Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hello again!

I was able to make it to the Oxtongue River again this year, just outside of Algonquin Park.  Although I was maybe a week too early for prime autumn colours, there was enough colour around to make me happy.  The advantage of being a week early is that I was the only photographer there!  I had the whole place to myself.  The water was lower this year and I was able to get into the middle of the river and get some great shots.  Someone had made Inukshuks on the rocks and I was able to get in close with a wide angle lens. 

I know someone who was there 2 weeks after me and he had to fight for a spot along the bank and some of the photographers were quite frustrated with the Inukshuks.  Somewhat understandable as they would not be able get out there for a good composition as they would be in everyone else's pictures (and would also risk having rocks thrown at them for being in their pictures!!!).

Since I was able to get out there, I was able to make them the main subject and had them work for me.  Here are a couple images.  The first one is with a wide angle lens that I borrowed to try out.  It was the Sigma 10-22mm/f4 and I fell in love with it.  I am quite happy with the result:

I also moved back and took out the 70-200mm and snapped a shot putting the focus on the Inukshuk, and keeping the background blurred.  I opened up to f2.8 for this one as I wanted the Inukshuk to stand right out.  I also warmed up the image a bit in Lightroom.

I had some nice reds and yellow when I was there.  In the first image above, you can see a small maple showing beautiful reds on the right bank.  I walked over with the 70-200mm took an image I've been meaning to try for quite awhile.  Framing the branches on an angle, I zoomed in and went with a mid-aperture (f11) since the lower branch was closer to me and I wanted both branches to be in focus.  I wanted the water to be out of focus in the background and have the leaves pop.

Keeping the 70-200mm on, I zoomed in down river to capture the colours of the trees along the far bank.


And one final image to share....this is a view up river from where I was standing near the Inukshuks.  Basically, turned 180 degrees.

All in all, I had a great evening on the Oxtongue.  I can't wait to go back again.....



Monday, September 19, 2011

Macro - The little details

Hello again,

I've been quite light on posts lately, and I apologize!  I haven't been behind the camera as much as I would like.  I just got back from camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park and I took some time to take macro shots of some of the trees in our campsite.  I don't do macro as much as I'd like too, but it can be rewarding.

Here is an image of one of the trees that had a lot of foliose lichen on it: 

 And a detail look at some lichen-free bark:

There was also a pine tree with a some interesting details.  The next image is some sap on the bark that created a rainbow of colours and patterns on the bark.  

And a final macro of a nail that was put into the same pine tree.

Macro photography can be a wonderful way to explore the small details.  It can also provide opportunity to capture nature's various colours and patterns and bring out things your eye may not normally see.  It can also be quite addictive.  If you haven't already tried macro, give a shot.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mud Dauber

Well I've been busy in a backyard project and haven't been behind the lens too often this summer.  However, I had to take a few images of this mud dauber (sometimes called a mud wasp, dirt dobber, and other similar names) that decided to build its nest on the side of our house.  It makes the nest out of mud.  Here's an image of the nest when once we realized it was there:

They are solitary insects so there is only ever one that is continually building the nest.  The image above is approximately 4 cylinders (cells), 3 covered up and one open.  The wasp will sting a spider which paralyzes it (it does not kill the spider) and place it in an open cell.  Each cell will contain one egg that is usually placed on the spider and once the larvae hatches, it will consume the spider.  I have read that it will sometimes put more than one spider per cell but only one egg.  The wasp will then close off the cell and start a new one.

I have watched the wasp make new cells and close some up but I have yet seen it bring a spider into the nest.  Here are a couple ofimages of the wasp adding some mud to a new cell:

Everytime I watch, the wasp finishes by going inside and finally exits and spends some time cleaning before taking off for more mud - and spiders! 

Since these images, the wasp has added at least another 4-5 cells. 

Enjoy the post!



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon, March 19, 2011

Although I've come down with a nasty cold, I decided to try to get a few images of the "Super" moon last night.  Not one of my most successful nights but thougth I'd post a couple of images for you to see.  I used a 100-400 f4.0/5.6 with a 1.4x converter.  With this setup, autofocus is not available since the minimum f-stop becomes f8 with the converter.  My eyes were obviously off last night as I had a low success rate on the in-focus images. 

