Sunday, 24 July 2011

A parasitic plant

Photographed with Nikon D700 and Nikor 105mm f/2.8 lens.

Last week I had an opportunity to join a couple of friends in Algonquin Park (Ontario) for a 12 km hike.  While hiking through a mixed forest we stumbled upon a small cluster of white plants growing on the forest floor.  What seemed strange at the time was the plants were growing in an area of the forest that did not receive direct sunlight.

As it turned out we came across Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), a native plant to the temperate regions of Asia, North America and northern South America.  

Unlike most other plants, Indian Pipe is white and does not contain chlorophyll (the pigment that gives the green colour to all other plants).  Chlorophyll also provides energy for plants but in order for that to happen the green pigment (found in the leaves) needs to be exposed to sunlight.  So, how does the Indian Pipe generate its energy if it lacks chlorophyll?

The answer is quite simple.  Instead of producing energy from sunlight, the Indian Pipe is parasitic - meaning that the plant feeds off another living source. The plant hosts a certain fungi that has formed a relationship with the roots of trees growing near by.  In general terms, the fungus 'steals' the energy from the roots of trees growing in the sunlight and this energy is then supplied to the Indian Pipe plant.

This special, but complex, relationship created by the fungus allows the Indian Pipe to grow in the very dark environment such as the understory of a dense forest.  Now, that is neat!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Photographing Gulls

All images captured with a 105mm f/2.8 lens (VR set to 'on')

What do you do when a Cape Cod beach is closed for swimming due to strong currents and heavy winds?   Well, if you are a photographer you would throw Goldfish crackers in the air and photograph the gulls as they perform a variety of aerial acrobatics overhead ....

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Postcards from Nauset, Cape Cod

Gentle surf - f/22  2 sec. exposure

Moon light over the water - f/22  18 to 30 sec. exp.

Greetings from Nauset Beach, Cape Cod.

One of my favorite places on Earth is Nauset Beach located in Orleans, Cape Cod.  Its ultra-fine sand, the gentle surf and the most incredible evening light have always captivated my soul ever since my childhood days when visiting the Cape with my folks.  Very little has changed since then.

I could easily spend the entire summer on the Cape capturing its beauty and its countless moods on film.

Speaking of which, I guess I should slowly make my way back to the beach.

Cheers, enjoy your day!


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sunset over the Cape

Sunset, as seen from Race Point (Cape Cod)

Ahh, life can't get any better!!!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Whale watching

A humpback whale swimming on its back

What a day at sea!

Yesterday afternoon I joined a whale watching tour that took us ten miles off the shore of Cape Cod.  During our four-hour tour we spotted 15 humpback and 18 minke whales feasting on an abundance of aquatic invertebrates, fish and plants.  The highlight of the afternoon was spotting a mother humpback with her six-month old calf in tow.  We were also treated to some fin slapping and breaching (unfortunately I was too slow to capture the breach on film - only managed a shot or two of the enormous splash).  According to the biologist onboard fin slapping on the water is a form of communication between whales.  Toward the end of the tour I managed to photograph a humpback swimming on its back.  Incredible creatures!

Our marine biologist was able to recognize most individuals that we spotted thanks to the unique colour patterns and markings on the the backs, tails and fins of each whale.  He was extremely excited to have observed that the mother humpback and her calf were new to the area (and as of yet un-named).

Photographing these marine mammals was relatively straightforward.  Throughout the photo shoot it was important to keep in mind that a whale may breach or slap its tail very close to the boat and the resulting splash may very well drench the camera gear (salt water is unforgiving to electronics).  I always carry a plastic bag large enough to cover the camera and lens just incase.    For my images (available on my website) I used a Nikon D700 with a 300mm f/2.8 lens attached.  The vibration reduction mode was switched to 'on' to compensate for the rocking motion of the boat.  I also decided to use Aperture Priority mode as this took care of the ever changing light conditions which allowed me to concentrate on the composition of my images.  You will also need to figure out an ISO that is high enough for fast shutter speeds which makes for crisper images since both the boat and whales are constantly moving.  Using the Continuous High Shutter Speed mode allows you to shoot numerous frames per second.  Depending on light conditions you may wish to underexpose your images by as much as 1-full stop (this ensures the white colour markings on the whales are not blown out). 

Here's another useful tip - the straps on the camera and lens are there for a reason - USE THEM!!  Also, try not to hit the heads of excited kids with your lens.

More images from yesterday's photo shoot are available on my website.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Friday, 8 July 2011

Postcard from the Cape

Hello from Cape Cod!
This shot was taken shortly before sunset at Race Point Beach.
I always look forward to photographing the evening colours of the Cape.

Cape Cod at Dusk

A quick hello from the beaches of Cape Cod!

Last night I had an opportunity to photograph the outgoing tide a few minutes after sunset.  I was hoping to capture a few shots illustrating the colours, patterns and movement of the gentle waves lapping onshore.  The camera, with 300mm attached, was mounted on a tripod.  The f/stop was set at f/22 with an exposure ranging from 1 to 2 seconds.  A cable release was also used to minimize disturbance to the camera.  Above are a few of my favorites.

Now, once the rain stops, it's time to capture the dunes, beaches and ocean bathed in sunlight.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

See you in Pyeongchang

Opening Ceremony- Vancouver 2010

Congratulations to Pyeongchang South Korea, the host city for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games!  Pyeongchang was awarded the Games today during the 123rd Session of the IOC in South Africa.   The other two candidate cities bidding for the Games were Munich (Germany) and Annecy (France)
Check out the official website at 2018.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Happy 4th

Wishing all my American friends a Happy Fourth.


River Run

All photos of the Kathleen River (taken with iPhone 3)

I've been told that one of the best ways to explore the wilds of the Yukon is by canoe.  Where else in the world can one follow the same paddle strokes as the prospectors searching for gold or float alongside ancient glaciers and towering cliffs dotted with mountain goats?

The Yukon is world renowned for its unlimited paddling opportunities.  An endless network of interconnected lakes, streams and rivers criss-cross the Territory allowing canoeists access to its rugged interior where chance encounters with grizzly bears, moose, lynx and wolverine are daily occurrences.

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to paddle both the Kathleen and Takihini Rivers while taking a whitewater canoe course.  Stunning scenery, fabulous company and plenty of chances to test my newly found paddling skills were some of the highlights from that trip.

Now that I feel confident reading the water it's time to organize a longer river journey.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Mamma and Baby Quill

Hello once again!
Last week while returning to Pelly Crossing  I stumbled upon a mother porcupine and her lone offspring waddling their way across the Klondike Highway.  Within seconds of parking the car the pair had made their way to safety halfway up a spruce tree.  With camera (and flash) in hand I snapped a few pictures as the critters tried to make sense of my presence.  Neat animals!