September 26, 2016
This coming Wednesday I travel to Friesens in Altona, Manitoba to print my latest book 'Manitoba: Land of the Unexpected'. It’s always a pleasure to spend time at Friesens. I particularly enjoy browsing through the recently published books in their library. Between the many visits to the pressroom, I peruse as many books from my hand-picked selection as I can, often at the expense of catching up on my sleep!
This latest book by ‘Les Editions des Plaines’ is the first in a series about Canadian provinces. Last year, ‘Les Editions des Plaines’ reprinted my ‘Canada’ book and, the year before that, they published our book about the ‘Saint-Boniface Cathedral’ as part of yet another series on special places and icons of Manitoba. More books to come in the future!
Creating any book always involves a lot of hard work as well as a great deal of time. The many steps involved include coming up with a concept followed by the photography, the processing of images, the writing, the layout, the editing, the proofing, the prepress work, more proofing, and more proofing still and, finally, the printing. A book launch has been scheduled for McNally Robinson in Winnipeg on November 3rd but more on that later!
A couple of weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to see for the first time in my yard, a pileated woodpecker. A couple of days ago, as I was sitting on the front porch admiring spring coming into its own, I heard the unmistakable sound of a pileated woodpecker. This time, I had enough time to quietly sneak into the house and grab my 'wildlife' camera and capture a couple of images of the once threatened species as it foraged for insects in my tall Manitoba maple tree. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for my tree!
I returned to Sandilands Provincial Forest this week with colleagues Dave Benson and Chris Gray to check out the progress of the prairie crocuses that Dave and I found last week. It was heartwarming to discover that spring had finally sprung! I made a number of images of Manitoba’s provincial flower growing in various micro-habitats. This particular image was made along a gravel road using the road as the background. Three images were made with a 200mm micro Nikkor lens set at an aperture of f/8 and focused at different points. The images were later stacked into Helicon Focus software to produce one image with as much depth of field as possible without incorporating any distracting background elements. To add to the challenge, mother nature began to blow and gust as we enjoyed the cool, evening weather. But it was just ‘grand’ to experience the great outdoors!
The prairie crocus, our symbol of spring on the Canadian prairies, is one of those wildflowers that I can never get enough of! I photographed these early blooms in Sandliands Provincial Forest on a cold morning using a 200mm macro lens. I made 7 different images focused at slightly different areas on the flower to gain a little extra sharpness on the closest bloom.Shooting at a wide aperture allowed the background to remain blurred and soft. I later processed the images in Adobe Camera Raw and then brought them into Helicion Focus, software that combines any number of differently focused images into one final image. The green color in the background is the result of fruiticose lichens growing amongst the crocuses at the edge of this particular jackpine forest.
Spring has been a lingering affair this year with a greater than usual repetition of melting and freezing events. A few weeks ago, I meandered into the Seine River Forest and made a few images of ice that formed on pools and puddles at the edge of the trees as well as images of the melting ice on the Seine River itself. The late afternoon sun created a lovely contrast between warm and cool colors. Click on the main image to see the other images in the gallery.