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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…

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

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!)

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Old growth aspen trunks

Three massive aspen (Populus tremuloides) trees dominate an old-growth mixedwood stand in the boreal forest of west-central Alberta.

Old-growth aspen

This was a gor­geous for­est stand to work and pho­to­graph in, and, unfor­tu­nately, a bit of an odd­ity to find such large, old aspens left out on the land­scape. My goal print­ing this image was to pre­serve the sub­tlety of tone and light & shadow, but still cap­ture some of the bril­liance of this stand in the early morn­ing light.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Boreal mixedwood colours

Aspen, spruce and pine trees display a range young boreal mixedwood forest in western Alberta, Canada

Colour­ful mixed­wood trunks

I’m writ­ing this post as my printer churns away on this one, and I’m really inter­ested to see how it turns out. I’ve often heard it rec­om­mended to push a given pro­cess­ing tech­nique a lit­tle too far, and then ease back a lit­tle. By doing this, you dis­cover the limit of the tech­nique with­out cross­ing it. This sounds rea­son­able in prac­tice, but I fear that you then have all your images at the edge of what’s accept­able, and per­haps sac­ri­fice some sub­tlety. A cer­tain sub­tley, is often harder to notice at the moment that you’re work­ing on an image in Light­room, but can eas­ily be essen­tial to mak­ing a good image a great image. I guess the goal is to be able to rec­og­nize when an image requires that sub­tlety, and to make sure that you’re not cross­ing that line.

So with that in mind, I picked this photo (which, although I quite like it, I don’t think is very sub­tle at all) and pushed the clar­ity and sharp­ness to the limit of what I thought looked good on my screen. Once the print is fin­ished, it’ll be inter­est­ing to see how well (or not) that trans­lated on to paper.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Dried grass with green fringe

Dried grass seed heads glow in the warming evening light of early spring.

Tall dried grass

I’m try­ing to print a wide range of pho­tos as I start up on my Daily Print project to give myself a feel for what kinds of prints I’m fairly good at mak­ing already, and which areas I could use more practice.

I’m also try­ing to use a range of tools and tech­niques that I haven’t used before, to try to add them to my reg­u­lar work­flow to be used as required. This image showed just a hint of “green fring­ing” chro­matic abber­a­tion, so I tried out Light­room 4.1’s new “Defringe” con­trols. I don’t know if the slight fring­ing would have been notice­able in a print orig­i­nally, but it sure wasn’t after a lit­tle bit of extra tweak­ing. Cool.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Boreal lake sunrise

The sky glows orange and purple in the first light of dawn over Namur Lake. Taken from a helicopter over the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada

Sun­rise over Namur Lake

I took this photo on my way to work ear­lier this sum­mer — I just hap­pened to be lucky enough to be com­mut­ing in a heli­copter out to a gor­geous old-growth boreal mixed­wood site about 100km north-west of Fort McMur­ray to do bird sur­veys for the morn­ing! It was a neat expe­ri­ence to get to spend so much time fly­ing over the boreal land­scape that I know so well from the ground, and to get a bit of a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on things. I’m sure I’ll print and share here a few more pho­tos from my past cou­ple shifts up there.

I notice when I look through my photo archives, that my colour palette tends to be rather sub­dued, even som­bre at times. If I then look through the pho­tographs made by other pho­tog­ra­phers that I’ve marked as my favourites, (pri­mar­ily on the ter­rific photography-sharing web­site 500px.com (here’s my 500px col­lec­tion and my favourites from other 500px pho­tog­ra­phers)) I notice that the over­all impres­sion is very sim­i­lar — I guess it turns out that’s just what I’m most drawn to… So, for today’s print I decided to choose an image with a bit of colour.

I chose this photo in par­tic­u­lar because of the bright, highly sat­u­rated orange/red band on the hori­zon. When Light­room 4 was released (the soft­ware I use for 95% of my pro­cess­ing), I’d read about its new soft-proofing abil­ity (here’s another good arti­cle as a pdf), but never actu­ally used it before. I was pretty sure the intense warm colours in this image would be out of gamut for my printer and paper combo that I’m using for this Daily Print project (an Epson 3880 and Can­son Baryta Pho­tographique). Sure enough, Light­room was show­ing me clip­ping warn­ings, but with just a lit­tle finess­ing (lower sat­u­ra­tion and high­lights, increase vibrance and con­trast, tweak tone curve, etc), I got it look­ing good, and not show­ing any clip­ping. I ran the print off, and was quite impressed how closely the print matched my mon­i­tor. I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing the print in the day­light tomorrow…

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Summer evening at Jasper Lake

Fluffy cumulus clouds are reflected in Jasper Lake on a warm late summer day in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Fine sum­mer clouds over Jasper Lake

In August 2008 I was work­ing for the Cana­dian For­est Ser­vice, doing research in pine stands west of Edmon­ton. I made this photo after leav­ing from work for the week­end and dri­ving through Jasper on the way to a friend’s wed­ding in north­ern BC. I could see the light get­ting good as I got closer to the park and, after a speed­ing ticket in Edson (d-oh!), I had a ter­rific evening mak­ing many images that I was really happy with. This Daily Print project that I’m try­ing out is a great excuse to look back into my archives to find these images that I’ve kind of for­got­ten about. Watch for more pho­tos from this August evening in the next few weeks…

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $