Monday, November 07, 2016

Gales of November

Please forgive my long hiatus. I've been dealing with some serious family medical issues that have kept me away for the last month. Frankly, I wasn't motivated to pick up the camera even once in that time, except for my trip up to Wawa but I did keep up with my Facebook friends and enjoyed the pictures and stories, especially those in Algonquin Park. I'm so jealous of all those great moose pictures!

 Fall colours this year are outstanding. I missed it in the Park but came home in time to get some shots here in the Highlands. I used this one as my Facebook header photo:


Try this analogy: JPEG is like going to the store and buying a jar of pasta sauce. You can get it home and add some stuff to it to change it a bit but it's still store bought pasta sauce. RAW is like making it from scratch with tomatoes you lovingly grew yourself and garlic and spices and onions and other ingredients from your own garden. Much more work but if you know what you're doing... it can be much better than the store bought stuff. Using a preset in LR or a plug-in is like looking up a recipe and following it, not using one is like making it the way your mother taught you years ago, a pinch of this, a teaspoon of that, but it has a lot more of "you" in it. Let me add one more thing to the analogy: if you buy a jar of pasta sauce you can prepare it just by tossing it in the microwave. But if you make it from scratch, you need to have a real stove and pots and pans and knives to chop with and a spoon to mix with... in other words if you shoot RAW you need to have the tools – like LR or PS – to make those ingredients into sauce. Make sense?

While chasing fall colours, I ended up at Bob Lake just West of Minden around sunset. I saw this and HAD to stop to take this picture. 

I worked hard for this shot. This is one of those examples of "working the scene" to find the shot that made me stop. I had to climb down to get the proper angle, I tried different positions until I found the perspective I wanted. By the time I was ready to take it, the sun was long gone, but there was enough light left to do a 5-shot HDR burst. The middle shot was 4 seconds @ f/16, ISO 1100, for what it's worth.


The Gales of November workshop on October 20-23 was attended by nine very talented photographers. I had said that I promised them "weather" but didn't specify what kind... it turned out that it was much more benign than I had hoped. No "gales"! 

Group photo courtesy of Jim Camelford. I just did a tiny amount of LR tweaking.Shot with his Olympus E-M1 mirrorless camera. Very tempting... 

My rĂ´le was to facilitate. I chose some venues that had different challenges and tried to ensure that the participants had some knowledge of the techniques needed for each: an easy job because everyone was so experienced! For example we had scheduled a short lecture on using Neutral Density filters and long exposures. Ron (who was leading that one) asked, "who is not familiar with using ND filters?". Everyone said they were, so that was the shortest lecture ever!

I tried to challenge the group by focusing on the concept of pre-visualization. The intent was to highlight a technique that was probably in their toolbox but which can add to the way they approach their photography. I plan to create a mini-workshop on this topic for photographers of all experience levels soon. 

What I found fascinating was how differently everyone approached each venue. For example, there was a tree, reflected in a pool of water (I think in Katherine Cove), and I looked at it and failed to see anything interesting; yet at least four of the participants disagreed and got some outstanding shots. I'm hoping we can put together a slide show presentation of a compilation of their best shots and I'll link to it here. Also in the works is a Blurb book.

I shot a lot of "people" pictures. Sadly, I haven't gotten around to processing them yet, so you'll have to wait to see them. But here's a selection of landscape images I took that weekend. Most of them post-processed in my usual impressionistic style. 

Spectacular Fall colours! I took this shot with my iPhone on the way up. Just off Highway 69, south of the French River. Although it lack some of the quality of a similar shot I took with the D800, I think I like it better! Picture postcard perfect!

I took this shot a few minutes later with the D800. It's rendered using Topaz Impression with my favourite "Impasto" preset. 

Next day, en route between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa. Although the colours aren't as eye-searingly brilliant as those further South, the scenery on the shores of Lake Superior is incredible. I was thinking of renting a cabin up there for the month of October next year, just to explore and photograph this 200 km stretch of highway. Who's with me? 

One of the spots I scouted for the group was this blueberry field on the way to High Falls. I was really taken by the textures in the vegetation. 

We went to the beach on the Michipicoten First Nations Reserve where I did this impression looking out over the Michipicoten Bay. Because it was so calm, I felt the need to add these textures to make it match my vision. I used pre-visualization techniques to compose and render this shot.

This was shot on the last morning as I drove to the Lodge. It's one of my favourite pictures of the trip. I knew it the moment I saw it. This one will be printed for sure! 

Where to stop! It's such a spectacular area. I'm planning to do this again next year, if you want to come along, drop me a line and I'll put you on the list of people I keep in the loop!

To close this blog, here's an image I took in front of the Rock Island Lodge. 

I think it was Jim's idea to drag these Muskoka chairs down to the beach but it was someone ELSE's idea to provide this awesome lighting just after sunrise! Textures added in Impression.

OK, one more! 

Shoreline rocks worn smooth by millions of years of Lake Superior wave action. Pastel colours and textures enhanced in Topaz Impression. It reminds me of a Microsoft screensaver, only better! 

So many others! I've added these and other images on my 500px site (just getting that under way) where they are available for purchase. I'll be updating my RedBubble and Fine Art America portfolios as well. They provide prints and other products at very reasonable prices. 

More to come!

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