Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Fall Colours Weekend

So my house is a disaster zone... I haven't even finished unpacking from my Lake Superior trip (thinking I might be going back), but when I get the urge to sit down and write, that's what I do. The house can wait!
Big mistake. BIG mistake.

The good news is, it could have been worse. Bad enough, though.

I think I have a good workflow. But in this case, I slipped up. Here's what happened. When I went to Lake Superior, I didn't bring my primary external drive (actually, I did: but not to use it, just to take it off-site in case my house burned down while I was gone). Also it's full. So I prepared another drive for use, and created a temporary Lightroom Catalog to use on the road.

I have a rule. Only name a file or a folder "temporary" when you're going to use it immediately. So if you see something with that word in the title, you can safely delete it without giving it a thought. You guessed it.

To avoid turning this into a long boring story (too late!), I intended to import all the images into the main catalog when I got home, which I did, but I missed a step: I copied the images over to the primary drive, all right, but not into my regular hierarchical file, instead they resided in a folder called, "Temporary Wawa trip catalog". Get the idea what I did? Yes, I deleted it to make space on the hard drive.

Costco-bound this weekend. I hope the 4 Tb external drives are on sale, I plan to buy two of them. It's a never-ending cycle. Maybe I will have to break down and split up my archives into multiple pieces instead of all-in-one.

Since I automatically make a second copy of the RAW files (on a different drive: the internal one in the computer) on import to Lightroom, I didn't lose the original images. I also didn't lose the Lightroom edits because they're kept in the Lightroom catalog and I had a backup of that too. What I DID lose were all of the external files, the PSD and TIF files that were created when I went out to Photoshop or a plug-in. In other words, the importantest, bestest pictures from the whole trip. I can recreate them, if I can remember what I did and of course by investing the many hours I spent working on them. Grrr.

Why did I tell you this? Just to make you think so you don't make the same misteak. And because I needed a shoulder to cry on!

Speaking of Lightroom...

Adobe just announced "Major Updates to their entire Lightroom and Photoshop product lines". If you subscribe to the CC versions, they're free. If you own the standalones (LR6 or PS CS6), sorry, you're S.O.L.

I just read the features of the updates here. At first glance, Adobe is expanding the utility of the new De-haze algorithm (in LR, PS and ACR) so that you can use them within local tools like the graduated and radial filters and the adjustment brush (yay! What a great tool dehaze is!).

In PS, they've put a lot of work into 3D and mobile app versions. Neither of which I use right now. But you can bet they streamlined other things and addressed a few bugs.

I'm even more convinced that $10/month is the best deal on the planet.

...AND speaking of Lake Superior

The proposed trip to Wawa, "The Gales of November Come Early", is still up in the air. I need three or four more participants to make this work.

If you can make it, you need to tell me NOW. October 22-25, $375 includes everything except getting there. I sent an invitation out to my mailing list, if you missed it or want the details, email me: I haven't put up a web page on this one. Don't delay.

Herding Cats, or
Fall Colours Weekend

A couple of months ago, I used the expression "herding cats" to describe the virtually hopeless task of keeping a diverse bunch of photographers together. At the time there were 7 of us in Kensington Market. This weekend I had almost 20 of them at half a dozen venues up here! Hopeless!
That said, a few people started responding to me, "Captain, my Captain"... that was cool (I miss Robin Williams!).

I was privileged this weekend, to spend time with both the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club and a group from the Toronto Digital Photography Club. The latter had a weekend retreat at Camp Wanakita and asked me to "guide" them during their visit up here. I chose some venues that I thought they'd enjoy visiting and photographing, did a talk for them on Friday night, and invited them to join the HHCC group on our annual trek to Algonquin Park for the fall colours. About 8 of them did in fact join us!

So doing this chronologically, the Friday night talk was so-so. The weather forecast seemed to indicate that we would get some clear nights so I built a "star shoot" into our agenda. Unfortunately the guy upstairs didn't cooperate – he wanted clouds – but I did do the presentation portion of the stars workshop for them on Friday night.

I tried to compress my all-day workshop into an hour (those who know me know that I didn't make it in an hour! As usual, I talk too much...). In fact, it was good practice for the session I'm supposed to do in Oshawa this winter, and I'll make some necessary changes. I'll have to incorporate more pictures in the presentation, and in different places.

