Feature Photos 2009
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Here is the selection of favourite images that appeared in the Home page “Feature Photo” spot in 2009.

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Posted December 23rd, 2009

photo: Christmas Card 2009
                (front)
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My 2009 Christmas Card ... To You

Let the magic of Christmas
infuse you with whimsy.
Let your most virtuous fantasies
come to life.
Have an enchanting holiday
and a charmed New Year.


The original photograph from which this image was produced is of part of the larger sculpture “Snow Queen” created by Team B.C. at the 2009 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Snow Sculpture Challenge.
Pentax K10D, Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD IF Macro @50mm




Posted December 8th, 2009

photo: 3PM December Day
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3 O’clock on a December Afternoon

The days are short at this time of year and it can be difficult finding time for photography between the chores and other daylight activities. But the “golden hour” of warm, oblique lighting that photographers prize is any time the sun is shining, not just close to sunset as when this photo was shot. I made a series of bracketed exposures of this contrasty scene so that I could combine them using the HDR technique to have the full tonal range available. I almost chose one of the individual exposures instead; the light of the low, partly screened sun was gentle enough that the best exposure provided dramatic, specular lighting of the sunlit area in the foreground without blowing out the sun itself or the blue of the sky. This HDR version, processed in Photomatix and further adjusted in Photoshop for a fairly subdued HDR effect, won out in the end. The additional information in the shadows helps impart more of a sense of place without entirely stealing the drama. Also, this is the image I envisioned when I photographed the scene.
Pentax K10D, Sigma AF 10-20mm f/4.0-5.6 EX DC @ 10mm, f/11




Posted October 30th, 2009

photo: Don't Fence Me In
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Don’t Fence Me In

I recently flew down to Vancouver to attend the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club Annual Seminar, which featured Daryl Benson. It was a full weekend of lectures and presentations, no hands-on photography. Having arrived on the Friday evening, the only time I had to take pictures was after the Sunday session when I had a few hours before my late night return flight to Whitehorse. I ended up on Granville Island, which was the idea of my travel companion. Sleep deprived and getting weary of big city traffic and Vancouver's hard to navigate road network, I was a reluctant chauffeur into the urban core. The congestion, narrow road lanes lined with parked cars, and street configurations that defied my GPS had me quite agitated by the time we arrived. I was not happy to be there. I wandered the market area aimlessly and numbly until I came upon the tiny courtyard where this photo was taken. Tightly enclosed by a jumble of buildings and walkways stuffed directly under the 8-lane wide Granville bridge, it embodied the urban crowding that was oppressing me ... and yet, I found it strangely calming. It had plants, trees and water running into a little pool, a miniature park like setting that seemed an anachronism in this dark cave of a site. Photographing it helped relieve my tension and lift me from my low.
Pentax K10D, Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD IF Macro @ 18mm, 1/10s @ f/4, ISO400




Posted October 13th, 2009

Snowy landscape reflected in green
                lake
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Early Winter Reflections

When a significant snowfall and cold temperatures hit my neck of the woods around the beginning of October, usually they are here to stay. I wasn’t ready! The forecast had said it would be several degrees milder with rain when this happened. I nearly froze off my fingers digging my root vegetables out from under the snow and I finished just in the nick of time before deeper cold turned the wet soil to rock. (The lake also froze over shortly after I took this photo a few days ago.) A garden hose still lies buried somewhere out there. Close to a cord of firewood that I had cut but not yet hauled home will have to remain in the bush until spring. Oh well, I’m sure I have enough wood to get me through the seven months until then. The harvest from my garden is good. The weather has been a nuisance the past week or so but ultimately no harm done. Though an early onset of winter will make the season even longer than usual, I am still savouring memories of a summer that brought plenty of warmth and sunshine. Now, the premature forced end to my routinely intense autumn labours will afford me time to relax and reflect on what it all is for. Life here sometimes can be a bit challenging but that is part of what makes it vital and I would not give up any of it. By the time I sat down to my Thanksgiving dinner, I was feeling blessed.
Pentax K10D, Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD IF Macro @ 78mm, f/8




Posted September 17th, 2009

Black and White abstract photo of Cucumber Plant Tendril
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Genie in a Tendril

One recent rainy day when I felt inclined to do some photography, I put a macro lens on my camera and went to work on a cucumber plant that I have growing in my sunroom. I made a lot of bad colour photos that day but I also exposed a few with an infrared filter on the lens and the monochrome results from these were more interesting, even though the infrared technique really had little effect on the tonalities. That prompted me to do this black and white conversion of an unfiltered image. I liked the composition and the possibilities for abstraction with the shallow depth of field, but the green hues of the plant defied abstraction and really looked rather ugly. It took some channel remixing, curves adjustments and application of a noise filter to get what I wanted. I generally have little use for black and white photography of natural subjects, but in this case going monochrome turned a reject into a satisfying and intriguing image.
Pentax K10D, Sigma AF 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro @ f/2.8




Posted August 22nd, 2009

Early autumn color change in bearberry leaves
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Change

When I went for a walk the other day, I was knocked out of my complacency. Scarcely more than a week earlier I had been basking in an extended heat wave, swimming in the lake by my house almost daily. It was an idyllic Yukon summer. The weather inevitably turned but the sun and warmth had been a recurring phenomenon this season and I anticipated another encore. But now, after several days of cool, wet conditions that seem to have settled in, the distinctive, musty scent of autumn stings my nostrils. In spite of the dampness, the ground crunches under my feet and aspen leaves rattle dryly in the wind. Granted, the aspens have not yet turned colour and their premature desiccation and shedding undoubtedly has much to do with the ravages of leaf miners and weeks of summer drought. Still, splashes of crimson and yellow erupting from the ground cover make it impossible to deny, our summer is over.
Pentax K10D, Kiron 105mm f/2.8 macro @ f/13




Posted August 5th, 2009

Poppy in Foxtails
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Poppy in Foxtails

Foxtails are a favourite photographic subject for their soft texture and glowing beauty. In this case, however, I employed them as a sort of filter, shooting through them at close range with the lens wide open and focused on the poppy. This is a popular technique to create impressionistic images but the fine, fibrous structure of the foxtails adds some flowing texture to the composition. I think the subtle striations may be a product of light wave interference because the grain heads themselves are too far out of focus for their texture to record directly.
Pentax K10D, Kiron 105mm f/2.8 macro @ f/2.8




Posted July 19th, 2009

Lazy, Hazy Summer
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Lazy, Hazy Summer

It is a warm, dry summer and I'm loving it. However, good weather does not necessarily translate to good photography and I have been struggling for visual inspiration. The landscape is not exactly parched but neither is it lush and the wildflowers have paled (literally) compared to the rich, prolific displays of recent cool, wet years. A persistent haze of smoke from forest fires saps colour and contrast from scenic vistas; it is even apparent within the tight confines of the composition you see above. Maybe it is more a matter of the heat making me lazy or perhaps I am just making excuses but, whether cruising the highways on my motorcycle or wandering the local trails, I'm rarely finding reason to stop and take pictures and the images I have made are not very satisfying. With little to choose from, I picked this image for my latest Feature Photo because it is representative of my summer, depicting a spot where I have been spending plenty of relaxation time. Frankly, though, these days I am getting more fulfilment swimming in the lake than photographing it.
Pentax K10D, Pentax AF 31mm f/1.8 Limited @ f/9.5




Posted June 23rd, 2009

Late Light over Pancake Lake
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Late Light over Pancake Lake

It’s that magical time of the summer solstice when the light is eternal in the land of the midnight sun. Actually, the sun does set before midnight at my location in the southern Yukon. This photo was taken at 11:20 during its gradual descent before skimming beneath the horizon for a few hours of extended twilight.
 
Pentax K10D, Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD IF Macro @18mm




Posted May 21st, 2009

impressionistic, double-exposure image of crocuses
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Suddenly, Spring!

It was late coming but, when it finally did, we went from a few feet of snow on the ground to scenes like the one depicted in this photo in scarcely more than a week. The soft, halo effect on this clump of crocuses was achieved with a double exposure, one exposure sharply focused and the other completely out of focus. Actually, I blended two double exposures of the same subject made with different ratios of sharp and blurred exposure. Emphasizing one or the other in different parts of the image let me achieve the light and airy feel that the season inspires while maintaining much of the detail and texture of the subject.
Pentax K10D, Kiron 105mm f/2.8 macro




Posted May 3rd, 2009

autumn aspen leaf on melting snow image of crocuses
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A Meeting of the Seasons

After near record winter snowfall and cold weather extending through March and much of April, spring has been very slow coming to the southern Yukon. Actually, it can be argued that we skipped spring altogether because a week ago it abruptly turned quite summery and temperatures have been hitting 20 degrees Celsius with intense sunshine burning down from mostly cloudless skies. I was warm in a T-shirt when I photographed this well preserved autumn aspen leaf, newly emerged from the rapidly melting snow. At this moment, all four seasons seemed to merge into one.
Pentax K10D, Sigma AF 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro @ f/9.5




