Creative springtime approaches

Greetings to all my new outlook followers. Welcome aboard!

Green starts to appear in Northern Ontario in early to mid-May, along with the blackflies! The first blush of green in the aspens is always a delight and I make sure to get out with the camera to some of my favourite locales.

Looking up in an aspen woodland. f22, 1/160 @ 35 mm

When the sun is bright and the skies are blue I resort to backlighting to take advantage of the translucent green glow in the emerging leaves. I prefer soft overcast with these first spring colours but I have to ‘go with the flow’ and make the best of what mother nature offers me.

Trying to be creative I usually drift toward some interpretive techniques, most of which are ‘in camera’. I hope to communicate the essence of spring with these approaches- delicacy, freshness, transience to name a few.

One technique I like is to look for emerging leaves in smaller trees near the camera. Positioning them between me and the lens I then (manually) focus on background subjects such as these birch tree trunks. With a telephoto lens and shallow depth of field I created this image (below), all in one shot, in the camera.

Birch woodland. In-camera selective focus. f/4 @ 86 mm

Another in-camera technique I like to occasionally use is multiple exposure. I choose six to ten frames and with a wide aperture I expose 5/6 or 9/10 with varying degrees of ‘de-focus’. I have to deselect autofocus and manually change focus, sometimes accompanied with a bit of zooming.

Aspens on a hillside. In-camera 6 frames. 240 mm.

Birch woodland. In-camera multiple exposure. 10 frames 155 mm f4 manual focus.

Birch woodland. In-camera multiple exposure. 10 frames 155 mm f4 manual focus.

Finally, with stands of tree trunks like these aspens I move the camera slowly up or down or up and down during a long exposure. I obtain longer exposure times using low ISO, small apertures and a polarizing or neutral density filter. This photo was made @200 mm and 3 seconds.

Aspen woodland. 3 seconds @ f20, ISO 31.

The advantage to employing these techniques is that the photographer can make interesting, unique images close to home.

Manitoulin Island In Spring

Burnett’s Sideroad near Sheguiandah

The “Island” is one of my favourite places for day trips and overnight photo trips. Situated in Georgian Bay Manitoulin is Canada’s largest freshwater island. The topography is largely rural and agricultural with many lakes, pastures small towns and woodlands. The Island is an extension of the Niagara Escarpment and Bruce Peninsula, its geologic base being largely limestone. Even though it is barely 100 km from where I live in the Canadian Shield, Manitoulin’s ecology is very much different from that of Northern Ontario’s ‘spruce/moose biome’.

A spring pasture with cattle near Green Bay

Spring is a favourite photographic season for me no matter where I am. Manitoulin offers possibilities to photograph rural landscapes, hardwood forests with flowers on the forest floor, waterfalls and the Georgian Bay shorelines, with their alvar ecosystems. The rare lakeside daisy blooms in these alvars in late May. In early May however I expected to see marsh marigolds and the blush of fresh spring colour in the aspens and perhaps the hardwoods.

As we so often seem to remark these days, Spring was early this year. Even so, I was very surprised to see trilliums in full bloom in early May. This is something I would expect to see much later in May. It was a bonus, albeit slightly disquieting.

High Falls near Manitowaning

Maple woodland with trilliums near Kagawong

Canada plum flowers along a rural road

Bridal Veil Falls near Kagawong