These images have been cropped significantly as well to minimize the black space.  I was hoping to have detail in the foreground trees that I had put into the viewfinder, but the sun had completely set by the time the moon was at a height to see it and it was too dark to maintain any detail.  I tried some images with the moon directly behind the tree but, due to the diffictulty in focusing, I was not successful at getting good moon detail in any of these shots.

Anyways, thought I'd put up a quick post on two of my images.  Hope you enjoy!




Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monster Jam - Motocross

And here are some of the images of the motocross half time show at Monster Jam.  These guys were insane!  Fast and furious action.  They setup a jump ramp and landed on the dirt mound that you see the Monster Trucks taking off of in the previous post.  Again, using 1000 ISO and all of these images have been cropped.  I wish I had my 70-200 with me, maybe next time.  I would have gained some shutter speed as well by opening up the aperture more since it is a faster lens.  Anyways, enjoy the post!



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Monster Jam - London, Ontario

My first Monster Jam experience was this past weekend - what a blast!  I'm glad I took the camera, I wasn't sure if I should bring it along, but I'm glad I did.  John Labbatt's Centre did not have a huge area for the Monster Trucks to drive around in, but the drivers did an amazing job with what they had to work with.  There were three competitions.  The first was the Wheelie competition - Captain's Curse won this one quite easily. The second competition was a straight line race - Captain's Curse won this one as well.  Finally, it was Freestyle, and Back Draft took this one.

Since the lighting was low, I had to bump the ISO significantly to get a good shutter speed.  I ended up going with ISO 1000 to get a shutter speed in the 1/125 range.  Not very fast, but fast enough to give a fairly sharp image.  Here are some of the images from that day:

Captain's Curse up close (Pit Pass to walk around before the show):

Wheelie Competition:


Madusa during a break in the action:

And finally some of the Freestyle Action:

During a break in the action, they had four Motocross bikes doing stunts.  I will put together another post in the next few days to show some of these images.  These guys were unbelievable!!



Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Colours

Hello everyone,

Well, I made a decision to build a patio this past summer.  I severely underestimated what effort was required.  My inability to understand the demand of such a project impacted my ability to be behind the camera.  That said, I decided to take a few minutes to post some fall images and let you know that I'm still here!

These were taken in the fall of 2008 in and around Algonquin Park - an awesome year for fall colours.  I did not make it up there this year as my annual 'boys' weekend was cancelled.  But I will be back next year.

I paid the price of this set of images which was taken on the Oxtongue River just outside the park boundary.  My arms, legs, and hands were on the menu that evening in late September 2008 for many blood sucking insects.  Of course, I conveniently left the bug spray in the car.  But I was so taken aback from the beauty of this scene, I didn't even realize that I was being eaten alive.  Until later.....

However, It was all worth it.  I was fortunate enough to have one of these images chosen for the cover of a text book (http://www.mcgrawhill.ca/highereducation/product/007091835X/) and one of my favourite images from that year.

Enough babble, please enjoy the images - autumn is a beautiful time to get some amazing pictures.  Hopefully these inspire you to get out and get some of your own!

First, here's the image that became the cover shot:

I also took a vertical of this one:

A couple more from the same location:

Here is an image of the fall colours in Algonquin Park at the Lake of Two Rivers:

And finally, a couple images on the Lake of Bays.

This has just a splash of red, but I do like how it turned out.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hi again,

I had the pleasure of attending Darwin Wiggett's "Mastering Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography" seminar this past Saturday in Burlington, Ontario.  Darwin is a pro photographer from Alberta and rewarded us with a picture perfect presentation that took us from the discussions of JPEG versus RAW versus shooting in the RAW to aperture/shutter speed/ISO use and finally a list of too expensive equipment that I can only dream of owning (i.e. tilt-shift lens).  I have always enjoyed reading Darwin's articles in Outdoor Photography Canada magazine (http://www.outdoorphotographycanada.com/) every month and have tried, tested, and embraced a lot of his advice.  He certainly has been one of my influentual photographers and, now that I've met him in person, know he's a pretty cool guy and has a great sense of humour, oh, and he likes BEER!  Check out his website: http://www.darwinwiggett.com/, you will truly be amazed.

