Surface Hoar Frost

Hexagonal Hoar Frost on Snow

At just the right temperature and humidity levels, frost will form in hexagonal towers. Here’s a more descriptive photo of what this looks like (click on the photo for a larger version). These towers were about 1cm tall.

Hoar frost is a beautiful phenomenon that can cause problems if you’re in the mountains in winter. The hoar frost forms on the snow, and when fresh snow falls on top of it, it forms a weak layer in the snowpack. This can make avalanches a lot more likely.

Taken in Yosemite National Park.

Abstracting II

On a warm idyllic autumn afternoon in a provincial park on the BC coast, I was exploring and taking photos, as I do. The warmth from the sun and the contrasting coolness of the forest was so peaceful. In photographic terms though (as is often the case in life), the details were a problem. There was really high-contrast harsh lighting and because it was pretty late fall, there were brown spots in a lot of the leaves. In this case I made that all go away to communicate a peaceful feeling. By using a wide aperture and purposely mis-focusing, I could communicate what I was actually feeling, instead of focusing on the exact details of the scene.

Below is what the shot would have been if I wanted things in focus – in this case a much worse photo.


I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been looking at photos for so long, but I tend to prefer abstracted photos. They often keep my attention longer.

They add another layer to the meaning of the photo. It’s no longer just the subject, but the subject being affected by or interacting with something. Abstracting can change a normal scene into lines and shapes and colors that interact in a way we wouldn’t normally expect. It takes an expected scene and turns it into a beautiful little mystery.

This is a ochre sea star and an anemone on Vancouver Island. The tide was coming in, and every once in a while a wave would make its way into this tidepool and disturb the water. It caught my eye, and I like the version with ripples a lot more than the one taken with placid water.

Colours to Brighten a Winter Day

150mm, f2.8, 1/640 of a second

There are so many different things to learn and ways to expand photography, art, and paths of thought. My photos tend to be visual and design oriented. I recently started creating some videos and that’s been pushing me to think about story or narrative. This is an area which I think could improve my photography as well.

I received “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell as a Christmas gift, and have started reading it. It’s a really interesting mix of fairly dense academic writing, ridiculous un-academic assertions, and inspiring observations about human experience. I’m not very far in yet, and I’ll update with further observations, but it does prompt me to think differently about art. And I love that.

Quiet Mornings

I got to spend a couple days camping at Davis Lake with a good friend. One morning we woke up in this great thick fog. It was totally silent except for the condensation dripping from the trees onto the fallen maple leaves on the forest floor. Didn’t make for easy campfires, but camping challenges build character.

And the Work Begins

I just got back from hiking around the BC coast for a couple weeks and I’m just starting to go through the images. Since I haven’t shared anything for a while I thought I’d put something up before I’m even done looking at everything. This is from Skookumchuck Narrows on the Sunshine Coast where the tide creates pretty wild rapids once or twice a day. I seem to keep coming back to pictures of flowing water. There’s something about the constant movement within a pattern and the play of light across and through the water that gets me every time.

Anyway, tons of editing to be done, and tons of other work as well. I’ll try to keep some new photos flowing up here though…

Spring – A Great Time to Learn Composition

I’ve been enjoying the warmer weather lately and, despite the lack of ice to photograph, I’ve enjoyed coming up with compositions of what is available. Being able to go out in a t-shirt is just a bonus.

On June 25th from 6:30 – 8:30pm in St. Albert, I’ll be teaching a composition class. This is open to anyone — whether you only use your cell phone or you regularly haul around multiple SLRs. The class will cover a wide variety of techniques for composition and should be enlightening and fun. Although I mostly show nature photography professionally, I’ll have examples of everything from studio sessions and weddings to wildlife and of course lots of nature as well. So if you want a painless way to drastically improve your photos, come join me! You can sign up at St. Albert Photo Classes. You’ll notice I’m also teaching a “Mastering Your SLR” course, which is very helpful for the technical side of photography, but composition is my favorite subject—learning to compose thoughtfully is an easy way for anyone to set their photos apart.

The photo is a grass curl over a burnt log near Landslide Lake in a forest fire affected area.
90mm, f2.5, 1/1000 of a second

Trio In Ice

On my latest trip to the Rockies, Eric and I found some pretty great ice. This is where we found it — under snow.

Ice may not have the same movement as water, but it still causes the light to dance.

Icicles Forming – Low Key Nature Photography

A couple weeks ago I posted a shot of icicles forming against the sky – it was a pretty high key shot (composed mostly of light tones). This last week I went back to the same place and caught the same scene from a different angle with very different lighting. Instead of the icicles being backlit by a bright sky, they were front-lit with a dark overhang behind them. With this contrast in lighting it was fairly easy to get lots of detail in the ice while completely getting rid of the small amount of ambient light behind the waterfall.

300mm, f5.6, 1/800 of a second