I spotted a pair of snowy owls perched on the hydro lines near Altona, Manitoba on my way to do the prepress work for my Ontario book on Monday morning. The sun had not yet risen and the sky was cloudy so I made a few documentary images of the male and female owls. Later in the day, the clouds cleared and I decided to return to the area after dinner to see if I might spot the owls again. The female snowy owl was nowhere to be seen but the male was perched very near where I first saw it in the morning. I made the first image about 30 minutes before sunset and the second one (bottom) just a few minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon, which imparted a lovely pink/yellow cast to the bird. Both images were made with the new 300mm F4 VR lens coupled with the new 1.4x teleconverter (lll). Along with the new Nikon D7200 DX camera, this combination (630mm) gives me a very sharp, workable, powerful, flexible and affordable handheld system for capturing wildlife.
Many parts of North America and Europe were blessed with a spectacular display of northern lights on Tuesday evening, March 17. I had received a warning around 5 AM but I had a previous engagement at my printer's that day to do prepress work on my 'Ontario' book so I was unable to check it out. All day the storm continued and I managed an hour's sleep after driving back home shortly after dinner. I reached one of my favorite destinations at Birds Hill just as the sky was darkening in the east. Even though the sky was still relatively bright, you could see the auroras dancing here and there and I just knew we were in for a treat. And I was not disappointed! Check out the gallery for more images by clicking on the main image. Enjoy!
February 3, 2015
While working on the Ontario book, I literally viewed thousands of images. Many of these images were stored on hard drives and had yet to be processed. This particular image is one of the many that I had simply forgotten and rediscovered while going through the various folders on my hard drives. I made the initial discovery in the summer of 2011 on 'Lake of Bays' in Muskoka as the warm colored sunlight skimmed above the slow moving blue water just before the sun dipped below the horizon. A lazy summer day!
February 3, 2015
The Ontario book is mostly behind me now. The photographs have been selected, laid out and prepared. All the text has been written and now I wait for the call to drive to Altona, MB to do the prepress work to make sure that the images print as close as possible to what I have envisioned. Once we receive the proofs and check them over, I will return to Altona to print the book. Press checks are always a little stressful because that is when you see the final product on paper (signatures) before the book is actually assembled. About a week later the book should arrive in Winnipeg at which point the distribution to book stores and boutiques begins. Marketing has already started but will jump into 'high gear' once the book is printed. We will start with book launches in Winnipeg followed by a book tour to various cities throughout Ontario. Producing books is a lot of work; I guess that's partly why a book is called a 'labour of love'!
My publisher Turnstone Press has planned a book launch at McNally Booksellers in Winnipeg for April 9. More info about book launches coming soon.
February 2, 2015
January ended with a blast of cold and surprisingly beautiful sundogs and a halo.
I happened to look out my window early Saturday morning while managing my email messages and noticed that sundogs were accompanying the rising sun. I didn't think much about the weather and within a few minutes, I was driving out of Winnipeg. Within 5 minutes, I made my first stop on the TransCanada Highway east of Winnipeg and soon realized that it was bitterly cold. At -30 degrees Celsius and with a good wind to boot, it was closer to -40 degrees Celsius. One could barely stay out for a few minutes at a time. I must have stayed out there longer than I should have because my daughter noticed 'splotchy skin' on my face, an indication that I had suffered mild frost bite - the price nature photographers often pay for their craft and art!
A sundog (parhelion) is an atmospheric phenomenon that consists of a pair of bright spots on either side on the sun, often co-occurring with a luminous ring known as a 22° halo. In the last two images, such a halo surrounds the sun. Sun dogs occur when plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals from very cold weather or from high and cold cirrus clouds refract light. The crystals, which act as prisms, bend the light rays at a minimum of 22°. A halo (complete ring around the sun) occurs if the ice crystals are randomly oriented. However, if the crystals sink through the air and become vertically aligned, the sunlight is refracted horizontally, resulting in sundogs.
I made the following images with a 17-35mm lens set to its widest focal length except for the last image where I used a 24mm PC or tilt/shift lens. Both lens were fitted with a polarizing filter to increase the contrast and saturate the colors. All images, except for the first one, were made near Lorette, Manitoba.