Jun 122012
 

Niagara-on-the-lake is a really pretty little town with a great location on the banks of Lake Ontario. That being said, I found it really difficult to photograph. Granted I didn’t give myself a lot of time there, but I found a lot of potentially good shots on the main street that were, unfortunately, ruined by cars parked along the road. If I were in charge there I’d ban parking of any motorized vehicle on that street to maintain the old small town feel. Unfortunately, I’m not in charge.

As it got closer to sunset I started getting a bit concerned about failing to get any photos for the evening, particularly as the sunset was getting interesting. I went down to the lake, but felt like every spot that looked like it would offer up a good vantage point was behind a fence. I feel like this a lot here in Bermuda. All the best viewpoints are on private property. It makes sense that people want these spots for their homes, but it’s really frustrating!

Eventually I found this spot. Initially, I got irritated trying to find somewhere to get a view over the fence surrounding the marina. Then, I had an epiphany. I attached my camera to my tripod and used it in a somewhat unorthodox way. The fence was chain-link so I opened up one of the legs and inserted it into the fence. It was a pretty flimsy support and made it pretty difficult to frame my shot. I had to wait until I was sure the camera had stopped bouncing around and then use my cable release to fire off three shots.

Sunset over a marina with sail boats on ground and masts reflecting at Niagara-on-the Lake in Ontario, Canada

 

Jun 102012
 

Iceland Preparations

This time next week, I’ll be arriving in Iceland, quickly dropping my suitcase at the hotel and dashing out to photograph a lighthouse under the midnight sun. So, I’m getting prepared. I’m not checking my bookings or thinking what to pack like a normal person would be. Instead, I’m spending my weekend frantically trying to get photos processed and blog entries written in advance as I’ve reached the conclusion that, although I’ll have access to the internet at the majority of my accommodations, I won’t have the energy to process a photo and write something every day. On top of this I resolved to stop offering up one line posts, which would be inevitable if I tried to maintain them in Iceland. My time will be pretty well allocated with running around taking photos, driving from place to place, and other distractions. The plus side of this push, though, is that I’ve realised something. I actually really enjoy setting aside whole days and nights (admittedly more night than day) to working up photos. I get into a real groove processing photos one after the other and they seem to take less time to complete than if I worked on them individually. I think going forward I’ll be focusing on having photos ready to pick from for the daily post and just keep replenishing that selection. It should also up the quality of photo I produce as I’ll be working on them when I’ve made time for them, rather than rushing to get one done before going to the pub.

Today’s Photo: The Dawn of Spring

Today’s photo is a simple one, taking advantage of the patterns produced by a longish exposure and flowing water. When I first got into photography, I used to take my rebel down to the beach in Bermuda and spend my whole time playing with shutter speeds to smooth out the water. So, whenever I spot fast flowing water I have to stop and grab a photo.

This was taken in Bruce County in Ontario. It was March and it was hot. I had expected I’d be figuring out how to take photos of still frozen waterfalls, instead everything had thawed and Spring was coming early. I paused here on my way to Indian Falls to grab this shot.

Water flowing fast over rocks in spring with early spring foliage in Bruce County, Ontario, Canada

 

May 202012
 

If you’re interested in finding this “secret” viewpoint, I provide a few clues as to its location in Niagara Skyline. It’s a pretty cool spot to  find, even if you’re not looking to photograph the area. It’s definitely a different view compared to what most visitors to the falls get to see. Once up there I decided I had to try to capture the whole scene. So, I framed up four different shots and bracketed each for HDR. I wasn’t positive at the time how I’d go about stitching them together.

It turned out it was pretty involved. I had a total of 28 photographs to work with. These 28 images could have produced 4 HDR photographs to then stitch together. This approach caused me all sorts of problems with ghosting. Another significant problem was setting the sliders in Photomatix so that they’d be optimized for all four images. I kept ending up with dark areas in the final result. So, I changed my tactic.

In order to get this to work, I wound up grouping the exposures for each image together – meaning that i had seven sets of four images ranging from -3 stops to +3 stops. I stitched each of these together to create 7 huge images that I could then run through Photomatix. Unfortunately, this pushed the limits of my computer’s capabilities and I kept encountering error messages due to insufficient memory. I had been trying to use Photomatix’s deghosting tool to clean up people and vehicles that had moved through the frame. Eventually, I decided I’d have to do this in Photoshop after producing the tone mapped image. This reduced workload appeased my computer, and I had an HDR image to work with!

