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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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Reflections on Emerson Lake

Tall shoreline spruce are reflected in the glassy calm surface of Emerson Lake in northwestern Alberta

Spruce reflec­tions in Emer­son Lake

I made this pho­to­graph last sum­mer at Emer­son Lakes, eas­i­ly one of the most beau­ti­ful camp­grounds I’ve stayed at in Alber­ta. The week­end I was there was per­fect for camp­ing, yet we still had the place near­ly to our­selves. There are sev­er­al lakes, all sur­round­ed by steep ridges (unusu­al for bore­al Alber­ta) with a hik­ing trail weav­ing around them. Sun­dance Provin­cial Park is near­by with more hik­ing (to hoodoos!), and even a mul­ti-day back­pack­ing route. I can’t rec­om­mend this spot enough if you like qui­et, out-of-the-way camp­ing spots.

The detail I like best about this pho­to is the line angling up and left from just above the shore­line on the right. The line is ini­tial­ly, and most strong­ly, cre­at­ed by the fall­en spruce trunk but in the cen­tre of the frame, the fall­en tree becomes hid­den but the visu­al line con­tin­ues along first one branch and then, more weak­ly still, anoth­er branch. I find that this angled line and its reflec­tion, cre­ate a sub­tle point of inter­est for the eye to fol­low through the oth­er­wise very ver­ti­cal com­po­si­tion.

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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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Greyscale tones in a boreal lake

Reflections of clouds, a dark shoreline and ripples in the water combine to create a full range of tones on the surface of a small boreal lake

Grey­tones in bore­al lake

I took this pho­to­graph at one of the five lakes in Emer­son Lakes Provin­cial Park, north­west of Edson, Alber­ta — a great lit­tle place that was almost com­plete­ly desert­ed the week­end I was there. If you don’t mind a lit­tle bit of grav­el road, I would def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend this spot for a qui­et bore­al retreat.

Although the mid­dle of the after­noon is not nor­mal­ly the best time of day for mak­ing pho­tographs of the land­scape, great pho­tographs are still out there — and (if you ask me) any pho­tog­ra­ph­er that tells you oth­er­wise isn’t look­ing hard enough. In this image, made at just past 4pm on a nice sun­ny day, I just love how the lake holds near­ly the full range of tones from the near­ly black shad­ows along the shore­line to the bright white reflec­tions of the high cir­rus clouds and the mid­tones of the shal­low lakebed itself — all mixed togeth­er by the slight breeze caus­ing the rip­ples on the water’s sur­face.

Add in a cou­ple Bonaparte’s Gulls, a pair of Belt­ed King­fish­ers, and a cho­rus of song­birds — and you’ve got your­self a pret­ty good spot to sit for a while, mak­ing pho­tographs as the clouds shift by (which is exact­ly what I did…)

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Beautiful grey day at Ministik

Receding Ministik shoreline

Reced­ing Min­is­tik shore­line

This pho­to­graph is not brand new (it’s from ear­li­er this win­ter), but I have been work­ing with it recent­ly, and would like to share it here. It had been a while since I’d had the time to hike in to this lake in the Min­is­tik Game Bird Sanc­tu­ary, and it was a shock to see how far the water had reced­ed since I’d last seen it. Not that I was ter­ri­bly sur­prised – every lake at Min­is­tik (and in most of Alber­ta) is show­ing the effect of the dry years we’ve had. What did sur­prise me was the colour of the mud­flats – the pink­ish-red­dish hue in the pho­to is an accu­rate depic­tion (as much as is pos­si­ble – but that’s anoth­er debate). The grey sky com­ple­ment­ed the mud­flats and dried grass, giv­ing a very sub­tle, sub­dued pal­lette.

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