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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!

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