Tag: hiking

Lake Superior II – LSPP

LSPP – Lake Superior Provincial Park – is a large, 1556km2 natural environment park along the eastern shore of Lake Superior, 200km north of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. The Trans-Canada Highway (Ontario Hwy 17) passes through it north-south, about ½ along the coast and ½ through the interior. (Note: A “natural environment” park means Ontario Parks allows limited natural resource extraction. In the case of LSPP, only hunting is permitted as commercial trapping, forestry and mining have been discontinued. This is unlike Algonquin Provincial Park, where “sustainable” forestry is still permitted in 65% of the park. But that’s another issue for another day!)

Our base for this part of the trip was Rabbit Blanket Lake, a smaller, quieter campground of 60 sites in the northern part of the park. With access to the Peat Mountain trail from the campground, the South Old Woman River Trail across the road and Rabbit Blanket Lake itself, there were plenty of photo ops without having to drive. That being said, we spent a few hours further south along the Pinguisibi River (Sand River) Trail, just because we like photographing waterfalls. But there are plenty of hiking opportunities in the park – too numerous for the short four days we were there. There is also the Coastal Hiking Trail which Kerry and I completed part of back in 2008 (Flickr Album). Given our earlier trip, we decided to concentrate on the interior places including rivers, small lakes, waterfalls and rapids.

The beauty of LSPP, beyond the raw nature and hummocky landscape of the Canadian Shield, lies in the moist forests. This whole area was logged up to about 100 years ago, so the forests are still quite immature. They may seem like a climax forest, but they are still far from it; give them another couple of hundred years to fully mature into the huge behemoth trees that were so desired by the loggers.

Being adjacent to what amounts to an inland sea, the mixed but mostly coniferous forests along the Lake Superior coast, receive plenty of precipitation – about 1000mm per year – on the cusp of a true maritime climate. But, given its low evaporation rates, that moisture stays in the soil producing a rich diversity and abundance of beautiful ferns, mosses and lichens covering logs and rocks under the canopy of mostly spruce trees. Years ago, I spent a number of hours in a light rain along the South Old Woman River Trail and I was excited to be back there again. It seemed different this time, but lush, green and beautiful. It was like being in a miniature version of a BC temperate rainforest.

On our final morning, we were up at dawn and were greeted with beautiful mist on Rabbit Blanket Lake that persisted for almost two hours. The best part for us: we were the only ones around! Every campsite was occupied, but not one person came down to the lake that morning. At 8:30am, walking back to our campsite, which was not by the lake, people were just getting going. To my mind, they missed the most beautiful part of the day. But, then again, perhaps that’s why people find photos like these so compelling.

Here’s a gallery of my photographs from Lake Superior Provincial Park…

Photography in Bruce Peninsula National Park

Georgian Bay Coast, Bruce Trail, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, CanadaBack at the end of July, Kerry Little, his son Michael and I spent some time backpacking in to Stormhaven for a couple of nights then camping at Cyprus Lake. Our goal: serious photography (for Michael is was downtime and reading). The result: Success.

I was looking forward to putting the 18-35mm zoom through its paces to see just what it would do under real shooting conditions. It did not disappoint. In fact, looking over my LR uploads from the trip, 93% of the photos I made were with that lens; 55% of all photos were at 18mm. I can’t say enough about having this focal length available to me. It is so creative and gives an even stronger sense of “being there”.

Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus and the Milky Way over Cyprus Lake, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, CanadaI was also looking forward to being in a place dark enough for some astrophotography. Originally, our plan was to be at Lake Superior Provincial Park and Pukaskwa National Park, but that fell through due to brake trouble. So, Bruce Peninsula, being a Dark Sky Preserve, was a great second option. Having an 18mm focal length was part of my motivation, but pushing the D800E to its limit with long exposures was also a goal. You see, I think it is important to push our equipment to the limit not just to learn what it is capable of, but also to break new ground in our own photography. I didn’t go as far as doing a few hundred exposures to get star trails (that’s for another time when I have access to my laptop for uploading full cards!), but I did enjoy the results from single exposures of 25 to 30sec at ISO3200. I read up on it ahead of time at Dave Morrow’s site – very helpful! Also, the iPad add Sky Guide was helpful.

Ideally, I would have done this from Stormhaven – a hike-in only site – due to its distance from the lights of Tobermory. Despite this old body, I made it in with a 30kg pack with energy to spare. Stormhaven is a great location; from the beach there is a clear view to the north with sunrise (and Cave Point) to the right and sunset to the left. Unfortunately, we had rain to deal with. After a clear start to our second day, it teemed rain the rest of the day until late in the afternoon. We were under the tarp for our brunch (we’re up at 5:30am before sunrise for photography, so it’s brunch at 10am or so) and in our tents for much of the day until the rain finally stopped at about 4:30pm. Cloud obscured the sky each night making astrophotography impossible. However, from the shore of Cyprus Lake, it turned out quite well.

Still Water, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, CanadaMy third goal for the trip was to spend some time doing long exposures of Georgian Bay. As it turned out, Kerry had an NDx3.0 (10 stop neutral density) filter which reduced exposures 1/30 all the way to 30 seconds (the rather unfortunate limit on a D800E without using the Bulb setting – I don’t wear a watch and my “on-board metronome” from my black and white darkroom days is a bit rusty! 🙂 I often used ISO50 to achieve this long exposure and sometimes used a polarizing filter as well, although the polarizer was primarily used to enrich the colours of foliage, rock and water by reducing glare. Success, again. I have since ordered a Hoya Pro ND500 (9-stop ND) as well as the Pro1 NDx0.8 (3 stops), more commonly used for slowing shutter speeds along rivers. I’ll write more about working with long exposures sometime soon.

