fall

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What else could it be? Nature photography. I would hazard a guess that more people consider themselves nature photographers than would classify themselves as any other type of shooter. There’s an unending wealth of opportunities out there for those of us who love to take our cameras into nature in any of its many forms, flora, fauna, landscape vistas, skies, trees, ranges, etc etc. And it’s a constant learning opportunity for the photographer who needs to deal with ever-changing light sources as well as trying to capture that shot that will make people sit up and take notice. It’s extraordinarily difficult to produce something out of the camera that truly reflects the glory of what we’ve seen while out walking, or sailing or climbing, or even from inside our cars as we take yet another magnificent drive through whichever country we happen to be in.

I have to remember that this is a blog post and not an essay; I could ramble on for pages on where I’ve been , where I would love to have gone, where I still plan to go. I’ll keep it short and just add that yesterday I took a walk on the Hockley Valley Trail just north of Toronto. I hadn’t walked here previously, but set off at a reasonably early hour in order to try to get the best light I could. It’s a sacrifice that I was willing to make! At one point on the trail I came across a potential shot that I’ve had on my bucket list for ever – the sunbeam through the trees. As I shot and then moved around the light, more beams and angles came into play. I took a number of shots before I thought I had enough, and then took a few more just in case. When I walked back along the same part of the trail a couple of hours later the beams had completely disappeared. And that is why we go out in the early morning. And yes, I know, the sun is blown out. I said it was a bucket-list shot, not a perfect shot.

Hockley Sunbeam photography

Sunbeams photography

This shot is a more painterly photograph of the fall colours that are now beginning to appear in Southern Ontario. While Algonquin was at its peak this weekend, our neck of the woods is a little more sedate in its rate of change. I expect to head out over the next couple of weekends, weather permitting, but this one was taken at a pond on the Hockley Valley trail. The painterly style isn’t produced by camera movement or any Photoshop filter. It’s the photograph of the reflection of the trees in the water, flipped 180 and then cropped. Easy and real.

Reflections photography

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Joy
I spent some time wondering what to use to illustrate J but couldn’t think of anything that really fitted what this blog is about. Oh yes, there was Jay, as in Blue Jay, a ubiquitous bird in cottage country to the north of us. I’ve many shots of jays sitting on the hard drive, but quite honestly, it didn’t seem to have any ‘wow’ about it. Then this week I spent a couple of days in Algonquin Park. I was there two years ago for the fall colours and missed them by about a week. I still managed to get some reasonable shots but the landscape only hinted at what I could have seen a week before.

Blue Jay

This year I was determined to get up there at the peak time and took a couple of days off work. But, once again it seemed that nature was conspiring against me and the weather report was just lousy. I drove up on Thursday, the 400 and Highway 11 were clear, quick and the sun was out. Oh good, I thought, maybe the forecast is wrong again – wouldn’t be the first time. But as I turned off the 11 on 60, the clouds came in, the light disappeared and drops of rain started to hit the windshield. On Friday morning the weather was worse. Clouds and mist obscured the scenery and dampened the vivid colours so that the whole place looked like a misty, damp English morning.

Then, at 10 o’clock, just as forecast by the Weather network (and how often can you say that?), out came the sun, the wind blew away the clouds and the sun struggled through. The rest of the day was glorious, cool, sunny and perfect for walking some of the many trails Algonquin has to offer.

Towards the end of the day I’d walked a couple of trails and almost packed up to go home but on the way back down the 60 towards Huntsville I decided to stop at the Whiskey Rapids trail. It was a short one, a couple of km, so I could do it before heading back. And how glad I am that I did. It didn’t have the spectacular views of some of the other trails, just meandering past a quiet river (no rapids here, although I think it would be different during the spring melt) and through the most glorious, golden woods where the sun came through the trees, the leaves carpeted the ground and there was hardly a sound to be heard except for the tapping of woodpeckers and the calling of small birds. Absolutely peaceful. If I had only walked that trail that day I would have been happy. This is why I find nature photography so rewarding. It’s more than a technical challenge, it’s a sheer pleasure to create even mediocre images in this environment.

Whiskey Rapids trail

Carpet of leaves

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