape, the barn and farmstead sit like a guardian, overlooking it all.

I know that Paul was involved in the process of developing this portion of Rouge National Urban Park, but sadly, did not survive to see it fulfilled. But, he left us his legacy in this little slice of paradise he called home for so many years.

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)



“Purple Loosestrife”

“Purple Loostrife”

“My temple is the swamp… When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum… I seemed to have reached a new world, so wild a place…far away from human society. What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs, if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty.”
― Henry David Thoreau

This beautiful, delicate wildflower is considered an ‘invasive species‘ in my native Ontario, and most of North America. It was, just like many other species, imported as an ornamental plant. But, with no natural predators and it’s extraordinary  number of seeds, it escaped its domestic bonds and soon began to take over Ontario’s wetlands, choking out native species like cattail.

The image above if of a single stalk and loosestrife grows in tall clumps, colouring the wetlands bright magenta.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 160 mm
1/8 sec, f/22.0, ISO 200

High Resolution image on 500px:

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

“Blue Flag Iris” – Marble Lake

Southern Blue Flag

“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.”
― Dorothea Lange

I find myself working with photos that did not quite communicate my vision as intended. I see so much more in my composition, but struggle to articulate just what that is. When that ‘something’ does not present itself, or can’t be extracted in the final product I call these my ‘seconds’. I don’t delete them, but rather, I hang onto them with the intent of revisiting them at some future date as my editing skills grow or I am better able to extract that ‘essence’ that I first saw or felt when I made the image. There are also some great plugins out there that enhance the image enough for me that I get closer to what I wanted.

My recent go-to is Topaz Impression, which allows me to create painterly effects that are closer to how I imagined the image when I composed the shot .

The irises pictured above grow along the shores of a small lake where our family spends much of the summer. My days are generally spent reading, canoeing, and photographing. I do like combining the latter activities and find some nice images offered me as I glide slowly along the shore.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200 mm
1/160 sec, f/13.0, ISO 5600

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

“Showy Lady’s Slipper” – Secord Forest

"Showy Lady's Slipper" - Secord Forest

“Many collectors died in the process of searching for new species, and despite persistent reports that the men died from drowning, gunshot and knife wounds, snakebite, trampling by cattle, or blows in the head with blunt instruments, it is generally accepted that in each case the primary cause of death was orchid fever.”
― Eric Hansen

Perhaps I got a touch of the aforementioned ‘orchid fever’. I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for this shot for a few weeks now and was thrilled when I came across this beautiful flower, next to a rotting log, in a swampy forest, at Secord Forest this week. Not a new species, but new to me.

Through most seasons, I’ve hiked these trails, enjoyed the wonderfully diverse flora and fauna, and even came across a bear last fall. Along this 4.7km forest trail, there is a section with a wooden sign, designating it as the “Orchid Trail”. This has intrigued me for some time, since I tend to favour these trails in the ‘no-mosquito’ seasons and really had no idea what to look for and when to look for them.

This year has been an exception, I began on the trails just as the snow was melting, hoping to document the natural cycle of this forest through my photos. I was determined that orchids would be on my photographic bucket list and set out learning about them and identifying them. The unfortunate thing with my research was that most books listed blooming season from April to August. That was not much help. So, as I set out each week, I started to look deliberately for plant leaves that fit the description of orchids. I did not even know what species are native to this particular forest and there are several possibilities.

Eventually, a few weeks ago, a few banded leaves emerged from the moist forest floor. Perhaps these were the elusive orchids I sought? Steadily, they grew taller and taller to rise some sixty centimeters (two feet) above the mossy ground. They sure looked like orchids, but they seemed taller than I expected. Back to the books, to find that yes, several species fit the description. More days of just foliage followed, till last week, small green buds formed, offering the promise of flowers. What colour would they be? How long would they last? So many questions, few firm facts.

My weekend plans prevented me from checking back on the buds. What if somebody saw the open flowers on the weekend? The trails are filled with people who may not realize how delicate these plants could be, damage them, and deprive me of my prize.

So, I ventured into the forest at lunch, wondering what state this group of five or six plants would be in. I slowed as I approached, looking for a sign of flower. Then, WOW!, the delicate green plants were topped by the most beautiful pink and white slippers. The mystery plant turned out to be a Showy Lady’s Slipper (cypripedium reginae). I had no idea how large they would be, the blossoms were about 5-8 centimeters (2 inches) long, and perfect. Nobody had disturbed them. I sat on a nearby log for some fifteen minutes just revelling in this wonderful creation, then set out to capture this in photographs, hoping to do them justice, checking and double checking my camera settings, not knowing how long these gems will last or when my next visit might be.

The photo above is the culmination of this quest for orchids. Now I know what to look for, where, and when. During this quest, I also found another interesting orchid, which I am currently researching.

Nikon D800
Nikkor AF 28-70mm f/3.5~F/4.5D
@ 45mm
1/60 sec, f/4.0, ISO 450

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