This fall I had some great opportunities to get out and explore some local and not so local forests and take some really large panoramic images.
Shooting panoramics in forests can be tricky. With the dense vegetation you cant get a distant view to get lots in focus, and the lighting is often more contrasted compared to other landscapes. But when conditions are good and everything lines up it is a joy. I really enjoy exploring forest settings, specially during the autumn months. The lighting, the colours and textures all make for great scenes.
Recently we had some nice consistant clear days with heavy frost and I went out on one magical afternoon and shot a series of images. The light streaming through the forest lit up the frost tinged fern leaves and other underbrush. Combined with some fog, it created a truly magical setting.
Capturing awesome shots of wildlife in British Columbia is not typically challenging if you are in the right place.
There is such a bounty of amazing animals and scenery to shoot in the wild places of Canada’s westernmost province. This year I decided to up the difficulty a little by trying to do some truly large scale images of the dramatic scenery, but including animals in them, such as whales, bears and salmon.
It was easier said than done, especially shooting multiple stitched images from the deck of a moving boat. With the unpredictability of whales that pop up in sometimes unexpected places, it made it challenging to frame the images. But I still managed to get a few this year.
There is a large increase in the Humpback whale population in the Salish Sea and up the coast of British Columbia. There is something pretty cool about seeing a whale tail lifted out of the water against a backdrop of mountains.
On my first trip to the Oreford River in Bute Inlet I also tried a few large scenes with Grizzly Bears. Not having much time, and with the sometimes quickly moving bears, it proved difficult. But the scenery is so dramatic there that even with just one bear in the image it makes for an eye-catching scene. that is symbolic of the coast.
Next year I plan to spend a considerable amount of time really focusing on wildlife panoramics. The challenge is fun and the images worth it.
Note- These images and all the rest on the website can be used for many different applications including large wall murals, architectural installations, and billboard sign graphics. Contact me if you have any ideas you want to discuss.
I also do free image mockups if you send me a photo of your space.
I have always wanted to explore the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Canada.
This August I finally got to go there for two very short weeks. With a wedding on Cape Breton Island and family to visit in Prince Edward Island we got to see a fair bit of two of the Provinces. New Brunswick will have to wait till another time. After landing in Halifax we picked up our rental van and headed off to the first stop of many in what would become an epic adventure. We ended up in the Atlantic Superstore parking lot and equipped our van to be our mobile base and accommodations. After a few more stops we were off.
As we always like to take the road less travelled we headed up the eastern shore of Nova Scotia and took the long route to Cape Breton Island. With dense fog enshrouding the bays we wound our way in and out of wonderfully remote fishing villages and other communities in the seemingly middle of nowhere. It was hard to discern what exactly people do who choose to live in some of these out of the way places. What wasn’t hard to see was what a lot do on Sundays. It seemed here that there were a lot of churches. We liked to joke that for every five houses that made up a village there was a church. And we can’t have been far off.
After realizing that the fog that obscured a lot of the views was actually a blessing, we got excited about exploring some interesting locations. One stop in particular had us fascinated for quite some time. seeing a derelict old fishing vessels unceremoniously perched at the side of the road we halted our journey and poked around. After photographing a few boats that were in various stages of decay on the shore we discovered a whole new scene just around the corner. Two large steel vessels were piled together at the edge of a working marina. The visuals of the rusting metal hulks and the lobster traps in the dense fog was just to great to pass up.
It seemed as we made our way north we would be treated to many such feasts for the eyes. Cape Breton Island and the great people there made our time wonderful. Around wedding activities we still got in some exploring, including some swamp diving, and an epic fast trip around the famous Cabot Trail. Fast because we didn’t leave Sydney till late in the day and we raced to catch the sunset on some dramatic scenery. As we got to the top of the trail we again were cloaked in fog and rain. So the sunset race became a quest to try to finish before dark and take in as many scenic points as we could. I think we will have to return in better weather and take our time on this road.
The Confederation bridge is a pretty big deal.
In its record making construction but also how it changed the access to and from Prince Edward Island. As we crossed this bridge onto PEI it was very obvious we had also changed provinces. PEI is well known for a few things. Among them red sand beaches, potatoes, and Anne of Green Gables. Even before hitting the fertile soils of PEI we saw the red coastline, and within minutes were surrounded by potato fields. And I kept my eye out for Anne.
