Category Archives: Creative Photography

Featured in The Hum….

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I have the incredible good fortune to be the featured artist in the September issue of The Hum – a fabulous monthly arts, entertainment and ideas newspaper that promotes people and events in small towns and rural areas in the Ottawa Valley. You can subscribe to The Hum or pick it up for free at one of the many businesses in Almonte, Perth, Carleton Place, Westport, Pakenham, Carp, Arnprior, Smiths Falls, Burnstown, White Lake, Renfrew, Balderson and also Ottawa.

When I was contacted by The Hum journalist, Sally Hansen, I thought she’d ask me the typical questions about what kind of camera I use, what kinds of photography I like to do, my favourite lenses etc. Short and sweet. Instead I had the most wonderfully engaging time with Sally, sharing stories, and talking about deeper things such as my sources of photographic inspiration, what motivates me to make the images and do, and what I do with those images. She wanted to know ‘my story’. I was really thrilled to provide it as one thing I’ve always loved is to find out what makes people tick – what’s their story, their life experiences and the things that makes that photographer, writer, artist or whomever, produce the kind of work they do. It’s context. I still like to know the details of the medium they use (e.g. kind of camera they use, for photographers, lenses they shoot with, etc.). But knowing something about the person fosters a greater connection to their work and an understanding of why they produce what they do. So, a very big thank you to The Hum and to Sally Hansen, for the opportunity to share my story.

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I’m extremely grateful to Sally and The Hum for highlighting how I use my photography to enable my passion for environmental education, conservation, and environmental communication. Being able to combine my career and passion as a biologist, with my passions for photography and the environment is a dream come true and hopefully a pursuit that will continue for many more years.

The Hum article also highlights that I’ll have some of my work on exhibit and for sale as part of the Perth Autumn Studio Tour. I’ll be exhibiting at Rita Redner’s studio at 549 Brooke Valley Road. The studio tour will take place over the Thanksgiving weekend, October 11th, 12th, and 13th, from 10 am to 5 pm. Click here to see a map of the tour and here to see the tour’s Facebook page. I hope you’ll come along on the tour to see the work of a number of very talented artists who will be exhibiting everything from pottery, to paintings to hand-made chocolate…. and so much more. See you there!

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Filed under Conservation & Environment, Creative Photography, Dreams, Exhibits, nature photography

Life, wisdom, and photography

I feel really bad that I’ve been so delinquent in posting here! It’s just that I’ve had so much on the go! So many wonderful things, many of which I can’t wait to share with you. So it’s not that I’ve lost interest and am not posting here anymore. It’s just that there are only so many hours in a day and until a few things get ticked off the list, I don’t have as much time as I did. But it’s only temporary. 🙂

Recently, I had lunch with a new friend. She was a participant in one of my fine art flower photography workshops this spring.  She’s a wonderful photographer and  it was a treat to have her in my workshop. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I loved how she rose to the challenge I issued my students – to force themselves outside their photographic comfort zone and try new things like multiple exposure, panning, and image overlay. She produced some beautiful images during the workshop.

Purple Aster  copyright Shelley L. Ball

Purple Aster
copyright Shelley L. Ball

Last week we met for lunch to talk photography. It was wonderful. Any opportunity to talk photography with kindred spirit makes me happy. 🙂

As we got talking about all of the various projects we are each embarking on or considering, the topic of how to tackle the big ones – the ones that take several months or more to accomplish, the ones that seem daunting, – came up and we both shared how the intimidation of these big projects can be a barrier to even starting them. But during our conversation, I recalled some wonderful wisdom that was imparted to me on our arctic expedition this summer, advice on how to tackle the really big, intimidating things. I won’t give away the punchline. Instead, I encourage you to read about it on my friends blog, “Wynn Anne’s Meanderings“. I guarantee it’s great advice though, very practical. I’ve started using it in my own life, to tackle those monster projects that I’m afraid to start. And it works!