The Trail, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario, CanadaAfter Stormhaven, we camped at Cyprus Lake. Car camping is always so depressing after wilderness camping. It’s loud and dusty with car traffic and the toilets are never as nice as they are in wilderness settings! That being said, the first evening I had a wonderful few hours of hiking and photography. Starting out from Tamarack campground, I had no expectations of what I would find, given how crowded the park was with partiers who only wanted to get to the Grotto. I hiked to the coast and began taking advantage of the beautiful evening light. I went from set-up to set-up completely losing track of time until I realized my shutter speeds were getting rather long (see The Trail – 13sec at ƒ16 – which I made at 9pm). It was one of those blocks of time I get about 3 times a year when practicalities go out the window in favour of pure creativity.

Here is a gallery of photographs to peruse from the trip. A few, and perhaps my favourites, are black-and-whites. As well, I put in colour versions of similar set-ups to some of the B&Ws for comparison purposes.

If you have any comments or questions about the photos, Bruce Peninsula or about photography in general, please I’d love to hear them – don’t hesitate to add a comment or email me directly. Enjoy!



Morning, George Lake, KillarneyNow that the bulk of my “day job” has wound down, I have a bit more free time to write and share (and to complete the jobs on this summer’s “honey do” list!) It also means some time to do the things we most love to do… travel, camp, hike, canoe and, for me, photograph. So, in the last week of June, Laurie and I packed up the car and made our way up to Killarney.

Killarney Shield from Granite Ridgeif you’ve never been to that part of Ontario, then you are missing a real gem. You can either choose among the 20 best rv rentals in Florida – rvrentalscout.com or take your minivan but travelling to Killareney Provincial Park by road is a must things to do. Killarney Provincial Park is uniquely located on the Canadian Shield where a 1.5-billion-year-old batholith is up against the eroded roots of 2.25-billion-year-old mountains that were once the height of the Himalayas – they are now the white quartzite ridges of the La Cloche Range. What makes for spectacular photography, though, also makes for difficult hiking. The 87km La Cloche Silhouette Trail (which we did not do!) is one of the most difficult in eastern Canada.
OSA Lake and Killarney RangeInstead, we opted for car-camping at George Lake combined with day-hikes along the Cranberry Bog Trail, the Chikanishing Creek Trail and the Granite Ridge Trail. We also spent the better part of day canoeing and portaging the 23km round-trip to OSA Lake. OSA (Ontario Society of Artists) Lake is a gorgeous vermillion blue colour set against the deep green of the boreal forest and the white quartzite of the La Cloche Range. Its moniker comes from the fact that AY Jackson and the Group of Seven painted extensively in the area and had a hand in having the area protected from logging. In fact, one of my favourite places is AY Jackson Lake – a 15-minute hike from the George Lake Trailhead.

We camped in the eastern part of the campground in the radio-free (but not necessarily noise-free or idiot-free) part of the park. The idiots I refer to are the twenty-something “guys weekend” group who were not only loud, but also messy campers, leaving food, etc. out which ended up attracting a young bear. Luckily it was one of their tents that was trashed, not ours.

_D8E8724-WEBOur second full day was rainy – a perfect time to spend photographing the wonderful lupines along the Hwy 637 corridor. They were an unexpected splash of gorgeous colour we could not pass up. Given the beautiful, soft light and the light rain, Laurie’s photos from the iPad rival mine made with the D800E! I went to Killarney expecting wonderful landscapes, but came home with some lovely wildflower shots as well.

One of the styles I’m working on with wild flowers is replacing my 105mm macro lens with a wideangle lens, typically my 24mm. It takes just the right set of conditions since the wideangle shows so much more background. I think I was successful with the blue flag iris and the harebell, but less so with the bunchberry.


Of course, in landscape mode, I love working ultra-wide with the 20mm. Given a detailed foreground, the 20mm is unrivalled for giving the feeling of being able to walk into the scene. The 24mm also had a good workout. For both the AY Jackson Lake and George Lake morning ‘scapes, I used my Dawn, AY Jackson Lake, KillarneyND400 filter to get much slower shutter speeds of five to 15 seconds which removed slight ripples on the lake providing a glossy surface for reflections.

Needless to say, it was a fruitful trip, photography wise, and it re-invigorated our love of northern Ontario. The sad part was returning to the bustle of southern Ontario – and the NOISE! It’s really surprising how much noise we put up with down here – and don’t even realize it becasue we’ve become to used to it. The noise of the city becomes painfully obvious after being in a place devoid of that white noise.

For more photos of Killarney, head on over to my Flickr album

Thanks for reading.

More from Wellington County

More scouting trips around Wellington County. Last Friday, it lead to a wonderful piece of pie at Marj’s in Alma. If you haven’t been, it’s a must! Marj’s is a classic village diner with great service, great food and, most important of all, great, home-made pies.

The photos I’m showing you are not final cuts, but rather works in progress. Some will never see the light of day as they are location “snaps”. I find it helpful to shoot a location when I know it’s not the ideal time, but want to keep a record of what it looks like and its exact location using Lightroom Maps module and the GPS unit on my camera.

You will notice that some of the photos are “blurred”. They are the product of the work I am doing with motion landscapes – photographs that capture varying degrees of motion to give us fleeting glimpses of shapes, colours and textures. They, too, are a work in progress! Final note: all photos are processed in Lightroom 4.1