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Frost on dried Goldenrod

Strong backlighting highlights the hoar frost coating the transluscent leaves of a dried Goldenrod stem

Dried Goldenrod leaves with hoar frost

Although this photograph was from a little earlier in the season than my last post, it was a similarly frosty, beautiful day. It’s amazing how a lining of frost can add definition and visual interest to an otherwise subdued scene. This is especially true when photographing with the sun behind your subject, the backlighting making the frost shine while the rest of the subject remains shadowed. I also added a fairly heavy vignetting effect while processing this image, to further draw attention to the lines created by the curled, dried goldenrod leaves.

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Hoar frost on lakeshore trees

Thick hoar frost covers the birch and spruce trees along a frozen lake edge at the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Frost covered trees on bright winter day

It’s been too long since I last posted a new photograph—my apologies. Here is an image I made recently, on a particularly gorgeous afternoon at the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary just east of Edmonton. All of the trees, shrubs, and even each blade of grass was bearing a thick covering of frost. The sky was perfectly clear and everything was sparkling—it was beautiful (and cold).

When I was processing this photograph, I used the digital equivalent of the technique of placing a red filter in front of the lens to darken the blue sky. This technique (a favourite of Ansel Adams) adds a dramatic look to the sky and making the brightness of the foreground trees stand out even more.

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Wintery details

Frost and snow cover a dense tangle of thin branches near Edmonton, Alberta

Tangle of winter branches II

Here’s another detail-oriented image taken during our recent spell of grey, overcast winter days. As I mentioned in a previous post, when the light is diffused so evenly by the low, bright stratus clouds that are common over central Alberta in the winter (especially the past few weeks), it’s often these close-up, detail oriented compositions that I find work best.

I don’t commonly convert images to black and white, and even less often do I process them quite as heavily as I have here. While the contrast was fairly strong to begin with, I’ve “crushed” the darks all the way down, and bumped the background sky all the way up, to really emphasize the somewhat abstract pattern of the tangled branches, accentuated by the lining of snow and frost. Perhaps I’ll also post the original version as well, and I would love to hear your comments as to which you prefer.

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Frost, depth of field, and details

Frost on eight grass leaves

Frost on eight dried grass leaves

After a heavy frost, even the most simple details can take on an extraordinary appearance. I made this photograph with a wide open aperture, and as close as possible to give a really narrow depth of field. This removes/blurs most of the finest details of the frost and dried grass blades, and concentrates the focus (no pun intended) of the image on the form, the sweep, of the grass. But, to me, the little bit of frost detail visible just along the narrow plane of focus, gives that extra little “spark” to the image.

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Another photo from Whitemud Ravine

Light frost on aspen sapling

Light frost on aspen sapling

Here’s another photo from my recent early morning walk at Whitemud Ravine. This photo is much more monochromatic than the one I posted yesterday, and perhaps captures the cold, frosty feel of the morning better. I made this photograph perhaps twenty minutes after the last photo, but this sapling was shaded in behind some large white spruce trees which are visible in the background. What do you think? Do you prefer this one or the previous, more colourful photo? I always appreciate the feedback, you can just click the “Leave a comment” link below–Thanks!

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Frosty morning at Whitemud

Late autumn willow thicket

This morning I went out early to Whitemud ravine. It has been a long time since I’ve been there for sunrise, and I’d forgotten how long it takes after the “official” sunrise for the light to reach the bottom of the ravine. In the meantime, I enjoyed the chilly late-autumn air and the little bit of frost on the bare willows and aspen saplings (and I froze my fingertips for the first time of the season). After walking most of the morning without finding much to photograph, I found the sun finally reaching down onto this frost-covered willow and alder thicket. I had to balance on a fallen stem to get the right perspective for this shot (shooting downwards, so the bright sky wouldn’t blow out the top of the photo).

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