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Morning mist

Warm light from the rising sun glows on mist above a small lake at the Ministik Lake Sanctuary in Alberta, Canada.

Warm sun­light on morn­ing mist

This is anoth­er pho­to from my lat­est trip out to Min­is­tik. It was a gor­geous, calm morn­ing: warm enough to be com­fort­able, but cool enough to keep the mos­qui­toes down and the mist ris­ing from the lakes.

A few of my prints have come out with slight colour casts, usu­al­ly a (very lit­tle) bit green­ish, so I tried this one tonight as the colour of the ris­ing mist is very impor­tant to the feel of the pho­to­graph. We’ll see how it turns out…

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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 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…

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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)

 
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Mountain sunset under heavy clouds

The last light of the sun setting behind rugged peaks shines below a sky of heavy clouds

Sun­set under heavy clouds

If you’ve signed up for my newslet­ter you’ll rec­og­nize these past few images that I’ve shared — this one is from a trip to Jasper Nation­al Park that I took this spring. I was lucky enough to dri­ve into the moun­tains just as the sun dipped below the clouds for a few min­utes before sink­ing behind the moun­tain peaks. I don’t recall my cam­era set­tings for this par­tic­u­lar image, but I was def­i­nite­ly think­ing of the gold­en rule for land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy — “f/8 and be there”.

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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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