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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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