Maple Leaves

Category: Newsletters 06 October 2016

Maple leaves in their autumn colours on the Oxtongue River, Ontario, Canada. Canon 5DSr, 24mm TS-E lens, 1.3 secs @ f16, polarising filter.

High above us; a squadron of Canada Geese flying south, maybe 30 birds in an immaculate double-V formation. It’s a sign; autumn is here. But is it? The locals here in Wakefield are bemoaning the late arrival of fall colour; the tale-end of September should be prime time. That’s Wakefield, Quebec by the way, just down the road from Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham. Yes, Masham, as in the village on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales where Old Peculier comes from. I thought this was French Canada? What a curious blend of influences; I guess that’s the modern nation in a nutshell. Anyway on the drive from Montreal yesterday after tiring of counting Tim Horton’s I did turn to wondering if we’d got our timing all wrong. There was no getting away from it; the woods all around were still predominantly green. But today I’m philosophical; we’re back, last night Canada beat Russia, this morning I shot horses in the autumn mist, this evening we’ll be grilling over hot coals, and tomorrow we cross over the Ottawa River, into Ontario and on to Algonquin. As for the maple leaves, well, that’s Mother Nature’s call.

First morning in Canada; horses in the mist at dawn, La Pêche , Quebec, a great way to face-off. Canon 1Dx mkII, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS II lens @ 278mm, 1/320th sec @ f7.1.

A week later I’m tapping this out in our cabin in the woods on the shore of the Lake of Bays. I have been here before, but it was some 50 years ago. Algonquin hasn’t changed though; it’s still the classic, quintessential Canadian Shield landscape of still lakes, rutting moose and not-so-silent woods I got to know as a boy on summer camps. Just being here brings back a flood of memories. As you can see from the picture at the top of this despatch the blood-red maple leaves are becoming more profuse by the day; the vibrancy of their colours still defy belief. Whole days pottering behind the lens in the woods and by rushing rapids have passed in self-indulgently creative joy. Algonquin and its environs in autumn are just so evocative. Canada has now won the World Cup of Hockey, this morning at dawn we were bonding with otters, and the pancakes with maple syrup are as good as ever, especially after a fruitful dawn patrol. I know I view everything to do with Canada through rose-tinted glasses, but trips rarely get get much better than this. You will of course be hearing all about it in future editions of the Chasing the Light Online Photography Magazine.

Who’s watching who? An otter in Wolf Howl Pond, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Canon 1Dx mkII, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS II lens @ 400mm, 1/125th sec @ f5.6. ISO 1600.

Wendy has been getting into shooting beaver footage for the inevitable Video Blog, but that’s coming next month. In this month’s Issue my How It’s Done mini-series continues on location finding, this time considering the apps I find most useful for landscape work, and featuring a shoot in Derbyshire from mid-september that came at the end of a 10 day marathon of commitments, shows and a commission which took me from Milborne Port to Carmarthen to Fishguard to Waterford to Cork to Limerick to Athlone to Westport to Belfast to Ayr to Carlisle and finally to Hathersage. Too many miles, too many hotels, too many grey skies, and too few pixels exposed, but it did at least all come together at dawn above the mist in the Derwent Valley. Such sessions do not happen by accident, hence the series in the Chasing the Light Online Photography Magazine on location finding.

An image from this month’s feature on using apps for location searching in the Chasing the Light Online Photography Magazine: Offerton Hall above the mist in the Derwent Valley below, Derbyshire Peaks District, England. Canon 5DS R, 24-70mm lens at 44mm, 0.5 sec at f11, polarising filter.

This month’s Fundamentals of Post-Production Video Tutorials delve into the vexing topic of sharpening.

The Derbyshire Peaks District is hardly undiscovered territory, neither is Ontario for that matter, but every time I venture out tripod on the shoulder in the darkness before dawn is still an adventure, wherever we are. In this month’s Low Down in the Chasing the Light Online Photography Magazine I examine how that spirit of adventure can enrich our lives – and fire our creativity. On a more technical note for the Field Trial I consider the role of filters in our photography today then put Lee Filter’s new range of grads to the test. And in Stepping Back I ‘step back’ to Bristol in 1988 to recall an autumnal shoot using the venerable Hassleblad 500. Meanwhile I also present my usual two Fundamentals of Post-Production Video Tutorials, this month paying particular attention to the thorny dilemma of just how much sharpening our pictures need.

Elsewhere, in Hoddinott’s Hangout Ross Hoddinott gives us a timely exploration of how we can use mist to enhance our landscape shots. In the Art of Landscapes, we accompany Bas Meelker to the Bavarian Forest in winter, where a fruitful photo trip bags some wonderful landscape and wildlife shots. Then in the Pipeline, Ben Pipe visits the architecturally stunning city of Rotterdam to augment his portfolio – with great results. Finally, for our Guest Feature we welcome on board landscape and travel photographer Jeremy Flint, as he shares his highlights of his self-drive photo-tour through Namibia. It’s all there for our f11 Members. Not yet an f11? For just £39 a year you’re missing out on both the monthly Chasing the Light Online Photography Magazine and the free e-books. Here’s a video to prove it.




Today in a store in Huntsville I spotted a Toronto Maple Leafs onesie. I was tempted, just to see Wendy’s face, but I guess there are limits to the pressures a marriage can survive, and we do make such a good team on trips like this. It’s been a productive week, and we’re only half way through; tomorrow we move on to Georgian Bay. I will of course be inserting some of the best images from this Canadian adventure into our next Chasing the Light Road Show which will be in Farnborough as guests of Farnborough Camera Club on October 25th.

After that our Exmoor and Franche-Comté workshops will be upon us. We have had a late cancellation on the latter by the way, so if you fancy some autumnal photographic indulgence in that little known yet spectacular region of eastern France we do have space for just one photographer plus partner. All in all it looks like I’ll be getting two autumns in this year. Maybe by mid-November I’ll have had enough of shooting red and golden leaves, until next year, but then again The Fall surely is the most photographic of seasons. Wherever you are I hope you have a good one too.

Keep exposing.

Photo: Alice Hatcher.

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Every month we publish an issue of our unique magazine Chasing the Light exclusively for f11 members. With features from behind the lens and on the road with David Noton it combines stunning photography with David's unique style of writing. Technical features, humorous anecdotes, travel notes, a member's gallery, news and the stories behind the pictures make it an entertaining, informative and inspirational monthly read and information resource for all who love photography and travel. All this for less than the price of a coffee and a biscuit a month. F11 members can also download other exclusive content such as Despatches+ and video blogs for free as they become available.

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