Monday, May 01, 2017

It's Spring. But not everywhere...

I was in Toronto the other day. What a difference from here! Apple and cherry trees are masses of flowers, people's gardens are blooming, grass is green. Here in the Highlands, not so much. In fact that's an understatement. Some green shoots here and there, the forest floor is still covered with dead leaves. The ATV trail I like to ride is blocked with a fallen tree (Jack, if you're reading this... chainsaw & winches. Call me)

That said, the trilliums at the Wild Water Preserve are coming out. There are actually flowers in some of the sunnier spots.

This is a focus stack of about 8 or 9 images. In theory you can control the background better this way. I also did a single shot at f/22 just for comparison:

not much difference in this case. Slightly different treatment and some extra Clarity added in this one. 

I used one of the DaVinci presets in Impression as a basis for this sketch, then added some colour back in. This is another focus stack. 

It was a nice day Saturday. When I went to the landfill, I decided to get some practice shooting birds on the wing: what better location? Hundreds of gulls and crows and turkey vultures to shoot. I concluded that the Tamron lens is too slow autofocusing: you needed a few seconds for the lens to lock in and if it lost focus, sometimes it wouldn't get it back. Still...

A face only a mother could love. But the Turkey Vulture is majestic in flight.  

Not my favourite bird but again I was practicing and using the Tamron at 600mm handheld. Sometimes you get lucky — I have to turn that into more of a regular occurrence.  

I need a lot more practice before Newfoundland!

Speaking of Newfoundland

All booked! Things could change but my itinerary looks something like this:

I'm planning to take 3 days to drive out, including a loop around Cape Breton. The ferry leaves at midnight on the 27th, arriving early in the morning. It's a long drive the next day to Twillingate. I'll spend a week in each of three locations, and I left a few days at the end to go to the Cape St. Mary bird sanctuary. The ferry from Argentia is expensive but it would save me a couple of days and about 1500 km of driving.

I'm skipping two places I really should visit: the Gros Morne national park (it's halfway up the west coast) and L'anse aux Meadows which is the very Northern tip. The former because I've been there, I'm not a hiker, and it messes up the schedule and the latter because it's FAR. 700km up the coast (and another 700km back). I do want to go to Fogo Island (been there too) but if I do it'll be a day trip out of Twillingate. And a must-see is the Puffin colony at Bonavista.

The places I'm staying are all cottages or efficiencies because I really don't want to eat in restaurants all the time.

I'm working on a shot list. I plan to make the record of this trip into a story. I came across a new piece of software called Adobe Spark which looks promising to create such a record. More on this later.


As promised, I'm holding it down to a few. Only my better images should be here, I think. I still have to work up a portfolio... not enough hours in a day!

'Tis the season to go to Carden Plain (or as I've been told, to call it "Carden Alvar". When I remember...). I'm there at least once a week. So far not all the birds are back, but here are a few shots I'm proud of:

I shot this at the 'blind' of course. Not an unusual or particularly difficult bird to shoot but I like the pose and I absolutely NAILED the sharpness and focus! 

This is a "lifer" for me (non-birders — it means I've never seen one before). I decided to try the Seven Styles Watercolor action on this one and I like the effect! I can't claim to have found him: Bruce Carmody, whom I ran into at Carden ALVAR, spotted it. I'm really not very good at seeing things... 

It's all about the light, isn't it? You know it, I know it... how come I don't remember that more often? 

... and finally, my "parting shot"

I've been wanting to shoot a composite that includes the Milky Way arch. So it was frustrating to see cloudy skies every night. On Saturday, the skies cleared but I knew clouds were coming in. So I went out to my usual spot only to discover no Milky Way (covered by clouds or I don't know where to look). But I had set up to shoot composite pano's so I did one: a full 360° in fact. This is part of it, a 5-shot merge — the actual file is over 70Mp! I did not replace the sky or foreground, it's 5 portrait-orientation images 15° apart merged together. I took my time and edited this the best I could. Smooth tones, one of the best landscapes I've done suitable for large scale printing. 

Again, the intent of this shot was practice for Newfoundland. I want to do night and dusk shots like this of the landscapes and seascapes.

Time to go: painting class in half an hour! 'Til next time.

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