This page features photographs from my portfolio taken during the past several months
with which I am particularly pleased and for which there is an interesting story.
Before dawn on the first day of my early December wildlife workshop at Bosque del Apache we were straining in the dim light to see the Sandhill Cranes as they began their stately parade, some 40 meters away across the lake. I was working at 700mm and had bumped up the 1Ds to ISO 800 so that I could work at at least 1/125sec. A Wimberly Sidekick mount on my B1 ball head allowed for a stable yet mobile platform, and this combined with the Canon 500mm lens' Image Stabilization mode allowed for a crisp image in very low light.
In processing the image a week later I set the Gray Balance on the water, which while it made the water white and the grasses neutral gray, made the cranes bluer than they actually were. Since I was playing with reality I also added a duplicate layer in Photoshop, lightened it and then added some Gaussian blur. This was then applied in Multiply mode to the background layer, producing this very satisfying ethereal rendition of the dreamy morning scene which we had witnessed.
I subsequently used this image on this site's main page for a couple of weeks and it elicited more favourable comments that any photograph I've ever had in that spot.
Sometimes it's hard to know exactly what it is that makes a particular image eye-catching or appealing. In this case it's clearly a matter of less is more. I was on an overnight trip to Montreal and when I awoke in the morning and looked out my hotel window I saw a dark rainy November morning. My thought had been to spend the morning shooting in the historic port area of the city, but I wasn't prepared for heavy rain.
Instead I spent an hour or so photographing the scene below me from my 15th floor hotel room window. There was only a narrow opening to shoot through, but I took this as a challenge, trying to find interesting compositions within my restricted field of view.
This photograph appeals because of the stark contrast between the black on black monochromatic aspect of the woman, shadow and asphalt, and the unexpectedly colourful floral pattern of her umbrella. The rain has brought out the texture of the road and the unusual bird's eye perspective is curious. There was quite a bit of litter on the road and so I cleaned it up in Photoshop. Altering reality a bit, yes, but since this photograph won't be used as forensic evidence I felt comfortable with doing it.
After overnighting outside the Park we entered the east gates of Yellowstone before sunrise and found ourselves on the edge of Yellowstone Lake shortly after dawn. We were photographing water birds on the lake when I noticed a flight of geese coming in for a landing. I fired off a couple of frames as they extended their landing gear. The beauty of their flight combined with the soft warm light on the distant mountains has a timeless feel to it.
I was extremely pleased when I first saw this frame while reviewing my files from the shoot. Though taken in an offhand manner it turned out to be my favourite image from the week's shoot, and is now part of my permanent portfolio.
I was fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to review this month a pre-production sample of Canon's latest digital SLR, the very exciting 11 Megapixel full-frame Canon EOS 1Ds. I got it on the day the camera was announced at Photokina and was able to work with it for 6 days. This allowed me to publish here the world's first field-review of this camera, in a 5-part report .
During that week I spent 3 days visiting with family in the Palm Beach area of south Florida. On the second morning I left my hotel before dawn and drove to my favourite shooting spot in the area, a channel between the inland waterway and the ocean. There is a fishing pier as well, and every morning there are dozens of fisherman to be found.
About 20 minutes after sunrise, as I was walking back to my car, I saw this fisherman walking across the bridge. I had just a second or two to capture this frame. This composition is about a 50% crop of the full frame.
What appeals here, in addition to the silhouette, is that the dawn sky is beneath the bridge — a most unusual perspective.
Photographed with a Canon EOS D60 and 70-200 f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 400 & 200mm
For someone who has never boated up a quiet northern lake at dawn, listening to the cries of the Loon and watching the sun rise up through the mist from behind a stand of pines, this photograph may capture something of the tranquility of an early August morning.
Photographed with a Canon EOS D60 and 100-400mm f/5.6L IS lens @ ISO 400 & 400mm
Summers are for me an opportunity to avoid the overcrowded highways and National Parks of North America. I therefore spend as much time as I can at my place in the country, on Lake Muskoka in central Ontario. Bird Island is only a couple of miles by boat from my cottage, and fairly mundane in bright daylight. But at dawn and dusk the hundreds of cormorant and gulls that call it home make for fascinating graphic compositions.
Photographed with a Pentax 645II and Pentax 300mm (67) APO f/4 lens on Provia 100F
Iceland, which I visited for the first time in late June, offers up some of the world's most spectacular landscapes. But, I was unprepared for this otherworldly scene. It was 2 am on the day after the summer solstice and we were driving on Hwy 1 in northern Iceland, close to the Arctic Ocean. This bizarrely illuminated lenticular cloud started to form and we quickly stopped to photograph it. A farmhouse was on the hillside before us. (Sunrise would be 1 hour later, at 3 am).
To hold both the sky and the foreground would have required the use of a 3 stop split ND filter. I had one in the truck, but decided not to use it, instead lettering the foreground go dark, adding to the mystery of this already remarkable scene.
Photographed with a Hasselblad ArcBody and 45mm Rodenstock lens on Provia 100F
On my workshop expedition rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon this month most of us shot star trails on one or more nights. This particular exposure lasted 6 hours. Seven manual pops from a small flash gun were used to illuminate the foreground rock prior to beginning the night-long exposure. A new-moon ensured that the sky remained dark, while a sheltered location prevented any wind from disturbing the star trails that were reflected in the river.
Photographed with a Canon EOS D60 and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS zoom @ ISO 400
A curious combination of urban landscape and wildlife, this photograph was taken in the harbour of the gritty steel city of Hamilton, Ontario while testing the new Canon EOS D60, digital SLR.
These clearly artificial "trees" create what I whimsically think of as a bird condo, with a view. The almost monochromatic light of a foggy day is broken only by the slightest hint of red in the hull of the approaching cargo ship.
Leica M7 with Tri-Elmar @ 35mm. Fuji Sensia 200
Though landscape and wildlife photography are my main focus, my original career was as a photojournalist during the late '60s and much of the '70s. I still harbour a passion for street photography.
Sometimes exciting photographic opportunities present themselves unexpectedly, such as this timeless image of three women at a religious procession in Toronto on an afternoon in late winter.
Photographed with a Pentax 67II with Pentax 400mm f/4 ED(IF) lens on Provia 100F
A four-day shoot in Yellowstone National Park late in the month produced an interesting selection of both wildlife and landscape images, of which I feel this is the strongest.
It was our fourth morning in the park and we had been driving for a while looking for the full moon to set shortly after sunrise, but it went behind some clouds and never reappeared. Somewhat disappointed at this we rounded a bend in the road and spotted this bull Elk in a field, with the distant hillside bathed in a hazy morning glow. Only after putting my 400mm lens on the camera did I see that there was a Magpie sitting on his rump. He seemed more curious as to what the bird was up to than annoyed by it. We were grinning from ear to ear.
The making of this photographs will be featured in forthcoming issues of The Video Journal.
Photographed with a Pentax 645NII and Pentax (67) 200mm f/4 lens on Provia 100F + Polarizer
I never count on coming back from a vacation with any terribly worthwhile images, but a winter get-away in the Yucatan lead to a visit to Celestún, a quiet fishing village located within a wildlife refuge on the Gulf of Mexico, and a few strong images. This photograph of a crane wading in the shallow waters of the estuary appeals because of the colours — which are reminiscent of a Monet painting.
These are caused by the seasonal run-off from the surrounding Mangrove trees. A polarizing filter was necessary to bring out the saturation of the colours and to remove reflections in the water.
Featured images from 2001 are found here.
Featured images from 2000 are found here.