What a day! What a group! Ten photographers from all parts of southern Ontario – Burlington, Guelph, Hamilton, Mississauga, Owen Sound, Pentanguishene and Thornhill – all ready to go well before sunrise.
The sky was brightening as we assembled at the Starkey Hill parking lot, and I think we were all a bit concerned about how this day would turn out. This year in southern Ontario, those who appreciate winter have been conditioned to expect the worse type of winter weather for photography: gloomy skies, windy, rain and spring-like temperatures. What would today bring?
As the sky brightened the low cloud cover began to disperse and the day dawned just as the weather forecasters had predicted: cold with bright skies and ,as a bonus, 2cm of fresh, light, puffy snow with no wind – perfect conditions for a Winter Workshop in Nature Photography.
Almost immediately we began shooting. As the sun rose behind the Galt-Paris moraine, we were treated to a wonderful foreground of brightening snow and the dried remains of wildflowers edging a farm field. The farm house itself was also an ideal focal point with the sweep of the field edge in the foreground and just enough stubble to prevent the field from losing detail.
After a good hour just metres from the parking lot, we made our way up the moraine and into the forest. Sunlight was everywhere providing many opportunities for creative work. Through the plantation of coniferous forest we went (with its bold chickadees looking for a handout) and on to the maple-beech forest “out back” where the sunlight streamed through the open canopy. At first, the riot of shadows and light was overwhelmingly complex, but gradually we began to see the shapes and textures that define the essence of nature photography. My goal was to get the group looking less for “subjects” and more for the textures and shapes that support what we trying to photograph, in particular, the triangles and diagonal lines that give photographs structure and three-dimensionality.
Before we knew it, three hours had passed and we began heading back to the parking lot and on to Arkell United Church to warm up and fuel up with lunch. Over lunch we uploaded photos to our laptops and began the afternoon choosing and editing six images to present to the group. Many great images came from the morning field session which spawned discussion about seeing photographs, composition, exposure and all the potential that exist “out there”. It’s always refreshing to see how a group of people photographing in the same place can come up with such a diversity of photographs. Well done!
Thanks to all who attended. I hope everyone went away with new information and a desire to try new ways of seeing. If you weren’t able to make it and still want a Winter Workshop, don’t forget that the Dundas workshop runs on Saturday, january 28th. As time is limited, call me to sign up. As well, I have the Lightroom workshop running Sat. Feb. 18 and 25 – see the website for details.
For now, take a moment to view this gallery of images from the day. Clicking on any image will open a slideshow-style presentation. Enjoy!