Cameron Ranch on the Carden Alvar

My friend Galina suggested a trip to the Carden Alvar located in the Kawartha Lakes region. It was a great opportunity to photograph one of Ontario’s newest provincial parks. So with my friend Nigel joining us, we all headed up to the Alvar for a day of shooting.

Hoverfly on Chicory Bloom

Hoverfly on Chicory Bloom

Since this new park is quite large we had to choose a specific area to explore so we started our day at Cameron Ranch. With an overcast sky above us to somewhat mute the harsh sunlight we set out on a hike in this beautiful park.

Bee with Crown Vetch flowers

Bee with Crown Vetch flowers

There was so much to see. The Alvar is full of all sorts of wildlife and flowers. I couldn’t get over how much was flourishing here. This bee was busy working away getting the pollen for his hive from some crown vetch.

Old Man's Whiskers

Prairie Smoke Flower

The most interesting flowers that I came across here was the Prairie Smoke flower aka Old Man’s Whiskers. What fun names for such an interesting looking flower. I have never seen anything like it. It was also on of the hardest flowers to photograph because of its wispiness.

Tawny Crescent

Tawny Crescent

Hiking further down the trail I came across this Tawny Crescent butterfly sunbathing on some flowers. I’m surprised I didn’t startle it into flying away but it was nice enough to stay around while I shot some photos.

After spending most of the day at Cameron Ranch we decided to get in one more hike before heading home. Out next stop was place called Prairie Smoke. As we started heading over the clouds broke open and the rain came down. By the time we got over to Prairie Smoke the rain had petered off and we were able to get in our short hike without getting wet. 

Yellow Goatsbeard

Yellow Goatsbeard

It was a quick hike here but I came away with some great photos. My favourite was of the raindrops that had accumulated on this Yellow Goatsbeard. It was a great day here at the Carden Alvar and I look forward to more trips here in the future.

You can find out more about the Carden Alvar here and here.

Some Little Things

The macro lens is my all time favourite lens. That is what I’ve decided today. I’m having so much fun walking around my little piece of the world capturing the little things.

Chicory

Chicory

These Chicory flowers were just hanging out on some cement, which provided a different background compared to normal.

As I continued my walk I happened to stop to take some photos of some flowers and as I raised my head I noticed something orange in front of me.

Skipper

Skipper

This little skipper butterfly was keeping a close eye on me as I took multiple photos. He wasn’t too bothered by my presence for which I am grateful for. I mean, come on, look at this shot. I couldn’t get closer if I wanted to.

And then…

Bee on Thistle

Bee on Thistle 

This bee hovered into view on a nearby clover and decided to dig for some pollen. Apparently I stopped in a prime place for little critters. Talk about lucky.

Afternoon Light

Another glorious late day walk around the neighbourhood with my macro lens. First up is this beautiful Red Clover which you will notice is purple. I’m not sure why its considered a Red Clover. If anyone knows, please feel free to comment below because I have no idea.

Red Clover

I absolutely loved how the light played off these Foxtails. Normally you wouldn’t notice that there is a little pink in its tail but with the slight breeze and the angle of the light it caught it perfectly.

Foxtail Barley

Near the end of my walk I came across Smooth Bromegrass. (Yeah, I had to look that one up. And it took awhile to figure it out. It might not even be right.) The light was dancing amongst the grass as the breeze blew in.

A soft light on Smooth Bromegrass

Absolutely beautiful! That late day light makes the same boring walk extra special.

Creatures of Claireville

Today on my walk at Claireville Conservation Area I noticed a lot of little critters were out and about in the park. Usually I hear the birds but they are not always that keen to show themselves around us humans. Today for some reason they were more than happy to give me a brief view.

Grey Catbird

In one of the ravines I was able to capture this shot of a Catbird before it flew away. Birds are particularly difficult to capture because they rarely sit still unless they are eating at a feeder and even then you have to be quick and anticipate their movements. If you want to practice photographing birds I found it helpful to plant myself near a feeder with the camera on a tripod. Make sure to have a very high shutter speed to capture them as they move about the feeder. 1/500 of a second or faster will usually do the trick.

Chipmunk with leaves

The animals are just as quick as the birds when you want to take their photo but I do find a lot of them will freeze before they run off while others are a little more on the friendlier side. This chipmunk appeared to be gathering some leaves, possibly for its nest. I was lucky that she decided to pose for me a few times before finally running off.

Osprey with Carp

On my walk back to the car I was trying to photograph some Blue Jays high up in a tree when I noticed this osprey with something in his talons. After reviewing the photos I quickly snapped as he flew by, I realized it was a fish! Talk about lucky capture!

A Study in Long Exposure

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve gone out to photograph and today with the sky overcast I thought it would be a good time to head back to 50 Point Pier for some moody photos. I brought along my 10x ND filter to get my experiment on.

ND or neutral density filters are like sunglasses for your camera. The filter can be either screwed on to the front of your lens or it can slide in front of your lens with the help of a filter holder (sold separate from the filter, lens or camera). When placed on the lens it reduces the amount of light getting in to your camera’s sensor. 

Pier without the ND filter

Pier without the ND filter. Shutter speed 1/6th of a second

 There are different densities of filters. Some are only slightly tinted while others are more tinted. The different levels of tints allow you to shoot slower shutter speeds or open your aperture depending on what you are looking to accomplish with your photos.

Why would you want a longer shutter speed? When allowing your shutter to be open longer anything moving in your scene will essentially smooth out as shown in the photograph below.

50 point pier with 10x ND Filter. Shutter speed 87 seconds

You’ll notice in the photo above that the colours are very different from the photo at the very beginning of this post. ND filters are supposed to be a neutral grey colour, however, they usually tend to have a little colour in them. This colour becomes more prominent when shooting a long exposure. You will notice the one I use shifts the colour toward a more purple shade. This is because there is a little purple in the grey tone of my filter. 

50 point pier in Black and White. Shutter speed 15 seconds

One way to get rid of this colour shift is to create beautiful black and white images. Of course, if you are shooting in RAW you will be able to adjust the colour in your post processing to create the look you want.

Photography is all about experimenting and having a little fun. Most people don’t usually have a 10x ND filter but have one of the more common ones like a 3x or 6x. You are the artist so you decide which one works best for you.

Happy Experimenting!

Where Did All The Flowers Go?

How quickly the weekend passes. It’s almost time to go home but before we do we have to hunt down some orchids. I mean, it is one of the main reasons we come up this particular weekend.

Sit for a Spell

Sit for a Spell

Unfortunately high water levels have struck the shorelines of Tobermory this year. Singing Sands beach, where we would find some of our favourite orchids, is water logged.

Instead we choose to hike a section of the Bruce Trail we haven’t tried before in the hopes of finding some flowers hidden among the trees. We lucked out on this decision when we came across trilliums galore in the underbrush.

Trilliums

Trilliums

And just as we thought the trilliums were all we would see, we came across a small bunch of Large Yellow Lady Slippers.

Yellow Lady Slipper

Yellow Lady Slipper

I was so excited to see these little flowers that I couldn’t stop photographing them. They all were still in the early stages of blooming. I’m not sure if that’s because we were further south of Tobermory or at a slightly higher elevation (we were high on the escarpment). Either way I was happy to finally see some orchids this weekend.

Cabot Head Lighthouse with Wolf's Milk flowers

Cabot Head Lighthouse with Wolf’s Milk flowers

We made one final stop after our hike at Cabot Head Lighthouse. This is a favourite spot for some pretty great views of the bay not to mention all the wildflowers that grow here.

Tobermory is one of my favourite places to visit, especially in the spring or fall when less people are visiting. It’s become a popular place in the summer months and who can blame them. It’s one of the prettiest spots around.

Early Mornings and Late Nights

We decided to stay in Lion’s Head rather than in Tobermory this year, just for a change in pace. The decision ended up being a good one since our B&B was so close to a harbour with a picturesque view of sailboats in view of the morning sunrise. We knew we had to get up early to take advantage of this.

Sunrise at Lion's Head

Sunrise at Lion’s Head

The sunrise did not disappoint and neither did the view.

After the sun rose over the marina we headed back to our B&B and dug in to a well deserved breakfast. With our bellies full we were ready to conquer a hike on the Bruce Trail.

Driftwood on the rocky shoreline.

Driftwood on the rocky shoreline.

It turned out to be a great day with clear sunny skies and a bit of breeze as we hiked along with shoreline of Georgian Bay. I made sure to get really low on the shot above to make the driftwood seem much larger than it really was. Changing your point of view can dramatically change your photo results. Give it a try next time you’re out.

Lakeside Daisy

Lakeside Daisy

As we were driving back to the B&B we noticed an area filled with Lakeside daisies, so you know we had to stop and get some photos. Again I decided to get very low for this shot. The daisies are very short at only a couple inches so shooting down on them would not have given me the photo I was looking for.

Back at the B&B we got in a short nap before dinner and then it was time to prepare for a late night shoot. My main goal for this trip was to focus on improving my skills in astrophotography. One of the things I wanted to try was a panoramic to capture the full Milky Way across Little Cove.

Milky Way at Dave's Bay

Milky Way at Dave’s Bay

It looks to me as though I may have captured some northern lights. It was a beautiful Way to end a great day on the shores of Georgian Bay.

It’s That Time Again

It’s June again. “So, what’s so special about June?” you ask. Well…the orchids are back! Every year I make the trek to Tobermory, Ontario to take photographs of a few types of orchids that are usually out in droves. This year with high water levels we were not sure what to expect.

Traverston Mill

Traverston Mill

My friend Nigel has joined me for the journey and as always we decided to take the “long” way. This usually means finding new places to drive through on our way up and not necessarily places that are on the way.

Our first stop is the Traverston Mill, located west of Markdale in the small town of Traverston. The mill was built in 1870 and operated as a gristmill till 1955, it is currently a private residence.

Chantry Island Lighthouse

Chantry Island Lighthouse

After messing around with some infrared photos of the mill we headed north west to the town of Southampton to photograph the Chantry Island Lighthouse. There was a haziness in the air so we didn’t stay long here. When processing the photo I went with a more vintage look to give it a little more character.

River in InfraRed

River in InfraRed

Going off the beaten track we found some little goodies to photograph by the side of the road. One of them was this picturesque scene of a river. I can’t remember where the heck this is but that’s the fun in exploring side roads.

More of Spring

Because I sometimes can’t get away from the house or I just don’t want to, I end up doing lot of neighbourhood photo walks. Which I’m sure you have noticed.

Pheasant's Back mushroom

Pheasant’s Back mushroom

When I’m feeling uninspired I try to get myself out of the house and out into the parks around my home in search of that elusive inspiration or just to clear my head.

Red Tulips

Red Tulips

The parks in my area are essentially wild areas that they’ve decided to call parks with, of course, the occasional playground-type park sprinkled here and there. As you might guess my favourites are these wild areas.

Flower buds

Flower buds

These wild areas are where I find all sorts of things to photograph. Be it the flowers and mushrooms or sometimes people’s cast offs (which you’ve seen in previous posts). There is always something to spark the imagination.

The Garden Gate

The Garden Gate

Even if its not in colour.

Forget Me Nots

Forget Me Nots

What inspires you and helps you get out of a creativity funk?