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High-key mountain peak

The textured faces of Leah Peak are highlighted by the bright side lighting of a winter day in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Leah peak in bright win­ter light

Yes­ter­day I print­ed a very dark, night-time image, so I thought today I’d go the oth­er direc­tion, and print a very bright, win­ter day­light image. Leah Peak is on the east shore of Maligne Lake in Jasper Nation­al Park, and in my opin­ion, one of the most sub­tle yet strik­ing moun­tain in the area.

I took this pho­to on a very bright day and it was a bright image straight out-of-cam­era. In Light­room I did my best to make the print as bright as pos­si­ble while retain­ing good con­trast and detail in the high­lights. I also tried con­vert­ing it to black-and-white, but I found that I missed the very slight blue in the shad­ows and warmer sun light on the shoul­ders of the ridge.

And, just for the inter­est of the real pho­to geeks — here are the his­tograms from yesterday’s pho­to and from today’s:

low-key

high-key

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Dried grass with green fringe

Dried grass seed heads glow in the warming evening light of early spring.

Tall dried grass

I’m try­ing to print a wide range of pho­tos as I start up on my Dai­ly Print project to give myself a feel for what kinds of prints I’m fair­ly good at mak­ing already, and which areas I could use more prac­tice.

I’m also try­ing to use a range of tools and tech­niques that I haven’t used before, to try to add them to my reg­u­lar work­flow to be used as required. This image showed just a hint of “green fring­ing” chro­mat­ic abber­a­tion, so I tried out Light­room 4.1’s new “Defringe” con­trols. I don’t know if the slight fring­ing would have been notice­able in a print orig­i­nal­ly, but it sure wasn’t after a lit­tle bit of extra tweak­ing. Cool.

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Fiery cirrus clouds at sunset

The days last sunlight illuminates high icy clouds behind a clean horizon of fresh snow

Fiery sun­set over snowy hori­zon

I’ve been out con­duct­ing noc­tur­nal owl sur­veys in south-cen­tral Alber­ta for the past few weeks, which has giv­en me the chance to take some great sun­set pho­tographs, and to try out pho­tograph­ing at night — lots of fun (but lots to learn too!)

This pho­to came after a whole day of cloud that final­ly broke at just the right time to allow the set­ting sun to peek through. If they coop­er­ate, a sky full of clouds sure makes for more inter­est­ing pho­tog­ra­phy than a “per­fect­ly” clear sky.

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Dried grass calligraphy

A single grass stem with a curled dried leaf casts a calligraphic shadow across a rolling bank of fresh snow

Dried grass cal­lig­ra­phy on fresh snow

Yes­ter­day was a beau­ti­ful, sun­ny win­ter day in Edmon­ton (although a bit too warm — things shouldn’t be melt­ing yet!) and I took the chance to take the snow­shoes (and kid, and dog, and cam­era) out to the Cook­ing Lake-Black­foot Provin­cial Recre­ation Area. I like going into the park from the south end, park­ing at the Islet Lake stag­ing area.

With all the snow we’ve got­ten, the lakeshore topog­ra­phy has been smoothed out to gen­tle undu­la­tions of per­fect, smooth snow. That, com­bined with the low sun this time of year, pro­vides lots of chances for pho­tographs with sim­ple, ele­gant lines and min­i­mal visu­al clut­ter.

Cooking lake post-top snow cones

Cook­ing lake post-top snow cones

(And then there’s this one — pret­ty much on the oth­er end of the spec­trum — using the same basic ele­ments for slap­stick rather than ele­gance… but can you guess which one my daugh­ter pre­ferred?)
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More snow on spruce

Fresh snow covers the upper branches of two black spruce trees in the Wagner Natural Area

Fresh snow on two black spruce

Here’s anoth­er pho­to­graph from the same out­ing to Wag­n­er Nat­ur­al Area as my last post. I like how the wispy-ness of the clouds con­trasts the sol­id, high con­trast forms of the snow-cov­ered trees.

These are pret­ty clas­sic Alber­ta win­ter clouds — high, thin, light dif­fus­ing lay­ers with­out much def­i­n­i­tion (see this post that I wrote last win­ter). In this case though, I used a polar­iz­ing fil­ter to dark­en the blue sky show­ing through these thin cir­rus streaks, and that added enough con­trast to show the del­i­cate pat­terns of the cloud.

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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.)
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Bright sun on Whirlpool Mountain

Whirlpool Mountain catches the bright morning sunlight on a cold clear winter day in Jasper National Park

Bright morn­ing light on Whirlpool Moun­tain

Here’s anoth­er pho­to­graph from my first pho­to-trip of the year in Jasper Nation­al Park. I made this image from along the Ice­fields Park­way, about 20 min­utes south of the town of Jasper. I’m not sure about the name of this peak, but my best guess is that it’s Whirlpool Moun­tain, just south of Mount Edith Cavell and north of Mount Geral­dine (if any­body can confirm/correct this, please leave me a com­ment).

The deep blue of the sky is due most­ly to the use of a polar­iz­ing fil­ter which real­ly brought out the con­trast between the sky, the shad­ows on the moun­tain, and the bright snow-cov­ered faces.

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