Nights with Stars

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We had a crystal clear sky, and with the moon rise set for just after 1AM, it meant a window of opportunity between about 10:30PM and 1AM to photograph the stars.

I had picked out the location earlier this year, at the end of Wilkins Walk here in Barrie. There is a small stream that connects to Kempenfelt Bay and I envisioned a star trail shot here. So, I set out to enjoy the stars.

Along the way, some large fish were splashing in the stream as they moved against the flow. It startled me at first, as walking through a small patch of forest alone at night can make you very alert. I also noticed that Trilliums so not close up at night, and they were glowing along the sides of the trail when my flashlight hit them. It was a beautiful walk to the location, even though I was a little on edge.

After arriving and trying a few different compositions and lenses, I settled on a fisheye shot framed with silhouettes of trees on either side of the stream. The atmosphere was beautiful, and there was even a Great Blue Heron fishing in complete darkness nearby. The bird wasn’t affected by my presence, almost as if we both had a right to be there.

It was at this point that I realized I had forgotten my remote shutter release at home, and had no way to continuously trigger my camera for the star trail shot I was after. After a few frustrating moments, I found a simple solution: using packing tape I carry in my camera bag, I taped a small pebble over the shutter release button to keep it depressed for as long as I wanted to sit under the stars.

For the next hour and a half, I sat and listened to the sounds of midnight nature. The occasional restless songbird, the waves, and fish jumping at flies. At one point I heard the sound of a Mallard Duck’s wings overhead, flying into the distance.

It’s times like this that you’re compelled to reflect on who you are, where you are, and the path you’ve taken to get there. While daydreaming under the stars, the stress of daily frustrations fade away and the most valuable things in life become as clear as the night sky. Memories, love, career choices, hopes and dreams yet to be fulfilled. Being lost in thought is a powerful way to find yourself. The only reminder as to why I was there was the occasional “click|clock” of the camera, ending one exposure and beginning another.

When my alarm buzzed in my pocket at 1AM, I packed up the equipment and headed back to the car. Teeth chattering this time from the cool air, I checked on the fish in the stream – still forging upwards. The Trilliums were still glowing and everything else was waiting for the first light of the new day to spring back to life. I got what I came for, and found more than I expected.

This is the image that I brought home:

This inspired me to do more star trail images. The next one I created was over the town of Collingwood, as seen from the top of The Blue Mountains:

That night was more filled with fear of wild animals than anything, and I drove my car beyond the allowed boundaries to stay comfortable while my camera worked it’s magic.

Checking the weather, it looked like another star trail opportunity opened up for my trip to Sudbury. I was headed up to visit family for a delicious BBQ, and went up one day earlier to capture a star trail shot at The Big Nickel, one of Sudbury’s landmarks. I challenge you to show me a more amazing photograph of this icon:

… and finally, a few nights ago I took a new lens for a test-drive. Canon’s new 8-15mm Fisheye lens creates a circular image so wide that when pointed upwards, anything on the horizon higher than the camera is in the frame, including the tree tops. While not a star trail (clouds were moving in), it rounds out the experience… one I intend to pursue again in my travels:

I’d like to finish this post by saying that we do not see the world as it is, but rather the way it is useful for us to see. There are many different ways to see the world around us, and all of them difficult from our own eyes. 🙂

Macro Photography @ Georgian College

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With spring here and an abundance of insects and flowers to photograph, I’ve been busy! Just like this busy honey bee I captured yesterday:

My Macro Photography course is starting at Georgian College, from May 22nd to June 5th.

The course is 15 hours (9 classroom, 6 in the field) and covers all areas of macro photography. From gear to technical info, composition and all the tricks to take fun pictures like this Dandelion refraction image:

I’ll even have preserved snowflakes on hand!

Here’s the details:

Where?: Georgian College Barrie Campus
Who?: Anyone! No prerequisites, and special lenses are not required!
Cost: $132.00
When: May 22 – June 5, 2012, Tuesday Nights 7-10PM
Saturday June 2nd, 9AM-3PM Outing
Course CRN: #35105
Sign Up: Click Here for Georgian College signup page

I’ll need a few more participants in the course before it can run! It’s a great opportunity to expand your photography and learn all my secrets. 🙂 If you know someone that is interested, please pass the info along.

And for those that simply enjoy the photographs with no desire to make your own – here’s a gallery to browse of some recent images: