Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shooting the Spectacular Shoreline Scenery of Ontario

One of the best things about being an outdoor photographer in Ontario is that there is water just about everywhere. Point your camera in any direction and chances are there is a pond, creek, river, marsh, bay, small lake, big lake or a Great Lake nearby!  It’s a core part of our human biology to be drawn to water, so is it any wonder that we go to the shoreline to play, relax or simply be inspired?

The magic of shorelines has a firm grasp on my brain, to the extent that I spend more time photographing shorelines than any other subject. Seriously, how could I possibly resist with so many great opportunities nearby?!

I’ve travelled all over Ontario with my camera in search of inspiring scenery and there are three locations that make my all-time favourite list because of their utterly awesome, world-class scenery.

Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park claims the top spot, hands down. This park has spectacular shoreline scenery (ancient granite + Lake Superior = wow) and fairly easy access. That’s a winning combination for landscape photography, which is best in the rich light at sunrise and sunset.

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Bruce Peninsula National Park, in my own backyard, claims number two. The rugged cliffs, boulders, caves and overhangs along this stretch of Niagara Escarpment are stunning on their own, but when you add the topaz waters of Georgian Bay to the mix, it’s over the top for scenic photography.

Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney Provincial Park ranks as a close third and has great vistas on both Georgian Bay and the granite-rimmed interior lakes. The classic scene that comes to mind in Killarney is of white pine trees on stark granite over a crystalline lake. That’s a quintessential Canadian landscape to me!

Click here for exciting Ontario Arts in the Wild adventures. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My foray into HDR images - Bruce Peninsula National Park

I'm a luddite when it comes to new digital technologies and I've been particularly slow in adopting HDR as a way to achieve a wide tonal range in my images. Most of the HDRs that I see are grossly over-processed to the point of looking unnatural, so I've steered clear until recently. 

In most cases, I simply prefer to use ND grad filters to bag the photo in-camera rather than rely on post processing (I hate spending more time at my computer). However, there are some situations when this isn't possible, including when the composition is complex and a grad won't fit the scene, or when I'm shooting with an ultra-wide lens that has a curved front element that cannot be easily filtered.

In these situations, I've been relying on HDR lately. I shoot 5 images of the scene bracketed at various exposures (- 0, -1,. -2, +1, +2) and use PhotoMatix Pro software to combine them into single HDR image. It took me a while to get the hang of the adjustments (there are lots of sliders and it's easy to make the image look very fake!) but I'm finally getting ok at it. 

Here are a couple HDR images that I've shot recently in Bruce Peninsula National Park, near my home. Let me know how they look to you.

Thanks and happy shooting!

The Grotto. Techs: Canon 5d mk II, Sigma 12-24mm. 

Halfway Rock. Techs: Canon 1d mk IV, Sigma 12-24mm.