Of course I had to find vantage points to do some large panoramic images of this amazing bridge. From areas in Charlton and Chelton beach I was able to get some good views of the bridge extending out almost thirteen kilometers to New Brunswick.
Every morning I tried to get up and catch a sunrise as it illuminated the fantastic sandstone cliffs along the north shore. Orange sunrise light, red cliffs and beach and the Atlantic ocean made for some stunning scenery. PEI residents are very proud of thier beaches and for good reason. There were so many. Some famous and some hidden away. Sloping sand dunes and beach grasses came to symbolise PEI for me. Oh and potatos. But I never saw Anne.
The last few days of our trip were spent cruising around Nova Scotia again. Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and other lesser known places. We didn’t get everywhere we wanted to go but we did get a great taste of what the province has to offer. Peggy’s Cove was a highlight and we even went back a second day. Partly because it was such a great place, and also because we saw a cute little house for sale 🙂 . One can always dream. There are so many hidden corners in this amazing little village. So many people go there it seems to see the lighthouse, but I was way more fascinated with the village and the cove and the local residents. I even got in the water and did some over under images of the bay.
Lunenburg really had a lot to offer, as well as some nearby small villages. One in particular called Blue Rocks really held our attention. Not as many people there but the small fish dock with quaint little buildings was so iconic and perfect for some large panoramic images.
Every cove and headland held something of value to explore, and two weeks we spent here was not nearly enough. After a couple of nights in Halifax we left for home, planning our next trip back even as we flew back to the West Coast.
To see these and many more super high resolution panoramic images of Nova Scotia and PEI go to the image gallery Canadian Maritimes.
In the image galleries you can use a virtual Magnifying tool to inspect the images more closely.
A profusion of colourful flowers in a woodland setting.
May on Vancouver Island brings generally pretty typical spring weather. But this year we had some beautiful long stretches of sunshine with temperatures in the thirties. A local Woodland garden that features Rhododendrons of many varieties was in full bloom so I went and spent an couple hours wandering around and shooting. These panoramic images of various Rhodo bushes are all high resolution and show the detail of each flower in all its glory, yet offer a wider view than just the flower. By stepping back from the plant and using a telephoto lens I was able to shoot these images that are made made up many frames stitched together. The following images could all be printed on a wall mural 10 feet high and you could walk up to it and see dramatic detail in each flower and leaf.
Shooting high resolution images like this of flowers and other vegetation is really enjoyable to me. There is so much beauty in the larger scene but also at he macro level there is a lot of detail to be portrayed.
This spring I also have been working on truly macro level multi shot panos of small forest flowers only a few inches in height. Watch for these in the next blog post.
To see these and more high resolution forest images go to image gallery HERE.
In the image galleries you can use a virtual Magnifying tool to inspect the images more closely.
In May I went to New York City for the first time and was amazed by it.
Not being a big city person I wasn’t sure I would be happy there. But I LOVED it. Every moment that I wasn’t at the Art Expo I was out wandering the streets and riding the Metro at all hours of the day. Most mornings I was up to catch the sunrise as it lit up the buildings or Central Park. On the last day I started at 4:45am by taking the subway to Brooklyn to capture Manhattan with early morning light hitting the buildings.
Then all day was spent wandering around the financial district and the World Trade Center memorial. It was very poignant being here for the first time. We also went up One World Trade building to the lookout. Here I took hundreds of images looking down on the city from one hundred floors up, including a few big panos with 80 to 100 images in them. I haven’t built those ones yet as it will take me some time to get to them.
Later that evening my sister and I took a little ferry over to Jersey City and looked back at Manhattan as the setting sun painted the amazing skyline with golden light. We sat at the ferry dock and watched as the ferry boats transported all the workers home from the financial district and the lights twinkled on for the evening.
I will for sure need to return here and spend another week shooting. It definitely exceeded my expectations as a city.
Middle Earth, or so it has been dubbed since the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies, is really in New Zealand.
During December and January I spent a few weeks at home for the holidays. While I was there I spent some time with my brother-in-law exploring some fascinating high country landscapes in Central Otago. Growing up in the Cardrona Valley and Wanaka imbued in me an appreciation for these vast and seemingly desolate areas.
