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Morning mist

Warm light from the rising sun glows on mist above a small lake at the Ministik Lake Sanctuary in Alberta, Canada.

Warm sun­light on morn­ing mist

This is another photo from my lat­est trip out to Min­is­tik. It was a gor­geous, calm morn­ing: warm enough to be com­fort­able, but cool enough to keep the mos­qui­toes down and the mist ris­ing from the lakes.

A few of my prints have come out with slight colour casts, usu­ally a (very lit­tle) bit green­ish, so I tried this one tonight as the colour of the ris­ing mist is very impor­tant to the feel of the pho­to­graph. We’ll see how it turns out…

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More Ministik mushrooms

A fresh Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushroom grows in late summer from the floor of the boreal forest.

Fresh amanita mushroom

Almost exactly two years ago (less one day), I had the oppor­tu­nity to pho­to­graph a tremen­dous diver­sity of mush­rooms at Min­is­tik (click here to view a gallery of images). Today, I went back to the same spot and, while the diver­sity was much lower than the pre­vi­ous year, there were some great mush­rooms out — and I had a great time pho­tograph­ing a few of them. This is a very fresh, still grow­ing “Fly Agaric” or “Fly Amanita” mush­room (Amanita mus­caria). Beau­ti­ful to look at — and pho­to­graph — but don’t eat it!

me photographing mushroom

me pho­tograph­ing mushroom

For most of the morn­ing, I used my 50mm f/1.4 and flipped the cen­tre col­umn of my tri­pod upside down to make low-angled, shal­low depth-of-field pho­tographs of these mush­rooms. I see mush­rooms like this often while doing field work, but rarely have the time to take delib­er­ate, care­ful pho­tos of them. I’ll share a cou­ple more from this morn­ing in the next lit­tle while, so please come back again soon. (Here’s a quick photo of my hard at “work” this morning…)

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Back at it, and back to Ministik

Sarsaparilla leaves show the first hint of fall colour on a warm morning at Ministik Game Bird Sanctuary east of Edmonton, Alberta.

First fall colour

So, I’m back from my work in Fort McMur­ray, I’ve had a chance to rest up a bit, and I’m look­ing for­ward to resum­ing my project of mak­ing a new print every day. Just a sim­ple print today from a pho­to­graph that I took early last Sep­tem­ber at the Min­is­tik Game Bird Sanc­tu­ary. I’m headed out to Min­is­tik tomor­row morn­ing for the first time in a long while, and hope to come back with some new pho­tographs that I can share here.

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Foggy boreal morning

Mist rises from several small mirror smooth lakes in the early morning of a warm summer day in the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada

Morn­ing fog over boreal lakes

Here’s another photo that I took from the chop­per on my way to work one morn­ing last shift. It’s from a dif­fer­ent morn­ing as the pre­vi­ous photo, but from the same gen­eral area—near Namur Lake in north­ern Alberta (~100 km north­west of Fort McMurray).

This was a tricky image to print. I tried to get the bal­ance right between detail in the shad­ows, but still hav­ing the land­scape dark with just the top of the fog light­en­ing as the sun first peaks over the hori­zon. It was also hard to fig­ure out the right white bal­ance to use — the Auto WB on my cam­era was quite cool (very blue shad­ows), and set­ting it to Day­light WB made every­thing very orange-y. I set a man­ual bal­ance some­where in the mid­dle, lean­ing towards cool — does any­one know a good tip for set­ting white bal­ance for sunrise/sunset so accu­rately rep­re­sent how the scene was per­ceived at the time?

This’ll be my last post for a lit­tle while as I’m going up for another shift, but hope­fully I will return with many more new pho­tos to share!

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High-key mountain peak

The textured faces of Leah Peak are highlighted by the bright side lighting of a winter day in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Leah peak in bright win­ter light

Yes­ter­day I printed a very dark, night-time image, so I thought today I’d go the other direc­tion, and print a very bright, win­ter day­light image. Leah Peak is on the east shore of Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, and in my opin­ion, one of the most sub­tle yet strik­ing moun­tain in the area.

