It's time to start planning your shooting opportunities this year. There are a couple of excursions or workshops or whatever you want to call them coming up.
Gales of November
This premier event takes place the last weekend of October in the best resort facility on the North Shore of Lake Superior, the Rock Island Lodge in Wawa. It's a 4-day workshop to celebrate the natural resources of the fall scenery on the biggest Great Lake. This year's workshop is being led by celebrated photographer Ben Eby, with my support. One of the best scenic areas in North America, fantastic lodgings and service, great leadership, economical price, what more could you ask? Photographers of all skill levels are welcome. Drop into www.photography.to/gales for more information (although we still need to update the 2018 information) and drop us a note to let us know if you're interested: we'll get you on the mailing list for information (no spam, we promise!).
Summer on the Rock
I'm planning to spend the summer in Newfoundland. I want to rent 2-bedroom accommodations to make it possible for people to visit and spend some time there. All I'm looking for is to share the rental costs. I know a lot of the best shooting locations and events: where to shoot puffins and whales, icebergs and gannets, seascapes and cityscapes.
Arguably the best local Newfoundland photographer Ray Mackey, is on board too, to guide and help photographers. He isn't free, but economical and a very personable and knowledgeable guy.
What I envision is that someone might come to Newfoundland for a couple of weeks, spend a week with me and another week elsewhere. There are several great spots to visit, depending on your preference of subjects.
For what it's worth, my rough plan is to start with a week on Fogo Island, then a month in Twillingate, a week in Bonavista and a month in the Witless Bay area (which is close to St. Johns and from which you can access the entire Avalon peninsula. On the way home, I plan to visit the southwest corner, Port au Port and Codroy before getting on the ferry. End of June through end of August.
I have 3 or 4 interested people so far. My commitment to rent specific places depends on whether people will come visit (if not, I'll just rent one-bedroom places). So I need to hear from you if you're thinking of coming, we can talk about details directly. Please email me.
By the way, I wrote half a dozen blog posts about my trip last summer, starting with this one: http://faczen.blogspot.ca/2017/07/newfoundland-trip-first-days.html. At the bottom of each page on the left, is a link marked "newer post". If you click that, you'll get to the next one. Have a look, lots of pictures and stories there. Worth a visit.
Pictures. More pictures.
Back in December I told you about buying Helicon Focus, a program to facilitate focus stacking multiple images. Mostly used in the macro world, it leads to some remarkably detailed photos. The most spectacular are insects (although snowflakes are very cool too!). There are no insects around yet, and I haven't gotten the hang of snowflakes yet.
But this is a very left-brained technique and it takes practice. So I've been working on it, making some progress. Here are a few shots from the other day. Each one is somewhere between 30 and 70 stacked images. All of these were shot with a Nikkor 105mm macro lens, using a variety of extension tubes.
I lined up a few .410ga shotgun shells in my light tent. Dig the detail!
These are .22 Short cartridges, sitting on top of a boxful of them. Both of these two shots are done with contrasty hard lighting. The cartridges are 16mm long, by the way.
Marie and Simone's Visit
Marie Algieri-Goldgrub and Simone Koffman came to visit for a day and we went to the ice races in Minden.
I shot this with my new 200-400mm lens (at 300mm). This is right after the start flag drops and the cars skitter around like insects on a hot plate.
I switched to my 70-200mm for this shot of a car losing it and crashing into the ice wall. The driver is looking up the track to see if anyone is about to T-bone him.
We moved on to 12-mile lake and the ice huts. We went out on the ice on my ATV (well, Marie walked...) to get a better angle. I'm anxious to see the shots they got!
Me and Simone on the ATV. It wasn't really a cold day — say about -8°C — but with the wind out on the open lake, it was chilly. There's very little snow, it rained last week and washed a lot of it away. Photo by Marie, reproduced with permission.
Here's one of my shots.
Sometimes you put a lot of effort into a picture and it goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Here's a case in point:
This is a 6-image panoramic, 3 across and 2 high. The resulting image was approximately 90 Mp in size and contained a huge amount of detail.
While it's true that one shouldn't judge an image by how it was created or how difficult it was, I did a lot of work to make it look like what I pre-visualized. Here's the original shot, straight out of the camera (but already merged to the pano):
Nothing major wrong with it that a little tweaking wouldn't solve but I decided to put some effort into it. Probably the first thing you'll notice is that there is no green hut in the original, the original is wider, and there's a nondescript wooden hut off to the right. I spent some time carefully moving it where I wanted it and then cropping off the right side and some of the sky. Then I thought, if I have a blue and a red hut, I need a green one, so I changed its colour.
I wanted some texture in the sky and the foreground ice, which I did in Topaz Studio, selecting an HDR-like effect then editing it so it wasn't so strong.
Outing with Larry
Larry called me and said, "let's go looking for Snowy Owls again". This time he wouldn't let me drive (see my last post!). Larry really knows how to find stuff, and he can actually see things!
I took my new 200-400mm f/4 Nikon lens. And my 1.7x teleconverter. Now I have to say, I was looking forward to some exciting sharp images and... disappointment. This is a very difficult lens to use right, especially handheld. After this day, I have to question the use of the teleconverter: it gives you an effective focal length of 650mm. I'm sure with some practice... but for now I'd better save that for when I'm on a tripod, and after some practice.
The first wildlife we spotted were some trumpeter (pretty sure!) swans. Here are a pair of them taking off
|Swans should be soft, right? So I softened this one in post-|
At 400mm, I was able to capture this flying swan. The autofocus is surprisingly quick!
Eventually we found a snowy owl on a fence in a farmyard. After talking with the farmer and getting permission, we cautiously crept in and snuck up on the owl without disturbing her. I have the vision of a moose. Moose can't see stuff that doesn't move and neither can I. The bird is right out there, bright white, and I couldn't find it. Larry had 50 shots before he patiently helped me to locate it. Once he did, it was obvious!
Tell me how I couldn't see this. I had to do a ton of work in post-processing to make this come out sharp.
Kept you waiting!
While we were shooting the snowy owl, a pair of coyotes showed up in the back 40. With a huge amount of post-processing, I was able to come up with this shot.
A beautiful, healthy looking animal. Hunting mice in the field with (presumably) his mate.
After lunch, we came across another coyote. This one, however...
Coyote Ugly. This guy had mange, his whole back end was fur-less. Sad. I imagine surviving the winter will be a challenge. By the way, this shot required far less processing and shows me what this lens is capable of.
Catch you later. And don't forget to email me if you're at all interested in Newfoundland this summer. I'll keep you in the loop.
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