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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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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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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.

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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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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.

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