Monthly Archives: January 2012

Photo of the Week – Who You Lookin’ At?!

I spent a few hours this morning photography the birds and squirrels in our front yard. The Red Squirrels are particularly entertaining. I love that they are all attitude. They don’t tolerate anyone messing with their stash of sunflower seeds, even me!

Click on the thumbnail below to see the 44th Parallel Photography Photo of the Week. Enjoy!


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Filed under nature photography

And now…. time for something green

So here we are, in the depths of winter. I had to work from home today due to the ice pellets, freezing rain, rain and snow we’ve had in the last 18 hours. Yup, we pretty much got it all! At least it’s snowing right now, which for me, sure beats winter rain. I personally love winter. Yes, I receive a lot of hate mail and snide comments when I make that statement. Not all of my friends, family and colleagues share my ¬†love and enthusiasm for winter. But to each, his own….

For those of you that don’t enjoy winter or just find it long and are longing for spring, when everything is vibrant green, here is an image for you. A little something to keep you hopeful that yes, winter will end and spring will come again. In the not too distant future, we will again be surrounded by the lushness of spring. In the meantime, enjoy this image. It is an image of Horestail and grasses, that grow together on the edge of my lawn. I took this with my Nikon 105 mm lens. A beautiful lens. Crisp, clear and a joy to work with. For this image, I got down low and focused on part of the Horestail, pushing my lens right up to the grasses. This, and a shallow depth of field, create a soft, dreamy look.

I hope it makes you think of springtime, which really isn’t all that far away. The songbirds start to migrate back in March and well, we’re on the cusp of February already.

In the meantime, I hope you get out to do some winter photography. Get out late in the day when the light is cool, casting blue and purple shadows on the white snow. To me, that is magical lighting and definitely the time to get out your camera.

Horsetail and grasses, shot with a Nikon 105 mm lens. The shallow depth of field and being in very close to the subject create an ethereal, almost dreamy feel to the image.

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Filed under Creative Photography, Wildflowers

Photo of the Week – Snow Squall

Here’s the Photo of the Week. A day later, but better late than never! ūüôā

Click on the thumbnail below to see the Photo of the Week on my 44th Parallel Photography website.


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Conservation & Environment

When I redesigned and launched my website last year, my intention was to use it, at least in part, as a means of communicating my interests and concerns about conservation and environmental issues. ¬†As you’ll know from my website, I consider myself a fine art nature, conservation and environmental photography. This is ever evolving. I wish it were my full time life’s work, but it isn’t currently. One day…. and hopefully not too far into the future.

In the meantime, I use what ‘spare’ time I have to focus on developing my photography and writing for the purposes of informing and educating people about the natural world around them – about the wonderful nature that surround us as well as the things that threaten it. My hope is that maybe, just maybe, one day, my work would have impact and would make people think about the environment. Think about the legacy we will leave for future generations. Think about what we have lost already and how to put as stop to it, or at least slow it down. To think that becoming wealthier should not be our only goal in life. Economic prosperity comes at a cost. We need to find a way to balance that want for wealth with the need to preserve our environment. My hope is that my photos and writing make people think about these issues, make them ‘real’ and not just something we hear about on the news, happening in some other country.

As a growing proportion of the population of developed nations live in cities and those cities get bigger and bigger, fewer people – especially young people – have a connection with nature. How do people understand the value of nature – natural environments, species, and biodiversity in general – if they are so disconnected from it? Does the term ecosystem services mean anything to a kid from inner city Toronto? If not, why? And why should we be so concerned about this? What can we do about it?


Today, is the first post in a new series on my blog called, Conservation & Environment. Like my Photo of the Week, the title of my post will tell you that it is not only about photography. I’ve decided to host this series on my ‘photography blog’ rather than on my website because I think blogs are such an elegant way of communicating. Please continue to visit my website. I’ll be updating galleries and producing material for you to download. But my ¬†main messages will be posted here.

I thought that there was no better way to begin my Conservation & Environment series than by showcasing some of the work by Joel Sartore. Joel is a National Geographic photographer who is passionate about nature and conservation. That’s obvious in the work he does and the way he does it. He’s an extraordinary photographer with a vision different from most. To me, his passion for the natural world is communicated in his images and in the projects that he takes on. He is a wonderful spokesman for conservation and a legend in the field of conservation photography. His work is both impressive and inspiring. He’s the kind of person that I look to and say, “Wow, when I grow up, I’d like to be just like him.” Given that I’m still in the process of growing up (at the young age of 46), there’s hope! ¬†He’s the kind of person I would just love to sit with, in my screened in porch, and talk photography, conservation and adventure, over a beer or three. The world needs more people like Joel.

In 2010, Joel produced a series of photographs and a book called, Rare: portraits of America’s endangered species. He made portraits of endangered species of the Americas. His portraits are both photographically¬†stunning, but also poignant, in telling the story of decline in these species. He is also working on a project called, The Biodiversity Project, in which he is photographing portraits of some of the earth’s most endangered species.

I hope you’ll visit Joel’s website to see his images and the great work that he does. And be sure to check out his videos too.¬†They are well worth watching!



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Filed under Conservation & Environment, nature photography

Photo of the Week – Winter in Black and White

Finally, we got snow! And so today Ray and I donned snowshoes and went out for a walk in our forest. And of course, my camera came with me. A great outing and some fun playing with snow scenes in black and white. Check it out by clicking on the thumbnail below.

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Photo of the Week

Happy New Year! I hope you have had a great Christmas holiday and are already experiencing the fun adventures that 2012 holds for you. To start off the New Year, here is a new Photo of the Week. Click on the thumbnail below to see and read about the it on my website.

