QR Code Business Card

Boreal lake sunrise

The sky glows orange and purple in the first light of dawn over Namur Lake. Taken from a helicopter over the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada

Sun­rise over Namur Lake

I took this pho­to on my way to work ear­li­er this sum­mer — I just hap­pened to be lucky enough to be com­mut­ing in a heli­copter out to a gor­geous old-growth bore­al mixed­wood site about 100km north-west of Fort McMur­ray to do bird sur­veys for the morn­ing! It was a neat expe­ri­ence to get to spend so much time fly­ing over the bore­al land­scape that I know so well from the ground, and to get a bit of a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on things. I’m sure I’ll print and share here a few more pho­tos from my past cou­ple shifts up there.

I notice when I look through my pho­to archives, that my colour palette tends to be rather sub­dued, even som­bre at times. If I then look through the pho­tographs made by oth­er pho­tog­ra­phers that I’ve marked as my favourites, (pri­mar­i­ly on the ter­rif­ic pho­tog­ra­phy-shar­ing web­site 500px.com (here’s my 500px col­lec­tion and my favourites from oth­er 500px pho­tog­ra­phers)) I notice that the over­all impres­sion is very sim­i­lar — I guess it turns out that’s just what I’m most drawn to… So, for today’s print I decid­ed to choose an image with a bit of colour.

I chose this pho­to in par­tic­u­lar because of the bright, high­ly sat­u­rat­ed orange/red band on the hori­zon. When Light­room 4 was released (the soft­ware I use for 95% of my pro­cess­ing), I’d read about its new soft-proof­ing abil­i­ty (here’s anoth­er good arti­cle as a pdf), but nev­er actu­al­ly used it before. I was pret­ty sure the intense warm colours in this image would be out of gamut for my print­er and paper com­bo that I’m using for this Dai­ly Print project (an Epson 3880 and Can­son Bary­ta Pho­tographique). Sure enough, Light­room was show­ing me clip­ping warn­ings, but with just a lit­tle finess­ing (low­er sat­u­ra­tion and high­lights, increase vibrance and con­trast, tweak tone curve, etc), I got it look­ing good, and not show­ing any clip­ping. I ran the print off, and was quite impressed how close­ly the print matched my mon­i­tor. I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing the print in the day­light tomor­row…

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

Silverton Falls texture

The texture of falling water matches the rock faces surrounding Silverton Falls in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Sil­ver­ton Falls tex­tures

Speak­ing of shut­ter speeds and water tex­ture, for this image I used a fast shut­ter speed (1/640th sec at f/8) to freeze the motion of the falling water. It’s inter­est­ing to me that you can see how the water was accel­er­at­ing as it fell — the tex­ture gets blur­ri­er near the bot­tom of the fall. I also like how the tex­ture of the water match­es the pat­terns in the rock faces sur­round­ing the falls.

For print­ing this pho­to, I tried to make sure to retain detail in the shad­ows and in the high­lights while main­tain­ing the high-con­trast nature of the scene. In the final print I did notice the high­lights wash out just a bit in one spot of water (far right, about 2/3rds down), and when I checked the image on my mon­i­tor it also showed almost no detail, although it was not quite clipped. Fun­ny how I didn’t notice it as a prob­lem on-screen, but it stood out in the print imme­di­ate­ly. Les­son learned…

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

Athabasca Falls in motion

After my pre­vi­ous post “Athabas­ca Falls in black and white” with the motion of the water cap­tured with a slow shut­ter speed to give a streaked effect, I remem­bered that I had also cap­tured some video on that morn­ing. So — for your interest’s sake — here is: a short video clip of Athabas­ca Falls shot at 30 fps with a shut­ter speed of 1/30th of a sec­ond at f/16; a still pho­to of the same com­po­si­tion cap­tured at 1/5th of a sec­ond at f/8 and iso400 (the same set­tings as the image in my pre­vi­ous post); and a pho­to cap­tured at 1/125th of a sec­ond (which I’ve been told best cap­tures how our eyes/brains see motion) at f/9 and iso800.

The Athabasca river flows over the granite cliffs of Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park, Canada

Athabas­ca Falls II (1/5th sec)

The Athabasca river flows over the granite cliffs of Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park, Canada

Athabas­ca Falls III (1/125th sec)

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

Red-winged Blackbird flock

Red-winged blackbirds perch in the bare branches of early spring near Beaverhill Lake in Alberta

Black­bird flock in bare trees

I recent­ly received a request from a woman to use this pho­to­graph in a blog post she’s writ­ing, which gave me the great excuse to re-vis­it this image and to share it here (it hasn’t made it into the new web­site yet, but watch for it in the Birds sec­tion of my cat­a­logue, hope­ful­ly in the next few months).

