IN FOCUS

 
  • Posted On:
    December 9, 2014
    #treesinfourseasons

    This is my fourth and last image in the #treesinfourseasons challenge. Summer is a busy time for most of us. At this time of the year, the foliage of many trees is a kind of dull green color which tends to blend into the background. As humans, we generally look at trees as a whole and seldom look at the individual parts that make up the tree. One of these often overlooked parts is the bark which varies considerably from tree to tree and often times also within a particular tree species. Bark offers an important layer of protection for the tree. Seen from up close, bark can offer a myriad of photo opportunities. Beautiful detail is revealed simply by getting closer and paying more attention to what is around you. Summer is a good time to slow down. Shown here are two images of bark from the Sycamore tree, a deciduous species that can be found in southern Ontario.

    I challenge John Marriott - friend, colleague and regular contributor to Outdoor Photography Magazine - to the #treesinfourseasons challenge.

    Your challenge images must represent all four seasons, one from each season. With each entry please challenge one other person and use the hashtag #treesinfourseasons so everyone can search to find all the entries as the challenge progresses.
  • Posted On:
    December 8, 2014
    #treesinfourseasons

    This is my third image in the #treesinfourseasons challenge. Autumn is 'a many splendoured season'. It is bright and joyous at peak colour. Normally, we focus our attention on deciduous trees as they turn color in the fall when the pigments within the leaves change with the shorter days and early frost before the onset of winter. On my recent trip to photograph fall colors in Ontario, I noticed these beautiful larches backlit in my friend's (Peter Blahut) aunt's yard. Larches, also known as tamaracks, are deciduous conifers, meaning that they lose their needles (leaves) in the fall, unlike other evergreen trees. The needles of the larches turn yellowish - orange and, when backlit, seem to glow more brilliantly!

    I challenge Kelly Funk - my friend, colleague and regular contributor to Outdoor Photography Canada magazine - to the #treesinfourseasons challenge.

    Your challenge images must represent all four seasons, one from each season. With each entry please challenge one other person and use the hashtag #treesinfourseasons so everyone can search to find all the entries as the challenge progresses.

  • Posted On:
    December 7, 2014
    #treesinfourseasons

    This is my second image in the #treesinfourseasons challenge. Spring, that season of renewal, is so welcomed in this part of the country where winters can be so long, depending on the particular year. As the first spring ephemerals make their way through the ground, so do the young leaves of trees and other plants. Each species of deciduous plants has its own 'built-in' clock of when the leaves appear and later drop in the fall. As the new leaves emerge and begin to grow, they change tremendously from that bright yellowish to lime green color before turning into a deeper and duller green as the leaves reach their full size in a few weeks. Photographing the early leaf flush in the spring is one my favorite things to do, as these sugar maple trees exemplify so beautifully.

    I challenge my friend and colleague Andrew MacLachlan to the #treesinfourseasons challenge.

    Your challenge images must represent all four seasons, one from each season. With each entry please challenge one other person and use the hashtag #treesinfourseasons so everyone can search to find all the entries as the challenge progresses.

  • Posted On:
    December 7, 2014
    You've heard the expression 'f8 and be there'. Yesterday it was more like 'f16 and I was there' ! The point is that images are made when presented with an opportunity but opportunities don't happen unless you make them happen. The weather forecast for yesterday was for a mainly cloudy day but I decided to venture out in the morning anyway because I wanted to see if I could spot some snowy owls as discussed in the previous post. Looking at the sky, I could detect a small clearing in the clouds so I knew the sun would likely shine though at some point soon. Not seeing any snowy owls at the moment, I drove around trying to find nice subject matter to photograph when the sun did come out. I settled on this grouping of hoarfrost covered trees. The sun shone for only a few minutes but, in the process, I was able to frame the trees with a beautiful formation of clouds that lasted only too briefly before melding into an amorphous mass of white color.
  • Posted On:
    December 7, 2014
    It's always exciting to make your first photographs of a new species! I went out yesterday morning to explore around Starbuck, Manitoba and came upon a couple of snowy owls. These large owls are active during the day and they are truly beautiful birds to see and observe. Snowy owls breed in the Arctic and some birds winter within their breeding range but some can be found on the prairies during the winter and their migration to more southern areas. When their main food sources of lemmings and small rodents dwindle in the Arctic every few years, snowy owls tend to migrate further south in search of food and this is why, in some years, they are more commonly seen in these parts.

    I had only seen two other individuals in my lifetime (and one of those was a few days ago) but I had never had the chance to photograph them. My experience with most wildlife I encounter is that they don't stay around very long when they notice humans. I usually have my camera fitted with a long telephoto lens at the following settings: shutter speed set to ISO 1000, automatic exposure mode, automatic focus, shutter set on continuous high speed, widest aperture possible, fastest shutter speed possible for the prevailing light conditions and the lens set on vibration reduction, usually with no filters attached. This combination of settings allows me to shoot at fairly low light levels and perhaps get a decent shot. As I see wildlife when I am driving, if I am not ready, I will drive by for quite a distance before turning around and stopping to set up the camera properly. As I approach my subject, my window is down and I make sure there are no other vehicles close by before suddenly stopping, pointing the camera and shooting one to a few frames as soon as possible. Often, that may be the only opportunity to capture an image before the animal takes off. Depending in which direction the bird decides to take off in, you may or may not get an opportunity to make an action shot. Yesterday was a mostly cloudy day and the sun came out only briefly in my location, enough to make the first photograph of the perched owl.

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