Blog Archives

Leading and Intersecting Lines

I am no expert at composing a perfectly framed image but I do know what I like and I think I know what works for me. This typically means identifying a subject and finding at least a few lines that will draw the attention into the frame and hold it there.

Here I am in Rustico (N 46 27.419 W 63 17.389) for what turned out to be a very brief morning. But I can’t complain. It’s always fantastic when the clouds are heavy and the sun has a clear opening to light them up from below. It may be just another boring sunrise to many but this image is full of leading lines that intersect with even more leading lines.

(This is the same image previously shared on Facebook (here and here) a couple weeks ago on the same morning it was taken.)

Rustico Prince Edward Island

Today’s Image – Rustico Beach

It doesn’t matter how much I plan, how perfectly I set everything up, or how ready “I think” I am because once that sun starts to rise, everything I had prepared for goes out the window and I frantically adjust to the sky, reflections and shadows. This was one of those mornings where I was all ready to shoot in the other direction with my back to the sun.

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Painting With Light

It has been many years since I last finished a painting using traditional mediums and I have a desk full of paints, inks, pens and brushes that now only collect dust. I’ve completely surrendered to the digital world but although I’ve stopped mixing paints, I still feel like I create images with a similar purpose routinely reminding myself artist first, photographer second.

Comparing the two can be interesting. If I was to frame the same scene and take the necessary time to paint only what was in front of me – what would I include and what would I not include? That mental reminder will keep you monitoring the frames edges before clicking away.

The majority of my work is not shot for clients. It’s not created for stock. And I am never thinking about sales. My goal is to create something visually attractive that might possibly look good as a print on my wall. How would this look as a 40 inch fine art piece on canvas?

If others enjoy it too, that’s all the more rewarding.

PEI National Park Rainbow at Covehead

Today’s Image – The End of the Rainbow

Tonight had a little bit of everything in the National Park near Covehead (N 46 25.797 W 63 08.490). A mix of good light, heavy storm clouds, a light rain followed up by a rainbow. I spend over an hour photographing this rock and with almost 100 frames to show for it, this was my selected keeper for angle and wave movement. I’ll keep the rest and revisit them some day.

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Confederation Bridge

After all these years, the Confederation Bridge is something I’ve never photographed seriously. A few compact camera shots with each trip over but never at the right times of day. This past Friday had a low tide scheduled about the same time as sunset and with some careful tide watching, I was able to stay out long enough without being trapped ankle deep in water. Which reminds me, I really need to add rubber boots to my gear wish list.

Prince Edward Island Confederation Bridge

Earlier in the week when this was being planned, I was hoping for one of those nights with storm clouds to the east and a wide open sky for the setting sun to the west. Although the sun only broke through for less than 15 minutes, I suppose wishes do come true. Too bad I failed to also include a vehicle starting the drive across with these long exposures.

Opened in 1997 to replace the ferry, this almost 13 kilometre bridge connects Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick. Everything you would ever want to know about the bridge is on the wikipedia.

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Honest Image Critiques

We live in a world that’s politically incorrect to be negative. In this world where we can do no wrong, you’ll often see complaints among photographers about how Facebook and Flickr, etc are a celebration of everyones work. It has the maximum encouragement because every single photo is the best and those that break that trend are looked down on. Which is totally fair because it’s all personal preferences. There is a reason there is no dislike button. It’s how these sites were designed to work. Negative commenting just looks bad.

I’m not suggesting this type of commenting is wrong and the support is needed but if it were all true, we’d all be fantastic and if we were all fantastic, how does one feel the need to improve? Finding critiques is hard and receiving qualified critiques is even harder. The two local competitions that I know of are held by the PPOC and PEI Photo Club. While at different levels, the live judging is a great experience to watch. You can learn so much even on the prints that are not your own. And whether I agree with the comments or not, I want to hear the negatives just as much, if not more than the positive ones. After all, I already liked the photo enough to share it.

For the past two years, I have volunteered my time to help organize the photo print show for the PEI Photo Club and part of the exhibit involves hiring judges to provide constructive reviews for each and every print. Judges range from photographers, painters, instructors, designers and gallery owners. I don’t remember all of the positive comments but I do remember all of the negative ones still 3 years later. They have forever greatly impacted my opinions on the specific elements the comments were referring to.

This years show will be opened to the public in downtown Charlottetown from July 9th – 30th at The Guild Gallery. Full details can be found at www.peiphotoclub.com.

