Killarney Winter

Killarney Winter

Killarney Provincial Park is located near the northern tip of Georgian Bay, Ontario.

Killarney is beautiful and popular.

I wanted to experience silence in Killarney to get a real feeling for the place. So I went in winter and I went alone. My skis, my camera, and I.

I found the park just as the doctor ordered: closed and deserted. I camped out in the parking lot and had an early start the next day on a beautiful clear morning. A few days earlier there had been a huge volcanic eruption (Mount Pinotubo) in Indonesia. Volcanic ash had spread around the world. The sky had a coppery red glow that day. It was eerie but added to my sense of adventure.

The skiing was incredible. The ice had a thin layer of old snow on it and it was perfect for freestyle skating. This was early digital age so I still carried my trusted old Mamiya RZ 67.

This image was taken around 9 am. along the shoreline of George Lake. I only got about three good images that day but the mental image of skate-skiing all around Killarney on a copper-sky day is burned in my memory like the best image I’ve ever taken.

Autumn Along the Humber River

Autumn Along the Humber River

The Humber River is in Toronto’s west end. The river with its wide flood plain creates a nice recreational ravine, used extensively by cyclists, pedestrians, picnic-ers and in-line skaters.

Autumn, like autumn in most parts of Ontario, is very pretty here. Not far from my house there is an area with bushes – which I have yet to identify – which turn a vivid magenta in autumn. The bushes are surrounded by black cherry trees.

This image shows these bushes. A Fractalius filter has been applied partially (the filtered version and the original version are blended together) to give this image a slightly soft and impressionistic look.

Autumn Magic

Autumn Magic

This image was captured on a hike in the Rocky Mountains a couple of years ago.

One thing nature photography has taught me is that clashing colours are very rare in nature no matter how vivid they are.

I can recall only two nature images I have taken – out of thousands – where I perceived a colour mismatch that was disturbing.

Another hint proving that nature is the ultimate art teacher.

Close-ups 2

Close-ups 2

Canada’s red maple has gorgeous maple keys which occasionally get knocked off prematurely by spring storms. This bunch landed in a shallow puddle on the forest floor.

This image is somewhat controversial. It stirred up debate. Most people love it, a few people hate it.

Images rarely appeal to everyone. We all seem to have our biases regarding issues in images which make us like or dislike them.

It may surprise you but some of this may actually be genetic, determined by our evolutionary history. Some is emotional baggage we carry with us. Some folks may be reminded of death or drowning by this image. Some see the distinct ‘bloody’ veins in the maple keys as representing meat. This may be hard to ‘swallow’ if you’re a vegetarian.

The composition is also difficult to figure out. Is there clear direction for the eye? Is there tonal balance? Is there some confusion here?

Whatever it is, I think there is tension in this composition and some people dislike certain elements of the image.

The tension and the distress are a bit like a scandal for a celebrity. It gives a celebrity more press coverage. Images get more interest and attention. Tension in an image can be ‘sexy’!

I’m not sure about you, but I like ‘sexy’ and this image is one of my favourites.

Georgian Bay 2

Georgian Bay 2

This image was taken on the same island where my Nov. 13 post was taken (entitled Georgian Bay).

It is on a small island in Georgian Bay, Ontario and it is covered with orange lichen.

Fortunately there had been plenty of rain to fill the ponds on top of the island.

The reflection of the blue sky in a pond is best at a very low camera angle. I found that out some time ago but I had never been able to figure out how to achieve it.

I could have inverted the center post of the tripod (camera would be upside down) but I also needed to use a right-angle viewfinder AND read the information in the viewfinder AND my head was too big (too swollen?). It was hitting the center post.

It all seemed too complicated so I prepared for this scenario during the previous winter, making a small wooden platform, just large enough to support the camera.

Three sturdy screws served like tripod legs and allowed for level adjustment. I now could shoot comfortably at f22 with the camera just inches above the waterline.

And look at what I captured: it’s a rock-eat-rock world out there…



This is an image of lichen growing on black granite along the coast of Georgian Bay, Ontario. The subject is about 10 cm (4 inches) wide.

The composition is simple and straightforward. The top line of lichen stops but continues as an implied line towards the right edge of the image and balances the bottom line. The image is rather unusual which helps it.

I’ll touch on some of the issues specific to shooting close-ups.

The equipment used for close-ups is a bit different in that we need a really good tripod. We also need special macro lenses to get close to our subject and to allow sharp images to be taken at close range down to 1:1 magnification.

I use Canon’s 100mm and 180mm macro lenses. The tripod should allow removal of the center post and the three legs should be able to do a 180 degrees 3-way ‘split’. I use a Linhof ball joint.

The 180mm macro lens is typically more used for selective focus macro, often in combination with a right angle viewfinder. The reason is that the depth of field of the longer macro is very shallow which is perfect for selective focus.

This particular image was taken with the 180mm out of necessity: I conserved on weight and did not carry the 100 macro.

**Now, for those interested, the really technical details follow.

I was shooting straight down. I made sure the focal plane was parallel to the surface of the rock.

As explained above, I used the 180mm Canon Macro. The camera was set on aperture-preferred automatic exposure.

Because the background was very dark, I under-exposed (using “exposure compensation”) by one stop. I covered (without touching) the viewfinder with my hand because, in this position, light entering the viewfinder can fool your light meter.

I stopped down to f-22. The shutter speed was a long 1/5th of a second so I used mirror lock-up to minimize camera shake. And of course I used a remote switch.

Finally, I waited until the wind died down. (If available, the 100mm Macro would have been less wind-sensitive.)

I generally do not use flash however, here, its use would have been appropriate.

There was no sun, so there was no need for my (white umbrella) shade.

“Auto White Balance” is always on.

ISO: the L setting, which is the finest. I shoot Raw and Medium JPEG combined.