Carden Alvar, new Provincial Park in the making!

Carden Alvar birding area

Sometimes you discover gems like the Carden Alvar lurking in your own back yard!
Been traveling past this area often (turns out it is only a few minutes north of my location) on my way north.
To such destinations as Algonquin, Killarney, Superior, Thunder Bay, Temagami, and many other places one might imagine one has to go to find “great” images.
Little did I realize what a gem was just a short trip away!

Old barn along a road in Carden Alvar
Old barn along a road in Carden Alvar (© Peter Pauer)

So I took a quick run around the Carden Alvar.
It was not a bad trip, maybe should not have used the wife’s small car though.
It bottomed out in a few places and a few rather loud thumps occurred.
But there were lots of other people also trying to drive and bird around portions of it in small cars too.
Would not recommend trying that trail in a small car if it rains though!

I did not see the fabled Loggerhead Shrike, but you could hear it singing (rather laughing at all the people) in the trees.
The Loggerhead shrike is the only member of the shrike family endemic to North America making it a rather unique bird to spot.
There were lots of other birds to be seen flapping around the area too, (no rubber chickens though).

It has a very nicely set up birding trail area by the “Ontario Field Ornithologists

A portion of the area has become the Carden Alvar Provincial Park . The Land use amendment to create the new Provincial Park was approved and the new Park is underway. There are hiking trails in the new park that now exist! Brochures, maps and more information can be found on the The Couchiching Conservancy web site.

Oh, the purple loosestrife invasion is doing very well, there were huge fields full of it everywhere!

Purple loosestrife in a field at Carden Alvar
The invasive species Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) is seen in abundance (© Peter Pauer)


The Photographers stages of being.

The Photographers stages of being.

plasma ball lightning
plasma ball lightning

stage 1 “The Complete Newbie”

Knows they want to take pictures but have no idea how to go about it.

stage 2 “The Interested Beginner”

Knows there is more to photography they begin the process of learning and spend time looking to forums & groups to help grow their skills.

stage 3 “The Obsessive Amateur”

Has a growing evolving kit of equipment.
They spend large amount of time pouring over manufacturer equipment specs and arguing over even the most trivial of details on forums.
They become overly obsessed with the equipment IQ capabilities.
Unfortunately while sidetracked by all the neat equipment available to them they do not spend much time actually growing their skills by working on task of image making.

stage 4 “The Image Maker”

Realizes the equipment is just a tool, a necessary evil.
They finally embark on the real journey of understanding light and imagining. They have a tendency to become a bit reclusive while chasing their new found vision and drop off from or become infrequent visitors to on-line communities in favor of actually working on their skills of producing images.

stage 5 “The Master”

at the zenith of their abilities they reach the Zen of image making.
They become one with the image making process and their equipment (Anyone who believes they have reached this stage, have not!)

stage 6 “There is no stage 6”

By far most people who embark on the photographic journey appear to progress fairly quickly from stage 1 through stage 2 to stage 3 where many tend to get stuck.
They become mired down in trying to understand all the wonderful equipment that keeps appearing on the market for them to obtain.

Many fortunately eventually escape the bling and flash of all the new kit after a while, and get back on track of becoming a proficient image maker.

Though not all make it to stage 4, their hobby becomes the photo equipment in itself. Which is fine, especially if you are a photo equipment manufacturer!

Stage 5 is a myth, no one ever actually gets to this point though some have gotten very close!

Filter tests for long exposure, unusual, infrared

Filter Tests

Or what happens when I find myself out with a new Hoya R72 infrared filter, a Lee big stopper filter and a piece of shade 10 welding glass.
If you want to see any of the images larger just “Right click” them and select “View Image” in FireFox or “open image in new tab” in chrome and safari!
Internet Explorer does not follow normal web standards and this option is missing.

Original – unprocessed
ISO 100 f/13 1/60s
Original scene

Lee Big Stopper
iso 100 f/18 24s
iso 100 f/18 24s
Original from big stopper processed from big stopper

Welding Glass
shade 10
iso 100 f/8 45s
iso 100 f/8 45s
Welding glass original Welding glass processed

Hoya R72
iso 800 f/8 44s
iso 800 f/8 44s
Infrared original Infrared processed

I was out testing my newly acquired Hoya Infrared R72 filter from Vistek .
When I decided to also test out how a piece of shade 10 welding glass (8$) would handle the scene when used as a long exposure filter, something I had read about on other sites.
A use it definitely was not intended for.

All image processing was done in Adobe CC LightRoom 5

The first image pair for comparison is from a Lee Big Stopper 10 stop neutral density filter.

As expected the color from this excellent filter was very good to start with, and color correction and processing was very easy.

The second image pair is from the shade 10 welding glass.