I took this pho­to near the Beaver­hill Bird Obser­va­to­ry near Tofield, AB in the spring of 2007. At the time, I was exper­i­ment­ing with defo­cus­ing images, or por­tions there­of, for cre­ative effect. In this case, the orig­i­nal image was most­ly sharp, and I “paint­ed in” the blurred effect in post-pro­cess­ing. I was inspired to try this tech­nique by anoth­er pho­tog­ra­ph­er who would cre­ate the same effect in the dark­room by spilling chem­i­cals over the dry­ing print and using a brush or sponge to blur the image.

It’s always fun to try new tech­niques, and although I haven’t tak­en many defo­cused pho­tographs late­ly, you can view a selec­tion of these images in my “Bore­al Impres­sions” port­fo­lio. I’d also rec­om­mend hav­ing a look at William Neill’s “Impres­sions of Light” port­fo­lio for more great blur­ry images that were an inspi­ra­tion to me (although he achieves the effect most­ly through long shut­ter speeds and cam­era move­ment, rather than man­u­al­ly defo­cus­ing the lens).

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

Snow-laden black spruce

A thick cap of fresh snow covers the top of a thin, sparsely branched, black spruce tree

Snow cap on thin black spruce

After receiv­ing huge amounts of new snow over the past few weeks, we final­ly got a day where the sun man­aged to peak — weak­ly — through the clouds for a few hours. Since I was already on the west side of town, I decid­ed to head out to the Wag­n­er Nat­ur­al Area where, I hoped, the dense spruce trees cov­ered in deep snow would pro­vide an inter­est­ing pho­to­graph­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty or two.

It was more chal­leng­ing than I expect­ed — the huge amount of snow often looked like just a big pile slumped over every­thing, rather than con­trast­ing or com­pli­ment­ing the forms of the trees. But a chal­lenge can be good fun, and I did get a cou­ple images that I’m quite hap­py with — I’ll share some more over the next lit­tle while.

Non-vignetted version

Non-vignetted

The pro­cess­ing in this one was inspired by an image by a local pho­tog­ra­ph­er who I’ve men­tioned before, Joel Koop. He post­ed an image on his blog that was heav­i­ly vignetted (dark­ened in the cor­ners) in post-pro­cess­ing — and it looked great. I had already processed this one with a lit­tle bit of vignetting, but his image inspired me to try push­ing it a bit fur­ther, and I think I like it this way. What do you think? (I’ve includ­ed the non-vignetted ver­sion here for com­par­i­son — use your arrow keys to switch between ver­sions.)
A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Composing with Live View for effect and convenience

Amani­ta mush­room from above

Amanita mushroom at Ministik Lake Sanctuary

Amani­ta mush­room

In my last post, I didn’t say much about the pho­tographs them­selves, as they were more doc­u­men­tary than artis­tic in nature, but per­haps one thing I’ll men­tion, as some­thing for you to try out if you haven’t already, is that for the first time I used the “Live View” func­tion on my DSLR to get down real­ly low beside these mush­rooms for an inter­est­ing per­spec­tive (e.g. the puff­ball, and the amani­ta).

Live View (i.e. fram­ing the pho­to using the LCD on the back of the cam­era) has been com­mon on point-and-shoot cam­eras for a long time, but is just being intro­duced on SLR cam­eras in the past few years. How­ever, I still find myself using the opti­cal viewfind­er for every­thing except shoot­ing video — just old fash­ioned I guess (although in my defence, I think the form fac­tor of a DSLR does not lend itself to being held at arms’ length, espe­cially with a longer lens attached). In this case though, by using the Live View, I could basi­cally have the cam­era and lens on the ground, and still com­pose a decent image even though I was also car­ry­ing my daugh­ter in a big back­pack. You can see the dif­fer­ence in two pho­tos above, the one on the left I made look­ing through the viewfind­er while crouch­ing as low as pos­si­ble, and the one on the right is tak­en in the same pos­ture, but using the LCD on the back of the cam­era to com­pose the image.

Using Live View (or what­ev­er your camera’s mak­er calls it) for this type of oth­er­wise awk­ward shot is def­i­nitely a trick that I will keep in mind for the future, and rec­om­mend to oth­ers for those moments where the unusu­al angle is tempt­ing, but lay­ing pros­trate just isn’t.

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