Monday, October 03, 2011

Algonquin Park Excursion

I joined about 30 photographers in a Richmond Hill Camera Club excursion to Algonquin Park. First of all, thanks to Larry Rezka and B.Dass for putting it together — these things are a lot of work and it often goes unappreciated. I enjoyed everyone's company, especially  Liz (who stayed at my place and is an awesome cook!) and Ron, whose insights and humour are infectious.

The excursion itself was marred only by Mother Nature's lack of cooperation... to a certain extent. Saturday was actually too bright and sunny, and Sunday brought a balanced cloudy/sunny sky, but no really nice dawn (for which I got out of bed at 5:00 am!). The leaf colours were not there yet. There were some, and although it appeared that they hadn't peaked yet, there were some areas where we could see bare trees. Perhaps the lack of bright reds was because all those leaves were already down! Oh well, more to come up here, that's why I live in the Highlands!

I didn't actually shoot any colours. I focused on two things: moving water, using my new Neutral Density filter, and on some texture shots. I was somewhat disappointed in my efforts, but it was a good practice run for the Gales of November excursion coming up in a month. More to say about the ND filter on my Technical Blog. It really doesn't fix sunny/shade scenes... and I learned more about composition this weekend.

Here are a couple of ND shots:

This is the top of Ragged Falls which is technically not in Algonquin Park, but just outside it. It's a 30 second exposure taken with the ND filter, but I had to enhance it with Topaz to make it look half decent.

The main portion of the falls. It's hard to get this perspective: you have to get over the fence and near to the edge to shoot it. FWIW, my tripod feet are just outside the bottom edge of the picture, just a couple of inches from the edge. Processed almost the same way as the previous image. It was hard to think of different ways to shoot these falls. Perhaps on another day.

 I did what I call "Texture Shots" at the old Logging Museum. Here are a few:

Logs hand split and hewn for making a log house. These are done the old way, as it was 100 years ago. A typical structure is in the background.

This was the door handle on a log cabin purportedly from the turn of the last century. You can see the hand work on the lower wood block and tool marks on the door planks. I find it amazing that smooth planks can be turned out using primitive tools. There's a hand built house in the Bancroft area that I'm hoping to get permission to shoot, much more awesome than this.
The handle, however, is screwed onto the door with a Phillips head screw which wasn't invented until the late 1930's...

Ship's wheel. This was in the wheelhouse of a boat used for logging 100 years ago. I loved the textures, and the patina on the wood. This is cropped out of a shot of the whole wheel which I like too, but I wanted to zoom in and show just this portion.

We stopped twice at the same spot. A small turnout on Smoke Lake, just off Highway 60. I was taken with the textures of the trees and roots and rocks. The second time we were there was at Dawn on Sunday (we couldn't find the rest of the group). Here are two similar dawn photos (I couldn't decide which one I liked better!).

5-shot HDR's processed using Photomatix Pro and tweaked with various other pieces of software and plug-ins in Photoshop.

One annoyance that I will share here, in the hope that you do not see yourself here and if you do, you'll take steps to correct it. I was setting up to take these shots, or similar ones a few minutes later and a van pulled up in the little turnout. About 5 people piled out of the van, cameras in hand, to take pictures here. I will NOT share their ethnicity, I'll leave it up to your imagination. The spit of land I was photographing was probably 10 or 12 feet wide, there's nothing but water off to the right in the above picture. They jostled past me, I had to protect my tripod to prevent it from getting knocked over, and proceeded to walk out on the rocks beyond the trees, sit down and take pictures, without a single word of excuse or apology, or any thought of asking me if I was done and if they would be interfering with my shot. By the way, the exact same thing happened the first time we stopped there, and I had to yell at the guy to stay out of my shot when he blithely walked in front of my camera. I found these people to be extraordinarily rude and self-centred. I packed up my camera and we left. Think about it next time you shoot where there are a bunch of other photographers.

The best spot on the excursion, in my opinion, was Ragged Falls. I'll be visiting back there again more than once, possibly in winter too: I'd like to see what it looks like with snow all around. It will be a challenge getting to the same vantage point, though.

Back soon!

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