I was lucky enough to also attend a group field session with Darwin on the Sunday morning.  Bright and early I might add, up at 4:45pm to get to the meeting location on time for 6am - thankfully with coffee included.  Darwin had noted during the discussion that he would find and talk to everyone of us in the field to ensure we were able to ask some questions.  I eluded (because of all the coffee I was downing) that I might end up in the bushes at one point to which Darwin immediately shot back that there he would not be following anyone into any bushes since that would be one lens that he preferred not to see!  Yes, he is even quick witted at six in the morning.

Here are some images that I took during the field session.  The location was LaSalle Park which overlooks the Burlington Skyway and the steel mills on the other side of Hamilton Harbour.  The field session was to use some of the techniques from the previous day's seminar.  So this first image is a landscape image that was intended to have full depth of field from front to back using a small aperture and focusing approximately 1/3 into the frame (and using a tripod of course!).  It has some foreground rocks with the steel mill in the background.

Canon17-40mm @ 17mm, f20 @ 6sec, ISO 100

I wanted to get a tight shot of the mill so I put on a 70-200mm and re-composed the frame for this image:

Canon 70-200mm @ 110mm, f11 @ 2.5sec, ISO 100

Finally, I'd like to share some images that Darwin had the group take to show how lens choice can totally influence an image.  There was a bench overlooking Burlington Skyway and he had us take a wide angle and then a telephoto image to see how the scene perspective changes.  I ended up taking 3 different images at 17mm, 75mm, and 140mm.  Check it out, it's quite amazing.  And I only walked about 20 feet total....

Canon17-40mm @ 17mm, f20 @ 0.6sec, ISO 100

Canon 70-200mm @ 75mm, f20 @ 0.4sec, ISO 100

and finally,

Canon 70-200mm @ 140mm, f22 @ 0.5sec, ISO 100

Pretty amazing eh?!  Notice how the both the bench and bridge change from image to image as well as the distance between them.  This result certainly will influence and force me to make my lens choice wisely.

Well, hopefully you enjoyed this entry - and if you ever get a chance to check out one of Darwin's workshops or seminars, go!  You won't regret it.

Oh, and Darwin would be proud to know that I wrote this article while enjoying a nice, cold beer.  Cheers to Darwin - thanks for the amazing show and experience. 



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Snapping Turtle

Hello all! 

I visited a local marsh late last week to see if I could photograph any migrating ducks or geese.  There weren't too many there that day and none within range.  On other visits, I have seen many Canada Geese, Mallards, and a couple pairs of Hooded Mergansers so I just need better timing!

As I was walking on the trail that leads around the marsh, I heard some rustling in the leaves and found this little fella catching some rays. 

This snapping turtle was quite accomodating in letting me take some images and after several shots, decided he'd had enough and started to head back to the water.  I had a 100-400mm lens so I was able to keep my distance and not violate his space.

I zoomed right in for some head detail images as well.  First a profile:

Then a straight on:

A little further down the path, I came across a Painted Turtle sunning on a log in the water.  However, he was spooked when I stopped and setup the tripod so no success. It would have been a good image too given the light and setting.  Oh well, maybe next time.

Enjoy the post - and happy shooting!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

I often drive by this path cut through some pine trees that I've always wanted to stop and try to capture. I got up early today and arrived just as the sun was starting to come up - with an extra large coffee to keep me warm. Since it was quite dark, a long exposure was necessary and a tripod a must. I also used a bubble level that slides into the hot shoe to ensure that the camera was level (a very useful tool when you have a horizon to worry about).

When I was walking to this spot, I came upon two grouse that didn't stick around to watch me take pictures. There were also several different groups of Canada Geese that flew overhead while I was there, honking their way south for the winter. The one thing I love about nature photography is the nature!

I took two main images of the location. A landscape (horizontal) with the path centred in the frame to give a tunnel effect of the trees lining the path and a portrait (vertical). For the portrait, I wanted to have something in the foreground and settled for mushrooms that were at the side of the trail.

Here is the landscape version:

17-40mm lens @ 40mm, f22, 120 seconds, ISO 100

And here is the portrait:

17-40mm lens @ 17mm, f22, 90 seconds, ISO 100

Finally, a closeup of the mushrooms in the portrait image.

70-200mm @ 155mm, f22, 45 seconds