Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nature trails, naturally

T'is the season to hike barefoot, tra-la-la-la-la, la-la, la-la. :) For me, anyway. As stated here before, I like to enjoy nature on its own terms, where it's mutually-agreeable anyway. The weather's warm, the forests are soft and cool, and in this country, that's a brief combination. Of I go. Or, more precisely, yesterday, off I went.

And Mother Nature said 'This is what we've got for you, kid'
This is five shots combined with AutoStitch into one image, a parorama (obviously) of the treetops to the toetips. This is on a rise of land in Bruce's Mill Conservation Area, possibly the most-amenable park I've found for this kind of thing. It's beautiful, full of colours, scents, sounds, and textures. When the wind passes through the trees and you're alone with them, you could swear you're the only person on Earth and the world has always been this way and always should.

Trillium, Ontario's floral emblem
Right now, the park is alive — literally — with trilliums, the three-leaved white blossoms that are the floral emblem of the Province of Ontario.

Inside that same trillium, I happened to notice this guy. A couple of days ago, I found the digital macro setting on my new Canon S80 (I know, I know, a tech writer who doesn't read the manual... but I'm an intermediate photographer! "Scene settings"? We don't need no stinking "Scene settings!"...). I've gotten some amazing results out of the patient use of that setting, so I switched to it and, after a few tries, got this. The lens probably got within two inches of this bug, but he never shied away, and never get nervous or threatening. It's almost as though he knew he was caught and was resolved to die. I know I'm reading too much into it, but that's how it seemed. I don't really believe he was happy and relieved when nothing of the sort happened, but I like to imagine he was.

Visiting my ant
The digital macro setting was also useful in photographing this ant among these little pod things embedded in the leaf. I don't know what they were. I suspect they were eggs of some sort, probably due to hatch out into caterpillars of one kind or another. There were hundreds of them on the leaves of this tree.

Up, up, and away!
Here's a photographic Mexican stand-off... I wanted to photograph this beetle, but I think he had had enough of me and decided to take off without giving me a chance. Neither of us got quite what we wanted, but in the end I'm kind of pleased with the compromise we inadvertently worked out. :)

The other camera I was carrying with me yesterday was my Canon G1. I bought it on eBay several months ago and immediately sent it off to Melbourne to a pro photographer who reconditions several different models of digital cameras for shooting near infrared light (that's infrared light just outside the visible spectrum, as opposed to far infrared, the kind normally associated with heat-radiant bodies... near IR, like visible light, is reflected). The world of near infrared light is striking. It's familiar because the shapes and vista are what we see, but it's disturbingly or provocatively alien because the tonal cues are not what we expect, especially for cloudy skies and foliage. I love this kind of photography... it's like super black and white photography. For this outting, I had the G1 set to take bracketed exposures (three shots, -1, 0, and +1 stops up and down). A program called Photomatix can combine such spreads to express the tonal variation between them, and you can get some profound images that are often widely prized on Flickr. A lot of people do this with regular visible light images, but so far as I've seen, I'm on the only one doing this in infrared. That'll likely change, but I haven't seen anyone else do it yet.

HDR IR Stairway to Nature
This is part of a set of stairs that leads you up to the rise where I took the first shot (the vertical panorama).

HDR IR Field of Dreams
At the far end of the rise, at the very edge of the park, is a farmer's field I've always found lovely. This was assembled from seven AEB sets into seven HDR images using Photomatix, and then combined into one image using AutoStitch. What you're looking at here is actually the single expression of 21 exposures. As you might imagine, arriving at this result took a considerable amount of care and time.

HDR IR I Woke Up and It Was Over
This is view from the field back near the parking lot, taken as I was ending my trek, walking now through the tame grass rather than the wild forest. To me, this image evokes the sense of something I yearned for as a boy: awaking in a strange new world where my potential was renewed and boundless.

HDR IR Tree of knowledge
This one is garnering some nice comments on Flickr. It's from the same field as the previous shot. As I was putting the finishing touches on it, I was watching one of the very first episodes of Star Trek: the one where they pass though the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy and two of the crew slowly become gods. The image really seemed to take on meaning for me when Kirk yells into the canyon at the unseen Gary Mitchell, "Above all else, a god needs compassion!"

Then I got back into my car and drove back to the shod(dy old) world. :)


L-girl said...

Terrific photos, LP - especially the b&w's. Very evocative.

katherine said...

You're really making some nice, nice images. Thanks, they're fun to look through!