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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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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: $