Tag: national park

Lake Superior IV: Pukascapes

The undulating, uneven, irregular profile of the Canadian Shield is iconic and unique. It’s the result of a couple of billion years of erosion. To put it into perspective, that’s billion, as in 2,000,000,000 years – long before anything we see today as life had evolved: before the dinosaurs, before the reptiles and fish and long before plants – before there were any multicellular organisms. All there were 2 billion years ago were bacteria and eukaryotes – single-cells with just the mere basics of even being a cell. No protozoans, no amoebas.

Making a photograph that portrays the nature of the Canadian Shield is, for me, a quest. In fact, the photographic goal I set for myself in anyplace I visit is to find that quintessential image that captures the essence of place. But what aspects of the Shield must be considered for the photograph to reflect the quintessence of the place? The distinct profile, for one; the rock itself, the boreal forest and, because water has played such a huge role in shaping the Shield, a lake. A tall order, and one I didn’t quite achieve in a single photograph, but I think I came close. Judge for yourself.

I think my more insightful photographs are those of the details of the rock and vegetation of Pukaskwa showcased in my previous blog, Lake Superior III. But the eye candy is in the sunrises and sunsets you’ll see below. I know, I know. ABS – Another Bloody Sunset. It’s not like I don’t already have 56,000 of them. But, what can I say; they truly are wondrous. And the final ones, shot from the Headland Trail, capture the essence of the Lake Superior coast.

Enjoy! And please consider sharing this post with others who enjoy photography.


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!


Bruce Peninsula National Park

Had a great 4 days in Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario last week. The camping was fun, although the facilities there are lousy. It must be about the most disappointing of all national parks for facilities. I’d rather s–t in the woods, thanks.

But the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment more than makes up for it. Dramatic cliffs, the spectacularly blue waters of Georgian Bay, brilliantly yellow Ladies-Slipper orchids. Lots to shoot. You can see a few below. Also see my website for more: luxBorealis.com-Gallery.

BTW – the photos below and on Flickr were created in Lightroom 2 using LR/Mogrify2 -a must-have plugin. The web gallery on my site was done using the Lightroom 2 HTML Web Gallery engine. It is truly wonderful to be doing all of this and maintaining filename standards and metadata and processing from all within Lightroom. I’m a happy camper!

This summer I will be heading to Algonquin for some interior canoeing with my daughter – any recommendations of photogenic locations that are relatively easy to get to (not a 2000m portage, please!) would be appreciated. I always prefer to canoe into a base camp and stay there for a few days then move on. Much better for photography and exploring that way. Cheers!