Posted April 19th, 2009

Abstract close-up of a scarred tree trunk.
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Resinous Old Man

This is another macro shot of the same tree trunk that provided the subject of the April 7th Feature Photo. One of the rewards of macro photography is that one can find many distinctly different images within inches of one another. With imagination, you might also find many different images within the one photograph. The lack of surrounding context and the unfamiliarity of details at this scale provide great potential for abstraction. I hesitate to title an image like this by identifying something I see in it; for that matter, I hesitate to identify what the subject really is. You might see something completely different and I don’t want my labels to stifle your imagination. Let loose your creative mind and explore your own psyche when you look at something like this. I took the photo, ... you can complete the image.
Pentax K10D, Sigma AF 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro @ f/13




Posted April 7th, 2009

Close-up of scarred tree trunk
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Scar Tissue

Tree trunks are one of my favourite subjects for macro photography. They can be especially beautiful and intriguing where the bark has been damaged and the subsequent healing process and growth of the tree over time has produced colourful areas of varnished exposed wood, encrusted resin and residual bark fragments. The colours always seem to be richest and the textures most pronounced in late winter and early spring. This may have more to do with the lighting than seasonal changes within the tree as brilliant sunshine reflecting off pure white snow provides strong illumination from below. That bottom lighting was dominant in this instance where the subject area was on the shady side of the tree and much of the blue skylight was blocked by the spruce canopy but the surrounding snow cover gleamed in full sunlight.
Pentax K10D, Sigma AF 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro @ f/16




Posted February 16th, 2009

HDR image of a snowy scene
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After the Snows

Another major dump of snow and it really is getting hard to get around out there! After the snow it was back to deep cold ... but February cold is not so bad as the intensifying sun radiates some precious warmth. Ah yes, the SUN!!! It seems like an eternity since we last saw a few days in a row of sunny skies and it has been glorious. This image is another HDR composite of 5 exposures made at 1.5 stop intervals. I could not satisfactorily merge them in Photoshop ... the sky came out a mess with colour banding, a problem I have experienced before with Photoshop’s HDR ... but Photomatix did a fine job. I’m just using the trial version of Photomatix so it was back into Photoshop for tone mapping and touch-ups. Lots of touch-ups! The ultra wide Sigma zoom maintains good contrast when aimed towards the sun but it produces a lot of coloured flare artifacts. Cleaning up these artifacts as best I could was more work than the image surely is worth ... I guess that is the cost of my dedication to presenting current work here.
Pentax K10D, Sigma AF 10-20mm f/4.0-5.6 EX DC @ 10mm, f/9.5




Posted February 3rd, 2009

a single dead weed and its shadow cast on the snow
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A Shadow Cast on a White Crystal Sea

It has been a brutal couple of months and most of my time outside braving the elements has necessarily been dedicated to the perpetual tasks of clearing snow and handling firewood while my camera has sat idle. But this day just past, finally I had the opportunity to strap on the snowshoes and set out to take some pictures. The trail that had been well packed earlier in the winter was now deeply buried and I didn’t make a lot of distance as the snowshoes sank almost knee deep with each step, but it was good to be out there, enjoying temperate weather and the strengthening February sunshine and seeing the world through a viewfinder again. Deep, undisturbed snow offers one great benefit for a photographer: it buries all but the tallest plants, providing a wealth of wonderfully simple, graphic compositions like this one. 
Pentax K10D, Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD IF Macro @ 120mm, f/11




Posted January 15th, 2009

Stunned owl above thermometer at -31C
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Lemme in! It's cold out here!

One day last week I heard a bang resound from the direction of my sunroom and I went to find this owl sprawled upside down on the adjacent deck, flapping its wings helplessly; clearly it had flown into the glass. It was still when I went outside to check on it and I wasn’t sure if it was even alive. I left it for a few minutes and returned to find it perched three feet from a kitchen window on this 2x4 post that helps support a cache of firewood. There it sat for a few hours until dusk. That gave me plenty of time to photograph it but conditions presented a challenge to getting a good image. Aside from the bird not looking its best in its dazed state, frontal lighting was poor, the background was cluttered and there were problematic reflections in the window. I did my best and, with a little help from Photoshop, produced this shot. I believe the subject is a Boreal Owl; someone correct me if I am wrong.
Pentax K10D, Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DiII LD IF Macro @ 170mm, f/8.0