Tag: winter

Winter photos à la iPhone

Some of you might think I’ve gone over to the dark side, but really, I’m celebrating the fact that great photos are now just an iPhone away. It’s not just iPhone, though, as Google Pixels 2 and Samsung Galaxy phones, amongst others, are now capable of producing amazing photographs.

In iOS 11, iPhones now shoot HDR images as the default, and the image quality is greatly improved. It also has a fantastic Portrait mode which, through software, blurs the background. And, the “Plus” models like the iPhone 8 Plus I’m using, has both a 28mm lens and a 56mm lens.

But the real bonus for me is RAW capture. Shooting in RAW permits processing for the highest image quality possible. While the candid photos I take, the snapshots, are made using the iOS camera app that comes with the phone, the landscapes – my more serious work – is all done using one of few different RAW camera apps. I’ve written an article on this that will be published in Lumnious-Landscape.com, but for now, suffice it say, I’m loving using Lightroom Mobile and ProCamera. There are really only three of four mobile phone apps that are useful for shooting raw and these are the two best.

Lr Mobile is free and you do not need to subscribe to Adobe’s “cash grab” Creative Cloud to make use of it. ProCamera is $5.99 and well worth the cost. While I prefer ProCamera’s histogram approach to showing clipped highlights, I love using Lr Mobile’s HDR-RAW feature: it takes three shots in succession at +2, 0 and –2 EV and automatically aligns, merges, deghosts, and tonemaps the photo. While it’s a whopping 43mb in size, it is all set for full-bit-depth editing in Lightroom. Fantastic!!

Anyway, enough blabbering – here are the photos. I’ll update the blog when Luminous-Landscape publishes my iPhone Raw article. Enjoy!

Iceland Map & Photos

I’m working on a map of Iceland showing a number of my better photographs. This should be particularly helpful for people planning a trip to this fabled and most-photographic island. It opens with what I consider to be my best/favourite landscape. What I find interesting from a tourism point-of-view, these landscapes are not entirely of the typical views we see of Iceland. For example, while we visited Geysir, Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, none of these sights are in my “best/favourites”, partly due to weather, partly due to the number of tourists. They are shown in the “All Photos of Iceland” layer which you can toggle on further down the left panel of the map (when you open it in its own window using the [ ]  in the top right of the map below). If you are planning a trip to Iceland, let me know and I may be able to help with some questions you have.

I’ve visited Iceland on two occasions: June 2016 and March 2017 – very different times of year and very different photo ops. During both trips, we spent sometime in Reykjavik. In June we were on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, the Golden Circle, Landmannalaugar, and the south coast as far east as Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. In March, we rented a small car and spent most of our time in the north around Akureyri, east to Þingeyrar then south to Þingvellir and Laugarvatn.

Enjoy and please share with others who might be interested in Iceland and/or photography. Feel free to comment and ad questions below.

A few more from Iceland

For last few days and for two more, we’re staying on a farm about 10 minutes outside of Akureyri, in Iceland’s north. It’s snowing right now and we’ve had snow off and on over the last few days. Not a lot, but road conditions yesterday morning were a bit dicey. However, when the weather cleared, we had beautiful sunshine and more spectacular scenery of dramatic mountains, blue ocean, white snow and puffy clouds.

We drove up the coast of Eyjafjörður from Akureyri through Dalvik and three tunnels (one of which was a single lane for 3km!) to the northern village of Siglufjörður. If you watched “Trapped” – an Icelandic mini-series on Netflix – this was the town the story was based on and partially filmed in – a beautiful location surrounded by mountains and the sea. But the most dramatic scenery yesterday was just outside of Ólafsfjörður. Just off the point a brewing snow squall was lit by the afternoon sun.

We ended the day photographing a farm just south of Dalvik. The problem in Iceland is that the roads have no shoulders (and no guard rails except on a few, very few, choice curves!). In other words, there is no where to stop the car to photograph the great scenery except at farm lanes (they don’t like that!), pull-offs and picnic areas. The picnic areas are scattered along the road, some well-placed or photographers, others less so. A few hundred metres up the road from the farm there was a picnic stop – snowed in at the is time of year, but accessible, thank goodness. It was worth the trek back down the road to capture this beautiful view. It sums up the kind of day we had.

We went aback to Akureyri for dinner. Eating out is expensive in Iceland: fish and chips for two plus a couple of pints totalled about $75. Understandably, most of our meals we make ourselves, easy breakfasts of muesli and skyr (Iceland “yoghurt-like” milk product), sandwiches for lunch and dinners back at our AirBnB.

