Canadian photographer R. John Knight shares the stories behind some of his nature and wildlife images

Monday, November 28, 2011

Icebergs In August, Newfoundland

During our visit to Newfoundland last summer, we traveled up the Great Northern Peninsula to St. Anthony, Goose Cove, St. Lunaire, Griquet, Gunner's Cove and Quirpon.  The icebergs were late coming south this year.  The locals could not remember seeing such large icebergs during August before.  When we reached St. Anthony, there were large icebergs grounded in many coves and visible on the distant horizon. 

Grounded Icebergs, St. Anthony Bight, NL
Goose Cove, NL
Many of the icebergs were apparently remnants of the Petermann Ice Shelf which had broken off from a glacier in the northwest part of Greenland during early August, 2010.  The largest of these was about 55 square kilometres in size; too big to photograph.  It had taken a year following the counter-clockwise movement of the currents in Baffin Bay to drift ~4800 kms south to the shores of Newfoundland.   According to the news media and NASA, portions of the ice shelf survived until early October 2012 when it eventually grounded northeast of the Horse Islands (northeast of the Baie Verte Peninsula, NL) and broke apart.

Remnants of Petermann Ice Shelf, Goose Cove, NL
Icebergs, Goose Cove, NL

Even under overcast and drizzly skies, the icebergs were impressive.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Autumn Colours with PD Effect - Going With The Flow

Chilko River, BC with PD Effect
What do you do when you go out to photograph wildflowers, and find that while the lighting is great, it is too windy to get sharp images?  You have two choices: Go Home with no images, or Go with the Flow, or Mother Nature in this instance,  and capture some artsy abstract images of the wild flowers moving in the wind. 

During a recent photo tour to photograph grizzlies, black bears, bald eagles and ospreys in the Chilko Valley, BC, there were also opportunities to capture images of the fall colours and reflections.

Bluff Lake, BC
Chilko Lake, BC
Getting sharp images from a small boat that is bobbing up and down due to water motion, or movement by other occupants, can be challenging.
While searching along the Chilko River for wildlife, there were long periods when there was no wildlife to photograph.  Most of the time, we chatted back and forth, or sat quietly while we watched the shoreline.  It was during these periods that I saw the opportunity to capture images of the surrounding landscape and fall colours.  Landscape images during a Wildlife photo tour may be heresy to some people!  However, I saw the situation as Going with the Flow and taking advantage of what was in front of me. 

When my meds for a Parkinson tremor wore off, I had another opportunity to Go with the Flow, and capture different image of the fall colours.  I used a Canon 5D MkII with a 300mm lens (image stabilization OFF) with no tripod and no meds.  My camera settings were:  ISO = 100, aperture = F8-16 and shutter speed = 1/15 - 1/50 s.  Live View was used so that I could see generally at what I was aiming, and attempt to control composition.  

Each shot was an experiment because I didn't know what the combination of my tremor and the bobbing boat might produce.  I quickly discovered that too slow a shutter speed produced 'muddy-looking' images with too much blur.  Too fast a shutter speed created images that look like out-of-focus accidents.  Unfortunately too, my tremor is not a Variable Control model, so I couldn't experiment with changing aspects of frequency, magnitude, patterns, etc.).  With my tremor full-on, I had to watch too that I didn't drop my camera overboard.

Fall colours along the Chilko River with PD Effect
Fall colours along the Chilko River with PD Effect

Fall colours along Chilko River with PD Effect
I think that the results of Going with the Flow and using PD Effect is an interesting way to produce impressionistic abstracts.  Each image is unique.

If you do not have a Parkinson or some other kind of tremor, you might use one of the techniques described by Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant, "Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image" (Key Porter Books, 2001).  Don Johnston's October 27th blog also describes some techniques to create similar results.

What kind of 'mover and shaker' are you?  What kind of abstracts can you create?