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Earth Hour

Show your support by turning off your lights tonight March 31st from 8:30 to 9:30. The Big Picture always has a great series of images of big city support but it begs the question – Why do we need to light up the outside of buildings at night or keep office lights on all night long? Images from 2011, 2010 and 2009 (click on photos for before and after)

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Photographically Speaking

I’ve been slowly reading the latest book from David duChemin since Christmas (it’s been a busy year) and he never fails with his ability to start an internal discussion to critique ones work. The message is always well beyond the many how-to step-by-step guides and much more about aesthetics. His suggestions may not have clearly defined answers but are always based on a solid foundation.

Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images is the fourth book in the series following Within the Frame, Vision Mongers and Voice & Vision. This latest book is all about why a photograph was made and being able to describe in details the purpose or intent the photographer had. David challenges you to defend every element that makes up that single frame. It’s an interesting discussion and a slow read with each page making me pause to think or read again.

The readers of your photograph make an assumption. They assume that you know what you are doing, that you meant to say the things you did by including or excluding elements and making certain decisions, whether technical—that is, optics, shutter speed, and aperture—or artistic—that is, your point of view and use of perspective or your framing. The reader believes you meant to do it. So whether or not the idea of intent works for you, it is assumed by your readers. And because they believe this, all content—whether we intended it or not—has meaning.

As I continue to read through this book and think about my own work, it reinforces and reminds me of the one tool I use the most. I’ll spend a long time positioning the tripod and camera over and over making small adjustments again and again until I think I’m happy. And then I’ll adjust everything one more time. But back at home later that day, week or month when I’m looking at those 2×3 files, I’ll spend just as much time playing with the crop tool debating even more what should be removed from or aligned to the frame. It’s easily the most used tool in my workflow – everything else is secondary.

Sonora Hills

Today’s Image – Rolling Hills Near Sonora

Last fall, I spent a couple days renting a house in the hills near Sonora (N 37 56.768 W 120 23.026) and each morning I would venture out in the unfamiliar place, down the hill and work with the chaos of nature and the rising sun. It has now been several months since this day and I’ve revisited the many images from this location several times. Each time adjusting it but ultimately deciding something just wasn’t right. I’ve fussed over the small details but now believe I’m finally satisfied. So I’m not sure if it actually does work or I’ve convinced myself that it does because I so badly want it to. I can still hear that rooster.

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Prince Edward Island Photography Workshops

I have no business relationship with John Sylvester or do I have any incentive to promote his work but I do very much enjoy it. A few years ago during a book launch, the topic of workshops came up and I suggested that PEI could use one from a local photographer. I ensured that I could fill the class from the PEI Photo Club members alone to make it worth John’s time to organize. Not only did the weekend limited to 8 participants fill up quickly, the following 2 weekends sold out as well. That success and support continues to show 3 years later.

As I write this, there are only a couple spots remaining for 2012, but even if you have no interest in this weekend adventure (which I do recommend after attending one myself), the following video about Prince Edward Island is still a joy to watch. Photography has really changed my opinion of this island I’ve ignored and taken for granted all my life.

Video produced by Foulkes Productions

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Northern Lights over PEI

The Aurora is something we rarely see on Prince Edward Island but for the past week it feels like it has been routinely in the news due to high CME activity. Some of the images coming out of Iceland and western Canada have been incredible but despite all – I have not heard of anyone local to PEI witness the show this week.

Landscape and nature photography can often be rewarding but also very frustration with one trip after another to the same location time and time again – only to return without what you went for. We chase weather and we chase light. Two forces that are hard to predict and over the past 7 days, I have fallen asleep more than once parked in my car staring at the sky in the early hours of the morning on the north shore.

As rare as it may be – the lights can be seen when all the stars align. This is an image from last summer in the National Park. The posts you see next to the road are the relatively new don’t park here along the Gulf Parkway. This particular night remains to be the first and only night I have witnessed the show in person.

Prince Edward Island Aurora

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A Round Sprocket Cokin P173 Blue Yellow Filter

I originally shared this on the now retired How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies weblog but it has enough value to publish again. The following steps may help you better use Cokin’s Blue/Yellow Polarizing filter.

If you are like me, you bought the Cokin P173 Polarizer and received it in a square plastic casing. You placed this filter into the Cokin-P holder, rotated the polarizer to the desired strength and then found yourself scratching your head because it was now near impossible to add a graduated filter. This limitation alone was a primary reason why my P173 filter found a permanent home in the camera bag. I actually had it listed for sale until I told Darwin Wiggett my frustrations. He happens to know a thing or two about photography and suggested this fantastic solution, but first, let’s pause to talk about today’s photo.

Prince Edward Island

A thin strip of Prince Edward Island coastline intersects two equal halves of the clean and competing colors in the sky and water. In the distance are the sand dunes of Cavendish. I’m not typically a fan of a clear sky but sometimes no clouds can be acceptable and for a very windy location like this, it takes a long 20 second exposure to make even the best of days look calm.

Back to the filter mod.

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