Wynn Anne is a great writer and her blog covers all kinds of topics from photography, to philosophy of life and everything under the sun. So I hope you’ll tune in and check out her blog. She also has a beautiful 2015 calendar of her images that is for sale so please hop on over to her blog to have a look. Her images are fabulous!

copyright Shelley L. Ball

copyright Shelley L. Ball

 

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Filed under Creative Photography, lessons learned, photography

Arctic Expedition 2014 – Icebergs & Sunsets

Hi Folks,

Sorry for my lack of posting here. Madly trying to process images from my arctic expedition and keep up with blog posts on my Biosphere Environmental Education blog and Facebook page.  So for the next little while, I’ll post links to my posts on my Biosphere Blog. I promise there will lots of nice photos so even though it isn’t a photography blog, your eyes should still have a feast. I hope you’ll click on the image below to go to my Biosphere Blog. Thanks for tuning in! 🙂

 

Check out my image Icebergs and Sunset on the Labrador Sea on the Biosphere Blog.

Check out my image Icebergs and Sunset on the Labrador Sea on the Biosphere Blog.

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Filed under Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Landscape, nature photography, Sunset

Wanting Winter

Here in Ontario, we’ve gone from the deep freeze of minus 40 Celsius to plus 5 Celsius. All in about a week. This is actually the second deep freeze & thaw we’ve been through in about a month. Yuck. Please, please, please…. give me winter back!

I love winter. I love snow. I love cold. I don’t mind if it’s minus 40 Celsius. As long as my car starts when I leave work at the end of the day. And well, if it doesn’t. I’ll manage. It’s just an inconvenience.

We’re supposed to have temperatures in the positives for the next few days. Yuck again. I’m cheering for minus something. Actually, another great flash-freeze would be fantastic for our pond! My hubby groomed it into a fantastic outdoor skating complex. 🙂 Now it looks like a really shallow swimming pool. 😦 A good flash-freeze would freeze all that water and produce a fabulous ice surface. Here’s hoping.

Here’s what our pond looks like when the temperatures cross into the pluses in winter. It looks kinda pretty here. But believe me, it’s a pile of slush right now.

Snow is pretty. I want pretty. Again. I know the cold weather will come back. I just hope it lasts until March, like it’s supposed to.

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Filed under Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Landscape, Winter

January Photo of the Month

Finally! A new Photo of the Month. I seem to have missed December. Oi! You know you’re too busy when….

If you live in a place that has snowy winters, I really do hope you’ll get out with your camera. I truly think it is one of the best times of the year for landscape photography.

Enjoy!

January 2014

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Filed under Creative Photography, Photo of the Month

When opportunity knocks…

Last week I came home from work and walked into the bedroom to grab my iPad. Something out the window caught my eye. It was a movement I saw out of the corner of my eye, but at that point wasn’t sure what it was. I waited a minute. Out from behind the big ‘lump’ in our backyard (that’s the name I give to our pile of dirt that’s now covered with a million weeds rather than gracing our flower beds…) walked a beautiful doe – a White-tailed Deer. She lazily grazed her way across our backyard, nibbling on grass and twigs. I was enjoying just watching her, when I saw more movement. This time, her fawn came wandering out from behind the ‘lump’. She wandered over to Mum, who then began to lick her face. Wow… what a moment.

The nature-lover in me was just soaking up this sight. But then the photographer in me said “quick, grab the camera!” And so I ran upstairs and grabbed my D7100, which thankfully was already attached to my 600 mm lens and on my tripod. I carefully made my way down the stairs and slowly walked into the bedroom. It was clear that there was a snowball’s chance in hell of going outside and getting photos out there. One crack of a twig and Mum and fawn would be gone. So, the alternative was to shoot photos through the window. It’s times like this I lament that I’m not better at keeping our windows clean. But hey, when opportunity knocks….

The problem with shooting through the window wasn’t the glass. It was the patch of rather tall, dying goldenrod plants right behind our window. Lovely as they are in late summer, right now they were annoying. I could get glimpses of Mum and her fawn through the weeds, but that was it. It was clear that if I was going to shoot from inside, I needed to be up higher. Given that I’m only 5 foot 2 (and that’s on a good day), this was a problem. But I quickly remembered the step stool we have in our kitchen. So I ran out and grabbed it. Better. I was up higher. But I couldn’t get my lens at the right angle to get at least partly above some of the goldenrods and find open patches big enough to shoot through, if the deer wandered that way.

