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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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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 understory

A Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) spreads it's fronds across the understory vegetation in a boreal mixedwood forest in west-central Alberta, Canada

Boreal fern

A good friend of mine, an old BC Parks naturalist, shared with me the following short verse that I am always reminded of when I come across ferns like the ones in this photo:

Fringing the stream at every turn,
Swing lo’ the waving fronds of fern.
From strong cleft and mossy sod,
Pale asters spring, and goldenrod!

It’s a great little rhyme, and the exclamation mark that Al added at the end captures the feeling of coming across one of these little spots just perfectly. Try to get out this weekend, and find one of these for yourself!

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Thunderstorm over Brazeau

A thunderhead cloud roils above the Brazeau Resevoir delivering high winds and a torrential downpour

Turbulent summer storm over Brazeau Resevoir

We had a terrific thunderstorm this afternoon in Edmonton, and the past couple nights as well—it’s easily one of my favourite things about summer in Alberta. So, I thought for my print today I would choose an image of a wicked summer storm that I had the pleasure of experiencing (and photographing extensively) last summer. This storm rolled in relatively slowly, or at least, I could see it coming for quite a while over the open sky of the Brazeau Resevoir (just south of Drayton Valley, Alberta). The texture of the underside of the cloud was amazing, and each minute it was more beautiful and scary than the last… until the very last minute… I was photographing from the beach, and after the first few big drops I ran (RAN) back to my truck a few hundred meters away, and was thoroughly soaked by the time I got there. But it was all worth it, of course. It rained so hard it wasn’t possible to drive away, but it didn’t last long and by the time it tapered off, I felt like taking just a few more photos…

Technically speaking, my favourite thing about how this print turned out is that I managed to hold the detail in the highlights in the upper-right corner of the cloud (yay!) If your monitor is reasonably accurate (most are not bad), and not set too bright (most are set way too high), you should be able to see faint wisps of cloud, even in the brightest parts.

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Summer evening at Jasper Lake

Fluffy cumulus clouds are reflected in Jasper Lake on a warm late summer day in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Fine summer clouds over Jasper Lake

In August 2008 I was working for the Canadian Forest Service, doing research in pine stands west of Edmonton. I made this photo after leaving from work for the weekend and driving through Jasper on the way to a friend’s wedding in northern BC. I could see the light getting good as I got closer to the park and, after a speeding ticket in Edson (d-oh!), I had a terrific evening making many images that I was really happy with. This Daily Print project that I’m trying out is a great excuse to look back into my archives to find these images that I’ve kind of forgotten about. Watch for more photos from this August evening in the next few weeks…

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