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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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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.

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Summer tiger lily

A Tiger Lily shines in the sun after an early morning rain storm in the boreal forest of western Alberta, Canada.

Fresh rain on sum­mer Tiger Lily

This one is for my wife today.

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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…

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Finally some new photos!

A warm late autumn breeze rustles the dried grass around a small mountain lake in Jasper National Park, Canada

Marsh grass in moun­tain lake

It has been a long time since I’ve post­ed much here — my apolo­gies — but it should get bet­ter again short­ly…

I have decid­ed to try “The Online Pho­tog­ra­ph­erMike Johnston’sSpe­cif­ic, Detailed Pro­gram for Absolute­ly, Pos­i­tive­ly Get­ting Bet­ter as a Dig­i­tal Print­mak­er”. In short, this is an exer­cise to get in the habit of work­ing on my pho­tog­ra­phy dai­ly, for a few min­utes at least, and to start prac­tic­ing mak­ing prints of my work. I tend to make a few prints occa­sion­al­ly if I’m real­ly excit­ed about a new batch of pho­tos, and a stack of prints for craft sales, etc. The empha­sis of the SDPFAPGBAADP pro­gram (nice acronym…) is to just prac­tice pro­cess­ing and mak­ing prints in a low pres­sure kind of way.

I’ll give it a try for a while, hope­ful­ly I can find the time most days and real­ly get in the habit. If I have a lit­tle extra time, I’ll post the day’s pho­to here too — it should be an inter­est­ing mix of images, and I hope you’ll enjoy see­ing them. I just print­ed the pho­to above, which I took on a trip to Jasper Nation­al Park with the fam­i­ly last fall. I have rarely expe­ri­enced a more pleas­ant and pho­to­genic evening than this — the fall colours were in their prime, the tem­per­a­ture cool but the breeze warm, and the fam­i­ly was patient… per­fect.

And, as always, I appre­ci­ate your feed­back — please feel free to leave me a com­ment with your com­ments or cri­tiques!

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