Cheers and all the best,


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The First Dusting of Snow: an experiment in HDR panorama

In late November we had an early snowfall. It was light, but enough to coat the trees, which looked like they’d be dusted with icing sugar. When I woke up in the morning, I was greeted by this beautiful, serene view of our pond – our ‘backyard’. There was barely a breath of wind and the faintest of ripples on the far side of the pond. It was calm and quiet where I stood. So quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. I love these kinds of days. Even the birds are quiet. It’s like¬†the animals of the forest are afraid to break the delicate silence. It’s hard to put into words the serenity and peacefulness of a day like this. As I stood by the pond taking in the scene, it was as if time stood still. I thought about nothing but the feeling around me. Thoughts of work, pressing tasks, and anything else were completely absent. It was just one of those rare moments where I am able to utterly and completely tune out everything around me except the scene in front of me. It’s like nothing behind me existed; my entire world, for that moment, lay immediately in front of my eyes. I cherish these moments. These days, with life so busy and complicated, moments¬†like this seem to happen so infrequently. But when they happen, I am happy to ignore everything else and just drink in the moment.¬†


This image is a composite. It’s an HDR (high dynamic range) image. And it’s a panorama. Twenty separate images went into making this one image. I captured this scene in four sections. My camera was on a tripod. I carefully rotated my camera slightly to the right each time, ensuring I overlapped at least one third of the scene with each section. To capture the dynamic range of the scene, I also took 5 exposures for each of the 4 sections. The tool I used to create the four separate HDR images was Photomatix Pro. I love this software. It’s easy to use, but also easy to manipulate to create more realistic images rather than the cartoonish, ‘other world’ looking images that were initially the result of HDR. Once I had my four HDR images, I then stitched them together using Photoshop CS4. CS4 does a very decent job of stitching. Of course, I did have to crop the image, but very little was lost from around the edges. The only other manipulations I did were to remove some spots created by dirt on my sensor (time to sensor clean again…), slightly tweak the vibrance and clarity and I used Nik’s Viveza software to darken parts of the sky. I decided not to create an overly dramatic sky. I left it entirely natural. Too much drama in the sky would contradict the serene mood that the rest of the image communicates.

I haven’t done many HDR images or panoramas. I haven’t really had much interest until lately. So now I’m beginning to experiment. But I like what I created with this landscape. Perhaps I like it more than most people will because it is a deeply personal image. When I look at it, I can still ‘feel’ the mood of the moment. It’s like I’m right back there, standing at the edge of our pond, soaking in the peace and serenity. I know that you will not have that same emotional experience, but I hope that I am able, with this image, to communicate at least some of the emotion I felt while standing quietly at the pond edge.

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Filed under Landscape, Uncategorized

Creative Winter Photography (and an adventure!)

Today, finally, I got outside with my camera. The holidays have been busy and I haven’t had much time for R ‘n R, which for me means, getting outside with my camera. The plan was to go for a short drive, maybe an hour. Just around the back roads here. Looking for hawks and owls that are often perched on fence posts this time of year. Or maybe some nice snowy landscapes.


Well, in the end, I did manage to shoot a few snowy landscapes and make some interesting images. But there was considerable adventure had in getting them. The short story is that shortly after taking off, it started to snow. No big deal. It wasn’t bad. I had 4 WD if needed. I was going to be gone long. Drove around and found some nice scenes. Made a few images. But then the blizzard really started. Visibility really low, which actually makes for great photography!


I decided to head back home as I didn’t want my hubby to worry. But I had my cell phone in the car, as I always do. Coming back home, I took one of the really small back roads that leads to the road we live on. This road is winds its way through a forest. There are not many houses on the road, which I think is great. It’s secluded and pretty.

I came to a beaver pond with grey, dead tree trunks poking out from amongst the the brown cattails. Ooh, photo possibilities here. I pulled over to the side of the road, but decided to keep the car running since this was going to be a quick snap and I’d be off again. At this point the snow was ¬†coming down in big, fluffy flakes, but the wind was driving it diagonally. Nice!


I got out of the car, closed the door behind me. The car was still running. Normally I don’t do this. I usually turn off the ignition and bring the keys with me. Not this time. Doesn’t matter anyway since if the keys are in the ignition, the doors can’t auto-lock.

Well, I discovered today that electrical glitches mean that your doors can auto-lock while the car is still running. And that’s exactly what happened! So here I was, locked outside my car, in a blizzard, on a quiet, little-travelled road, with few houses on it. My first thought was to grab a rock and break a window. But the cost of the repair bill would mean no money for photography equipment, so I nixed that idea! Option 2 was to start walking and find a house where I could phone my hubby and have him bring the spare car keys. Luckily, home was only about 5 km away. A long walk in a blizzard, but do-able if needed. But there were houses along the way so I could stop and phone.


Ten minutes into my walk, I was fortunate to have a car approaching. So I flagged it down. A nice lady drive. She drove me to my car and we used her cell phone to phone my hubby. He was on his way. In the meantime, we waited in her car, where is was toasty warm. In that 10 minutes, we introduced ourselves, shared stories and ended up becoming friends! Turns out we grew up not far from each other in Ottawa. Turns out she loves nature and the outdoors. Turns out she worked at the Queens University Biology Station (QUBS), not far from here. I spent time there and knew a lot of the folks that did research there over the years. So it turns out we knew people in common. 

It’s a small world. I set out for a photography adventure, had a bit of a mis-adventure. But in the end, made a new friend. Helen, my rescuer, and I have agreed to get together soon for coffee.¬†


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