I went into Photoshop and layered the seven original exposures under the tone mapped image and masked away any ghosting I could find. It was pretty time-consuming and I’ve spent ages trying to figure out how to do it, but I’m happy with the results. I’ll be producing more stitched panoramic images going forward. I’ve got an idea for another shot at the top of Horseshoe Bay using this technique. I’ll give it a try once the weather decides to behave itself again.

Cityscape panorama of Niagara Falls in Canada taken above and showing surrounding roads.

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May 162012
 

In an earlier post, you saw these falls from below. To get there I’d had to climb down and then carefully hop from rock to rock to get up the river. In that photo you could see that there was still a huge lump of snow/ice at the base. Today’s view is probably more like how normal people experience Indian Falls.

The path is pretty easy. As you approach the falls you can hear them from quite a distance away. Then you reach a cliff edge with a great view. I was surprised to discover a fence there preventing you from getting to the edge, the path there wasn’t exactly developed. I think I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll say it again, I hate fences. It was one of the things that I loved about Victoria Falls, the freedom to roam (after you’d signed in with the AK toting guard at the gate). To get this photo I reached over the fence to place my tripod and camera on the other side and used the LCD screen to frame the shot.

It’s funny when you’re looking for a waterfall and are a bit lost. You always think you can hear it, then it turns out to be small rapids. But then, when you actually hear it you can tell the difference. They’re always so much louder than you expect. I depart for Iceland in less than a month where I’ll have opportunity to seek out lots of waterfalls. On my first night there (baring in mind the 24 hours of light) I’ll be visiting one that is supposed to be particularly loud. It’s called Dynjandi, which means thunderous. It looks like it’s pretty spectacular.

Indian Falls in Bruce County, Ontario with a wide curtain of water falling into a pool of water.

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May 132012
 

It’d be pretty easy to spend all of your time driving around Bruce County photographing the farms that dot the landscape. They’re all the stereotypical barn and silo combination. Most of them are positioned in the middle of flat areas. I particularly like this one, nestled at the bottom of a hill, with a lone tree to the right at the crest.

Barn and silo with red roofs at bottom of hill with tree at crest in Bruce County, Ontario

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May 112012
 

I found this on the side of a river in Grey County. There was a sign nearby saying what it used to be but I can’t quite remember. I have a feeling it was used to transport the output of  power plant. Either way, it’s no longer in use now, a modern ruin. I liked the way the water rushed through it and the textures on the inside so set about taking a photo. Once again I found myself balanced on rocks with water rushing around my feet and tripod.

Round culvert through rocky hill with water rushing through and over rocks in Grey County, Canada.

May 072012
 

Continuing with the theme of rocks and water started yesterday, here is another offering from Niagara-on-the-Lake. After scrambling around town trying to find somewhere to photograph the rapidly disappearing glow on the horizon I had scrambled down to the shores of Lake Ontario and was pleased to find some interesting rocks to provide a bold foreground for a few different photos.

Large rocks at the edge of Lake Ontario's blue water with a sunset in the distance.

 

May 042012
 

Scenes like this are common place as you drive through Grey County. As I crested the top of a hill I came across this one. The sun was low to the left and just lit the scene in a beautiful golden light. So, I quickly whipped the car around to park at the top of the hill.

Grey County, Ontario farm with silo and red barns and wire and post fence.

May 032012
 

The drive from Toronto to Niagara is pretty interesting. You exit the city and gradually surround yourself by countryside. The Niagara is full of vineyards. I only wish I’d been there while the vines were growing!

Winter vineyard with white house, wooden bridge and gazebo in Niagara, Ontario.

May 022012
 

I arrived at this waterfall shortly after sunset. After parking at the top of the falls I went about looking for a good view. I came across a path but a sign said it was closed. I came across this a lot as I traveled around Ontario in March. They were closed due to the danger of ice, but the conditions could only be described as summery. So, I quickly slipped around the sign and found this vantage point.

Inglis Falls waterfall cascading over rocks in Bruce Falls, Ontario