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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.

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

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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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.

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: $