We ended the day the best way possible – soaking in hot pool. Each village and town has outdoor public pools, heated with geothermal heat. Each complex typically has a gym attached plus at lest one lane-swimming pool and at least two, often three of four, hot pools of varying degrees of warmth. This pool, near our AirBnB, is set in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains, so sitting outside in a not pool at -2°C surrounded by the evening light with these great views was a real treat.

Here are more photos from the day…


Iceland in March

Right now, Laura and I are travelling through Iceland, mostly in the north. We rented and are staying at AirBnBs. It’s a great time of year as there is a dusting of fresh snow each night – not enough to obliterate detail, nor enough to make driving hazardous, but just enough to accentuate the detail of the mountains and volcanic rock.

I’m using the Sony RX10iii for all the shots. I’ve brought along my D800E with the 18-35mm lens, specifically to capture the Aurora borealis, when it makes its appearance (higher image quality at the higher ISOs needed). Otherwise, everything you see is using the RX10iii using raw capture and processing through Lightroom.

No snow – what to do?

November Morning, Vance RoadI know many people, despite calling themselves Canadian, abhore the snow and can’t say anything good about it. Not me! I love the snow and the complete change in reality it brings each year. Sure it’s messy to get around in and, if you’re not careful, it can be dangerous. But, as the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing!”

But without any snow…what’s a landscape photographer to do?!? Not to worry – just refocus on what is around us. There are still many details, subtle hues, textures and tones to photograph.

Frosty mornings bring dead and dried wildflowers to life with a coating of beautiful crystals. WIth the frost comes bright, clear skies and brilliant sunrises – great lighting creating long, cool shadows in contrast with the warmth of early morning. Large scenes come alive with highlights; close-ups become a whole new world of intricate shapes and contrasts.

Speed River, NovemberAt the opposite end of the spectrum are the dreary, overcast days, depressing enough made even more so without snow to brighten them. A walk along a river may just awaken your landscape instincts. Try ignoring the sky and put your efforts into looking for smaller-scale landscapes which avoid the blank starkness above. Shapes, patterns and textures amongst the trees, grasses and wildflowers become apparent when one looks more closely.

Along river banks, the patterns and colour in the willows and grasses come alive when set against the dark water in front and the darker forest behind. The dark water itself can reveal details in flow patterns we might not notice on a sunny day. Ice along the water’s edge adds a further bonus of details to explore.

Flurries, Starkey Hill, Arkell

Lately, when we do get snow, it’s been nothing more than a skiff, like icing sugar on Christmas baking. But that in itself can create magical scenes, outlining each branch and stem. Hues and contrast will be muted under an overcast sky, but an increase in Clarity (in Lightroom) will help to bring back the crispness of the day.

Of course, dreary days are also a good time to spend indoors working on, for example, printing projects. When was the last time you looked through your photographs from the past 12 months, edited a few, then made some selections to print or have printed? I find I learn a lot from my photography when I stop to ask myself “why this image and not that?” Spending time editing also hones those skills. After all, photography isn’t just the capture of images in the camera – there is much to be explored in the digital darkroom, to enhance the scenes you’ve captured. Grey, dreary days might just be the time to do it.

Although Christmas is this week, is there someone who would enjoy receiving one of your photographs? There’s still time!

The end of winter?

I thought the photos I’ve included below might be the last of winter, but then Ontario received another 25cm of snow! I guess now is not the time to go on about how much I enjoy the snow, especially because I’m down here in Naples, Florida in 30°C heat!

March Break has given me the time to finally get at posting some more recent work. Laurie and I spent a wonderful long weekend in February cross-country skiing up in the Meaford-Kimberley area of the Beaver Valley. It was a truly beautiful weekend with light snow squalls mixed with sunshine and not too cold (nor too warm) for comfortable skiing and photography.

As well, it’s a chance to reflect on a very successful evening presentation at GRIPS in Kitchener. I got the feeling GRIPS is a warm and welcoming club with excellent photographers – a feeling that was confirmed when I learned it has had to cap its membership at 150 and there’s a waiting list. Wow! Great stuff!!

I presented “My Own Backyard” concentrating first on photographs made, literally, in my own backyard, then branching out to the Arboretum at the University of Guelph (just 5min away) then projects I’m working on within an hour’s drive of our home in Guelph: Landscapes of Wellington County, the Niagara Escarpment and Grand River Country. My main message was when travelling in various locations around the world I can remember lamenting the fact that I just couldn’t always be in the right place at the right time to capture the quintessential photograph. Well, people travel from all over the world to southern Ontario and this is a place where I can be in the right place at the right time. There is so much to see and photograph just in this area yet we often don’t give it second thought, but we should!