Leaving Lake Wanaka before dawn on two occasions we drove up through arid farmland and then on to the tops of some ranges as the sun broke over the horizon. The sunrise sent spectacular rays of light penetrating patches of fog that blew up the valleys.
Large format image paradise.
This area lent itself perfectly to expansive panoramic images. So I created a lot of large format images made up of multiple frames stitched together. There is not a lot of obvious detail in many of the scenes but with this photographic technique it allowed me to capture the essence of the landscape perfectly. Wide expansive vistas combined with the ability to look closely at the images and see detail that is easily missed.
On our first foray we left town in shorts as it was the middle of summer after all. As we reached an altitude of sixteen hundred meters the temperature dropped to one degree celsius. Another couple hundred meters and it started snowing and we wished we had dressed a little warmer. Shooting moonlike landscapes in the summer while snow blew sideways made for quite a contrast.
The diversity of life and subtle beauty can easily be over-looked with a quick glance. By spending time in this alpine environment one can witness bird life and many varieties of unique plants.
Typically a seabird, this Pied Oyster Catcher seems out of place in the alpine environment.
The most striking topographical feature in these areas is the Tors. These are Mica Schist rock formations that seemingly rise up out of the ground and are weather beaten and dramatic. Many years of wind and freezing temperatures have shaped these rocks into fantastical shapes. As time wears on the relentless forces of erosion break them down into ever smaller pieces. Due to the mystical looking landscape the area has consequently been used as location for many movies over the years.
Overcoming the challenges of shooting stitched image wildlife panoramics.
Stitched Landscape Panoramics have been popular for a while now and I have been enjoying the challenge of making epic landscape images with this technique. On a recent trip to Botswana my mission was to try super high resolution Stitched Wildlife Panoramics.
gathering at the local watering hole.
Large herds of animals at predictable sites like watering holes made it a bit easier to plan my approach. We were always in vehicles, making it a little trying at times. When the scene was on the other side of the vehicle nobody wanted me clambering onto their lap to get the shot. But fifty percent of the time the scene was on my side and I was able to experiment with this approach. I started with single row images, comprising of four to twelve or more images taken from left to right. (making it easier to visualize when loaded into in my photo processing software). I mostly used a gymbal head mounted on a tripod and secured to the open-sided vehicle with a bungee cord.
When the animals were more stationary it made it a bit easier to shoot a sequence without the movement of animals making the stitching process flawed. Elephants and giraffes standing still were the best subjects.
Note how my first and last pictures in the sequence are index marker images. I use my thumb in the pictures to indicate this. Later in my workflow this makes it much easier to see all the images that make up a particular panoramic, especially if I am shooting single frame images at the same time. It also is a good conversation starter when onlookers ask why I always take pics of my thumbs.
On the move.
When the animals are moving, such as a herd of zebra around a watering hole, the whole process is more difficult. In this case, I had to shoot and look ahead at the same time. Quickly composing the images with overlapping areas in spots that had no animals, or at least more stationary ones, made for better results . As you can imagine this was a very fluid method and it didn’t always work out well. But by taking several sequences I usually got something I was happy with. Of course this wasn’t confirmed until I returned home and started stitching the images together.
I mostly use Adobe Lightroom for the stitching process and Adobe Photoshop for final touches. Surprisingly, Lightroom is able to stitch images quite well even when there is some movement, eg a zebra walking. It intuitively picks the best parts of the overlapping images and creates a good join. Only a couple times did I end up with an animal with five legs.
After I felt comfortable with this technique I started adding double row panoramics. To do this effectively I had to be careful to not have any animals overlapping into the row above, as the animals would have moved enough by the time I got back to that area in the second row.
One animal surprised me.
One animal that was surprisingly easy to photograph in this way was the mighty giraffe. I did not know this but, as gangly as they look, they actually stand stock still at times. Thus I was able to do some creative images with them, singly and in groups. Some fun images I created were vertical stitched images going up and down their bodies as they stood motionless.
This was a very fun and rewarding trial and I am very happy with the results. Of course a return trip is in the works to perfect this process!
To see all of these wildlife panoramic images go to