Tag: nature

Summer Morning

On Tuesday, I set aside the early part of the morning specifically for photographing a field of summer wildflowers between Water Street and Municipal Street here in Guelph. My wife Laura and I walk by here regularly as we (mostly she!) completes our 6km loop from home to the Boathouse on Gordon Street (no, we don’t stop for ice cream!) and back again, along the Speed River for most of the way. It’s been interesting to watch how this field has evolved since, amidst much controversy, this forested area was razed by the Hydro One crews two years ago. They seeded it with a wildflower mix which, at this point anyway, seems to be successful. Right now it is ablaze with flowers: Queen Anne’s Lace, Rudbeckia, Evening Primrose, Mullen, various thistles, daisies, and grasses.

When I walked along the trail early Saturday morning, I was struck by the colour, the light and simply how “full” the field was with wildflowers. As I walked, I got thinking about returning with my 100mm macro lens on the D800E first thing in the morning, hand-held, just to see what I could capture, ideally at ƒ2.8 only. I specifically chose my full-frame camera because I wanted to minimize my depth of field, so ƒ2.8 was also my goal. This is a complete departure from my regular shooting style of using a wideangle lens, getting close and using a small aperture to maximize depth-of-field; this allows me to create the environmental portraits I love so much – putting the main subject in its natural context. When I began shooting, though, I quickly realized how shallow the DoF is at ƒ2.8; I just couldn’t come to grips with the limited depth-of-field, so I “slipped up” to 5.6 and even 7.1 for a few shots.

Here are six of the photos I made.

These photos represent another goal of the morning, which was to capture light. I was fortunate that it was cool enough overnight for dew to settle on the flowers, so at 7am they were sparkling, adding another dimension to the morning. However, I can tell I’m a bit out of practice. Some of the parts I wanted in focus are not and despite using shutter speeds over 1/250, my hand-holding is not quite steady enough with high magnification shots like these. The problem is, I’ve become too used to the excellent image stabilization of the Sony RX10iii. Next time, I’ll consider using a monopod, although, to be honest, for these more spontaneous shots, even a monopod would be a hindrance.

Please add your comments, questions and critique using the “Comments” below and be sure to share this post on Facebook. And get out photographing!

Long Weekend = Time Printing


A winter sky with thin clouds lit magenta by the rising sun over a farm field with rows of corn stalks and a light dusitng of snow
A winter sky with thin clouds lit magenta by the rising sun over a farm field with rows of corn stalks and a light dusting of snow

Dusk, Inner Bay, Long Point

As a bonus of working in the private sector, I had Friday as a holiday as well as Monday making a 4-day weekend. Finally, some time to spend printing. How satisfying!

I am working through a backlog of print-ready photographs from the last few years, partly to satisfy me need for a sense of completion, but also to select prints for my upcoming show in September. Perhaps it’s a sign of my four decades in photography, but I never feel quite photographically “complete” until my work is actually printed on fine paper as a fine art print.

On screen and on the web is good, and, in fact, very helpful for feedback inthe forums (I can highly recommend the Luminous Landscape Forum), but the smaller size and backlit display just don’t have the same appeal. There is also the feeling of impermanence; printing on fine paper, on the other hand, is a commitment to longevity, a statement that says “I’m finished”.

Of course, what do I immediately do after printing? I scrutinize the print for improvements – so much for the “I’m finished” bit.

I’ve been very pleased with the results as of late. I don’t colour manage (I know, heretical), but I do use test strips, a technique leftover from my darkroom days. But you know what? It works. Running a 2″ test strip of a key part of the photograph printed on my paper of choice allows me to see it as it will exist – not as a softproof on monitor, but as a living, breathing front-lit print. One of two text strips allows me to nail the colour balance and exposure before committing a whole piece of ($5 to $10) paper plus about the same in ink.

My paper of choice is (and has been for a few years now) MOAB Entrada Rag Natural. It is a lovely, lightly-textured matte paper made from 100% cotton with no optical brightening agents (OBAs), thus the “natural” designation. Why matte paper? While it bucks the rend to some extent, I love the feel and look of this paper. No, I do not get super dark blacks (high Dmax), but I get what is, to my anyway, a more authentic view of the natural world I am photographing. It’s real, but not quite real. To me, there is no modern technical aspect between the viewer an the image on the paper. I hate the word “organic” in its use now-a-days, but it seems fitting in this case.

Once I’m in the groove, and have calibrated my brain to the computer and print results, I can successfully make a number of different prints without text strips. This is the zen of printing – a state which only happens once or twice a year. This weekend was one of those times.

Here are some of the prints I made this past weekend. If there is one you happen to like enough to buy, it’s yours for $75, shipped free anywhere in Canada. You will receive the print on 13×19″paper, matted and ready for a 16×20″ frame, with a certificate of authenticity.


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


Classic Landscapes in Photo Life magazine

When you are next at a news stand or book store, have a look at Photo Life magazine. The February -March issue is the Nature Issue and has my article abut making “Classic Landscapes”. The article came out of the course in Landscape Photography I teach at Mohawk College. So pick up a copy and consider getting a subscription to PhotoLife – it’s a great Canadian mag!