Here are a few photographs to remind us all that, yes, winter is beautiful, and, yes, Ontario is too!

Winter, so far…

We’ve had quite a winter – one of the best in years for photography. The early snow combined with the ice storm followed by still more snow have created near ideal winter conditions for photography. It’s easy to complain about the snow (and those who have lost power and are still losing power, certainly have a right to complain!), but we  really have had some beautiful days of sunshine and snowy weather. Cold, yes, but sunny. The crunch of snow under foot always beats the splatter of slush.

I’ve done a bit of shooting, but to be honest, I don’t relish getting our little car stuck in some rural snowbank, so all of my shooting has been local. That being said, there is no lack of beautiful scenes here in the Guelph area. Just keep looking!

On Monday, February 24th at 7:30pm, I’ll be speaking at the Grand River Imaging and Photographic Society (GRIPS) about “My Own Backyard”. GRIPS meets at the Kitchener East Presbyterian Church at 10 Zeller Drive, Kitchener, ON. While they have me down as a “lecture”, I like to think of it as a workshop for the brain as we won’t actually be photographing, but rather I’ll be stimulating the desire to get out and make great photos in our own backyards. Guests are welcome for a GRIPS fee of $5 (see this page).

So, here is that selection of photographs I promised. Click on a photo for a slightly larger version. Feel free to add your comments in the form at the bottom.

Golden Winter Evening Winter Fields and Sky Winter Vacancy Highbush Cranberries, Winter Etchings in Snow and Ice Whites of Winter Red Osier, Ice, Snow & Light Snow and Ice, Arboretum _D8E2865-WEB Highbush Cranberries, Winter Redbuds, Winter Trembling Asepn, Last Light Sumac Sketch Design by Nature I Corridor Design by Nature II

Winter at Bark Lake

Bark Lake

This past week, I was up at Bark Lake teaching Wildlife Population and supervising 30 grade 10 students from St. John’s-Kilmarnock School. SJK is an independent school near Maryhill, Ontario between Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo with wonderful students and staff to work with. Most days during the Bark Lake week are quite full with classes indoors and out from 9am through to 10pm. Amazingly, the students are engaged and energetic throughout it all, which leaves only a few hours of downtime for the teachers. However, I did manage to take advantage of the few hours of sunlight we had Sunday afternoon and at dawn Monday morning.

I’ve been to Bark Lake Leadership Centre three times now with SJK, once in Autumn and twice in Winter. The staff there are very knowledgeable and the meals very good – more than enough to eat with lots of fresh fruit and salads. They have very comfortable accommodations in a beautiful setting surrounded by white pines, beech, maple and a beaver pond “out back”. I am considering teaming up with Bark Lake to offer weekend nature photography workshops in Spring, Autumn and Winter – if you’re interested, send me an email.

I’ve been quite pleased with the opportunities that exist for photography without straying too far from the Centre (spare time is at a premium when one is supervising high school students!). That being said there are kilometres of hiking and nordic ski trails that I’ve not had an opportunity to fully explore. As well, there are a number of rivers and lakes that provide a myriad of opportunities.

Here is a gallery of photos from the past week – not too many, but enough to give you a sense of how beautiful winter can be when there is some decent snow and lighting!


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.

Image-A-Week – 1

December Squall, Wellington County, Ontario
December Squall, Wellington County, Ontario

Here is the first in a series of Image-A-Week.

I made this photograph this morning during a driving snow squall. I had taken my camera along on the drive from Guelph to Cambrdige hoping to capture something of this snowy weather we are all of a sudden in midst of. It’s not unheard of to have snow like this in December here in Southern Ontario -in fact it’s common. It’s just that November was such a mild month with only a few dustings  (Toronto had the first snow-free November since the 1930s!) that we were becoming complacent.

There are two tricks tp photographing in the snow:

  1. have a cotton handkerchief with you to wipe the front element of your lens. It will get snow on it, so be prepared.
  2. When using Auto Exposure, set the exposure compensation dial to somewhere between +1 and +2. Remember, all light meters try to make the brightness of your image average out to middle grey. You need to brighten that up to the original snowy white of the day by purposefully overexposing. Digital shooters can check the histogram – the peak should be over towards the right (highlight) side
Histogram change from Normal to +2 stops in exposure compensation

I shot about 8 frames at this location at different focal lengths and framing (tree on left, tree on right, etc.)  In this case, there is no one image that captures the feeling any better than the others. Having a few different versions gives me some choices when it comes to decisions about layout and design when the image is used.

This is just the start of what I hope is a great winter season of photography.