The October 16th Mastering Your SLR class is filling up fast, but there are still a few spots left!
For those of you wondering what I’ve been up to: the last couple of months I’ve been honing my leadership, teaching, and outdoor skills. It’s been a challenging and interesting journey that’s taken me down a few rivers, up into the mountains, and even inside a classroom. It has filled up most of my days, and I’ve missed time for focusing on my photography and posting updates here. I hope I get a chance to write down some of the stories and share some of the photos here soon.
Photo taken in the White Goat Wilderness Area
12mm, f10, 1/400 of a second
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.
In a lot of ways these photos could not be more different. The top one was taken at Beaverhill Lake, which at this point is a big marshy field in the prairies. The bottom was taken near the Saskatchewan Glacier in the mountains. The top was taken in spring, the bottom one in fall. The top is macro, the bottom is a landscape.
But when I was developing the top one today, my mind immediately went to this bottom photo that I took four years ago. The tones of the images help to group them, but what really strikes me is the similarity of composition. Both are triangles with the base at the bottom of the photo. They both have interesting lines thrusting up at angles through the frame.
When I’m composing an image, I don’t often consciously think about what to call a composition or what photo it will be like. I’m usually trying to balance the elements in the frame once an interesting line catches my eye. After the fact, when I’m looking through my images though, I start to notice themes. In some ways I like this — consistency is good. But I also don’t want to overuse themes and become boring. It’s a constant struggle of evaluation, and I probably overthink it. But it’s something I’ve noticed and thought was kind of interesting.
The ridge around those spruce trees is called a “lateral moraine” and was left behind by the Athabasca Glacier as it receded. I took this photo at the Columbia Ice Fields on a dark and cloudy day. I get the sense that this moraine is protecting the trees — like they’re sitting safe in their own fortress. And then I notice the mountain behind, which, by it’s comparative mass, renders the trees and moraine almost insignificant.
If you’re not interested in lenses, feel free to ignore the next bit. The photo is taken with the Panasonic 100-300 lens on my Olympus OM-D. When I got this lens, I was worried about it not being very sharp. I have looked up many reviews, but a lot of the photos in the reviews had shutter speeds under 1/1000 of a second with image stabilization turned on. It seems to me that this comments on the effectiveness of the IS, but says nothing about how sharp the lens is. Even using the lens on a tripod I find to be questionable because the center of balance is far infront of the tripod. So I ordered a lens collar with a tripod foot from Rudolf Rösch Feinmechanik. It didn’t get here in time for my trip to the mountains, so I don’t have a definitive review on the sharpness of the lens, but my initial impressions are that, while not being razor sharp, it is fairly good. The lens collar itself is beautiful — I’m thoroughly impressed. I will be using it a lot in the next while, and I’ll report back on its effectiveness.
1/4000 of a second, f7.1, 140mm
Last weekend Anna and I finally got a chance to get out to the mountains, and it was a trip for trying new things. For the first time ever we tried snowshoeing together, cross-country skiing together, and winter camping. I was also giving my Olympus OM-D a torture test to see how much it could replace my Canon 5D kit for hiking.
Snowshoeing works great and is my new favorite way of getting around in winter. It lets me get wherever I want in any conditions with my hands free for photography, which is perfect for me. Skiing was a lot more fun as an activity, but I found it quite hard to mix with photography. Winter camping actually worked a lot better than expected and we slept cosily through the whole night!
I’ll post a review of my little OM-D in a bit, for now I’ll just start posting pictures from it. This photo is from Panther Falls — icicles forming against an overcast sky. I’m looking forward to printing this pretty large — the details in the ice are fantastic!
f7.1, 1/1600 of a second, 100mm
(I’ll be stating actual focal length here, not equivalent – more on this in my OM-D review)
Mountains, forests, lakes and oceans — these are the classic beautiful landscapes. Add a sunrise or sunset and you’ve got a good chance at a first rate photo. But where is the love for swamps? Or maybe “marshes” would be a more palatable word? They do have mud, insects, unexpected puddles and chest-high grasses, but they’re so full of mystery and character that their trials only strengthen their appeal.
This is a marsh near the North Thompson River, early in the morning before the sun rose. The air was still and the fog muffled the faint sounds of the world waking. I hope you can almost feel the damp, cool air on your skin and hear the heavy silence of the morning.
150mm, f6.3, 1/320 of a second
My trip to BC was a glorious success — I survived, the car mostly survived, and I had a blast. It started out with a four day road trip, riddled with stops and hikes at random places. Then I got to go camping for a couple days with a good friend, and I ended it off with a couple days driving to get back. I mostly slept in the car, which was pretty comfortable until my sleeping mat decided to deflate.
I have a bunch photos to post over the next couple weeks, but I thought this was an appropriate start.
My friend Will swimming in a cold lake in the mountains in BC.
Normally I don’t take photos of people. I make two exceptions: when I take photos at weddings (only as a second photographer, talk to Curtis if you want a wedding photographer), and this.
In the mountains (especially in spring) the scale and violence of the flowing water is incredible. The power of the water is hard to communicate without the thundering you can feel down to your bones, but the acrobatics it performs while tumbling down are fun to capture. The blue-green color of the water comes from rock flour — small particles of rock suspended in the water from glaciers.
Taken at Mistaya Canyon in Banff National Park.
If you go to the Elm Cafe (on 117 Street just north of Jasper Ave) in the next couple weeks, you’ll be able to enjoy a few of my photos! And you’ll get to enjoy their awesome coffee!
And, as always, you can see my art at The Daffodil Gallery (on 124 Street at 104 Ave).
After a great camping trip in the mountains, I’m back with lots of photos to share. Turns out that with the heavy snowfall this year, we were a couple weeks too early to do a bunch of the hikes we wanted to, but it was a great trip anyway. Apparently I’m starting to become a bit of a birder, but I’m not quite sure how that mixes with my photography yet. I really enjoy being aware of what’s going on around me and knowing what all the sounds are — it makes me feel just a little more connected and less like an outsider when I’m “alone” in the woods. Maybe one of these days, if people are interested, I’ll post some of my bird photos that I took mostly for identification (being a photographer and not a real birder, I have a fairly long lens, but no binoculars). But for now I’ll be posting photos I’m happy with for their aesthetic qualities.
Taken near Sofa Mountain, in Waterton National Park.
For the next couple of days I’ll be finding some new photos in the mountains. I’m pretty excited – I got some new crampons with a MEC giftcard I got from Uncle Jack for Christmas, so I should be coming back with ice photos of one sort or another. I’ve never used crampons before, and I don’t have an ice axe, so don’t expect anything too extreme, but I’m slowly expanding the places I can get to and photograph.
I’ve scheduled this to post automatically for today, and another for tomorrow, so for those of you who look forward to your daily fix – never fear.
Frost on spruce branches by Cave and Basin in Banff.