Tag: countryside

The Magic Hours

Autumn Dawn, HaiburtonIt’s late summer…As I prepare for another school year, my drive through the countryside each morning becomes pure magic.

If you’re in southern Ontario and you’ve been up and out of the city anytime before 8am these past few days, you may already have a notion of what I mean by “The Magic Hours”. It’s not only a southern Ontario phenomenon, though; as the lakes of northern Ontario and, I’m sure, the sloughs of the Prairies, exhibit the same beauty.

The early hours of morning, from an hour before sunrise to an hour afterwards, are already known to landscape photographers as the “Golden Hours”, but the “Magic Hours” are something more. They start in August when the warm, even hot, days contrast with the cool nights. Highs of 25 to 30°C or more during the day create an abundance of evaporation and humidity. So when the night “plunges” to 15°C or so, the humidity comes out as spectacular ground fog the next morning.

Ellis Creek, late SummerUnfortunately, that means getting up and out early – before sunrise. Hopefully, you already have a few ideas of where to go to capture some great landscapes. Think about the wide open farm fields with perhaps a hill or two; or a river valley, a creek bed or a pond. These are all great places to consider. The air is golden and, as the sun rises, it lights up the ground fog creating creating an ethereal landscape. The contrasts between the warmth of the sun and coolness of the shadows are high accentuated making it a magical moment.

It really is a mystical time of day. But it’s tends to be a rural phenomenon; urbanites will need to get out f the city. The Magic Hours are also ephemeral as the effect lasts only a few moments to perhaps an hour. With sunrise, the humidity of the ground fog dissipates into the air with the blue of the sky becoming milky again as the heat of the day sets in   Of course, if you need more time, you can always go out the next morning, and the next!

Landscapes of Wellington County

For a while now, one of the projects I’ve been working on is a series of landscapes of Wellington County. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the area, Wellington County is an hour west of Toronto and surrounds the city of Guelph (about 120,000) and the towns of Erin, Fergus and Elora with a hodge-podge of townships trending northwest from there. Predominantly farmland with few natural areas, Wellington County is bisected by the Grand River and some of its tributaries, namely the Speed and Eramosa Rivers. It’s not exactly Madison County with its various bridges, but, there are a few places where the river courses are quite photogenic. As well, Elora Gorge offers some great photographic potential.

There is not much in the way of topography, though, with the highest point being Starkey Hill, just east of Arkell (southeast of Guelph) atop the Guelph Moraine, part of the Galt-Paris Moraine complex left over from the last glacial period. The Grand River valley also provides some topography, but with most of the land being private and the natural areas being either wetland or forest, there are few “vistas” ideal for landscapes.

If I could photograph only one thing, it would be landscapes – those broad, sweeping, three-dimensional vistas filled with  detail that start at my feet and extend to the horizon. However, to really work, they require just the right combination of timing for vegetation and lighting – that dramatic moment that says something more than “I was here”. And, more often than not, landscapes are at their most stunning when I’m on my way somewhere else and can’t stop to photograph. Such is life… Needless to say, my landscapes of Wellington County continues to been a long-term project.

Yesterday morning I made a point of doing some exploring to re-familiarize myself with some spots I hadn’t been to in some time. It was a fine summer morning still fresh after Sunday’s rain. Thank goodness for the rain over the last week, otherwise the river courses would have been nearly dry. I worked in the area just north and east of Guelph – the Eramosa Township area.

Field techniques included, as usual, a Nikon D800e mounted on Manfrotto 055 legs and head, mirror lock-up and an electronic release. Shooting data for each photograph is in the caption. The raw image files were processed using Lightroom 4.1

Here are a few from yesterday…