So, I repositioned the step stool and stood with one foot on the end of our bed, the other on the step stool, shooting through the window. Not the typical pose for a wildlife photographer. But as I said, when opportunity knocks…

It was worth the effort. Mum and fawn didn’t see me and so I was treated to 20 minutes of them wandering through our backyard. At one point Mum was probably 16 feet away from the back window. If she’d come any closer, she’d be too close to the minimum focusing range of my 600 mm lens. The absolute icing on the cake, was watching Mum spend a few minutes licking her fawns face. It was reminiscent of childhood, when my face was covered with tomato sauce from my lunch of Alpha-getti and Mum rather roughly cleaned me up using a face cloth. I’m sure this fawn was having the same experience because you could see her fuss and move her face away. I’m sure Mum was telling her to stay still….

Below is a series of images I made of these moments. What I love about these images is that in most cases, I was forced to shoot through the patch of dead goldenrods outside the window. When you shoot ‘through’ something that is close enough, it has the effect of creating a hazy patch in your image. It’s like your shooting through a lens smeared with Vaseline, depending on how close the thing is that you are shooting through. Sometimes it creates light blobs that are nothing but distractions and which ruin the image. But sometimes it helps to create a wonderful softness to the image, as if you used a filter.

None of these images have had anything done to them, other than a teeny bit of cropping on a few and some basic tweaks such as a slight bump in vibrance, brightness, contrast and colour temperature, where needed.

Shooting through objects certainly can give images a more ‘artsy’ creative feel, which is something I love with wildlife photography. Don’t get me wrong, standard documentary style shots are great. But for me, having a more artistic style to wildlife images is what I love best and what makes me want to hang wildlife images on my wall…

Mum caught a quick glimpse of me but not enough to frighten her off. I was camouflaged behind those tall goldenrods.

Mum caught a quick glimpse of me but not enough to frighten her off. I was camouflaged behind those tall goldenrods.

Shooting through the dead goldenrod seed heads created this soft, blurred effects.

Shooting through the dead goldenrod seed heads created this soft, blurred effects.

Our backyard wildlife...

Our backyard wildlife…

Sometimes you get lucky in that the animal manages to position themselves in a way that the entire scene isn't blurred and as in this case, there are a few brightly coloured leaves to help frame the image.

Sometimes you get lucky in that the animal manages to position themselves in a way that the entire scene isn’t blurred and as in this case, there are a few brightly coloured leaves to help frame the image.

Mum and her fawn have their moment together.

Mum and her fawn have their moment together.

As Mum moved closer, it was possible to get a few clearer shots with fewer goldenrods to shoot through.

As Mum moved closer, it was possible to get a few clearer shots with fewer goldenrods to shoot through.

What a treat to have this doe about 16 feet from my window.

What a treat to have this doe about 16 feet from my window.

Clearly she was relaxed and not bothered by me because she and her fawn spent some time browsing on the wild plum tree by our garden

Clearly she was relaxed and not bothered by me because she and her fawn spent some time browsing on the wild plum tree by our garden

Mum was so close that with my 600 mm lens, I couldn't get her entire head in the frame.

Mum was so close that with my 600 mm lens, I couldn’t get her entire head in the frame.

Wildlife photography doesn’t always entail enduring harsh field conditions or fending off hordes of hungry biting flies. Not that I’m advocating that your only wildlife photography should be through a window, in the comfort of your own home. But when opportunity knocks…. you answer. 🙂

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Filed under Creative Photography, nature photography, Wildlife Photography

Algonquin – the jewel of Ontario

As I wrote in my recent blog posts and with my Photo of the Week, I was recently up at Algonquin Park to attend a TEDx event. The following morning I got up early and went out with my camera. And boy, was I lucky. The morning air was chilled, but fresh and there was a light fog rolling across the lakes, ponds and marshes. It was a feast for a photographer’s eyes. As the sun rose and warmed the air, the fog lifted, revealing a stunningly beautiful early fall day.

Here are a few photos from that day. More on their way later, but in the meantime, enjoy… 🙂

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Filed under Creative Photography, Landscape, Nature