It is not intended for passing true color and it introduced a very strong green cast that was fairly difficult but not impossible to semi color correct.
The glass does alter and remove some of the light spectrum so getting to a true color balance my be tricky to next to impossible
It however is passable and at 8$ could be used in a pinch for anyone wanting to try out long exposure photography before deciding on spending the 150$ or so for the real thing.
The shade 10 welding glass also appears to be about 3 to 4 stops darker than the real 10 stop photo filter.
As such initially calculating exposure was completely hit and miss using the histogram to get to something passable.

The third image pair is from the Hoya R72 infrared filter.

It cuts out most of the entire visible light spectrum and thus cannot be color corrected at all.
Resulting images must be processed as monochromes. False color image can be produced with appropriate post processing techniques.
High point of an infrared filter is it works best in the hot mid day sun, when normal photography produces lackluster images.

Attaching the shade 10 welding glass

NOTE: if you try this we are not responsible for anything at all that might happen.
It is easy if you have a petal lens hood, we just used a couple of rubber bands!
Just be very careful not to touch and damage the front element of your lens with the welding glass if you decide to try this,
it is much safer to first mount a cheap UV filter to the lens to protect it from any accidental contact with the heavy glass.

mounting welding glass with rubber bands
mounting welding glass with rubber bands mounting welding glass with rubber bands

In the next image set I included an x-rite colorchecker passport (really helps with getting images color corrected!) to try to show the effects of the deep green filtration.
If you examine the color chiclets closely you will see that some of them have gone very dark indicating the colors that have been completely removed by the filter,
which makes getting back to a accurate color balance very difficult if not impossible.

base image – no filter
base image no filter

Welding Glass
Original Processed
Welding glass original Welding glass processed

Algonquin Provincial Park – Canada’s amazing park system

Algonquin Park

Algonquin park lake in morning fog
Algonquin park lake in morning fog

Established in 1893,  Algonquin Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada.
Located only a 3 hour drive north of Toronto, Ontario the park provides a wilderness experience that is easily accessed from Southern Ontario.
Encompassing about 7,653 square kilometers (2,955 sq mi), it contains over 2,000 kilometers of back country canoe routes connecting  thousands of its pristine lakes.

Providing for any level of outdoors actives.
From the “civilized city” camper. With eight campgrounds and fourteen hiking trails. That provide easy access for the car camper arriving with tent or trailer. Some even providing electrical hookup along the Highway 60 corridor.

To the skilled outdoors person. With 29 different entry points allowing access to the thousands of kilometers of back-country canoeing and hiking. For overnight and multi day use a back-country permit is required. And you will need to show your approved camp stove to the warden before entering.  There is also a complete bottle and can ban in effect in the back-country.

The park is home to an active and healthy black bear population. As well as wolf packs and fox requiring good back-country skills for those traversing its rugged landscape.
Algonquin with 272 recorded bird species, some residents some migrants, is also a haven for the ornithologist!
Not to forget mentioning spotting the occasional elusive moose!

Located in an area of transition between northern coniferous forest and southern deciduous forest the park is along the “border” between Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. For the landscape enthusiast the park provides excellent diverse scenery in all seasons, especially in the fall when the trees along the highway 60 corridor turn to an amazing riot of colors.

The park boasts a large visitors center located at Km 43 containing a shop, restaurant, museum and a viewing platform overlooking several lakes. As well as a Logging museum at Km 54.5.
WiFi is available only at the visitors center,  and fortunately in most places cell phones still do not have a signal allowing for a quiet peaceful time while visiting.

Whether you are car camping or going back-country I highly rate the park and can only recommend it.
It is well worth the visit!

You can find out more about the park and make your camp reservation at Ontario Parks

For updates and news about the park visit the Friends of Algonquin Park FOAP

There is also an excellent Art Gallery at Km 20 on Highway 60 inside the park boundaries, it is well worth a visit. Entrance to the gallery is by donation, which helps fund it operations.

Enjoy your stay!


Graph Paper Press themes

I have been using various GPP themes for our site for quite a while now.
(This site is currently using the GPP Base theme that interfaces with PhotoShelter’s Marquee theme very nicely).
The themes really are easy to configure, setup and use, and they sure beat trying to write your own code!

Graph Paper Press WordPress themes

Graph Paper Press is a small team of web designers and developers based in Brooklyn, NY who build graphically minimal WordPress themes for photographers, artists and entrepreneurs. Their content-rich designs allow you to create a blog, build a portfolio and sell your photography or artwork online in one place! They offer a variety of free WordPress themes and premium WordPress themes that cater specifically to the needs of creatives. Getting started is easy:

  1. Register an account with Graph Paper Press.
  2. Browse and find a theme you love!
  3. Download it and follow the installation instructions!

Effortless Customization

Graph Paper Press has dozens of WordPress themes and plugins that are both easy to use and customize. Their themes allow you to change fonts, colors, backgrounds, headers, menus, insert logos and create slideshows so that your site is exactly what you want it to be.