I took this photo on a very bright day and it was a bright image straight out-of-camera. In Light­room I did my best to make the print as bright as pos­si­ble while retain­ing good con­trast and detail in the high­lights. I also tried con­vert­ing it to black-and-white, but I found that I missed the very slight blue in the shad­ows and warmer sun light on the shoul­ders of the ridge.

And, just for the inter­est of the real photo geeks — here are the his­tograms from yesterday’s photo and from today’s:

low-key

high-key

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Aurora Borealis over black spruce

A towering curtain of northern lights hangs over a dense boreal black spruce stand in northern Alberta

Aurora bore­alis over black spruce forest

Finally — a pho­to­graph of the Aurora Bore­alis on borealisimages.ca! (Although, for the record, the title I’ve given these gal­leries — ‘Sil­vi­cola bore­alis Images’ — is derived from latin roots, and roughly trans­lates to ‘inhab­it­ing the north­ern for­est’. The pre­fix ‘silvi’ (or ‘silva’) relates to the for­est, as in ‘sil­vi­cul­ture’ which is the prac­tice of grow­ing and tend­ing a for­est. ‘Bore­alis’ refers gen­er­ally to things north­ern in nature, and is from ‘Boreas’ — the Greek god of the north wind.)

This is def­i­nitely the dark­est photo that I’ve ever printed, and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out — the print lit­er­ally felt heavy with ink! On-screen, I could see a lit­tle bit of detail still in the spruce trees, but I can’t see any of that in the print yet. We’ll see if view­ing it in bright day­light will reveal some of those dark­est details, but oth­er­wise I think they look fine as solid sil­hou­ettes too.

I took this photo in north­ern Alberta while doing owl sur­veys this past spring. It was the first time I’d pho­tographed the north­ern lights, and it was a lot of fun to try out a whole bunch of dif­fer­ent tech­niques, equip­ment, and of course, patience… I’ll be doing a round of bat sur­veys in the next lit­tle while, and I hope to get the chance to apply some of what I learned this spring to mak­ing more images of these beau­ti­ful north­ern lights.

(Click to enlarge the image — you should be able to see the stars in the full-size image too!)

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Morning light in young pine

The first strong rays of morning sun burn off the last of the fog hanging in a dense young pine stand in the boreal forest of north-western Alberta, Canada

Morn­ing light in young pine stand

This patch of for­est was pretty much the oppo­site of the one in yesterday’s pho­to­graph — it was a thick, messy, second-growth tan­gle of young pine, alder, and other shrubs. But when the fog started burn­ing off, and the first strong rays of sun started pierc­ing through to the for­est floor it was so beau­ti­ful, it almost made up for how soak­ing wet I was walk­ing through it (and it smelled amaz­ing too!)

Find­ing an inter­est­ing com­po­si­tion in the dense boreal under­story is one of my favourite pho­to­graphic chal­lenges. If you’re inter­ested in this photo, I have a port­fo­lio of sim­i­lar images enti­tled “Branches”. You can find it by click­ing here, or fol­low­ing the nav­i­ga­tion bar up top. Here’s the descrip­tion that I wrote for that portfolio:

There are times when I stop while walk­ing through the dense under­story com­mon in the boreal for­est and aspen park­land to admire the com­plex beauty of the entwined branches, wil­lows, grasses, and leaves. Then I bring my cam­era up, and as I look through the lens the com­plex­ity turns to chaos as the lens com­presses the scene onto a two-dimensional plane. This is when the chal­lenge (and fun) begins. By mov­ing the cam­era a few degrees to one side, chang­ing the focal length by a few mil­lime­ters, or open­ing the aper­ture a few stops, a com­po­si­tion may be found that is bal­anced, pleas­ing to the eye, and cap­tures some of the beauty entan­gled in these forests.

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