Winter Workshops

Check out my Winter Workshops page – top right of this page.

I am offering two winter outdoor workshops – one in Guelph on Saturday, January 21st and the same in Dundas on Saturday, January 28th. These are full day workshops with a morning field session and an afternoon critique session.

In February, I am offering a two-part Adobe Photoshop Lightroom workshop. On Saturday, February 11, I will teach basic Lightroom – Library and the basics of the Develop module. On Saturday, February 18, we’ll go into more detail on the Develop side plus do some printing using the Print module.

For more information visit: Winter Workshops

November Photo Newsletter

Have a look at the November Photo Newsletter. You will find the second part of the article on exposure where I talk about the advantages of checking the histogram and highlight clipping warnings. Also I announce the two dates and locations for my Winter Nature Photography workshops: Jan 15 and Feb 12, 2011.

You’ll find it HERE – which is http://www.luxborealis.com/newsletter/2010-11-luxBorealisNovNews.pdf

Father’s Day 2010

As I lay here on my lounge enjoying a lovely Father’s Day, I couldn’t not think of photography – so here’s the view from where I’m lying.

It’s important to be constantly on the look-out for images – at least that’s the way my brain works. Even when I don’t have a camera handy I am assessing scenes and views for their photographic potential – Where would I stand/crouch/lie for this image? What lens would I use. What compensation would I need given the lighting situation? Does this feel like a black-and-white image? What leading lines do I have to work with?

It’s the seeing of photographs in the oddest of places with questions like these that become the mental exercise of creating photos that leads to more critical thinking that soon becomes second nature – and that’s where you want to be.

My View on Father's Day

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!

Successful first series of photo courses

This week brings to an end the first series of photo courses for 2010 – and what a success! The Point & Shoot Starter, Digital SLR Starter finished Tuesday and Wednesday and Intro to Photoshop finishes Saturday morning.  Some great exploring and discussion of menus, options and technique has made a real impact on those involved.

With March on the horizon and April not too far away, we’re just about ready for the next round of courses:

March 2010

  • Advanced Photography – Wednesday Evenings, March 3, 10, 24 & 31
  • Photoshop Elements – Saturday Mornings, March 6. 13, 20 & 27

April 2010

  • Digital SLR Buying Guide – Saturday Morning, April 10th ($30)
  • Point & Shoot Starter – Tuesday Evenings, April, 6, 13, 20, 27
  • Fine Art Photography 1 – Wednesday Evenings, April 7, 14, 21 & 28
  • Travel Photography Workshop – Friday Evening, Apr 16 + All-day Saturday, Apr 17
  • Spring Woodlands Workshop – Friday Evening, Apr 30 + All-day Saturday, May 1
Each course & workshop is $140 per person. If you register at least one week in advance, the price is only $125.
As well, the confirmations are coming in for Ontario’s Natural Gems nature and outdoor photography workshops held this summer in some of Ontario’s best provincial parks. We’ll be in Rondeau, Grundy Lake, Sandbanks, Bon Echo, Killbear and perhaps Arrowhead. Two confirmed dates are:
  • Grundy Lake Provincial Park – August 6 & 7
  • Rondeau Provincial Park – August 13 & 14

Each workshop has three sessions:

  • Friday evening Intro Session from 7-9pm
  • Saturday morning Field Session from dawn to about 11am or Noon. We’ll concentrate on capturing the glorious morning light with small group hands-on instruction on landscapes, close-ups, metering, lighting, creative composition – whatever the participants needs specific help with.
  • Saturday afternoon Image Review & Wrap-up Session from 1pm to 4pm.

This schedule allows you to dedicate some quality time to your photography as well as having some time with your family camping. The workshop fee for Ontario’s Natural Gems is $175 per person. However, if you register at least one week in advance, the price is only $150. Each workshop is open to a maximum of 12 participants so email me to reserve your spot early. Please note that this fee is for the workshop only – you will need to reserve your campsite through OntarioParks.com.

If you have any questions or want more information email Terry at info@luxborealis.com.

I hope you continue to enjoy the winter photography!


I am so behind on my images-a-week! Sorry about that. It’s been a busy winter getting workshops, courses, photo safaris and cruises up and running.

What do yo think of this?

Ice Wall, Dorset
Ice Wall, Dorset

I was up at Dorset with the grade 10s from St. John’s-Kilmarnock School teaching a unit on Wildlife Population for their Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology course . It’s a great winter get-away, but I don’t get a lot of photography done. Out for a tromp through the snow on Sunday, we came across a significant “ice wall” or “ice fall”. Two of the students, Natalie and Robin – keen photographers – stayed with me to spend some serious time photographing this amazing feature.

Ice wall are a world unto themselves – so many shapes, textures, patterns, colours – but photographing them is difficult, especially exposure. To increase the brightness of the snow (remember – white snow causes your light meter to underexpose) I used exposure compensation to increase the exposure by one stop. When I started editing in Adobe Camera Raw, I found I could further increase the exposure by another 2 stops and use the Curves Tool to bring up the “Lights” and “Darks” by 75 or so to create the high key image I saw.