E-Commerce Ready

Graph Paper Press also makes a free plugin called Sell Media that allows you to sell photos, prints and other media directly through your WordPress site. Coupled with its many extensions, Sell Media becomes an easy platform through which you can track sales, calculate commissions, protect your work and connect with your customers. It’s a sure-fire way to create and manage a photography business through WordPress. Install Sell Media and voila! You’re running a business!

Final Words…

Sometimes things just don’t work out, and that’s okay. Graph Paper Press offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee on all of their products.

Use this coupon code and save 25%


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A mini review of Sky Crystals

A mini review of Sky Crystals – Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakessky-crystals-cover-product-shot-web

Sky Crystals - Unraveling the Mysteries of SnowflakesSky Crystals – Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakes by Don Komarechka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book! It is a hardcover printed on a heavy stock that showcases the images very well. The book is divided into 3 main sections, with lots of very well reproduced images.

The first section goes into the science and mechanics of how snow crystals are formed.
The second covers the equipment and how-to of shooting your own images of snowflakes.
And the final section covers post processing the many shots in software to arrive at the final image.

Highly recommended read if you are interested in the science, or photography of snowflakes or even just looking at all the pretty pictures of these short lived wonders.

It was a catalyst in rekindling my interest in macro photography!
Very pleased to have purchased it!

View all my reviews on Goodreads

The book can be obtained from

New year and Finally done with all the changes!

lookng up through the trees
Looking up

New Year and DONE!

Finally just in time for the new year,
completed all the major changes to the image library.

It really nice to have Lightroom handling most tasks almost automatically, including uploading selected images to the Photoshelter image bank,  my 500px feed and even facebook (yuck on that one.)
So went forth and bought myself a new decent ASUS ProArt PA248Q IPS monitor to celebrate,  unfortunately it really shows how bad the color was on my supposedly calibrated Samsung  23″ consumer grade monitor.

However the 2 monitors are working out very well side by side with the Asus being used to display the image being worked on  while the Samsung is handling the text and menus.

Also picked up a NetGear Push2TV over the holidays, it lets me wireless display anything my Google  tablet & laptop see over  Miracast or WiDi,  will be great for shows & seminars  (Now hoping some nice Santa brings me a 1080p projector next year. )

Awesome new theme to compliment all the changes

painted chairs

Awesome new theme!

Trying out the brand new just released “Awesome” WordPress theme by Graph Paper Press.
It really is very interesting and quite different than what you normally see!
As usual for a GPP theme it has been very easy to implement and configure  to just the way you want it.

I suspect the hardest part will be to get our main image bank on Photoshelter to at least appear to integrate with this new awesome theme!

Right now it is a bit of a jarring switch going from the main GPP site over to our photo image bank and back again.

Workflow and library major changes in the works

Construction equipment

DAM (Digital Asset Management)

DAM is a pain at best of times.
Trying to hammer out workable, reliable and consistent backup schemes, file naming conventions, image workflow, key wording, meta data is not easy.
And as you keep changing things to hopefully simplify your work, you usually ending up with a lot of inconsistencies in the old image archives.

At least until I attended Gavin Gough’s Photo Workflow seminar at Photoshelter and watched his video on Vimo

Conveniently linked for you here:

Workflow changes

The first changes to my workflow include adding a new step to my backup strategy, and completely renaming all my existing image files! Would be a big ouch except it is actually turning out to be a painless process!

Good thing was my existing backup strategy was already good (decades of working as a IT analyst pays off) but even here I added a new step to separately backup all the raw image files automatically as they come in to an external drive using a neat feature of lightroom I did not know even existed!

At the moment all my existing working image files are being renamed to a consistent naming convention (one day at a time, just so I can watch what is happening) and converted to DNG format files.
All being done automatically and being handled by LightRoom itself!
Yes, I did take a full snapshot backup of the entire image library before beginning this process, so reverting in case something “not good” happens would be easy.

This is one eBook package (includes a lot of extra like pre-built Lightroom presets to speed things up) that can really help your workflow especially if you are handling large volumes of image files.

Wish I had found it sooner, going back and converting 10’s of thousands of digital image files to the new consistent workflow format from many years of shooting is going to take a bit of time.

The next step will be to implement the tagging process to keep track of where individual images are within the workflow process.

Completed a re-organization of all our galleries

bulldozer on hill side
Construction, bulldozer on hill side

Site gallery re-organization

It  had to be done,  it is getting late and I now have eye strain from spending hours moving around and re-organizing all the galleries in our image bank.
But it is finished, at least for now.

Hopefully navigation will be  made  easier by the hierarchical collections of similar galleries that were created.
Should make locating images much easier as well as storing new images into the image bank!

Link to the new structured galleries

Sample of what the main gallery page looks like now!

new gallery collection page showing the top level gallery collections
new gallery collection page showing the top level gallery collections