It's a technical topic: "here are all the things you have to think about if you want to shoot stars successfully..." and also due to the late hour, people were somewhat 'itchy' as time went on. I'll fix it for next time.

Saturday, we went to the White Water Preserve, the Hawk Lake Log Chute and Buttermilk Falls. It was a fast water day! A couple of Kayakers graced us with their presence at the whitewater, the forest trails were delightful at the Log Chute, and a couple of animals made it interesting at Buttermilk! We never did get in a group picture (see "Herding Cats", above!) and I wasn't particularly taking pictures, just mentoring and helping as a guide, so I only got a few:

"A roof over my head"! This was at the Log Chute, where they grow their fungi big! And I've always been considered a fun-guy... Just kidding, composite, of course. Genny told me where this mushroom was, coincidentally where Liz Gallo shot some a few years ago when she was blonde! (LOL). The little red leaf was there, I swear I didn't set it up! Genny, you did, right?

At Buttermilk Falls. This Great Blue Heron posed for us endlessly! 

A mink, doing whatever it is that minks do, right at the top of the falls above the dam. Fall Colours in the reflections... 

On Sunday, we went to the Lambs and Ivy antique barn for a change of pace, then over to Wintergreen for lunch, which everyone enjoyed.

At Lambs and Ivy. A four-shot focus stack with the 105 macro lens, then Topaz Impression 

This was actually enroute in the morning. It shows the state of the colours in the region this weekend. Still not at their peak! 

At a display in back of Wintergreen. I love window lighting! 

Monday was Algonquin Park Day. First came dawn at Raven Lake

Not much "dawn"! It even took some processing to see the clouds. Grey day, but that's not bad when you're shooting the colours!

We then went to Marsh Falls on the Oxtongue River. But I'm going to show you that picture at the bottom of this post... After that we went for breakfast, then entered the Park and some of us went up Arowhon Pines Road, one of my favourite spots! OK, it was my idea...

Last year, the colours were yellow and gold. This year, still green. Obviously gorgeous! 

The tour busses have found this road. Don't get me started on how inconsiderate they (or their passengers – every one with an iphone or ipad) are. I had to stand out in the road to prevent them from whipping past us at warp speed, spewing clouds of dust and dirt and threating to mow us down and shave off our car doors. 

We got the grey jays (whiskeyjacks) to come out and play again. Suet is apparently like catnip for them! All of the ones we saw were banded 

After lunch, some of us rounded up the trip with a walk around the Spruce Bog Boardwalk...

As Van Gogh might have painted it 

...and a stop at Killarney Lodge just to shoot their red canoes on the beach.

I was tired. So I sat down and shot this (there was another canoe there, but through the magic of Photoshop... 

Shot of the day

I saved this one for last. It's Marsh Falls, on the Oxtongue River where it meets Highway 35. Jack March, my neighbour and fellow club member, set this up for us, including making little direction signs and putting them up so our people could find the place. When we got there, he was just coming up from the falls, soaking wet. Seems "Marsh Falls" is also "March's Fall"! The rocks were very slippery. He didn't get hurt and he saved his camera, just bruised his ego!

I didn't venture down to the very bottom where he fell. But I did manage to capture this image:

The right shutter speed is essential to capture the essence of a waterfall. For a big expanse like a lake, you need several seconds. For a small trickle, a second or two. For wild water like the kayak spot on the Gull, 1/8 to 1/15 second. Here, I chose 1/4 second, although I shot a variety of speeds just to make sure. I want some texture in my shots, not just a featureless milky white.

In this case I was lucky that I could achieve this speed without stopping the lens all the way down (and introducing diffraction effects, blurring the sharp rocks). It was at the limit, though: 1/4 second at f/16, ISO 50. I could have put the polarizing filter on to bring it down one or more additional stops, or of course my ND3.0 filter which would take it down 10 full stops. I think this is one of my favourite waterfall shots ever. Hope you like it too!
Onward and upward! I suppose I should clean my house now... or I could just pour myself a scotch, put my feet up, and chill. What to do, what to do...

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